Country House Rescue, Channel 4

by | Dec 11, 2008 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

An enjoyable but not memorable beginning to Ruth Watson’s Channel 4 career after her big-money transfer from Five’s The Hotel Inspector.

What was good about it?

• There’s something about Ruth we like a lot. We think it’s the way she holds her neck. Such posture. She can be bossy but it’s always in an endearing way. And she has a lovely yellow bob of hair. She’s like the antithesis of Deborah Meaden off Dragon’s Den.

• Bossyboots Television has generally become a bit of a bore but Ruth just makes a few simple, well-argued suggestions so it’s not an unpleasant, hectoring experience for the subjects or the viewer.

• Even those who don’t like formatted reality TV could have enjoyed this glimpse around the splendid Cothay Manor in Somerset, a house and garden which rose from the ruins thanks to the energy and commitment of Alastair and Mary-Anne Robb. He’s 78, she’s 68 but they have the energy of teenagers and work around the clock the keep the property looking stunning. She does five hours a day of gardening. We’ve not done that much in a lifetime.

• Mary-Anne reminding us of Dawn French’s “stuff and nonsense” countrywoman.

• Mary-Anne’s initial resistance to refreshing the refreshments on offer, treating eating as if it was a passing fad.

• Mary-Anne’s determination to have her heart buried in her beloved garden, beneath the birdbath – “I’ve asked the butcher to cut it out,” she said.

• Alastair’s charming “blitch or blotch?” confusion over bling.

What was bad about it?

• In these shows, it’s helpful if the subjects are idiots or unpleasant so there’s an almighty battle of wills. But Alastair and Mary-Anne were a delightful couple and, with some hesitation, were prepared to accept the Ruth recipe for success – more teas and cakes, a calender of events and a bit more effort on flogging souvenirs and plants.

• There was no resolution in the sub-plot about bequeathing the manor to one of the offspring to avoid a £1m death duty bill.

• Mary-Anne’s failure to adorn her garden with statues of naked men during the sculpture do.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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