Top notch escapism with the World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

A new big budget BBC show will have those obsessed with property in raptures - and there’s not a single grumpy Kevin McCloud on the horizon

Caroline Quentin and Piers Taylor in The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes

Just when we thought the endless seam of property-related programming had been fully mined along comes a series so simple in its concept it’s almost strange it hasn’t been done before. Tonight BBC2 launches The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes at 9pm, and because it’s a BBC production they haven’t overpromised with the title.

For property and architecture enthusiasts this is just the antidote to round off the most depressing week of the year - prepare to be transported. Award-winning architect Piers Taylor and actress and property enthusiast Caroline Quentin are the duo tasked with combing the world to explore homes in amazing locations somehow built against the odds.

It’s like Grand Designs without the grumpy moaning from Kevin McCloud and the budget over-runs and near catastrophes. Instead of waiting a whole hour for the big reveal of the finished product, this series delivers four near perfect properties in each episode with just the right amount of cameo appearance from the owners/designers.

The Tucson mountain retreat in the new BBC show

Tonight's episode looks at homes built in mountain locations. From a house designed around the wing and tail fins of a Boeing 747 in Santa Monica, to a house built of rammed earth in the arid Tuscon mountain range of the Arizona desert, to an Origami inspired home on New Zealand's South Island and rounding off with a deceptively simple cedar holiday home built by four friends in Switzerland, accessible only by cable car.


Taylor and Quentin are an endearing roadtrip combo. Their enthusiasm is infectious. Taylor brings the right amount of technical speak, on space and clean lines and blah blah blah, while Quentin bounds about the place excitedly trilling at each new reveal. From jumping up and down on the plane wing, to diss-ing some randomly arranged entrance steps - “It’s like the Giant’s Causeway, except I’m not a giant” - her girl-next-door approach pretty accurately reflects how the rest of us might react in the same situation.

Clearly money was no object for these homes to have been completed, but there are great design ideas here too that enthusiasts will want to pilfer - charred wood panelling, prefab plywood walls that work, amazing picture windows from the bath.

The four episode series from Wall to Wall South continues in coming weeks with focuses on Coast, Forest, and Underground. This is top notch escapism.

The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes, BBC2, 9pm tonight (Friday)