ICONIC design show Changing Rooms has been given a makeover with a new look line-up – and it will be decorated with naughtiness and innuendo.
Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen – the sole survivor of the original programme – is singing the praises of new host Anna Richardson and revealed she’ll bring her Naked Attraction cheekiness to the show.
Laurence Llewellyn Bowen has returned to Changing RoomsCredit: Doug Peters
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, he says: “What’s really nice with Anna is she has a sort of Peter Panishness, a puckishness, a naughtiness that she’s very much bringing to this.
“I think everyone who’s watched Naked Attraction knows she’s very clever with words, she’s very good at getting information out of people and that’s definitely something she’s using very well.”
It’s a perfect match for Laurence, 57, whose flamboyant fashion, flowing hair and wild designs made him must-watch TV when he burst onto the box in the late 90s.
And 25 years on he is no less debonair, although he admits he may no longer be able to fit into his leather trousers.
The show is being fronted by Naked Attraction’s Anna RichardsonCredit: Channel 4
Love him or loathe him, his non-conformist style made him an irreplaceable part of the show’s furniture.
He says: “Changing Rooms was always a bit subversive. I was the Pope of subversion throughout that show, and certainly that is something that will never go, but it’s become part of the woodwork of what we’re doing, which I really like. Who says everything should be ghastly good taste? Who says the nation should be living in well-behaved greige spaces?
“I’ve always been who I am. After all these many years of being on television it still surprises me when people say you’re exactly like you are on television. Well durr, yeah, television was there to film me doing what I was doing. I wasn’t there to be on television.”
Like Bake Off before it, Changing Rooms has swapped the BBC for Channel 4.
The design show first aired 25 years agoCredit: BBC
The cult show, which marks its 25th anniversary in September, saw neighbours take over each other’s homes alongside a professional designer and carry out makeovers with mixed results.
Anna has taken the reins from original host Carol Smilie after Davina McCall bowed out of the reboot due to her role on The Masked Singer.
While designers like Anna Ryder Richardson and Linda Barker have been replaced by Jordan Cluroe and Russell Whitehead – who grew up watching the show.
Laurence says: “It’s weird for them. We keep teasing this idea that I’m like Darth Vader and they are a bit Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia. Watching Changing Rooms was something that inspired them to be part of design, now they’re part of it and they’re pitted against me.
Laurence is a megastar in AsiaCredit: Rex
“Everyone seems to think it would take two designers to take me on. I’m quite flattered by that, that I’m obviously such an arch nemesis there’s not one designer who’s prepared to pick up the gauntlet, there had to be at least two.”
Laurence has built up huge celebrity status in Asia and Australia thanks to his sharp tongue.
His mega fame in the region began in 2015 when he joined television show The Apartment as a judge.
The design challenge programme sees contestants use their artistic licence to transform rooms in an apartment which were then critiqued by a panel led by Laurence.
He has created the World’s Best Dog House in partnership with YuMOVECredit: YuMove
Viewers lapped up his savage comments in the same way UK audiences did watching Simon Cowell in the early days of X Factor, and he became a sensation.
The role led to him being cast as a judge on Australian reality show House Rules where two teams renovate each other’s homes.
While he initially took a bit of persuading to return to Changing Rooms, Laurence says its gritty, low-key feel has reinvigorated him.
“This is something I’ve really enjoyed getting back to,” he says. “They do it, we film it. That’s the programme. There’s a freshness to that, there’s a liveness.
“I’ve got so used to these enormous shows in Asia, in Australia, in America. In Asia I’ve got 130million viewers and it’s all about my guyliner, and it’s all about my backlighting and it’s a huge crew. I don’t move without 300 people in an entourage.
It is intended to make dogs’ lives more comfortableCredit: YuMove
“Suddenly Changing Rooms is like live and acoustic. It’s literally like going back to having a concert above a pub again. It’s incredibly invigorating, even in my advanced age. I think that’s one of the reasons I said yes.”
We recently revealed the BBC has commissioned a third and fourth series of Interior Design Masters in a bid to rival the Changing Rooms reboot.
But Laurence, who features in that show too, welcomes the move and is hopeful it is the beginning of a new golden era of design shows in the UK.
Describing the BBC’s offering as the “PHD” of design TV, he praised its host Alan Carr for making it more accessible.
He adds: “They’re both absolutely brilliant shows and I’m hoping we’re going to get back to the heady days of the early noughties where there was much more home on television, much more interior design. There’s definitely room for both.”
Laurence is known for his flamboyant attire and designsCredit: Rex
While his TV work is currently taking him around the country and before that the world, for Laurence there is no place like his Cotswolds home with wife Jackie and their three spaniels Estella Piglet (12), Dylis Daughter of Gladice (11) and Midge Marriott (4).
The designer is so dedicated to treating his pooches as part of the family that he teamed up with YuMOVE to make the World’s Best Dog House.
The initiative came after research showed many dog owners are unaware of simple tweaks they could make to their homes to make life better for their pets.
The two-tier house’s green and white wallpaper really catches the eye, but beyond that are a host of clever features perfect for pooches.
Non-slip mats and paint cover the floor, raised food bowls make it easier for the dogs to eat, the bedding is perfectly cushioned and the stairs have been adapted to make the climb kinder on the joints.
Laurence says: “Just because they’re dogs doesn’t mean they have to live in something ugly. My spaniels are very well travelled, very civilised and very cultivated and have very high standards and good taste, but predominantly it’s kind of about me as their owner. I don’t want to have something ugly simply because it’s got a job to do for my dogs.
“I wanted to get pet owners and to get the industry to understand design should be something that is hardwired into every single corner of our lives. Just because dogs are smelly and lickey doesn’t mean you have to put them on a brown ghastly malodorous bit of fake fleece.
“Integrating these things into your life as an owner can be done if they match your aesthetic. Our dogs are part of our family. I want them to be with us. I want them to be part of the family experience. Let’s up the design standards for dogs.”