Thursday, November 10, 2005

Avocado Baby

The good thing about a show like 'How Not To Decorate', which began its third series on Five tonight, is that it does exactly what it says on the tin. Each week, Colin & Justin (think Trinny & Susannah, but openly gay) go into a home that needs a bit of a revamp, and armed with nothing but good intentions and a lot of enthusiasm, they completely balls it up in nine days. It could be renamed 'When Interior Designers Attack'. And probably will be for the fourth series.

In tonight's edition, the prancing pair demonstrated how not to decorate the London flat of Neil & Christine Hamilton. The resulting fallout has been plugged to high heaven by Colin & Justin this week - in the past few days they've appeared on Richard & Judy, Des & Mel, The Wright Stuff, and numerous other shows I should be ashamed to admit watching, stating at length that they don't want to talk about it; but having seen tonight's show, I have to say I thought it was all a storm in a tea cup. Or in Christine's case, a wine glass.

The make-over started well anyway, with Colin & Justin giving their first impressions of the Hamiltons' apartment. Colin called it a "hovel" and added "It all looks like it smells of wee", while Justin went with the slightly more camp "Oh come on you monkeys!". No, me neither. Having wondered aloud if the soft furnishings were created from the same fabric Christine uses for her outfits, they made their way into the bathroom, where Justin started fiddling with a wooden chicken, prompting the retort from Colin "Don't pull on the cock". I wonder how many times he's said that before.

To be honest, plywood poultry was the least of their worries. The Hamiltons had fitted carpet in the bathroom and wallpapered over the tiles with a mind-numbing choice of paper which made it look like someone had pelted them with tomatoes (probably not for the first time). As Justin said, "You're lucky you're not crazy, you two". He'd clearly never met them before.

For her part, Christine began optimistically, looking Colin & Justin in the eye and boldly declaring "I think you're manna from heaven". Which I believe was the first - and last - positive thing she ever said. Probably because she hadn't seen their designs at that point. Designs, it has to be said, which consisted of black carpets, magenta furniture, and a timber-clad avocado bath. I'm not saying Colin & Justin didn't have the Hamiltons' best interests at heart, but having settled on the final layout, Colin's exact words were "I think Christine is going to hate it".

He wasn't wrong. She quickly stated "I'm not having an avocado bath", although a jungle shower is obviously no problem, judging by the first series of 'I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here'. Frankly avocado in the bathroom was nothing - Justin declared a desire to put "a bit of spunk" in the kitchen, which is surely far more unhygienic.

Nevertheless, work began, with Christine becoming philosophical about her new black velvet curtains ("I can use them to scrub the black floor"), and Justin calling her "an old bitch" to her face. A quick snog later (did they learn nothing from Louis Theroux?), Christine outlined her plans for the flat, prompting the outraged response from Justin, "If you want that, go and get some bloody daytime makeover shit to do your house". Yes, how dare she! This isn't daytime TV, this is Channel Five, dammit!

But the trio soon made up with a trip to the bath shop, where Christine talked about her hatred of avocado, and Colin & Justin bought a bath. Which wouldn't fit in the bathroom. A basic error, yes, but remember: this is called 'How NOT To Decorate' - they're contractually obliged to be crap.

Back at the flat, they took delivery of a twenty foot carpet described as "horrible" by the builders, and attempted to get it up a flight of stairs with a maximum width of seven feet, before Christine informed Colin & Justin that "you have screwed my flat into the most godawful mess I have ever seen". Which prompted a masterstroke by the builders - they took out the electrics so it was too dark to see.

Cue the arrival of the new kitchen, courtesy of design assistant Katie. I'm not saying it wasn't everything they'd hoped for, but Colin's response was to tell Christine "It's all your fault", Justin added "I hold you personally responsible", and Christine declared "It's not Katie's fault, and it certainly isn't my fault". Personally I blame it on the boogie.

But all's well that ends well. A mere nine days after work began, and having blatantly ignored every instruction they'd been given, Colin & Justin successfully delivered the Hamiltons the most hideous living room I've ever seen. Or, as Christine put it, "a Morticia Addams pastiche of a funeral parlour". Not so much manna from heaven then, more a bat out of hell.