TV property shows are here to stay but expect to see a change of emphasis in the age of Covid-19.
An RTS panel predicted that in future audiences were likely to see more property programmes encouraging homeowners to improve their existing homes than series that help people to move home.
“Perhaps it’s less about how to make money from your property than actually to find a home you want to live in for in the long term,” said Kitty Walshe, co-managing director of Remarkable, the production company responsible for such shows as Your Home Made Perfect, The House that £100k Built and Restoration Home.
“That is the zeitgeist. I spend all this money on stamp duty, removal costs. ‘You know what, I could just re-figure what I’ve got, rather than move.’”
Kirstie Allsopp, TV presenter and property expert, said that during lockdown many people had changed their relationship to their homes and their neighbourhoods.
“They’ve discovered attractions on their doorstep that they weren’t previously interested in,” she said.
Nick Knowles, TV presenter, producer and writer whose credits include DIY SOS, agreed that people were rethinking these things.
In the past 20 years UK homes had been seen too much as investments and not enough as places where people wanted to live, he suggested.
“My quality of life is about the place I live in now,” he said. “Because of the lockdown people are thinking more like that rather than ‘What is my house worth if I sell it?’”
Property as commodity was likely to become less important as people became more connected to their homes and local communities.
“People are going to try and improve the space in which they live for the purpose of living in it rather than for profit,” added Knowles.
“That hangover from the property boom of the 1990s is something we’re moving on from,” agreed Damion Burrows, architect and presenter, whose property show credits include Grand Designs: House of the Year and Your Home Made Perfect.
In the new normal people would need to think hard about having workspaces at home and dedicated areas for kids.
“How can I do more with what I’ve got with small additions and cleverly reworking the space so I enjoy being here more?
“People are seeing their house in a different light – they’re seeing in at two and three o’clock in the afternoon,” said Burrows.
Allsopp made the point that people had realised they had been expanding their properties and filling them with stuff they didn’t need and that failed to make them happy.
Knowles had downsized to a small country cottage from a large Georgian house and become more content.
“You don’t always have to get bigger to be happier,” he said.
Would people’s changing attitudes towards their homes and local areas affect the kind of property shows that Channel 4 commissioned, asked the webinar’s host, Boyd Hilton, entertainment director at Heat Magazine.
Deborah Dunnett, commissioning editor for popular factual, Channel 4, said she thought it would.
She added: “During lockdown a lot of our best programmes have said ‘We know how you’re feeling at home right now, let us be useful or transport you somewhere else.’ You really get that connection to your audience that you didn’t have before.”
Allsopp said she was desperate to get back to work enabling would-be purchasers to find their perfect home.
But she conceded that the coronavirus had changed everything. “Do they want now what they wanted before? Have they lost their job, have they changed their job…?
“I’m champing at the bit to get out there in this new market and to get on with our job, which is helping people.”
Why We Love…Property Shows was an RTS webinar held on June 2. The producer was Sarah Booth, director of communications at Endemol Shine. A full report will be published in the July edition of Television magazine.