Get real people off the TV! (Part I)

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A few years ago, I was saying the opposite. “More real people on TV please!” Dozens of house-hunting programmes later with ordinary people competing with sewing/cooking/singing and I’ve changed my mind…

I now see the appeal of people trained to perform.

As one with a compulsive house-hunting programme obsession, I rarely miss a showing. But the Escape to the Country one must top the lot.

Shiny, smooth, friendly, tolerant people faced with deadpan voices, estranged couples, chubby, badly dressed real people who’ve made no effort to smarten up for TV… it’s awful.

They shuffle about trying to sound like they know what they’re talking about and just ape the presenters with their catchphrases and slick comments. (See Part II.)

I’ve seen it all. I worked many years at an estate agent showing these people around houses and flats. They all seemed to think they had to contribute something knowledgeable to the viewing.

“Is the attic boarded?” and “Is this a partition wall?” and “I don’t think we’d fit our king-sized bed in here.”

No dearie. You wouldn’t. This cottage was meant for poor people. The builders didn’t envisage young’uns like you with your home-offices and LinkedIn profiles and annual amassing crap living in a humble worker’s cottage like this in 150 years. They had a fire and some tools maybe.

But these people are now on TV. Commenting on the wallpaper and floor tiles of someone else’s house. Making a mess with cake mixture or zips and Velcro. Get off! Go and do all this in the privacy of your own homes.

I want experts on my TV. Reasonably well-dressed, people who’ve bothered to brush their hair and wear clothes that fit. Telling me things they know and I don’t.

It’s a mistake I hope programme producers realise that the ‘docu-drama’ approach is failing. Real people doing real things, God! I wouldn’t sit in my neighbour’s house for an hour watching them just… live.

Glamour. People who’ve been transformed by the make-up artist. People who can speak… Can we just leave it to the professionals? Leave the rest of us at home on this side of the camera. That’s where we belong.

The experiment’s over. The findings are: it didn’t work.

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Selling a house

As a property obsessive, I’ve seen thousands of property details, entered Rightmove searches and looked up properties in every continent. For no better reason than that I’m fascinated.

One of the biggest downfalls of these showcases is the photographs. I’ve noticed a pattern.

Most agents use an employee to take the photos. Do vendors know that the new recruit armed with a camera that’s worth thousands drive off, point and shoot and then upload these bad – no, atrocious – no, useless images onto property portals. Are they happy paying 2% for this lazy workmanship?

One of the goals each agent seems to aim for is portraying homes with a reference to some greenery. Some homes (estates) are just stunning from all angles. Most (the cities and dingy suburbs) need the photographer to have the agility of a stretchy man to get leaves and branches in the shot.

And they do try.

I can guess that for more than a few someone has laid down on the pavement and clicked; or climbed the tree to ensure leaves appear in front of the net-curtained window. Is this part of their job spec?

Sure. There’s a certain appeal to a sash window with a branch of copper beech just in view. (“Oh, I’d love to live there!”) Or a Victorian terraced house where cherry tree leaves shade a full view. (“Ooh, we could pick cherries and make jam in the summer!” Forget it, the birds get them first.)

In today’s search I’ve seen homes almost entirely obscured by diseased foliage. (“Ah, the house is a dump if they won’t show it.”)

The worst is a bushy, green specimen, round in shape, virtually blocking the whole house. Like a toxic cloud of green clinging to the road. Where’s the house? Or are they selling the tree?

I know I could take better shots, I just know it.

Lose the trees and show us the house. Or get a professional in. Or get me…Image