Why we fell out of love with home improvement shows | Sam Wolfson

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The likes of Changing Rooms were a bulwark against consumer culture. With YouTube tutorials, we’ve lost that DIY radicalism

If I could go back in time and give the participants of 1990s home improvement shows one piece of advice, it would be this: never tell Carol Smillie about your hobbies. Give that woman the slightest inkling that you have a penchant for silent films and she’d turn your room into a monochromatic tribute to Charlie Chaplin. Mention you went on holiday once, and you’d find your house kitted out with deckchairs and beach balls.

The 1990s were a wonderful and bizarre period for factual television. Shows such as Changing Rooms, Ground Force and DIY SOS had, at their peak, millions of viewers. While many of the makeovers now seem horrifying and tasteless, the home improvement format showed how you could change your living space on a small budget – without needing to buy lots of new stuff.

YouTube videos are more useful than the makeover show: they offer specific advice needed to unclog your dishwasher

Related: Fix up, look sharp: how to mend more and buy less

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