If you’re a fan of home restoration projects, or just really enjoy seeing well-loved relics restored to former glory, then you’ve probably been watching the Repair Shop.
The Repair Shop has been on our televisions since early 2017 and is one of the top 200 most popular television shows, according to a you.gov poll. But recently while the UK has been under lockdown, it’s become a popular go-to programme because of its innovative restoration projects on priceless family gems and the down-to-earth presenting style. In March this year after the show moved to prime time, almost seven million people tuned into watch.
The Repair Shop aired its first three series on BBC Two before moving over to the big time on BBC One for series four to six, the latest of which started at the beginning of March this year.
Alongside the renovations on the show, the experts encourage viewers at home to undertake their own craft projects to create striking pieces and reimagine once-loved furniture items. The show’s accompanying book, A Make Do and Mend Handbook invites the show’s fans to take on their own restorations, mirroring the post-war 1940s and 50s’ ideas of Make Do and Mend.
Want to know more about this much-loved show before diving into the box set? Read on for everything you need to know about BBC One’s The Repair Shop…
What is the Repair Shop about?
Described as an “antidote to throwaway culture”, BBC One’s The Repair Shop puts a spotlight on the often hidden treasures that people have in their homes.
A team of expert craftspeople from across the country lend their skills to these pieces and transform them from broken relics into new and exciting pieces of family history.
In each episode of the series, the owners of these items come to the shop with their piece to be restored. They tell their expert about the item and a little of the story behind them, before telling them how they want their piece restored.
But some of these pieces don’t just have meaning to the people who come onto the show, they’re famous works of art in their own right. In series one, a ceramic jug by artist Jean Lurçat, who worked alongside Picasso, was brought in for restoration. The experts have also restored painting by the likes of Fredrick Appleyard, a famous landscape painter and C.J Frost, a notable portrait painter.
From ceramics and furniture to musical instruments and even antique typewriters, there seems to be nothing that the range of resident and guest restorers on experts on the Repair Shop can’t manage.
Where can you watch the Repair Shop?
BBC One is currently airing season six of the Repair Shop, which begun on March 16 this year.
You can watch it on the channel at 8pm on Wednesdays, or catch up on the previous episodes on iPlayer.
The Repair Shop location: where is the Repair Shop filmed?
The location for The Repair Shop, a small barn-like building in the middle of the English countryside with marquee letters on the side, has remained a mystery to many as the seasons have aired.
The Repair Shop however, is filmed in Chichester, West Sussex at the Weald and Downland Living Museum in Singleton. Most of the repairs and filming take place here, however occasionally the nearby smithery and wagon shed are also used.
Who narrates the Repair Shop?
The narrator’s voice introducing the pieces, guests and experts is one of most notable parts of the show.
Bill Paterson narrated series one, series five and series six. He is a Scottish actor and commentator who has appeared in many television shows and films from as early as 1984, such as Sea of Souls and Miss Potter. Most recently he appeared on the BBC’s hit show Fleabag, playing the protagonist’s father.
Robert Pugh was the voiceover for series two to four and is a Welsh actor, known most famously for his role as Craster in HBO’s Game of Thrones. He has also played roles in Doctor Who, Midsommer Murders and Doctor Foster.
Who are the presenters and experts on the Repair Shop?
The Repair Shop is mainly hosted by Jay Blades, a furniture restorer who has also appeared on Celebrity Masterchef. He has his own furniture design and restoration company called Jay & Co.
Speaking on ITV’s This Morning in 2019, Jay told hosts Ruth Langsford and Eamonn Holmes, “I oversee someone bringing in an item and also the making and repairing of the item and then someone coming to pick it up so the reveal as well. And just making sure that everyone has the right tools they need, ordering them and so on.”
However, there are a whole host of resident expert craftspeople on The Repair shop who help with the restorations and present the show. Suzie Fletcher, a leather expert and her brother, Stephen Fletcher, a watch and clock repair specialist, are also regulars on the show. Along with William Kirk, a carpenter and Dominic Chinea, a metalworker, they make some the group of nine experts who are regularly featured on the show.
Who is Suzie Fletcher from the Repair Shop and is she a twin?
Suzie Fletcher is the show’s leather and saddles expert. She’s an all-round equestrian enthusiast from Oxfordshire and the sister of fellow Repair Shop expert, Stephen Fletcher.
She’s been in the industry for over 40 years, following on from her childhood love of horses. As she told the BBC in advance of the new series airing, “I have been nuts about horses ever since I can remember and can vividly recall from a very young age making saddles and bridles for my rocking horse and Cindy horse.
“With the influence of my mother, who was very skilled in designing and making clothes and my father being a watch maker, it’s no surprise I found a way to combine my interests in design and horses to become a saddle maker. I started my training in the saddlery trade in the mid 1970’s and now as a Master Saddler, I specialise in designing making saddles for women.”
Suzie worked in America for 22 years as a top saddle maker, however after the passing of her late husband, she moved back to the UK where her brother, who is not her twin, was getting involved in the BBC Show.
She said her brother would speak about the show every time they spoke on the phone. “Every time he called he looked to be having such a good time I jokingly said, “If they need anyone to do leather I’m your gal.” I really was joking but after several phone calls and a lot of reassurance from Steve I agreed to give it a go and joined the team at the beginning of season two.
“I’m so happy I did as this is one of the most enjoyable things I’ve ever been involved with it’s also helped me through some very dark days.”
Who pays for the repairs at The Repair Shop?
For all those hopeful viewers out there, you’ll be pleased to know that if your piece is chosen for the show then you won’t have to pay for a thing. The show pays for all the repairs,
The head of factual at the show’s production company Ricochet, Rob Butterfield told the BBC, “We don’t charge for repairs. If people wish to make a donation to charity, we’re very happy with that but it’s by no means necessary.
The Repair Shop’s top five most emotional moments
“I think it’s become popular because a lot of people want to be part of something that feels like a community and I’m not saying shows don’t do that but the Repair Shop, we’ve got such a family ethos and I think that oozes through the screen as well.” Jay Blades said on This Morning in 2019, “People behind the back of the cameras, we’re just one big happy family.”
Anyone who watches the Repair Shop will know that the people coming in with their items and the experts can sometimes get a bit emotional at the end of the process.
As Jay said, “I do get emotional. I’ve got to try and keep it together but my bottom lip does go every now and again and it’s quite a nice feeling. What you’ve got to remember is that you’ve got this item or this family that you’re going to be part of that family once you’ve repaired it.”
These are the top five most emotional moments on the Repair Shop…
1. The rocking horse
“There was a couple that was married and the husband and the wife were going to repair this rocking horse. The husband died but he actually put his name underneath the saddle and basically the wife couldn’t bring herself to do it…” Jay explained to Ruth and Eamonn last year.
The moment he is talking about is from series four, episode 6 where the team restored the family’s rocking horse and in the process, did find the husband’s name. It was a hugely emotional moment for both viewers and expert Suzie Fletcher, whose own husband died from cancer.
2. The broken jukebox
The jukebox reminded Jeff Clark, a widower from Sunderland, of his “magical” wedding day 43 years ago. His wife, Marie had died seven years before and Jeff found himself unable to play the jukebox until years afterwards, when he would reminisce over their time together.
3. The jewellery box from World War Two
The box belonged to a World War Two veteran and grandfather, who bought the box in Italy after the war ended.
4. The teddy bear damaged by fire
This teddy bear meant an awful lot to its owner, who was herself left on a doorstep at 4 and a half months old. She was adopted at just over one years old, she was adopted. This bear was a present given to her at that time by her adoptive parents, Mary and John.
5. The antique bucket repair
Tony and Jenny were a couple who appealed to Dominic Chinea for help with their cherished item – an Irish peat bucket that was given as a wedding present.
Catch this team of experts restoring family gems every Wednesday at 8pm on BBC One.