Last night s televisual entertainment was quite literally a load of rubbish. Yes, Channel 4 has brought a fresh batch of homeowners to the screen for a new run of The Hoarder Next Door. It is a tantalising opportunity to look beyond the net curtains of suburbia into the homes and lives of everyday folk with the strange compulsion to live in far from normal circumstances.
We are all guilty of creating little collections of envelopes here, piles of papers there, but when you scramble for excuses to keep hold of a gnarled looking coat hanger because it may come in handy to open a car door , you know things aren t quite right. In the first of a new run we met two hoarders Alison and Jo. Alison lives with seven cats and her boyfriend of three years in Basingstoke.
Her partner, Sam, has to cope with his 41-year-old girlfriend s fanatical collecting and the clutter it has created in their small home. Compulsions are always difficult to explain, and equally hard to comprehend, so let us not dwell on why ladybirds mean so much to Alison. And they are everywhere, in all shapes and sizes.
From cushions to Wellington boots, child s hat to ornament. If it has a ladybird on it, you can bet it is in one of the rooms. As the cameras pry into the lives of this couple and Alison s dotty collection, it is clear that their relationship is at breaking point.
Enter psychotherapist Stelios Kiosses. Charismatic Stelios met with the couple to begin the laborious task of creating a home from a hovel. Filmed over a six week period, the audience witnessed some painful exchanges between a distraught Sam and his beetle-loving partner.
After comical exchanges of words in the house, and equally cluttered garage, Sam stomps of yet again, understandably at his wits end. By the end of the process Alison has decluttered a little more thoroughly than was intended. Much of the collection has gone, but so too has Sam.
Strange, I don t remember him being red and spotty. Oh well. The other house we were drawn into was that of Jo, a 62-year-old primary school teacher.
Over the years, Jo has transformed her 500,000 Windsor home into a shocking sight. Or should that be site? One of my favourite books as a child was Clive King s Stig of the Dump.
The book, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, tells the tale of a caveboy living in modern day England in a chalk pit dumping ground. The pivotal character uses much of the materials to fashion a home around him much like Alison and Jo. To you and me, their homes filled to the brim with junk and mess are depressing and shambolic.
In many ways though, Alison and Jo believe they live in an Aladdin s cave, full of useful items and priceless treasures. If anything, Jo s home is worse than Alison s. Every room is littered with children s text books, toys and general waste.
Laughably, the cameras were on hand to capture Jo as she vacuums the corridors created among the debris towers of paper, plastic and teddy bears. And it s not as though Jo doesn t realise her plight. One of her closest friends, Jancice, is invited to see how the home has deteriorated as she is allowed across the threshold for the first time in three years.
I don t know what to say, she exclaims. It s just so… full.
As the pal of 20 years tries to aid the primary school teacher, it is obvious that her efforts are an exercise in futility. Jo simply transfers item from one box to another, with little or no intention of solving the problem. It takes more intervention from Stelios plus his helpers Allyson and Zoe to move things along.
A skip, many battles of wills later and a meeting between the two hoarders eventually results in some form of awakening. One catalyst to this is the team tidying Jo s kitchen while she is at work. Search your cupboards and you will doubtlessly find the odd out of date cooking sauce, or a sachet to be used by August 2008.
Jo could fill a pantry with her inedible produce. At the end of her six week experience, the schoolteacher s property may not be the sort you would find on the cover of a lifestyle magazine, it is however much improved. She is well on the road to recapturing her castle.
Paul Naylor Last night s televisual entertainment was quite literally a load of rubbish. Well, it trundled back into our living rooms with about as much subtlety as an out of control freight train and didn t take its foot off the accelerator for 90 minutes. Unfortunately, there s often the faintest whiff of naff about Channel 5.
Their shows have a tendency to give you all the glitz and glamour of a grease-caked arcade machine in a fish and chip shop in Rhyl.
British adults are on average 30lbs fatter than those in the rest of the world, obesity is costing the NHS 16 million a year and one third of children are classed as obese with 300 a year diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
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TV review: The Hoarder Next Door Shropshire Star