- Phil and Kirsty were property explorers when they were screen-tested for performance
- Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location is now returning for its 36th series
- Phil Spencer admits skyrocketing prices have made properties a nightmare
As two of television’s most famous house hunters, Christy Allsop and Phil Spencer are asked one question more than any other. “People always want to know what’s going to happen in the market,” Kirsty says.
‘I used to say that, apart from the unexpected happenings of the world, this is what I think. . . But then what do you know, an unexpected world event happened.’
Anyone who hasn’t lived in a distant galaxy knows what happened next: soaring property prices in rural places and a return of gaze as desperate urbanites sought to escape the lockdown in greener pastures. Naturally, Kirsty, 50, has a lot to say about it, as anyone who’s ever taken a look at her Twitter feed will know.
‘A lot of my friends were talking about moving to the countryside and I gave the same advice – you think your friend who’s sitting in her house in the country is having a good time on Instagram and your little ones are a big dig I want to garden. But when they’re 12 and 14 and nothing matters except their partners and football, and you’re just rolling them around every night, you might think differently.
Phil Spencer and Kirsty Allsop (pictured) are returning to the screens for the 36th series of Channel 4’s Location, Location, Location
‘When Phil moved to the country, his wife suffered from repeated stress injuries from actually driving the kids around.’
Could this be true?
‘She really did,’ Phil says.
It’s a perfect snapshot of the sharp insights frazzled house hunters have been given in the 21 years since the location, location, location burst on Channel 4, turbo-charging the nation’s already insatiable appetite for property and its Makes the stars of the presenters.
The show is back for the Kirsty Jokes ‘Gazillionth’ series (actually, the 36th) and I got a sneak preview at Kirsty’s West London home, which she shares with her property developer partner Ben Anderson, their sons Bay, 14 does. Oscar, 12, and on occasion Hal, 17, and Orion, 19, Ben’s sons from a previous relationship.
The house is a luxurious affair, converted from three flats with a portico that adorns the House of Commons and the huge wooden doors that once adorned Dunlop’s boardroom, with carvings of its products. ‘I just love that,’ says Kirsty.
Since she and Phil first hit our screens, home prices have gone through the roof, a fact sometimes attributed to their major irritation.
“Sometimes people have assumed that we alone have fueled the property boom and I always say the obvious,” says Christie. “There may be more shows that focus on the money side of things, but our shows have always focused on the house. where should you live? What do you want in the house?’
With prices skyrocketing during the pandemic, Phil admitted that finding properties for the series, which began filming last July, was a nightmare. ‘It was a really tough market,’ he says. ‘Wherever we went, the heat and demand was huge. It was manic at £150,000 and manic at £1.5 million. It was just across the board.’
Phil admits that finding assets for the chain was a nightmare, as prices skyrocketed during the pandemic. Pictured: The couple in the early days
Kirsty says: ‘The team was getting properties and they were selling them before we even arrived.’
She admits to spending the lockdown turning every room inside out and upside down. ‘I think the kids were scared, I was actually going to peg them on the washing line at one point.’
She further says that the ghosts of the location couples ‘haunted’ her in the past. ‘I thought of people who turned down second bedrooms because they wanted to live near pubs and restaurants, or who went completely open plan against our advice,’ she says. .
The new obsession with open-plan living is just one of the challenges Kirsty and Phil have faced over the years.
Phil, who lives in the Hampshire countryside after moving from south-west London with his Australian wife Fiona and their 17-year-old Jake and Ben, says: ‘We’ve seen market volatility and we’ve seen a change in taste. 15, five years ago.
So out go the dining room and come in at the larders, outside goes color and in comes gray – a source of endless excitement for Kirsty afterwards. ‘Wherever we go, it’s actually 50 shades of gray,’ she says.
Christie admits that she thinks gray property should be illegal because it is not environmentally friendly. Pictured: Phil and Kirsty
‘I think it should be made illegal – it’s not eco-friendly. In all these dark rooms, you have to light more lights.’ Fashion is another hitch for shutters. “Curtains are warm, washable, have a long life, but people just don’t want them,” she says. Phil is amazed by the proliferation of en-suite bathrooms in new-builds. ‘All of a sudden, you have five toilets to clean and a really small closet in an office would be far more useful. Kids don’t need to be attached,’ he says.
Both have been particularly impressed by how the profile of the average buyer has changed.
‘I was in my first flat by the time I was 21. I went to work with a sandwich and on pay day it was a lipstick, a pizza, and a movie. Now it’s satellite TV, gym memberships, cafe lunches and exotic holidays,’ Kirsty says. ‘Yes, it’s a struggle, and we’ve had young people on the show who have really saved and sacrificed, but I also think there’s an element of some people who aren’t ready to make sacrifices.’ And don’t even get her started on the wedding budget.
‘It really brings me to the hives, the number of people applying to the show who are spending £50,000 or £60,000…