Anyone who’s ever experienced the thrill of the auction room or struggled with a tricky renovation is bound to love this hugely successful show from BBC1. Homes Under the Hammer has been running since 2003 and survived more ups and downs in the property market than your average estate agent. Now in its eighteenth series, this fun and informative show regularly appears in the schedule at 10am, perfect viewing with your midmorning coffee. Or you can catch up on the BBC iPlayer any time you like.
The format is deceptively simple: each episode focuses on three properties up for sale by auction. Presenters, Lucy Alexander and Martin Roberts, guide us around houses, businesses, and even plots of land, which, for one reason or another, have come onto the market through this non-traditional route. Local estate agents are drafted in to give some possibilities for renovation. Then it’s off to the auction room to meet the properties’ new owners, hear their hopes for changes, and get an idea of how much they think its all going to cost. Lucy or Martin then rejoin them at a later date to see if dreams have indeed become a reality and we are treated to the classic Before and After shots. The local estate agents even pop back to tell us if anyone has made any money.
Martin and Lucy’s enthusiasm and despair is infectious, as they deal with property buyers from all walks of life and all levels of experience. If it be budgets, time scales, or whether they should remove that stone-clad fireplace, Lucy and Martin try to reveal tricks of the trade and offer practical advice, even if it is seldom heeded by the wannabe property developers. Classic mistakes are found in misjudgments of budget and time, and not investigating the problems that are more commonly found in auction properties.
Lucy and Martin do allow themselves a laugh at some of the more unfortunate – or deluded – buyers’ expense, but you always feel that they have what is best for the property in mind. The properties, rather than the buyers, are the stars of this show. As Martin raises an eyebrow at a three week deadline or Lucy shakes her head at a tiny budget with which someone thinks they can renovate a derelict building, we can curl up on our sofas knowing that we’d do it differently and that we’d do it better.
There’s a lot to be learnt from this little show. Don’t let the cheesy grins from the presenters fool you. They know their business. Martin Roberts may look like he’s stepped out of the early ‘90s, but he’s a property dealer and entrepreneur in his own right and up to date with all changes in property law and regulation. Footballer’s wife and co-host, Lucy Alexander, put her own money on the line for Homes Under the Hammer when she invested £1.4 million in a property she hadn’t viewed or had surveyed before the auction. In fact she’d only had a quick glance through the letterbox! All in the name of proving just how daft some buyers can be!
One of the most characteristic aspects of Homes Under the Hammer has to be the soundtrack. For each twist and every turn of phrase there is an accompanying song waiting to be played. Whereas most TV shows like you to forget that music even being played, Homes Under the Hammer makes it a feature and a entertainment. A leaky roof might trigger Travis’ Why Does It Always Rain On Me; a newly landscaped garden, Where Have All the Flowers Gone? and so on. Always wittily chosen, the show makes great use of its music and there’s fun to be had guessing which of the presenters’ comments will cue a change of tune.
As well as music for every taste, there’s bound to be property to tickle every fancy. Throughout its long run, Homes Under the Hammer has explored rural escapes, commercial premises, flats, industrial units and wasteland. The show continues to engage and entertain a massive television audience.
Just be warned, this quirky little show is addictive viewing. Like the buying of property of auction, once you start, it’s hard to stop.
Article by Sally Craythorne