How Kirstie and Phil's Love it or List it makes TV viewers feel right at home
2018 sees the return of Kirstie and Phil's Love It Or List It, the television show that looks at couples' love/hate relationships with their homes. Property experts Kirstie Allsopp and Phil Spencer reveal why they make such a good team
What made you want to do another series of Love It Or List It?
Phil: It's a fun show to make, and very relevant at the moment. It deals with the topic that every household up and down the country has a debate about: 'Should I stay, should I go, should I invest or should I sell?' So, it feels timely.
Do you think it's been popular with viewers because they can relate to it?
Phil: Exactly. We see people at a lot of different life stages, whether they're expecting another baby or they've got an elderly relative moving in. Some people thought, 'Oh God, airing my dirty laundry in front of everyone', but they're very normal decisions to face. What Kirstie and I enjoy doing is trying to put people in an informed position where they can make a joint decision confidently.
Phil, Love It Or List It sees you looking for the new property, and Kirstie, you've got the sledgehammer. Do you ever wish you could swap roles?
Kirstie and Phil: No!
Phil: It would never happen, the format plays to our strengths.
Kirstie: I love doing the redecorating. That's why I love doing the shows so much, because I don't get to do that on Location, Location, Location – I make suggestions about what they should do with their place but I never get to be involved.
Do you feel emotional when you leave the people you've helped?
Kirstie: The emotional thing on Location, Location, Location was leaving when you hadn't managed to make it better for them, whereas on Love It Or List It, you're always leaving them behind in a good situation.
Phil: Sometimes they've been having a disagreement with their other half for years. We arrive into that and leave in the knowledge that they're both better informed. Whether they've decided to love or to list it is immaterial, in a way.
You're both quite competitive. Is it really game on this series?
Kirstie: I will always have more success in this show. It is very stacked in my favour because possession is nine-tenths of the law.
Phil: I consider my job done if I've been able to show somebody – particularly the person who didn't want to move – something, and they've stopped and gone, 'I really like this'.
Would you agree there's a lovely feel to your shows because we see other people's lives transformed?
Phil: Kirstie calls it comfort viewing.
Kirstie: People feel like they're back at home when they watch it, because they watched it with mum. It's one of the things I feel most proud of and pleased by, this idea of second-generation viewers – that people hear the theme tune, they see Phil and I, they feel a comfortable, at-home feeling and they just sit down and relax.
Do you use social media to check what viewers are thinking?
Kirstie: Phil and I are very fortunate in that we get 99.9 per cent positive feedback. We get critics, but it's often kind and genuinely meant to be constructive and sweet.
Phil: We make shows that help people. No-one ever gets set up or made to look silly. We genuinely help people and we genuinely care.
Is it tiring filming all over Britain?
Phil: There is a lot of moving around, but that's very much part of the job. There was a time, years ago, where I got downhearted about the travel, but then I gave myself a talking to.
Do you find being away from your families difficult?
Phil: We both travel a lot during term time, but not during the holidays. That's how I justify it with the family. They haven't known anything else, I've done it for all their lives. When we try and make more than one series at a time, that gets harder.
When you go home from filming, how do you shut off?
Kirstie: It's a very easy job in that sense. We're so involved in it when we're on the ground and sometimes, with Location, Location, Location, we do quite a lot of negotiating afterwards, but it's very easy to escape the job.
Do you see yourselves working on more property shows in the future?
Phil: I hope so. If people watch it, we'll carry on making it. We're very lucky that we enjoy the work that we do.
:: Kirstie And Phil's Love It Or List It returns to Channel 4 on Wednesday January 3.