Final curtain for Llewelyn-Bowen and 'Changing Rooms'

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The Independent Online

For some, it was the programme guilty of triggering the trend for the endlessly dull makeover programme that now dominates television schedules. But for others, it was the path to the joys of fake zebra-skin sofas, purple drapes and endless MDF fibreboard.

For some, it was the programme guilty of triggering the trend for the endlessly dull makeover programme that now dominates television schedules. But for others, it was the path to the joys of fake zebra-skin sofas, purple drapes and endless MDF fibreboard.

Now, with the same ruthlessness with which its foppish presenter, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, would criticise suburban interiors, the BBC has announced that, after 10 years and more than 150 shows, it is, appropriately, curtains for Changing Rooms.

Although the move could spell the beginning of the end of the genre - the BBC said it was moving on to shows on money and family relationships - serious makeover addicts will be pleased to learn that Channel 4 is planning a series in which the exteriors of whole streets are given a new look. And another series of Changing Rooms is still being recorded and due to be aired next year, followed by four "specials".

First broadcast in 1994 on BBC2, Changing Rooms' simple concept of friends or neighbours given BBC money to transform each others' careworn domestic interiors created cheap and cheerful television with a voyeuristic edge that viewers loved. A singular joy was felt when renovations went over the top or people misjudged the taste of their friends.

It moved to BBC1 in 1998, at its height had 10 million viewers, created a one-off star in Llewelyn-Bowen and boosted the careers of its presenters, Carole Smillie and Linda Barker.

Capitalising on the property boom, the show was arguably more influential in making the wider British public more aware of the possibilities of budget interior design than Sir Terence Conran or Ikea. The format was sold to 20 countries. But by spawning a series of spin-offs and imitations on the BBC and commercial channels it led BBC1's chief, Lorraine Heggessey, and the former corporation chairman Gavyn Davies to question their dominance of the schedules at the expense of more quality material.

Llewelyn-Bowen said: "It does feel as if Changing Rooms has done the job it set out to do. It is a case of beam us up, our work on your planet is done. There's not a house in Britain left untouched by the Changing Rooms attitude.''

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