Anna Richardson on the return of Changing Rooms

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Changing Rooms, the 90s television sensation, is back! Now on Channel 4 and with an almost entirely new line-up of presenters, the show sets out to transform the homes of ordinary people, sometimes with disastrous results. Among the new presenters is Naked Attraction’s Anna Richardson, she told us what we can expect from the new series.

What are your memories of the original Changing Rooms?
I was obsessed with Changing Rooms, I loved it. I remember Anna Ryder Richardson, Linda Barker, Carol Smillie, Laurence, obviously, and Handy Andy. To me, it was a bright, shambolic series with Laurence running about in lots of ruffles and 18th century suits! And there were tears at the end with the reveals and things falling off the walls. I actually have a lovely little connection to the original series as two of my really good friends met when they were working on the show as a runner and a researcher, and now they’re married with a family.

So what can we expect from the new Changing Rooms?
This time around, it’s the same but with a bigger budget. And it’s so weird seeing Laurence in the flesh, 25 years later, because he hasn’t changed. Now he’s a more handsome, middle-aged version of himself. And Russell and Jordan have been a delight, it’s amazing to be around genuinely creative people that can just imagine a 3D space in their heads and know how to place everything. I find it quite awe-inspiring to be around.

What did you think when you got the call to present the series?
I was literally like, thank you so much. I was absolutely thrilled. And the experience of filming in a big group with incredible people, as well as lovely contributors who have allowed us into their homes, has been extraordinary. We’re all in it together and that’s when making television is so exciting, and that’s why I love my job.

You’re in the unique position of going between both houses. What’s that like? Has it been hard not to tell the contributors what’s going on back in their homes?
Yes, it was tough to remember who knew what in which house. I kept wanting to tell them what was going on down the road because it would be something incredible, so I was constantly having to edit myself or get told off by the director.


Changing Rooms is famed for the reactions to the makeovers. Can we expect shocks and tears?
There is a smorgasbord of emotions and it can be tricky to unpick whether there are tears of joy, disappointment, or just sheer exhaustion. Laurence and Russell and Jordan are so creative, their rooms are like extraordinary theatre sets, or something out of a magazine. So just to see that creation in three days is enough to move anyone to tears, it’s amazing.

Do you did you get your hands dirty during the makeovers?
Absolutely, I always had a little bit of a make to do. I really did try and I loved doing it, but I’m just rubbish and the results are really disappointing. Russell was trying to get me to do some punch needle and I just couldn’t get it right. I’m quite disappointed in how utterly rubbish I am. Everybody on that set is uniquely creative in their own way, whether it’s as a carpenter, a decorator or the designers and I’m the only person who can’t do anything.

Has working on the show inspired you to be more adventurous with your own interior design?
Jordan and Russell have been teasing me an awful lot because my taste is so greige, as they would say. Everything I’ve got is grey, I think I’m way too dull for the pair of them. My tastes don’t even register on their scale, frankly.

Russell and Jordan are new to TV, what can viewers expect from them?
Russell and Jordan are fantastic, they have brilliant personalities and I really hope that shines on screen. They are very kind, lovely and funny men. Viewers can expect to see a wonderful marriage of two creatives who are trying to agree on the same design. They’re going to bring a burst of joy and colour to screens in a really positive and forward-thinking way. They were an absolute pleasure to film with.

And has working with Laurence been everything you expected it to be?
It has been everything I expected and more, we’ve had a really good laugh. Laurence is an alpha male and an artistic genius. He knows exactly what he’s doing – he’s been doing it for 25 years – and he’s very kind and generous and funny.

So why is now the right time to bring back Changing Rooms?
I’m so thrilled Channel 4 has brought it back. Now is the right time because we’ve had almost 18 months of misery, there’s been little or no joy and nothing to look forward to. Changing Rooms is a burst of colour, positivity and laughter on our screens, with people creating something extraordinary, but, also, sometimes messing it up in the process. And the fact that we can stand back as a team and laugh about it is refreshing. I think – I hope – the audience will laugh along with us. The joy of Changing Rooms is that not only do you see a fabulous makeover, you also see the challenges, the mishaps and the solutions along the way. It’s fun and it’s inspiring.

If you had to paint a room in your house today, what colour scheme would you use?
Pink. In fact, I nicked a tin of paint from one of the makeovers, a lovely sort of mid-rose Dulux colour. The designers made me see colour in different ways. I was inspired.

Changing Rooms is on Wednesdays at 8pm on Channel 4, watch Episode 1 on All4 now.

Written by: Queerly

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