Catch up TV reviews: Changing Rooms, Billy Monger: Changing Gear, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, Buffering
Ivan Radford | On 24, Aug 2021
Changing Rooms 2021 (All 4)
“I would never think of putting hair on it.” That’s the sound of Changing Rooms returning to our screens, with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen turning everything up to 11 for the home makeover show’s revival. He’s joined by designers Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead of 2LG Studio, plus carpenter and joiner Tibby Singh replacing Handy Andy. Presented by Anna Richardson, the series once again sees two sets of homeowners from the same neighbourhood work against the clock to renovate a room in each other’s houses. Beginning in Swansea, South Wales, the revamped Changing Rooms has wisely kept the same winning formula, as the extravagant and potentially abominable design ideas threaten to upset and dismay the unsuspecting participants – and the opening episode doesn’t disappoint, with outstanding ideas including a swing in a living room, deliberately using one of the duo’s least favourite colour, a floor that climbs up the side of the lounge and, yes, a feature wall made of hair. There’s even a bit of MDF on show too. But new to this edition is the fun of watching Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen return to his former stomping ground with added attitude and pomp and seeing everyone react to that with smiles – whether they’re being sincere or not is all part of the fun.
Billy Monger: Changing Gear (All 4)
“Do you have to be a superhuman to enjoy para-sport?” That’s the question at the heart of this fantastic documentary presented by Billy Monger. The racing driver lost his legs in a car accident at Donington Park just when he was about to turn 18 and has since got back behind the wheel to continue his career. With the Paralympic Games beginning this week in Tokyo, he races to catch up with Team GB, learning from several of the medal hopefuls about what it takes to compete at the top level. The interviews that ensue include swimmer Alice Tai and canoeist Charlotte Henshaw as well as sprinter Jonnie Peacock, and they’re intercut with Billy in action swimming in the freezing wild, getting his paddle on and trying to run with blades. The latter is the most striking segment, as it opens up a world of possibilities for a guy who most of all enjoys speed. That also opens the door to the documentary’s inspiring central message. Monger makes it clear that it takes just as much commitment and talent as any other sportsperson to compete at Paralympic level, but also delivers a crucial edict that the Paralympics isn’t the disabled community or vice verse – there’s no suggestion that everyone with a disability should be a Paralympian, but a hearty reminder that the Paralympics can encourage anyone to try and take part in sport just for the fun of it. The result is an uplifting and entertaining watch, an ideal warm-up for the Paralympic Games and a welcome example of the range of programming that mainstream TV should be delivering – keep it up, Channel 4.
Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back S3 (All 4)
Watchdog but with a sense of humour. That’s the inspired central pitch to Channel 4’s superb series, which is part consumer advice and part stand-up comedy. Lycett’s pedantic, stubborn personality is a perfect fit for the unexpected hit show, diving with glee into a sea of paperwork, legal technicalities and sternly written letters. After previous stunts including a flashmob at NatWest HQ and setting up an Uber Eats restaurant in a skip, not to mention him changing his name to Hugo Boss, Season 3 begins with him tackling another big problem: plastic. Examining what exactly is recyclable and what isn’t, he turns a visit to a factory into laugh-out-loud entertainment by doing a Greg Wallace impression, before trying to cancel himself on live TV to raise awareness. It’s absurd, it’s morally righteous and hilarious to boot – what’s not to like?
Buffering (ITV Hub)
Love Island’s Iain Stirling gets his own sitcom with this ITV 2 offering, which sees him play a children’s TV presenter living in a flatshare in South London. It’s a passion project that’s been on Stirling’s wishlist for years and sadly, it feels like it, surrounding its timely premise – young people who aren’t yet fully loaded attempting to get out of limbo into adulthood – with dated jokes and obvious stereotypes. Stirling stars as manchild Iain, who balances swearing on the set of a kids’ series with a messy relationship with producer Olivia (Elena Saurel), while living with Greg (Paul G Raymond), who is struggling to work out how to sext his girlfriend, Ashley (Rosa Robson), and ends up enlisting flatmate Thalia (Janine Harouni). In between them all, Jessie Cave is wasted as the token oddball, Rosie. The result has the occasional chuckle, but usually thanks to the supporting performances of Paul G Raymond, Janine Harouni and Elena Saurel, while the main jokes arrive thick and fast but rarely land on target. Co-written with Steve Bugeja, it’s a shame to see a talented ensemble not gel in a way that lives up to their potential, while director Martin Stirling, who’s worked on the warped Inside No 9 and inventive The Mind of Herbert Clunkerdunk, struggles to find a visual identity that matches the energy of the rapid-fire scripts. It may just need another season to find its feet, but halfway through the first run, Buffering is disappointingly still booting up.