TV Preview: Shed of the Year

Shed of the Year: TV1, 7.30 Thursday


By Doug Coutts

Apparently there are 16 million sheds in the UK. That’s an awful lot of sheds and, by the law of averages, a lot of awful sheds. So it stands to reason that, in much the same way a team of monkeys bashing away at typewriters would eventually come up with a Mike Hosking closing comment, someone would get around to making a television programme about them.

But not just a simple documentary where each week a group of shed-dwellers shows us round their prides and joy – no, in the reality world there always has to be something at stake, and we’re not talking tomatoes growing in a pot.

Welcome to Shed of the Year. There have been other Sheds of the Year, but we’ve been blessed with just the 2014 series. It’s hosted by celebrity architect George Clarke, presenter of the show Amazing Spaces, called that because of how often George says “amazing” in a very short space of time.

Each week George introduces us to a bunch of typically reserved English loonies – too poor to be properly termed eccentric – who have created sheds with a difference. In the spirit of competition, and presumably to get some funding for the series, the sheds have been sorted into categories – the first programme features Eco sheds and the all-encompassing Unique.

It seems a little odd to have a category of that name when all the entries would surely be claiming an element of uniqueness or they wouldn’t be there, but that’s showbiz. Maybe next week they’ll have the Out On Its Own and One Of A Kind finalists.

Anyway, the folks at home have already seen all the contenders — in elimination rounds no doubt — and have selected the final four in each category. George and his helpers visit each sheddie and find out what makes each one uni… sorry, special.

After the winner in each category is announced in a deliberately low-budget affair in the village hall, George hopes we’re all looking forward to next week and seeing who’ll join these amazing finalists competing for the coveted title of Shed of the Year.

It’s better than it sounds. Once you strip away the faux competition aspect and tune out George’s amazing overuse syndrome – he actually says “emmerzin” because he’s not from round these parts – there are some rather odd, in an entertaining kinda’ way, people pottering away in their backyards building some really quirky little, and big, sheds.

There’s a large tin box housing a reconstruction of a ship’s dining room, a seven-metre tall teapot, 5000 empty wine bottles in tight formation and a wobbly collection of demo timber with a vegetable garden for a roof. And that’s not all. Just as well because there are another five categories to fill up.

The thing about the English (and the Scots, Welsh and Irish) is that despite the crap weather and the crap governments who’ve bled the country dry while lining their own pockets and those of their friends in industry – and the Tories are just as bad – the people just shrug and carry on.

Why make a fuss when you can go down to the bottom of the garden and shape a pile of recycled ply and corrugated iron into a shed for pixies? It’s being subversive on a small scale – anarchy done quietly, and cheaply.

Nutters and eccentrics, especially ones who are good with their hands, make good telly and underneath it all Shed of the Year is entertaining and inspirational. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of our local production houses was looking to option the format.

After all, we have plenty of sheds. And Dominic Bowden is just the guy to present it. He’d be amazing.

Doug Coutts has had a career in and around television for close to 40 years.  He spent 13 years as a floor manager at Avalon Studios before going freelance and never earning as much again. His writing has spanned TV genres — from Shortland Street dialoguery and quiz shows to documentaries and comedy — while a lengthy stint as TV reviewer in the Auckland Star earned him two mentions in Metro magazine’s Hot List and an angry letter from Jon Gadsby. You can read more of Doug (the satirist) at: Weakly Whirled News.

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