DIY SOS: Celebrating 20 Years – BBC1

Nick Knowles hits the road to catch up with some of the inspirational people and communities DIY: SOS has helped in its 20-year history

Turning the feelgood factor up to 11, Nick Knowles revisits DIY SOS builds to find out what happened next.

In this emotional one-off, Nick returns to projects including the Dale Youth boxing club next to Grenfell Tower and Veterans’ Street in Manchester, where life-changing community work continues.

Read more about the extraordinary DIY SOS Grenfell builds here

Elsewhere, the Ratcliffe family on the Isle of Sheppey have started a charity and opened their home to help others, while the Wall family in Cumbria have fantastic news about son Noah.

Happy 20th anniversary everyone!

Not bad for a show that almost didn’t make it past its first series…

TV Times was invited to a special screening of the episode in London, where afterwards we settled down for a chat with Nick, 56, to talk about his labours of love…

Congratulations on the 20-year anniversary! Are you surprised to reach this milestone?

[Laughs] When we initially delivered the first six programmes, the BBC didn’t really like it and didn’t want to broadcast it. What they wanted us to do instead was to give tips on things like how to plaster and make an MDF shelf.

But they put the show out because there was a gap in the schedule! One programme got millions of viewers. It was very funny in those days, full of daft building-site slapstick humour.

How did the transformation into The Big Build format come about?

We had a lot of builders saying if we ever did a bigger build, they’d like to join in.

We eventually talked the BBC into letting us have a go. The first one was in Anglesey in 2010. The BBC very bravely said they’d give us 10 days to help a single dad with four kids who couldn’t work because of an industrial accident.

On the first day, we had no idea if anyone would turn up. We needed 100 builders and about
200 volunteered!

After building an extension on to the family’s two-room cottage, the BBC said they’d give us more shows – and they were so good that they stuck with that format.

Five DIY SOS facts

1 Since it first aired on 7 October 1999, DIY SOS has completed 205 builds.

2 Over 20,000 volunteers have made the projects possible, even Princes William and Harry have popped on hard hats and mucked in!

3 DIY SOS has built over £16 million worth of homes and community centres, with almost everything, from labour to materials, being donated.

4 There is £100,000 worth of steel in the Grenfell community centre and boxing club building project.

5 DIY SOS has completed five separate projects for Children in Need. This year’s CiN project is in Blackburn creating accommodation for homeless young people.

TV Times rating: *****

Read the full interview with Nick Knowles in this week’s TV Times