Nestled in the folds of the South Downs, with these well-known chalk hills rolling all the way down to Chichester and the sea past, is a spot of pure magic. It’s a Seventeenth-century barn on the website of the Weald and Downland Living Museum and when you didn’t know higher you would possibly pause merely to admire the craftwork of the thatched roof. The solely clue as to its actual objective – nicely, the solely clue other than the TV cameras and the manufacturing employees bustling round – is the signal to the left of the door which picks out the phrases “The Repair Shop” in metallic strips and rows of mild bulbs.
The Repair Shop, which returns to BBC1 on Wednesday, is one of Britain’s most profitable TV reveals and nearly actually its most uplifting. The idea is easy: members of the public usher in objects that are outdated, worn-out or broken and a workforce of specialists restores these objects. But that’s like saying that Star Wars is a couple of bloke who discovers who his dad is. The Repair Shop is a hymn to the vital issues in life: belonging, neighborhood, persistence, ability, historical past and, most of all, love.
There are 10 essential specialists and, in their very own manner, they’re as a lot a superhero collective as something Marvel might have dreamed up. The entrance man is Jay Blades, a furnishings restorer and youth activist whose look – white shirt, black gilet, black cap – and charisma make him immediately recognisable. His superpower is the easiest of all: folks. “I’m a nosy b—–,” he says. “I love to listen and ask questions. When someone comes through the door for the first time, it can be scary: the cameras, the lights, the crew. It’s my job to put people at ease.”
Jay’s desk is the very first thing you see once you stroll in the barn, with the different specialists’ workbenches organized neatly all through the house. Only metalworker Dom Chinea isn’t in with the others – he has a shed a couple of paces away – however that’s as a result of the noise and dirt of his work would distract the quieter, extra delicate duties of portray conservator Lucia Scalini, ceramics conservator Kirsten Ramsay, and teddy bear restorers Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell. Dom’s shed could be the envy of any DIY fanatic, with scores of jamjars full of screws and nails which aren’t made any extra and which he’s discovered by Sunday morning automobile boot gross sales.
Those screws and nails, manufactured a long time in the past to long-obsolete measurements however important to restoring outdated objects, are a microcosm of what the present’s about. In an more and more throwaway world, The Repair Shop resolutely and proudly flies the flag for permanence and recycling. “People are realising that things don’t have to be thrown away and that they can be repaired,” says Dom. “I feel like we’re making an impact on the whole country, not just the families who come to us. It’s not just us, of course, but we’re a big part of that new movement. And when you’ve fixed something and see the change, it’s a real goosebumps moment. It doesn’t matter what it is. We’ve saved this item, it can live again, people can enjoy it again.”