Sunday, December 19, 2010

Property Ladder's Sarah Beeny a hero on the home front

Television has plenty of heroes: Bear Grylls can scale cliffs, divine water and turn anything that moves into dinner; Gil Grissom always gets the bad guy on CSI; and Doctor Who has been saving the universe every year since 1963 (not to mention Kerry O'Brien, who's basically been doing the same thing since he became a cadet in 1966.)

But these guys have got nothing on my favourite TV hero – Property Ladder host Sarah Beeny.

How many people look this good after reguttering a roof?

For the uninitiated, Property Ladder is an English real estate show which follows the exploits of would-be developers from property purchase to re-sale, documenting all their expensive renovation disasters along the way.

Every episode starts with a bright eyed young couple gloating over the “bargain” turn of the century townhouse they've just bought in Upper Snotnose or somewhere, and how they're going to landscape the garden, install a brand new designer kitchen for $25 and convert the loft into a home theatre to sell the place off again for three times the purchase price.

Inevitably they discover the floor is about three hours away from collapsing, the walls are being held together with sticky tape and the electrics haven't been looked at since Benjamin Franklin flew his kite, and we get to watch them suffer a nervous breakdown as they spend 18 hours a day digging things up and bashing things down while their budget grows bigger than Laurie Oakes' boxers.

"In hindsight guys, this place wasn't such a great investment."

Every episode concludes with three real estate agents parading through the finished house declaring how much they could sell it for, frequently with disastrous results for the developers who usually come nowhere near to making the profit they were hoping for.

All of this makes for great viewing, but it's Beeny that makes Property Ladder truly unmissable.

She may look like any other TV host – pretty, charming and blonde – but don't be fooled. A professional property developer of 14 years, Beeny is an expert in everything to do with home buying, renovation and selling.

As my own plans for home renovation have hit something of a brick wall recently (and I have no idea whether that's a load-bearing brick wall or one I can knock down), I consider Sarah Beeny to be something of a superhero.

She can single handedly rewire a house, refit the plumbing and plaster a ceiling, all of which she frequently does on the show while in various states of pregnancy (watch a few episodes, you'll see what I mean – judging by the footage I've seen I assume she has at least 27 children).

And she can certainly navigate her way around a hardware shop, something that usually sends me into fits of anxiety where I end up cowering in the only part of the store I understand – the sausage sizzle out the front.

Beeny knows her stuff. She's like a property developing ninja.

So when she tells you to put in a second bathroom to maximise resale value, YOU PUT IN A SECOND BATHROOM. When Sarah Beeny tells you buyers in your area want three bedrooms, PLAN FOR THREE BEDROOMS. And above all, when Sarah Beeny advises you to replace the plastic window frames in the living room with sash windows, you sure as hell better buy those sash windows.

Of course the best part is most people on Property Ladder don't listen to Sarah Beeny, because they're morons and don't realise what amazing superhuman abilities she has. People on Property Ladder usually spend the entire episode doing mental things like moving heritage fireplaces, installing giant aquariums in ceilings and putting coloured neon lights in the bathtub (yes, one person actually did this), while Beeny pleads with them not to put the toilet in the middle of the kitchen or something equally ludicrous. Which makes the whole thing even more fun to watch.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to buy a sash window.

This article was first published in the Adelaide Sunday Mail's TV Guide on December 19, 2010.


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