Sleb Safari: Changing Rooms reboot could do with a redesign

Maeve Connoly

Maeve Connolly

Maeve is the deputy digital editor at The Irish News. She has worked for the company since 2000.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and presenter Anna Richardson on a set designed by Laurence, showing his maximalism design style. Picture by PA Photo/Channel 4
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen and presenter Anna Richardson on a set designed by Laurence, showing his maximalism design style. Picture by PA Photo/Channel 4

CHANGING Rooms is back and so too are Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's black leather trousers, although this time around the waistband may be elasticated.

Back after 17 years, the series which allows neighbours to do up a room in each other's house began with such promise. "We are travelling to the floating palace of Udaipur," LLB announced, but sadly the episode never really got past the paddling pools of suburban Swansea.

Laurence's mission was to turn a beige living room, that doubled as the neighbourhood party room, into something less beige. No sooner had Laurence been told that the homeowner hated the colour pink than he cracked open a tin of flamingo pink paint and named his vision for the room 'Forever Peacocky'. The neighbours looked befuddled.

Across the road a team led by designers Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead were transforming a "flat and dull" bedroom into "Shantay Swansea". The neighbours over there looked befuddled too. Think drag, think Las Vegas hotel, think high glamour, Jordan and Russell urged.

Bless those ladies, they tried their best to think high glamour when they were asked to decorate vases with caulk. And they tried even harder when tasked with making links of a chain out of clay. High glamour must be a broad design church.

Watching Jordan and Russell at work was like watching an episode of BBC2's Interior Design Masters. LLB has been in the game a lot longer and the wily old fox undermined them by referring to their textured feature wall as an "up and over garage door".

Heaven knows what he thought of the design duo's piece de résistance, "a wall of hair, a strokable art piece". Picture, if you will, an Afghan hound sliced lengthways and mounted on your bedroom wall.

No-one could sleep in a room with a wall of hair. It's nightmare inducing. On top of that it's a fire hazard and is going to collect dust like nobody's business. Paging DIY SOS.

The homeowner tried gamely to look appreciative but it was obvious that the strokeable art piece abomination was going in the nearest skip.

A wall of hair or a nightmare waiting to reoccur?
A wall of hair or a nightmare waiting to reoccur?

Across the way in Forever Peacocky: The Party Room hung a swinging seat. How many parties do you think it took before the ceiling came down?

"It's a cross between under the sea, The Little Mermaid, and a peacock fiesta," the homeowner declared, happily.

For this reboot couldn't they do away with the pretence that the neighbours have any input into the design process?

The opening episode was a grand disappointment. Didn't Changing Rooms use to be funny? Or at least entertaining. Or was it (whisper it) never any good and Sleb Safari has been wearing rose tinted glasses?

New host Anna Richardson got changed into a boiler suit 15 minutes in but never so much as picked up a paintbrush. She did use her time and her phone to work out people's drag names based on their date of birth. Hers, by the way, was Lusty Gobbles.

The episode was, to use a popular interior design term, as flat as a pancake. There was the distinct impression that no-one actually wanted to be there and even the occasional flash of LLB's full-wattage charisma wasn't enough to salvage it.

Come on Changing Rooms, build us something better than an MDF version of a decent TV show.

Read more: Sleb Safari: Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is allowed one shade of grey

Simone Biles is a wonder woman

Simone Biles
Simone Biles

The US gymnast Simone Biles continues to be a wonder woman after sitting out part of the Tokyo Olympics to safeguard her mental health.

Simone says she has no regrets about the decisions she made.

"I wouldn't change anything for the world. I gave an outlet for athletes to speak up about their mental health and their well-being and learn that you can put yourself (as a person) first before the athlete."

What a role model. Simone is going to keep doing great things in whatever field she chooses.

Ireland will never let you get notions

A MASSIVE thank you to @janky_jane for the Twitter thread that has had us all laughing our socks off for the past fortnight.

It started when she tweeted "Props to anyone who tries to be fashionable in Ireland, I wore a red beret once in Waterford and someone called me Super Mario" and soon the people of Ireland were sharing their stories.

Here are some of the gems:

"I once ordered a taxi in Belfast for a night out. The driver pulls up to my house and just says 'yer not going out like that. Go back in and change, I'll turn off the metre.' I swear I was wearing normal jeans and a normal jacket."

"I once wore a silver jacket to college, turned up late for class, said 'sorry I'm late', lecturer said, 'That's OK' then waited til I was halfway across the front of the full class before following up with 'trouble with the spaceship again was it?'"

"Wore a suit with a matching tie and pocket square to my first day of work at an advertising company (I thought I was going to be in Mad Men I guess) and the staff sent around and signed a communion card for me with a fiver in it."

"As a teenager in the eighties, I was in a bar with my friend, who had taken to smoking using a cigarette holder in order to look cool and sophisticated. Bloke on the bar stool next to her: 'Shall I light that for you, love? I'm closer'"

Check it out for yourself -

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