Changing Rooms: Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen talks phenomenal pressure of show09/01/2021
Changing Rooms guest reacts badly to makeovers on classic show
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House revamp show Changing Rooms arrived back on Channel 4 recently after an original stint between 1996 and 2004. The only original member who has made a comeback on the series is colour guru Laurence. New host Anna Richardson and designers Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead, with carpenter and joiner Tibby Singh complete the team. The daring programme sees two sets of homeowners from the same neighbourhood work against the clock to renovate a room in each other’s houses. They work with Laurence or Jordan and Russell to bring the new looks to life in the chosen rooms, with the designers’ bold and opposing styles ensuring each transformation will be spectacular, innovative and unexpected. As light-hearted as the show appears though, the 56-year-old detiled the incredible pressure he is under while filming.
“The funny thing was, because it’s actually been going on for a while, I’ve been quite involved in the set up of it,” Laurence said when asked about revisiting the show after such a long time without it.
“Literally because I’m the only person left alive! And that’s how it works.
“You know, I have got the secret of the Holy Grail.
“When pre-production started about a year ago, I remember just going through things in the meetings like ‘Well, you have to understand that this is going to happen and that’s going to happen, you need to have a clear space to store paint, you’ve got to do this, you’ve got to do that’.
“So actually, the honest answer is that I was dreading this!
“When it started actually getting closer and closer we had to isolate for seven days beforehand and I remember leaving the family, standing outside the house in the car with all my stuff and driving away thinking ‘Oh my God’.
“Because at that point, all I could remember from Changing Rooms was just the sheer exhaustion and the mental stress.
“I’m not a very stressy person but it’s a phenomenal amount of pressure to get the room done, and to get it right.”
Laurence explained how it was to film during the pandemic, explaining that having to isolate added to the exhaustion of filming.
“Because you’ve got the camera crew saying: ‘oh, we need to film that’. you’ve got the drag saying: ‘well, you need to finish in five minutes’.
“But I always wanted to try to ensure that the room was just properly done and properly finished.
“So actually, I mean, in that period of isolation, when I was just on my own, I was just ‘oh, what am I doing, I’m too old!’
“I remember the first day filming it, putting on the leather trousers, and I was on location.
“And it’s literally like being a retired old warhorse suddenly hearing a cavalry charge, with nobody able to hold them back.”
He added: “There I was! I was desperate to get started.
“It’s an extraordinary feeling. When you take off the lid, and you show everyone the colour that they told you not to use – obviously – you just look around the room and you go ‘Oh my God, in 48 hours, this room will be totally different’.
“For better or worse, but this room is not going to ever look like this again.
“I know I do that for a living but I don’t do it in 48 hours.
“It’s the instantaneous fulfilment, the instantaneous satisfaction that you do everything, and then it’s done.
“In design terms is so invigorating. It’s so addictive.”
Changing Rooms airs on Wednesdays at 8pm on Channel 4.
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