TV has struggled to make much sense of life since the financial crisis. Usually, it’s just tried to shoehorn the nation’s reduced circumstances into familiar formats. With that in mind, welcome to ‘Grand Designs: The Austerity Years’, in which journalist Kieran Long and architect Piers Taylor follow the progress of people trying to beat the cost of living squeeze and the property bubble by building a new house instead of buying one.
We begin with Ruth and Tony, who have pulled down their crumbling Shropshire farmhouse and are planning to erect an ambitiously designed new one. There are probably a few cheap decor hints for keen home-improvers, but generally this glosses over the extreme financial risk that the couple are taking in favour of some exaggerated TV jeopardy and cheery resolution.
It also sees Piers spend what feels like half of the episode persuading Ruth that what she wants her house to look like isn’t close enough to what he, Piers Taylor, thinks she should want her house to look like. Which is probably only half as aggravating to watch as it must have been for Ruth to experience, but pretty annoying all the same.