Still inspired after 15 years of Grand Designs

Undated Handout Photo of Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins1. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paula Beetlestone/Channel 4. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins1. WARNING: Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way.
Undated Handout Photo of Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud. See PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins1. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/Paula Beetlestone/Channel 4. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature SHOWBIZ 5Mins1. WARNING: Channel 4 images must not be altered or manipulated in any way.
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Kevin McCloud is back with a new series of Grand Designs on Channel 4. It’s 15 years since the property show made its debut, and it’s grown in stature ever since. Here, Kevin talks about the show’s longevity and the state of the UK housing market.

WHEN YOU STARTED BACK IN 1999, YOU CAN’T HAVE IMAGINED IT WOULD GO ON FOR AS LONG AS THIS

We actually started filming in 1997, so I can see the third decade of my involvement in this looming on the horizon. But no, of course I couldn’t imagine still doing it - I couldn’t imagine being 55 back then, when I was 39 or 37 or whatever I was when we started. It’s been amazing.

IF YOU COULD COME UP WITH A BEST OF GRAND DESIGNS, WHAT WOULD IT INCLUDE?

In one project? It would be just down the road, so I didn’t have to spend four hours getting there, a really, really good pub for lunch, and it would push at the boundaries. It would do something stonking that nobody has ever seen before. DO MANY PEOPLE ON THE SHOW ACHIEVE THAT?

The interesting thing about the design process is trying to change the world. People don’t watch Grand Designs because they hope the windows are going to be delivered a month late, they’re watching hoping that they’re going to see that moment, that point of inspiration where their own souls are touched, I think.

WHAT SHOULD WE LOOK OUT FOR IN THE NEW SERIES?

They’re all pretty stand-out. There’s a wonderful, small courthouse in south London that is beautifully proportioned, like a Roman villa. Then we have a floating house, which is an amazing feat of engineering. It rises up and down in its own dry dock whenever the Thames floods, so it’s kind of an answer to how we deal with water and flood plains.

HOW DO YOU VIEW THE HOUSING MARKET AT THE MOMENT?

It’s really volatile. It’s difficult for people to get mortgages again, and the heat’s been taken out of the market, which is what the Bank of England wanted to see. It seems mad that we as homeowners, or potential homeowners, should be paying the price for something caused by bankers, and we should continue to pay that price and be penalised. It’s very unfortunate.

WHAT ELSE ARE YOU WORKING ON AT THE MOMENT?

I’ve got Grand Designs live at the NEC in Birmingham in October. A big feature we have this year - which I’m really excited about, and because it was my idea I’m keen to show off about it - is a village fete. I’m also working on a series that goes out next spring about people who live in really, really extreme environments with their families.

lGrand Designs Wednesdays (9pm) Channel 4.