Weaver's Week 2022-10-02

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In the beginning, there was a Norwegian show. It begat an Irish show, which begat a Scottish show, which begat a Welsh show, which begat a programme about gardening with Zoe Ball.

Wales' Home of the Year


Wales' Home of the Year

IWC (a Banijay company) for BBC Wales, 12 August-16 September

Yes, Home of the Year and its mutant spinoffs have been colonising the schedules like a particularly virulent plant. But is it the new creeping ragwort, or a beautiful sunflower, or a quotidian grass?

Our guides are Owain Wyn Evans, the drumming weather forecaster and someone we're likely to have heard of. Even if you don't watch Wales Today, you'll surely have heard about the one-man drum machine. Another judge is Mandy Watkins, an interior designer who pops up a lot on S4C's lifestyle shows. The final judge, Glen Thomas, is an architect who has designed houses for some of the richest pop stars in the world.

Wales' Home of the Year Our judges: Glen Thomas, Owain Wyn Evans, Mandy Watkins.

Between them, they know how to turn a building into a home. Glen will provide insights into how the home functions – why the windows are as they are, what's interesting about the roof, and what they've done inside. Mandy will look at what's inside the house, how the owners have used colour, shape, decoration to enhance the place. And Owain gives a lay person's view – does the place feel like it's somewhere lived-in, and happy? We viewers are invited to bring our own views, think about whether the home promotes gezeilligheid?

Each judge gives a mark out of 10. Never quite clear whether the judge marks their personal reaction, or the architectural merit / distinctive design / original style of the home, or some combination of those factors. In an effort to fabricate some sort of tension, one of the judges' marks is held back to the end of the episode.

Wales' Home of the Year A striking house from the contest.

To explain the show further, we're going to follow two episodes – the last heat, and the grand final. We could have picked any of the heats, the same remarks apply to all of them. So we start at an Edwardian townhouse on the Mumbles.

The home owner explains why they live there, and what they've done with the house. But the owner is away when the judges visit, they're discovering the house for the very first time, and in their own way.

Wales' Home of the Year Who would live in a house like this?

"Lots of space, a piano with a light... rich colours... bold with the colours." One of the judges prefers a living space more "countryfied", another enjoys how they've melded the wooden floor with ceramic tiles for the patio.

Each home owner leaves a heart in their favourite place of the home. For this owner, it's on the sofa of the patio, an all-afternoon suntrap with a view of the bay.

Wales' Home of the Year A big kitchen window, almost a wall of glass.

Could have been the kitchen, floor-to-ceiling windows, a rooflight, sophisticated furnishings, cabinets in a vibrant blue. The bedroom's a muted blue, with a big bay window and a smaller sidelight overlooking the bay.

Each judge gives a little explanation of their thoughts, and those who are revealing their scores do so here.

Wales' Home of the Year This owner says their favourite place is in the kitchen.

Next up is a converted watermill near Ammanford. It comes with four alpacas, and has taken nine years to renovate. It's a split-level house, and the architect expected to see more light come through the hall.

Because it's a mill, there aren't many windows – the result is quite dark. All of the walls are painted a blue-grey, perhaps to show off the artworks.

Wales' Home of the Year There's an implicit comparison with the big kitchen windows from earlier.

The judges want to see more natural light, and something of life outside the walls – they're not happy that nature is but one picture on the walls. Or that the lights are at head height, blocking people from talking to each other in the kitchen.

It's clear that the judges weren't overwhelmed by this house. Marks are good – we hear an 8 and a 7 – but the first house got a 9 and a 10.

Wales' Home of the Year Honestly, you three, get a room!

Finally, it's a converted cottage in Kidwelly. It's an upside-down home – the bedroom and bathroom are downstairs, and the living space runs the full length of upstairs. Even the front door impresses, a bright turquoise stands out against the stone walls. Unlike the previous house, we can see through to the back garden.

The bedroom is restrained, with lighting and relatively small artwork. While the kitchen is small, it's been arranged carefully.

And then upstairs! It's huge, a New York loft apartment like on Friends or something. The view is of the castle, and the original chimney stack has been retained as a wall feature. Upside-down living is either for the space or the view, says one of the judges, and this is for the space.

Wales' Home of the Year Blimey! That's big!

Each house has had about five minutes of tour, with introductions and scoring wrapped around. Wales' Home of the Year proceeds at a sensible pace. Perhaps we might have liked a little more time looking around the house, the judges' tours feel a little rushed, like they've overlooked a few things. The show might benefit from a longer running time, 40 minutes rather than 30, but that would be very difficult to schedule on BBC1.

So we come to the final scores, they recap the homes and reveal the score not previously shared. If there's a tie, the judges each explain their preference to find the winner.

And that's the heat! 28 minutes of gawping around other people's homes, with Gwawr Loader giving a neutral voiceover of the facts about each home.

The final will have a different format

So we know the winner of the south-west region, the converted cottage in Kidwelly. How will it fare against the other regional winners?

Wales' Home of the Year The finalists gather.

All five heat winners gather at a mansion in mid-Wales. To be precise, they invite the people who live in the houses. They don't actually uproot the cottage from Kidwelly and drag it so many miles.

The judges say hello to the owners, and then retire to their judging room before the owners can say "hello" back. They're literally not going to talk to the people who live there, are they?

Five come down to three in the first phase. It's an excuse to show us a review of the five heat winners, and for the judges to try and agree on a top three. While the footage is familiar, the comments from the home owner are new, as is the discussion between the various owners.

Wales' Home of the Year Which of these will be a winner?

The final three are compared each to another, with the judges picking out all their favourite bits from each house. There's a discussion, and three become two. And two become one.

There is always going to be an audience for snooping around someone else's home while they're out. Whether it's the challenge of Through the Keyhole or the judgement of This Place's Home of the Year, television finds a ready audience. Maybe one of the formats will become really compelling television, but not this one: we ended up watching as background telly, something pleasant to have on while we concentrated elsewhere.

Wales' Home of the Year Each owner has a board of photos about their house.

Every episode begins by asking, "What makes a house a home?" In this column's view, Wales' Home of the Year never answers that question, and never attempts to answer that question. It's a show all about architectural merit, interior design, soft furnishings and refurbishments. The judges don't even try to talk to the people who live there, and figure out why the building is a cosy and comfortable and fulfilling place to live.

While Wales' Home of the Year is a warm programme, we found the warmth to be somewhat superficial. We get a warm glow from looking around beautiful showhomes, encouraged by the pleasant soundtrack, but there's a certain antiseptic quality to everything.

The programme is people poking around in someone else's space, admiring the view, not interacting with the inhabitants at all, and then leaving. Each has their own idea of a "home", and this programme seems to concentrate on the architecture and design elements. Warmth and love are not really considered, only the fixtures and decor.

Wales' Home of the Year This stairwell is quite the treat to look at. But does it have heart?

Wales' Home of the Year is a show for the brain, particularly for the eyes; this column would rather have a show for the heart. This column's looking for gezeillig, a companionable cosiness in the here and now. Owain talks a lot about "hiraeth", a bittersweet homesickness with just a hint of pain from nostalgia. Perhaps that helps explain this column's lukewarm reaction.

And while we don't necessarily agree with the judges' decision – they voted for the cottage in Kidwelly – we can understand why they reached their decision, and we respect them for explaining their reasoning at length.

Ultimately, Wales' Home of the Year is not for this column. And that's absolutely fine; it's wonderfully made, supremely watchable, and might provide other people with inspiration.

In other news

Coolio, the American rapper, died this week. He was 59. Coolio was best known for his mid-90s hit song "Gangsta's paradise", and a number of other works. In the world of game shows, Coolio appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2009, where he snapped pictures of famous people and pretended to be a car, and eventually finished in third place. He returned for Ultimate Big Brother in 2010, narrowly won a public vote against John McCririck, and was invited to leave after his apparent transphobic bullying of Nadia Almada.

Where is Eurovision Yerevan. Sixteen broadcasters will take part in the contest on 11 December, and we'll surely learn the BBC and TG4 representatives soon.

The senior contest next year will take place in Liverpool or Glasgow. We'll find out which, and when, and whose guesthouse will be smiling all the way to the bank, "soon". We need to know soon, because some other bloke wants to know when he can have his coronation, and that can't clash with the contest. Honestly, can you imagine the confusion when people turn up to see King Måns and get HRH Sir King Charles?

King Måns.

Meanwhile, we know that Rachel Ashdown has been given a full-time job as lead commissioner for the Eurovision Song Contest. Just the contest, she's not responsible for the BBC's entry. We wish Rachel all the best, and if we can offer one tip – don't call Madonna.

RTÉ has opened their calls for Late Late Show Eurosong, to take place early next year. Acts need to have "obvious appeal to the core youth audiences", because RTÉ know who taps their app, and it ain't Johnny Logan's granny. The broadcaster also warns, "this is probably not an opportunity for beginners". Again, don't call Madonna.

International Emmy nominations are out. We're interested in Non-Scripted Entertainment, the nominees are La Voz Argentina (The Voice), LOL Last One Laughing Germany, Love on the Spectrum (ABC Down Under), and Top Chef Middle East. Cheers also for Shaun the Sheep Flight Before Christmas and Newsround Let's Talk About Periods, into the final four in their categories. Winners on 21 November.

TV Times Awards Longlist nominations are out for the long-running awards. We've got:

Voting closes on 14 October, winners to be named later.

What did we learn this fortnight?

  • Chandler won the Grand National in 1848. It was a century-and-a-half before he married Monica. (House of Games)
  • Peter Townsend was the equerry who unable to marry Princess Margaret Windsor, because he was a divorcee. He's not related to the musician in The Who. (Mastermind)
  • The Irish words for "three" and "nine" rhyme, "trí" and "naoi". (Only Connect)
  • The Bayeux Tapestry was due to come and be exhibited this year in the UK. But it's fragile and needs a lot of repair, and so does the tapestry. (BBC Brain)
  • Dartford technically does count as a seaside resort in Kent. We don't recommend it for a holiday, the place has a by-pass for a reason. (Mastermind)
  • Ted Rogers did not found CNN. He did popularise FM radio in Canada. (Mastermind)
  • "Toffee tart? High risk, babe!" is an anagram of The Great British Bake Off. (House of Games)

Mastermind came back with a bang, as Ben Spicer won the opening heat with 26 points and one pass. He beat Ruth Gibbons by a single pass, getting the last question to win the game. In any other week, Alexia Jarvis (25) and Davey Garrett (23) would be in contention for the win, but the first episode isn't any other week.

Ben Whitworth won the second heat, 27 points and no passes. He'd taken the History of the Orkney Islands, a win by three clear points from Keshava Guha. Anu Mitra enjoyed his round on Laurel & Hardy, giggling as he remembered the films. We didn't enjoy that Laurel & Hardy round, two of the first four questions were "what's the name of this animal", which is a bit rum. Enjoyed the set on Garfield Sobers, an interesting subject with a varied life, and it came through in the questions.

Only Connect had its first five-point buzz of the series, that fact about rhyming numbers fell to the Cryptics, who speak fluent Irish. Proves to be the turning point of the game, as they beat the Strigiformes by 18-16. Strigiformes were excellent at Missing Vowels, and neither team really got to grips with their wall.

Cunning Planners beat the Seagulls by 27-11. Close until the end of the sequences round, when the Seagulls got the wrong man as England cricket coach. Planners picked up the bonus, and a perfect wall, and showed remarkable knowledge of 1922 in the centenary missing vowels round.

University Challenge saw Cardiff beat Coventry by 230-50. A scrappy match, lots of dropped starters, but Cardiff had a strong bonus conversion rate which should see them in good stead later on.

Royal Holloway beat Cranfield by 155-110. Very much a battle of the bonuses, Royal Holloway converted 15/24, Cranfield 8/22. An entertaining enough match, highlights were the visual round on BAFTA television nominees not in English, and the very gettable set on epochs.

Race Across Canada is to be the third series of Race Across the World. Our teams will travel 16 000km from Vancouver to St John's, according to the press release – a spectacularly inefficient way to make the 7000km journey. Expect diversions via Southampton Island and Sydney, Nova Scotia. And expect a new channel, the show's been promoted to BBC1.

Young Musician of the Year holds its delayed 2022 competition (BBC4, nightly Sun-Thu). Unbreakable with Rob Beckett (BBC1, Thu) has the icky feel of an executive awayday planned by that over-intense greasy-pole-climber from sales. Dan Walker's on The Hit List next Saturday, and Blankety Blank features … ahem! The combination we never knew we wanted! Jimmy Carr and Su Pollard!

Black History Month means the annual return of Sorry, I Didn't Know (ITV, Sun). The Big Blow Out (E4, Mon) finally gives us the hairdressing challenge. Portrait Artist of the Year returns (Artsworld, Wed).

Pictures: IWC (a Banijay company), EBU/NOS/AVROTROS.

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