One of our favourite programmes which we watch on TV is ‘The Repair Shop’. This is how the BBC website describes it:

Nestled deep in the British countryside is The Repair Shop, where a team of Britain’s most skilled and caring craftspeople rescue and resurrect items their owners thought were beyond saving. Together they transform priceless pieces of family history and bring loved, but broken treasures, and the memories they hold back to life. 

That’s exactly it; ordinary people bring in a precious item – precious only in the meaning it has for the owner, which has been broken, has worn out through use, age, neglect or accident, and the ‘skilled and caring craftspeople’ repair or renovate it. It’s interesting to see the skills involved, these people are experts in wood, metal, glass, fabric, leather, watches, instruments – you name it and someone will bring an obscure or obsolete skill to work on the item and  restore or repair it in whichever way the owner wants. Some people want the item to show the love tis received and teh story it has, others want it to be fully restored to its glory. This is fascinating, but what also makes it it fascinating is the story behind the object.

Why is the show so successful and such a pleasure to watch? It’s the team of people involved and how they relate to each other and on occasion work together on a restoration; fronted by Jay Blades they are:

  • Dominic Chinea, metal worker
  • Steven (Steve, brother of Suzie) Fletcher, clock restorer
  • Suzie Fletcher (sister of Steve), leather worker, saddle maker 
  • Will Kirk, Carpenter and cabinet-maker
  • Amanda Middleditch and Julie Tatchell, toy restorers
  • Kirsten Ramsay, Sussex-based ceramics conservator
  • Lucia Scalisi, painting conservator
  • Brenton West, silversmith and antique photography specialist

As well as the team, a number of other experts and specialists regularly appear, experts in such crafts as firefighting equipment, antique typewriters, bicycles, pinball machines, willow, stained-glass, jukeboxes, antique projectors and hats. Interesting individuals of various characters, with a skill and knowledge who work alone or together to achieve not only a restored item, but to make a very enjoyable programme.

Time Team was an archaeological programme, one of my all-time favourite programmes of any sort. There was, as in The Repair Shop, a regular crew of experts plus other people with specific specialisms. The programme was fronted by non-archaeology expert Tony Robinson and regularly comprised

  • led and coordinated by Mick Aston or Francis Pryor
  • Phill Harding, archaeologist
  • Carenza Lewis, archaeologist
  • Helen Geake, archaeologist
  • Robin Bush, historian and archivist
  •  Stewart Ainsworth,  landscape investigator;
  •  John Gater and Chris Gaffney, archaeological geophysicists
  • ; Henry Chapman, surveyor;
  • and Victor Ambrus, illustrator

I’ve written about Time Team before and how it stimulated countless people, children and adult, to take a greater interest in the subject. There were twenty series of this fascinating programme, but what kept viewers engaged and interested was of course the subjects covered and the excavations undertaken, but it was the team of people and how they gelled! The fun,, the occasional grumpiness, the weariness when things didn’t go well and the elation when a nationally or even internationally important find was discovered – it was such a brilliant programme in so many ways, and it was the team which made it so.

Similarly dramas work well or fail, not just because of the script, the story-line, the filming, the production, but the teams involved. As a viewer we only see the action but it’s how the actors relate to each other, as well as how th characters do – I don’t watch much current TV except the immaculate ‘Unforgotten’ a prime example of brilliant actors, and the team of police officers they portray. An all-time favourite is ‘New Tricks’, another great team and the programme eventually ran out of steam, because somehow the close team relationships seemed to run out of steam. I am re-watching ‘Hustle’, another example of a drama where the team is essential to the success, and of course there are so many other examples.

I think maybe I’ll take a break from writing for an hour or so, and catch up on the latest ‘Repair Shop’ which I missed!

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