Do you like big, beautiful, expensive homes? If so, you will love ITV’s British Secret Homes which airs this Friday. You’ll see some of the most spectacular homes in Britain and say to yourself, “I didn’t know [he/she/then] lived there! The show will be hosted by Michael Buerk and Michael Buerk. Some say the success of the show will be on how Michael Buerk presents himself.
Your enjoyment of Britain’s Secret Homes (ITV, Friday) will have depended largely on your Michael Buerk inanity threshold.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big fan of Michael Buerk. I maintain, however, that if God had intended him to present puffball telly, he’d have blessed him with a voice that doesn’t sound permanently sarcastic. And judging from his body language – folding his arms, shuffling his feet – the poor man seemed to know it.
An embarrassed-looking Buerk and his co-presenter, the historian Bettany Hughes (who made a better fist of it), together with a host of cameo presenters including Michael Portillo, Anthony Horowitz and Falklands veteran Simon Weston, gave us the first 10 of Britain’s “top 50 homes”. This was light entertainment, and fair enough. But the net was cast so wide that all coherence was lost.
There was no obvious common denominator between the Taunton house with an undiscovered portrait of Henry VIII on the wall; a converted railway carriage on the Cornish coast; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s old prep school; and the London offices that, in a previous incarnation, had housed William Blake. The only thing to unite them was that they were all buildings. Was that enough?
Not really. The flimsiness of the premise was exacerbated by a cheerful disregard for the intelligence of the audience.
There’s nothing more exciting than taking a trip through a famous home, finding hidden doors and basement tunnels and seeing all the beautiful, old handiwork that famous old houses offer. Let’s see what turns up on British Secret Homes this Friday.