Property shows used to be the ultimate feelgood TV. They sold a simple story and we snapped it up. Buy cheap, add value, sell fast and start again somewhere bigger; or sit back and watch your investment quadruple in price with no extra effort needed.
The journey from one-bed city pad to fully detached glory in the country couldn’t have looked easier or more enjoyable.
Even if you never did it yourself, shows like Location, Location, Location replayed the fantasy over and again and the formula never failed to please.
Until the global economic crash.
When the recession hit the housing market, it wasn’t just the potential buyers who had to think again. Phil and Kirstie needed to rewrite the script. Except they didn’t.
The show returned recently for its 14th run and though the flirty duo do their best to point out the outstanding features, it feels like they’re trying to underpin a concept that’s gradually sinking into the sand.
Two narratives dominate the series so far and neither of them does much to lift the spirits.
There’s the young couple with a modest amount of money to spend. Not masses but the kind of sum that ought to count for something.
They present a long but not unreasonable list of requirements to Phil and Kirstie. Stuff like four walls, roof and front door.
Cue heavenwards eye-rolling from Kirstie and a surreptitious bitch on the mobile later when she grumbles to Phil about their ridiculous demands.
The couple will then be shown a fabulous house in their dream location for twice their budget. The message is: you can’t have what you want, you idiots – stop dreaming and let us tell you what’s good for you.
By the end of the show, the buyers, subtly diminished in the eyes of the viewer by their inability to stand up to Kirstie’s bullying, will purchase a property that is in every respect the exact opposite of what they originally wanted. In a location many miles from where they hoped to settle.
Couple type two are the ones who’ve always got on your nerves on these shows but now provoke much bitter snarling at the TV. The ones with the big bucks.
The fact is, most of us are stuck in the poky little place we bought ten years ago, so anyone who can afford to be pernickety about the size of the tenth bedroom in the country mansion they’re viewing is going to seem more odious than ever.
My idea of the dream property show is the one where Phil and Kirstie amaze us with their expertise by unearthing an affordable property in the area where the prospective buyers have always longed to live.
Not hustle their clients into a compromise that they could have settled on themselves, without going on the show in the first place.