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The televisual majesty of Homes Under The Hammer

There’s a glorious TV behemoth that may have gone completely under your radar if you don’t watch BBC daytime. Homes Under The Hammer is a property show in which three cheerful presenters meet people who’ve bought at auction, have a poke around their new purchase and grill them about what they’re planning to do with it. Sounds simple, a bit boring and generally rubbish, right?

WRONG!

It is brilliant, and you really need to be watching it. Because I care about you and your happiness, I’ve compiled a full and heartfelt tribute to the show, in new-fangled “listicle” form. If you can read all this and resist the temptation to binge-watch a week’s worth of episodes on iPlayer, well then maybe you’re just a terrible person who doesn’t deserve Homes Under The Hammer.

The scheduling is relentless

There is no escape from this show. As well as being on BBC1 every morning at 10am, with a repeat the following day at 6am on BBC2, there are now also bonus weekend showings. At certain times of day, it’s possible to watch up to four older episodes simultaneously. If you have enough tellies.

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Top Tip If you want to avoid repeats, stick to Tuesdays and Thursdays on BBC1, where they usually show new episodes (except during school holidays)

It can be used as an alarm clock

Jennifer Saunders once said in an interview with the Sunday Times that she likes to laze around in the morning “but if I hear the theme tune to Homes Under the Hammer, I know I’m in trouble.” In 2013, I was off work for several months and would joke that it was a good day if I was out of bed in time to see its truly horrendous title sequence, so I know exactly what she means.

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The presenters are great

Hammer (yes, true fans call it Hammer, deal with it) has now run for an incredible 1000+ episodes, most of which have been presented by marvellous Martin Roberts and lovely Lucy Alexander. Each one starts with them walking through the grounds of a stately home or hotel for some reason, while they explain the premise of the show and preview what’s coming up.

This was all dandy for 12 years (except for a few weeks in 2005 when they brought in two other people but we DO NOT TALK ABOUT THAT, those were the DARK TIMES). Then, in April 2015, Dion Dublin LITERALLY jumped out from behind a rhododendron and suddenly he was a presenter too.

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This was a confusing time for Hammer-lovers. With three properties per episode and only two presenters, one of the greatest pleasures of the show had been trying to guess if it would be a “Double Martin” or – the Holy Grail of Hammers – a super-rare “Double Lucy”. Now it’s just one each, bish bash bosh, no suspense, no tension, no drama. For a short while, Dion was reintroduced by the other two every single day, so we could at least content ourselves with trying to guess which side of the screen he would jump in from, but they’re not even doing that any more. Lucky Dion is great, and properly knowledgable about property, so it’s all worked out splendidly.

It can all go horribly wrong

This woman had to confess to Lucy that she’d gone to the auction to bid on a flat, but had somehow managed to mix up the lots and ended up buying a hairdressers.

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She wasn’t a hairdresser, which was unfortunate, and ended up turning the premises into a junk shop – which she was able to completely stock up with JUNK SHE ALREADY HAD AT HOME. What a hero!

There was also a rather sad episode when they revisited a man who had bought a property, only to find he had died. He was one of several “regulars” who had appeared on the show a few times over the years, and Lucy gave a little speech about him at the end that was so lovely it actually made me cry. And I’m horrible.

Sometimes dogs get to pick the houses

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In one recent episode, a woman buying a two-bed in Tulse Hill explained to Lucy that she used her dog, Fluffbert, to help her choose which properties to bid on. Fluffbert, you see, is a choosy canine, and will not play just anywhere. If he’s set down and refuses to frolic, the house is probably a dud. If it’s in such a state that Fluffbert won’t even set paw in it,  she doesn’t even bother to look at the legal pack.

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LOOK AT LUCY’S FACE! She is agog. She literally can’t believe what she’s hearing.

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Despite being great, the presenters are not a dream match, height-wise

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I mean that’s just ridiculous, isn’t it? And don’t even get me started on how they walk around with their hands clasped together, because this list has probably gone on a bit as it is.

The music. Oh, sweet Jesus, the MUSIC!

Ridiculously, it’s unlikely that any of Hammer will ever get a DVD release. I KNOW, right? Luckily, this does have a bright side – it means the show is covered by a blanket licence agreement for music, and they can play pretty much anything they like, so the researchers like to make sure the tunes are appropriate to the action. For example, if Lucy asks someone what the budget for their renovations is and they say “there’s no limit really”, you can bet your arse that No Limit by 2 Unlimited will be blasting over the top of the next montage. A woman once said “for me, this property has too many walls”. Right on cue, CATHY DENNIS.

Martin in particular is prone to dropping in phrases so a certain song will be played, which is particularly hilarious when everyone else fails to pick up on it, a totally different one is used, and he just sounds like he’s gone a bit loopy.

It can get a bit weird sometimes, though. Lucy once marvelled at how cheap a flat in New Cross was and they played the Birdie Song. I’m still not quite sure what that was all about.

Filming does not stop for inclement weather

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BftB1PgIAAAMj3lWith 80-odd episodes to make a year, they can’t just come back another day if the sun doesn’t shine. This one went out in mid-July, during a heatwave, and Dion personally lowered the UK temperature by an average of 2 degrees, just by looking this cold. And don’t forget, none of these rotten old shacks they have to hang around in will have the heating on. Some of them barely have a roof. Lucy certainly got the wear out of this purple coat she had on for most of 2014.

This woman was once on it

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And OBVIOUSLY she was amazing.

This baby was once on it

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And OBVIOUSLY he was amazing.

This toilet was once on it

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And OBVIOUSLY it was not amazing at all.

Things that WILL happen if you start watching Homes Under The Hammer

These are not options. They’re inevitable. This is happening.

  • You WILL soon realise you have a favourite auctioneer, and it’ll probably be the Scottish one.
  • You WILL start sucking air in through your teeth and shaking your head when someone says they’ve bought a property without viewing it or reading the legal pack.
  • You WILL become obsessed with Martin’s hair.
  • You WILL experience uncontrollable rage when they go back to see “how they’re getting on” and they’ve only painted one windowsill.
  • You WILL cackle with joy when the punters are furious that two local estate agents have given a stingy post-makeover valuation.
  • You WILL adopt Lucy’s default suggestion, which is that all kitchens and living areas should be knocked together to create one bright, modern space.
  • You WILL give serious consideration to walking down the aisle to the Estate Agent Music, assuming your significant other doesn’t dump you for watching 47 Hammers per week.

What do you think?

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11 Comments

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    • Haha, if I’d mentioned absolutely everything I loved about it, the page would have scrolled for all eternity, like the Mail Online homepage.

  1. This was very important and educational, so thank you. As someone who has worked on similar shows, I feel it my duty to suggest that the music choices are almost certainly down to the editor, who has approximately zero seconds in the schedule for dealing with said music. But even with all the time in the world, no-one could make finer choices than these heroes do in every ep.

  2. My favourite auctioneer is without a doubt the one with the striped blazer who covers the whole of the West Country. He managed a double whammy by being the estate agent valuer too in today’s shown episode. I am of course, off sick and this was the highlight of my day.

    • Bingo. He is my favourite too. Sadly they don’t seem to film down there as often these days as he’s only been in periodically in the last couple of seasons (mostly homes that were sold over two years ago but taken an age to redevelop) but he is my fave by a mile.

      Also to the OP – yes the double Martin or double Lucy excitement was one of the things I truly do miss.

  3. I saw an episode where one of the properties was in Tunstall, Stoke-on-Trent, so every song they played in relation to it was by KT Tunstall. Sheer genius.

    I guess the Birdie Song thing was because it was going ‘cheep’?

  4. We love what we like to call ‘HUTH.’ Our favourite auctioneer is Graham Penny, who by a happy coincidence managed to find work with an auction house called Graham Penny Auctions.

  5. My favourite auctioneer is the Savilles in London guy.He always starts with the words “I dunno” before picking a starting price.

  6. I think this programme should be removed. It seems to be literally about slum landlords who just paint over the cracks and dodgy “property developers” who just bodge it and leg it. They all say we fitted a top of the range kitchen, when it is obvious that the thing is a B and Q sell off

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