George Clarke's Amazing Spaces, TV review: Hare-brained builders learn a few home truths in this superior property show


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The Independent Culture

George Clarke's Amazing Spaces (Channel 4) is superior to the other property shows because it isn't really a property show at all; it's a people show. The architect-builder-cum-TV presenter's true subject is the kind of ambitious eccentric who would never let a lack of funds, or a law of physics get in the way of a hare-brained building scheme.

People like Bolton-based Olly and Tamsin, who want to build a half-underground, half-above ground "magical family hideaway" at the end of their garden.

Clarke is embarking on a garden transformation project of his own this series, so the couple are an inspiration to him, as they should be to us all. While 80 per cent of Britons have access to a garden, we only spend an average of a week a year enjoying our outdoor space.

There's not much that can be done about this country's washout summers, but with an understanding of planning laws, an outdoors structure like Olly and Tamsin's "warren" (as they call it) is possible. Assuming you have a spare five grand stashed in the shed somewhere, that is.

Olly said at the outset he envisioned coming in under budget at just £1,000 – how the gods laughed! He and Tamsin also seemed to think that building an underground structure was simply a matter of digging a big hole. It was Clarke's job to gently explain the concept of effective drainage, as the three stood knee-deep in a pool of mud.

But such are the setbacks in any truly visionary endeavour. The first attempted build of Kent couple Barry and Deleck was similarly slapdash. In retrospect, it's lucky last year's big storm hit while their bespoke teardrop trailer was still under construction. Imagine if they'd been sleeping in it when the wind ripped it apart like a child with Christmas present.