Rebuilding after love's first rush

LINDA BURGESS
Last updated 07:56 14/01/2013
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CABIN FEVER: Kevin McCloud is both mesmerising and annoying as he builds a cabin in the woods in Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home.

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Oh no. It's like that terrible feeling one used to get as a teenager - one minute it's a heart-thumping crush, the next minute he's getting on your nerves with an intensity that the day before had been reserved purely for your parents.

Kevin McCloud, who I've always rather liked, hoves into view to chat about the cute little place he's building and I just can't help it: For the first moments I'm finding him annoying. Stop being so precious, Kevin.

But then I'm wooed and won all over again (Kevin McCloud's Man Made Home TV One, last night). Not by he of the coyly fluttering lashes, but by what he's actually doing. He's building a cabin in the woods using local and available materials. He's doing boystuff, the television equivalent of settling down with his chums and a really big box of Meccano. Even better: There's mud and axes and mates and homebrew and even sewers, and working things out. Making it all by hand.

Their happiness bounces off the screen, making it impossible to ignore. We're with McCloud and mates for six months and it's often wet or even snowing as they cut down trees, working out with the help of an agile septuagenarian how to blow them up just to hurry things on a bit.

"Can leading a simple life make us happier?" McCloud asks the camera. I think about how initially, just for a moment he'd annoyed me, and how when you're on television all the time people must feel as if they know you. No doubt perfect strangers leap up to him on the street to tell him about their amazing house which he really should come and see, or to let him know how he got something wrong last week.

He tells us that a friend has accused him of being Marie Antoinette, just playing at being a countryman, a peasant. But, he says, with apparent seriousness, this shed has a narrative all of its own. Buildings have their own stories. There's a tough little twinkle in those flirty eyes. Stories with which, he adds, he will bore people rigid.

Then they will leave him alone and he can be in his man-made cabin. In blissful solitude.

PREVIEW

Summer must be over: Shortland Street returns tonight to resolve at least some of its cliff-hangers (TV2 7.30.) And if you can't get enough of Kevin McCloud, his rather good Grand Tour is on Living at 9pm.

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- The Dominion Post

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