THE £1 HOUSES is a two-part documentary, each show lasting for an hour.
The format is a mixture of interviews with the buyers and the builders in the buy a house for a £1 scheme, the council members who run the scheme, the occasional local resident and business owner and a local police officer.
The first show follows four families through the process of acquiring a house, the first viewing of the properties and then follows them as they renovate the houses. There are short scenes where each family explains why they want to own their own property, as opposed to renting or taking on a mortgage.
The main content is scenes showing the very dilapidated interiors of the houses, in general, damp mouldy and crumbling. The new owners discussing the vision they have for the finished property and a little bit of construction work going on.
Another large chunk of the programme is taken up by a horde of reporters and film crews descending on the first house to be completed. The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson is their primary concern as he talks at length about how wonderful the House for a £1 scheme is, how innovative and win-win it is for the city council.
By the end of the programme, the four families seem to be regretting their decision to take part, as they appear to have been abandoned by the council. Left on their own in a street full of empty houses with no neighbours and no one else starting a renovation.
There is a short taster of the second part run at the end of the programme.
Topical Television are the producers, they have been in business since 1992. The BBC’s One Show their flagship production. They have gained a reputation as a producer of live TV.
Overall the show was interesting; I watched it to the end, (though my living pretty close to the area and being familiar with it might be the reason for that). There were too many scenes of the empty streets with security shuttered houses. The interviews with the house owners were quite informative, they were given enough airtime to really put across what owning their own house meant to them.
There was far too much time given to the Mayor and his press entourage. The programme lacked a real insight into the construction process of rundown and derelict properties. There was little insight into the difficulties the owners came across while renovating the properties. Local insight came from a shop owner across the road from the Webster road street, a random passer by and a local police officer. There was definitely a lack of local contribution to the documentary, possibly to create an impression of ‘the notorious Wavertree’ area.
Overall a disappointing documentary, giving little insight into the process of renovating an old property, a distinct lack of local voices, so a one-sided view of the area was presented. Far too much time given to the Mayor, who was factually inaccurate in claiming it as the first house for a £1 scheme.
- Aired on Channel 4, February 14 2018 at 21:00.