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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.

Monday, December 13, 2010

If you don't like Two and a Half Men, you're a lesbian

I wrote the below column for the Sunday Mail TV Guide a few weeks ago, and in doing so learned a very important lesson:

Don't piss off Two and a Half Men fans.


I received about 30 emails in response to the column from readers who accused me of lacking a sense of humour and basically being a joyless old biddy who probably has no friends - all obvious conclusions to draw about someone who doesn't like a sitcom starring Charlie Sheen.

They were also adamant about two other things - that if I didn't like the brand of dull, misogynistic humour employed by Two and a Half Men I must be either

A) A lesbian, or

B) Unmarried




"...that prevent them from enjoying the comedy stylings of Chuck Lorre!"


Technically being in a state of A prevents B anyway, but I don't expect TAAHM fans to be capable of social algebra.

I'm actually not a lesbian, which is probably why I wasn't aware that the show was off limits to gay people. Is the wider homosexual community aware of this? Channel 9 should really screen a warning notice before every episode, to give any gay people who are accidentally tuned in a chance to change channels, lest the Homosexual TV Police come over and arrest them.

At any rate, here's my column:

TIME TO WIPE OUT MR SHEEN

Ever since Charlie Sheen had an “allergic reaction to medication” at The Plaza hotel in New York, US ratings for his show Two and a Half Men have gone through the roof.

Perhaps this is due to allergy sufferers across America rallying to support their new hero in his time of need. I'd like to think it's because 70 per cent of America has also suffered an allergic reaction to medication, which would explain why so many of them seem to think Two and a Half Men is entertaining.

It seems nothing can harm this curiously unfunny sitcom, which has ranked in America's top 20 shows every year since it started in 2003 and which has won five Emmys.

But you can't just blame it on dumb Americans – the show is so popular here it's on about 100 times a week. I'm not actually joking about this – by the time you read this on Sunday morning, Two and a Half Men will have screened 93 times across various Australian channels. On Tuesday alone it was on 19 times. NINETEEN TIMES. By my maths that's 47 and a half men per day.

Do some more quick maths and you'll discover Two and a Half Men is on for approximately NINE AND A HALF HOURS A DAY. That's 66 hours - or two and a half full days – every week. Do we REALLY need this much Charlie Sheen in our lives?

Looking at the show's ratings, it seems we do. People seem to genuinely LIKE this crap. This perplexes me, as I find Two and a Half Men about as funny as being stabbed repeatedly in the face with a bread knife.

For those fortunate enough to have avoided this televisual abomination for the last seven years (firstly, congratulations) the show revolves around a bachelor called Charlie whose hedonistic life is thrown into turmoil when his uptight brother Alan comes to stay with his young son Jake. I know it's hard to believe such a mind-blowingly original comedic concept could fail, and yet it does.

The script reads like it's been written by a software program, with characters shallower than a wading pool and jokes more obvious than Shaquille O'Neal at a midget convention.

Most of the jokes are also boringly misogynist – a chief part of the comedy revolves around “ladies man” Charlie having lots of one night stands with plastic-looking women with large boobs and small clothes. We're supposed to believe he is irresistable to women, despite the fact that he is a “jingle writer” who wears the same daggy shirt and shorts combo every day.

I've tried to like Two and a Half Men. I really have. Last Monday I taped three episodes and forced myself to watch them in the interests of writing a fair and balanced column about why I completely and utterly hate it with every fibre of my being. I didn't laugh once. (Actually I did have one giggle, but that was at that BankWest ad with the Asian sunflower talking about George Clooney, so it doesn't count.)

I know I'll get hate mail about this but I don't care - 66 hours a week of ANYTHING is too much, let alone 66 hours of bad jokes about boobs and belching. We have days for everything else – world wetlands day, salt awareness day, wound awareness day. Why not a No Men Day, when all the TV channels agree not to screen any Charlie Sheen related material for 24 hours? They could fill the scheduling gap with more entertaining material, like Parliamentary Question Time or footage of paint drying.

It's time for Two and a Half Men to go. And if you're one of the millions who apparently like it, can't you just spare us all and buy the DVDs? By my maths there's at least 9000 hours for you to watch.