TV: Alan Carr on his interiors, judging the style and taking on America

The reality competition, which is moving from BBC Two to BBC One for its upcoming third series, will welcome a new group of aspiring designers ready to fight for their big breakthrough in the fast-paced world of commercial interior design.

Each week, talents – all on the verge of turning pro – take part in a different business brief – working alone or in teams – to transform everything from show homes, shops and restaurants to beach huts, bars and luxury vacation villas. with their brightest ideas.

The prize: a decisive contract with a luxury hotel in Cornwall.

“He’s gained extra confidence (this show),” Carr, 45, said of the channel change. “The challenges are tough from the start, so the designers have to really think things through, even from the first episode.”

This season, “we got hanging boats, boob pillows, AstroTurf walls, terrifying taxidermy – you name it, I saw it!” the Northampton comic lists, recalling a number of notable creations.

“There was a time when the designer literally tore the space down because she wanted a total makeover. I mean, it was a pile of rubble and dust and she only had two days to finish it. …

“There were a few anxious looks from the producers that day, but that’s what makes for good viewing, people taking risks and creative risks!”

So, as the title of the show suggests, mastery is useful. And who better to examine their skills than returning CJ, interior guru and former Elle Decoration editor Michelle Ogundehin.

Matthew Williamson, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Mary Portas, Guy Oliver, Sophie Robinson, Ross Bailey, Abigail Ahern and Sarah Willingham are among the industry names offering week-by-week advice and assessment.

Williamson, for her part, “really loves the show,” says Carr, speaking from an Edinburgh hotel room after embarking on her regional Trinkets tour across the UK.

“And then Laurence Llewellyn Bowen, he’s brilliant. It was funny to see him in Wales at this campsite with his Fleur-De-Lys suit and Chelsea boots – I don’t think he’s ever gone that far north before!”

“And Mary Portas, she was shopping, so I feel like we’re getting a better caliber of guests, and Ross Bailey, the pop-up shop man, that’s really good,” the star boasts. by Chatty Man.

And the stakes are high, because at the end of each challenge, the weakest designers will find themselves on the couch (“It’s terrifying”, insists Carr) to face the judges and explain their decisions. Then at least one will be eliminated.

It’s a process that Carr struggles to admit with: “I just feel like the kid in the middle, looking down because I’m quite embarrassed by the confrontation.

“I just wish I could grab one of those books off the coffee table and skim through it,” he jokes. “It’s very embarrassing, and when they start crying I don’t really know what to do – there are a lot of tears this time and it never gets easy.”

The somewhat loosening of the Covid rules since the second series meant that Carr could at least comfort the contestants if necessary.

“Now when they leave, you can at least pat them on the back and give them a hug,” he said. “Before, you used to wave your hand two meters away and say, ‘Byeee!’ It was really cold and horrible!”

As for his judging style, “I try to be firm but fair, but I have the worst face in poker!” he jokes, his signature laugh contagious. “Sometimes lime green or baby poo brown, I mean I try to be pretty neutral, but with that face you are fighting a losing battle!

“But I’m learning from Michelle. It’s all about flow and what does the piece tell you? Then a touch of color, so I’m trying to be a little more pulse-sensitive.”

Did the tips and tricks he learned spread to his own house?

“Well yeah, really! I mean, I’ll look at a chair in the corner of the room and say, ‘What’s your story?’, but I like to fluff up the cushions and light an expensive candle,” he says. , admitting that he “kinda likes art deco” too.

“So I’m better – but I can’t get by with a power tool or anything. Putting up a picture is like black magic; I just don’t know how you do it, I’m useless !”

Carr continues, “I’m actually friends with Kelly Hoppen and Matthew Williamson, and it’s funny to have interior designers around your house, because Matthew will look at something really gross and have a raised eyebrow, where Kelly will kind of ride it – she’ll push your couch, sometimes while you’re on it!

“I think if you have that in you, that creative stuff, you just can’t stop, so having friends like that is a lot of pressure, isn’t it?” he questions. “It’s like when I go to dinner with Gok (Wan), I make sure my shirt is ironed, and everything is clean and it’s trendy and avant-garde!”

Fashion aside, the next Carr is ready to take on the United States: “I mean, it says in the paper that I’m going to smash America, but I doubt it with a 100-seater in New York! ” he shouts laughing.

“But I want to do it, I’m not a spring chicken and I have to bite the bullet and go for it!”

This is, of course, after his live tour in London ended in October. Does he like to go back on the road?

“You know what, the vibe is absolutely crazy. People are just ready to laugh and it’s so nice to be there again!

“I’m really happy with the show – it’s a very personal show, and it’s weird for me, because of what’s going on in my personal life,” he continues, referring to his recent split from with her husband Paul Drayton. “I write as I go, which is different, because normally you have your show and you stick to it.

“It’s interesting, it’s a learning curve, but it’s fresh and it’s enjoyable. I’m getting a lot of love from the audience, which is wonderful.”

It was a form of self-therapy, Carr realizes: “That’s how I deal with things – through comedy. I get through it and I love that mutual buzz you get. I love it. had with the Royal Variety Performance. I’ve done it many times before and the audience can be a bit quiet, but as soon as I got on stage they were in for it!

“From the start, they said to me: ‘Let’s have a laugh'”, he ends with a smile. “There’s electricity there, people want to have fun. They’re sick of it all. And they want Alan Carr to entertain them!”

Master in Interior Design with Alan Carr, BBC1, Wednesday, 9 p.m.

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