It's been 10 minutes since the last RTÉ property series and here, just in time, comes a new season of Home of the Year (RTÉ One, 8.30pm). Architects Hugh Wallace and Amanda Bone return as judges alongside interior designer Sara Cosgrove, who replaces Suzie McAdam.
And the formula is reassuringly unchanged, as the tigerish crew of experts snoop around three residences and then award marks out of 10 for “functionality, individuality and clever design”.
Nobody tunes in to RTÉ One on a Tuesday evening expecting fireworks. Nonetheless, the odd spark flies in a launch episode that features more conflict than traditional for Home of the Year. We say “conflict”. Actually, it’s the teensiest divergence of opinion between Bone and Cosgrove over the maximalist living room of house number two, a Dublin terrace residence belonging to an actor.
“For me, it’s just visual noise,” says Bone.
“The minute you start taking out all these furniture and furnishings you actually lose the spirit of the homeowner,” counters Cosgrove.
“I’m not saying there doesn’t have to be anything in here or it’s all white. I just feel there’s too much for the size of the room,” ripostes Bone.
“Time out!” chirps Wallace.
If the adjudicators continue to agree to disagree it could yet be the show that puts the welly into property telly
There’s further ennui at the en suite as the trio touch down at a bungalow in Longford, where Wallace and Bone disagree over the upmarket hotel chic. Does this speak to a dearth of originality, as Wallace believes? Or could it be that, as Bone argues, five star bling is the owner’s thing?
Chummy chortling is the customary tone for these shows (there is sure to be lots as Dermot Bannon returns with a new Room To Improve on February 20th). And so it is obviously a novelty when there is a clash of views. It's not quite three rounds in an MMA octagon. But, given the genre and time-slot, it's as close as you will get.
Not at that it ultimately adds up to all that much. Dublin and Longford lose out to a dwelling in Killarney owned by Tony and Imogen McManus, who relocated from Los Angeles and built a home that screams of tasteful Malibu excess. It's a little slice of Selling Sunset transported to Kerry and the judges are floored.
“Bright, open, intimate,” says Bone. Cosgrove praises the “American ‘overscale’ vibe”. If there’s a dissenting voice it is that of Wallace who becomes fed up when one of the bedroom doors declines to open fully. “I do think I should be able to open a door and not have a chair jammed beside it,” he thunders.
Wallace’s objections notwithstanding the McManus abode is voted through to the final, scoring 26 out of 30 against 24 out of 30 for the other two residences. The grand decider is still several weeks off and Wallace and company have many many further thresholds to cross before we get there.
But Home of the Year is off to a lively start – and if the adjudicators continue to agree to disagree it could yet be the show that puts the welly into property telly.