Home truths with Kevin McCloud

BAFTA award-winning broadcaster, television host, writer, environmentalist, amateur balloonist, and storyteller, Kevin McCloud will visit Christchurch in February 2024, for an evening of insights, entertainment, and anecdotes.
Metropol editor Lynda Papesch looks at what drives him.

Chances are if you enjoy watching home shows, here and abroad, you will have seen British design guru Kevin McCloud voice his doubts, and praise, on your television screen at some time.

Kevin has fronted the BBC television series Grand Designs, and several off-shoots, since 1999, following hundreds of home-makers through unusual, and often problematic journeys to housing bliss.

Among the trials and tribulations, he’s seen marriages, divorces, the start of families, and the fulfilment
of dreams.

As host of the popular series, Kevin shares his insights and knowledge of architecture, design, sustainable building and living, showcasing some of the most extraordinary home renovations undertaken across the United Kingdom. From a castle to a water tower, a glass cube to a post-quake project in Christchurch, he’s seen some amazing, and astonishing construction projects.

His experiences have generated plenty of material for the hilarious anecdotes that form part of his new live show, Kevin McCloud’s Home Truths.

Personally, he’s a keen fan of New Zealand, having visited numerous times, some due to his involvement in a competition to build a new residential quarter in Christchurch, as part of its earthquake recovery.

“I love the country,” he says. “New Zealand has a smaller population and a larger land mass [than the UK], with beautiful places, and the opportunity to build, along with a fresh approach to architecture. You also have that pioneering spirit, that get-out-there-and-do-it attitude,” he adds.

On a previous visit, Kevin found Kiwi modesty refreshing. “I love the way rural architecture – and even suburban architecture in New Zealand – fits the site and expresses a sort of modesty, if you like, a natural diffidence. I really love that.”

He enjoys both large and small budget builds, often finding the latter more satisfying. “There’s no risk when you have an unlimited budget. That’s just chequebook architecture. If you have to fight your way out of a corner, be resourceful and make it work, then the build is a lot more exciting.

New Zealand is an extraordinary place. I like the can-do attitude that people have. It also has this fantastic energy about it, which is very appealing.”

Raised in Bedfordshire, Kevin studied the history of art and architecture at Cambridge, designing shows for the Footlights theatre club and its stars, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie, and Emma Thompson. He also studied opera in Italy, and designed the famous fruit and vegetable ceiling at the Harrods Food Hall.

Now he enjoys taking complex ideas and making them accessible,” Kevin says.

“Come one, come all,” Kevin says of his new show. “There’ll be some very poor music, and maybe a little construction mayhem. No hard hat necessary.”

SIX things you might not know about Kevin McCloud:
• He studied opera and won a place at Florence’s Conservatory of Music.
• After university, he retrained and worked as a theatre designer. He designed sets and costumes for the band Harvey and the Wallbangers and even a West End show. Once.
• He speaks French and Italian and has lived in both countries. There again, he describes himself as a ‘European first, Citizen of the
World second, Honorary Yorkshireman third.’
• He was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2014, for services to sustainable design.
• His favourite piece of architecture might be the rebuilt facade of the library at Ephesus in Turkey.
• He converted his Land Rover to run on recycled vegetable oil.

Event info

Wednesday 7 February, 2024,
Christchurch Town Hall

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