Two Great British Obsessions – Tea and DIY
DIY on TV
First-time DIYers love TV programmes about DIY and watch them religiously for advice, technical tips and moral support – after all, the life of the DIYer is in the home rather in the pub, and it can get a bit lonely. "I never copy anything they do exactly, but they're great for giving you loads of ideas." "They are good because they make things look achievable. They spur you on and you think to yourself 'I can do that'."
The majority of first-timers, however, while welcoming the programmes, were far from uncritical of some of them. Programmes such as Changing Rooms, for example, were viewed with suspicion. Because the entire makeovers were completed so quickly, there was consensus that the work must be 'bodged' as a result. "You can't do the job that quickly", thought some informants, "and do it properly at the same time." "I bet it all falls apart after a couple of days", opined one. Another said "They do things like stapling curtains. You wouldn't staple curtains, would you?"
An overwhelming majority (94%) thought that the programmes made DIY look too easy. Perhaps guarding their own hard-won sense of experience in this area, even though relatively new to DIY, they felt that the programmes could mislead people and encourage them to take on difficult jobs when they lacked the required expertise. Even those who thought the programmes were more realistic about the difficulties involved in DIY still felt that real-life jobs would take a lot longer than the half-hour format of the programmes might imply.
The perfectionists in our sample took particular exception to what they saw as unwarranted short-cuts in some of the programmes and the use of 'shoddy' materials. "It's all cheap materials that wouldn't last ten minutes under normal circumstances, but under TV lights it looks brilliant." "They just don't do it well enough." The ubiquitous use of MDF (medium density fibreboard for the uninitiated) in the programmes also aroused quite exceptional and emotional objections in a few of our informants: "Everything's bloody MDF – MDF, the wood of Satan."