1 9 6 2 (UK)
39 x 25 minute episodes
Bucknell’s House was a mammoth Do-It-Yourself project from the BBC which began on 14 May 1962 and entertained and educated millions of viewers for the best part of a year.
A perfect wreck of a terrace house (79, The Grove, Ealing) was bought by the BBC and – with DIY-God Barry Bucknell as a suave and dexterous master of ceremonies – was gradually transformed into a trim modern dwelling.
Bucknell allotted six months to convert the house from its shabby decay into two modern apartments. He attacked dry rot, bad wiring, hopeless pipe fittings and many other problems that plague British homes.
Other modernising touches included covering panelled Victorian doors with hardboard to give them a streamlined appearance. Aesthetically, the result left a good deal to desire, but the end product was neat, labour-saving, and full of sensible, ingenious practical ideas.
Husbands across Britain took notes while wives made disparaging comments, comparing the speed at which Bucknell worked and the snail’s pace of their mates at the same tasks.
Of the thousands of letters that deluged the BBC, a fair number demanded or begged that Bucknell explain to wives that for every 20 minutes he spent before the camera completing a repair job there were hours of preparation that the viewers did not see.
The house was sold at auction in January 1964 and Britain’s do-it-yourself husbands breathed a sigh of relief.
Feeling that it would be improper to make a big profit on the house, the BBC offered it to the Ealing housing authorities for £16,800 but Ealing turned it down as too expensive. The BBC then decided to sell it at an auction and an Ealing property developer, Alfred Billig, bought the house for £19,600.
Barry Bucknell died in February 2003, aged 91.