Series 4 of my favourite cosy, slow television show painted itself off our screens last night after only nine episodes, six fewer than the previous series.
Daniela, a stylish photographer and mum of two, locked cushions with Oliver, a 49 year old hairdresser, redecorating three rooms each in a castle on the Kent coast. The 19th century castle was built by Lord Avery, inventor of the bank holiday and represented by a crest that depicted a pelican, “the symbol for caring and self-sacrifice” according to host Tom Dyckhoff. Pelican heraldry: you didn’t get topics like that on Bake Off (may God rest its soggy bottom).
Oliver’s rooms were much like himself: warm and friendly. A tiny galley kitchen was opened up by replacing some of the cabinets with open shelving that displayed crockery in a variety of textures and colours. An oversized clock raised the eye to appreciate the high windows. I loved the freshness of the colours and the sharp black and white laminate flooring. The bedroom was as opulent as requested – deploying a majestic palm print wallpaper in a burnished gold and moody turquoise, taken over the edges of the panelling to great effect. The four poster bed certainly created a mood of warm opulence; despite the presence of a chandelier and a walnut bedside table he still somehow made it look masculine. The study was a warm, welcoming room; a place you wanted to spend time although the colours were a little off to me, light blue with mustards and greeny cushions, hmmm. In fact, there was altogether too much blue in the latter stages of this competition. Oliver’s semi-final with Nicholas looked like it was being bankrolled by a dastardly Pantone salesman who only traded in the colour of sadness.
Daniela’s brief for her home-owners’ master bedroom was to create a spa feel. She created a clean room: dark stain on the fantastic parquet floorboards she uncovered underneath a drab carpet and crisp white, white, white everywhere else. I loved the glamour of the light fitting, created for around £45 by attaching fringing to a large circle of MDF. It looked great apart from the staples still showing at the top. The application of a ribbon to cover them would have sharpened the finish. The room was lovely but lacking colour, a little oomph.
The living room was dominated by a giant likeness of Napoleon which I am still deciding whether I liked or not. A bespoke, checked TV cabinet looked chic yet a little sterile. A large right angle sofa went down well with the home-owners and the overall affect was radical and inventive. Perhaps so inventive it left me a little unsure, but it has certainly stuck in my memory. I think Daniela’s mood boards were so glamorous and sumptuous I was expecting more of a wow factor.
The kitchen, again a tiny galley, was transformed with a metallic wallpaper on the cabinets to reflect the floor and give a smart illusion of space. There was a playful mixture of textures and materials including a cool marble effect wallpaper. The modern flash of dark orange glass on the exposed shelves was impeccable styling.
Daniela was fierce and won the trophy, as expected. No dinky dolls’ house trophy anymore. Like poor Sophie Robinson it has been traded in for something altogether sleeker. Previous full-time judge Sophie returned as a guest, feathers ruffled. She adopted the approach of a peacock and attacked with a maximum colour offensive: a TV-plasma-melting fuchsia mixed with a cerulean skirt. Plus giant scissor earrings. Sophie Robinson I salute you.
I still love this show but I wish the series had been longer to brighten more of my bleak January and I found the chemistry between original judge Daniel Hopwood and Kelly Hoppen unbalanced. She was too domineering and he too nervous of her. He and Sophie had a more equal chemistry but perhaps that will improve on future series.