Selling Super Houses



Paul "PK" Kemsley


South Shore for Channel 4, 29 August to 3 October 2023 (6 episodes in 1 series)


According to the press blurb, "Eight wannabe brokers compete against each other to juggle clients, utilise sales tactics and make deals in the world of multi-million pound properties." This was not the show they made.

Selling Super Houses tried to be two shows at the same time. Part of the programme was an observational documentary as Paul Kemsley ("PK" on the show) tried to import Californian glamour to the ultra-expensive property market around London. Another part of the programme was a search for an estate agent that Kemsley could work with and take on as his apprentice.

The show didn't know what it wanted to be, and came across as a confused mess.

One of the many multi-million houses featured on the show.

Eight trainees were taken on board, and given a series of property challenges. All of the challenges are to help sell houses, make sure that Kemsley's agency secures its commission - 2% of the asking price, tens of thousands of pounds.

The contestants are introduced to the key concepts Kemsley wants to see, and hear how experienced estate agents sell a house. "The important thing is to remember you're here to sell the house. Think of this place as a brand," says one of the experts. "Think of how you'll make this different from other instructions, think about how you'll establish an emotional connection." getting a Redcoat to put a string of flowers by the pool.

Then he sets a challenge: have an open house. A party at a desirable residence, show off the house to people who might be tempted to splash out and buy it. All on a budget of £2000, just one per cent of one per cent of the 20 million asking price. Inevitably, there are stresses (how come you've not actually invited anyone?!), strains (too much entertainment, you could have booked a bartender), and time pressure (working in a house you've never seen before). It's the sort of entrapment crud we get from The Apprentice: it might be good telly, it certainly isn't realistic.

The rest of the series continues in a similar vein. A house tour at a celebrity mansion; the celebrity just happens to be managed by Kemsley. A video tour, networking lunch, elevator pitch, interviews, and selling identical houses, and so on and so on. The final assessment pulls together all the skills learned in the series, and Kemsley declares contestants Pam and David as joint winners.

Throughout all of this, Paul exposes his vision for the "real estate" market, techniques that work in California and he hopes to replicate in London.

Paul Kemsley (right) talks with two of the finalists.

Viewers didn't get the idea behind this show. Perhaps because the show didn't get its own ideas. Was this an observational documentary about Kemsley's new experimental business, with some gawping at the houses of the rich and/or famous? Or was it a recruitment show about selling houses in a way we're familiar with, and as implied in the press releases? Either of those formats could have worked - but the combination was too outlandish, too difficult for viewers to grasp.

And viewers didn't even bother with it. The first episode premiered at 9pm on Tuesday and failed on a spectacular level, one of the lowest viewing figures for this slot in years. Channel 4 pushed the second episode to an hour later at 10pm, not that that this helped improve things much. The third episode was displaced by men's football to Wednesday at 11.05pm. The last three episodes were all released simultaneously on Saturday 16 September via the Channel 4 catch-up service, with linear broadcasts on Tuesdays at 10pm, 11.35, and 11.55pm.

More than most, Selling Super Houses was a television experiment. Some experiments will not work. This wasn't an incompetent programme, but a confused and confusing one.


David and Pam (wearing black, pictured with Kemsley's assistant Thea Carroll).


Developed by Jonny Coller and Ed Phillips


Paul Kemsley was previously an interviewer on The Apprentice but left after his company went bust.

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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