B.Hey, does it ever feel like a bad time to watch proprietary shows, unless maybe they’ve been redesigned to show us how to insulate them to deal with the energy crisis, or turn a downstairs bathroom into a vermin-proof pantry? to guard against food shortages, or set up a lead-lined bunker ready for the apocalyptic combination of the above and more. But no. That old warhorse Location, Location, Location is back; Sarah Beeny is about to return with Little House, Big Plans; and, among them, is Flipping Fast by George Clarke (Channel 4).
This new show, at least, captured some of the zeitgeist by adding a competitive element – and a slight touch of desperation that thickens as the series progresses – to the standard property show. Six teams get £100,000 each to buy, renovate and resell as many venues as they can to make as much profit as possible in the space of a year. At the end of that time, the team that has made the most profits will keep the £100,000, as the gracious host George Clarke says. He suspects the winner receives an additional £100,000. If the losing teams have to return theirs, most of them will go bankrupt and it will be a very dark ending to the series. Still, it’s 2022, it would be in line. I advise all competitors to check the fine print.
As always with this kind of show, a simple setup provides a complex and addictive journey down the highways of misplaced optimism, the detours of human madness, the occasional brick wall slalom of real stupidity, and the even more out-of-the-box. casual to the sunny highlands of a working intelligence.
Our partners on the highways, switchbacks, and slaloms from the opening episode (all that’s available to review) are Gordon and Pamela, a husband and wife from Norfolk. This pair listens intently to the advice that the team of real estate developer siblings Scarlette and Stuart Douglas offer to all the teams, and gleefully proceeds to do the exact opposite. it’s glorious
“Research the area you plan to shop in!” Scarlette and Stuart cry, due to basic common sense. “Good!” Gordon and Pamela cry. “Do not!” They opt for a house in Stockton-on-Tees, a place they have never seen or heard of. Property prices in the area, we are told, have fallen 11% in the last year.
“Take a good look at the property before you buy it!” Scarlette and Stuart cry, for sanity.
“Absolutely!” say Gordon and Pamela. “We do not!” They buy a house online, without even a survey. “Looks different than the photos!” says Pamela as they arrive at her newly purchased wreck, as happy as she finds an overfull box of chocolates. “We have our work cut out for us!” says Gordon, apparently going through the same box. “There’s a shower in the kitchen!” Pamela says, inexplicably, in a tone that suggests she’s just seen a premium creme de menthe.
“This shouldn’t be news to you, the home buyer!” cries every viewer watching. “This should never be news to you, any home buyer!”
“Don’t go over budget at any stage!” Scarlette and Stuart cry. “£100,000 is not, when it comes to buying and selling property, a huge amount of money. Be careful, do it.
“We,” Gordon and Pamela say, as they pull the shower out of the kitchen, “won’t!” They have blown their budget by buying the house, for £3,000 less than a fully renovated close equivalent would have cost. The unexpected expense of rewiring the venue takes half of his total planned renovation budget of £6,000. Then there’s the water that starts seeping everywhere (“You better turn off the electricity, Gordon!” laughs Pamela) when they try to handle everything themselves. That probably has to be fixed.
“I think our gamble paid off,” says Gordon. “Let’s buy another venue for £31,000 to celebrate!”
“Really interesting strategy, that,” says Clarke.
Meanwhile, Harriet, a 28-year-old sports journalist, busies herself with buying a one-bedroom apartment, forcing her highly-skilled relatives to fix it up with her, and selling it for a £19,000 profit.
The other four have not yet left the blocks. The smart money is, of course, with Harriet, but our hearts go out to Gordon and Pamela. Where would we and the property shows with an element of competition be without them and the irrepressible optimism of their fellow slalomers? The world would be a more boring place, for sure. Yes, you have to admit it, probably safer and more watertight.