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Changing Rooms is a do-it-yourself home improvement show broadcast in the United Kingdom on the BBC between 1996 and 2004. The show was one of a number of home improvement and lifestyle shows popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The show was later franchised, generally under the same name, for the local TV markets in the United States, New Zealand and Australia.
|Developed by||Peter Bazalgette|
|Presented by||Carol Smillie (1996–2003)|
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen (2003–04)
Anna Ryder Richardson
"Handy" Andy Kane
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||17|
|No. of episodes||165 (inc. specials)|
|Running time||30 minutes (per episode)|
|Original network||BBC Two (1996–97)|
BBC One (1998–2004)
|Picture format||4:3, 16:9|
|Original release||4 September 1996 –|
22 November 2004
|Related shows||DIY SOS|
60 Minute Makeover
The premise of the show was for couples to swap houses with friends or neighbours with each pair decorating one room in each other's homes. This leads up to a finale with both couples seeing their rooms, and meeting up again – almost invariably on still friendly terms. With the show including some top designers, their ideas could be a little over the top, which led to a few tears and tantrums. Changing Rooms was originally hosted by Carol Smillie, and assisting with the remodelling was a Cockney carpenter, "Handy" Andy Kane.
The show began on BBC Two, at 9pm on 4 September 1996, before transferring to BBC One for the start of the third series in 1998. The final edition was broadcast on 22 November 2004 after a successful 8 year, 17 series run. The cancellation was announced on 27 August 2004.
The former designer on the show, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, took over presenting the show from Smillie in 2003 for series 14 and 15. "Handy" Andy went on to host his own DIY shows.
The designers on the show during its run included:
- Linda Barker
- Oliver Heath
- Michael Jewitt
- Rowena Johnson
- Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen
- Laura McCree
- Anna Ryder Richardson
- Liz Wagstaff
- Gordon Whistance
- Graham Wynne
In November 2004, a special episode was taped in Boscastle, Cornwall, for Christmas broadcast. Designers Anna Ryder Richardson, Graham Wynne and Gordon Whistance took on the task of restoring the decor of homes and businesses damaged in the floods of August that year. The episode was broadcast on 28 December 2004.
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The show gained popularity through the sometimes unusual designs of Llewelyn-Bowen and the reactions of some participants who disliked their newly designed rooms. Famously, one room of Llewelyn-Bowen's was decorated entirely in animal prints on the advice of the neighbours. The visibly upset homeowners described it as resembling "a tart's boudoir" and pointed out that the neighbours, also friends, had known of their dislike of animal prints but had suggested them to Llewelyn-Bowen as a joke.
In another famous episode, Anna Ryder Richardson designed a room for a couple where she placed framed erotic French undergarments around the room. On entering the room, the woman screamed aloud and shouted, "Why would I want this shit in my room?! I've got children!" and burst into tears. Richardson apparently blushed brightly.
In another episode, after a room had been designed, it had to be redesigned because the owner of the room missed her old fireplace.
The show has been franchised and variations of it appear in several other countries, sometimes with a different name – such as Trading Spaces in United States. The original Changing Rooms is also broadcast overseas, for example, on BBC America and featured in various US shows, the Sex and the City episode "Lights, Camera, Relationship" being one example.
A New Zealand edition of the show was produced for several years, also called Changing Rooms. It was identically formatted to the British series, with host Kerry Smith, "Handy" Andy Dye, and regular designers including Donald Grant Sunderland, Neil McLachlan and Sally Ridge. A handful of international shows were produced, each featuring one couple in New Zealand and one in the United Kingdom.
Australia's Nine Network also produced a local version version of Changing Rooms from 1995 to 2005, hosted by Suzie Wilks who was assisted by Peter Everett, James Lindsay, Catherine Morton and Tim Janenko-Panaeff. The show is being revived by Network Ten in 2019.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|Series 1 Highlights||30 December 1996|
|Changing Rooms Stripped Bare||5 December 1998|
|Christmas Special: Arran||25 December 1998|
|Redecorated||2 April 1999|
|The World of Changing Rooms||30 August 1999|
|A Morning with Changing Rooms||13 December 1999|
|Tenerife||27 December 1999|
|When Changing Rooms Met Ground Force||13 February 2000|
|When Changing Rooms Met The Navy||2 September 2000|
|When Changing Rooms Met Ground Force 2||24 October 2000|
|Boscastle Christmas Special||28 December 2004|