The Repair Shop – ‘We’re like a modern day version of Bagpuss!’ says Jay Blades on its success

As the feel-good series, The Repair Shop, goes prime time, presenter Jay Blades reveals why the nation has taken it to their hearts and why the show is so special to him...

Jay Blades, the nations favourite furniture upcylcler, is back with a brand new series of The Repair Shop and is  delighted that the hit BBC series, in which a team of restoration experts lovingly give broken family items and heirlooms a new lease of life, has moved to a new prime time slot.

As the award-winning series returns, items being brought to the Repair Shop’s HQ include a pump organ that’s travelled from Jamaica, a baby’s crib that’s been passed through the generations and a very special hat belonging to a WW2 RAF pilot.

The Repair Shop 2020

Expert Ian Harding with Toni Hazel who has brought in the hat worn by her father, an RAF pilot who fought in WW2

“What I love is that every single item brought in has a completely different story attached to it and is a little slice of history”, says Jay.

Here The Repair Shop star Jay Blades, 49, tells us why he thinks the series has struck such a chord and why the show is so special to him…

The team of expert restorers are ready to work their magic on treasured items brought in by the public (L-R) Brenton West, Amanda Middleditch, Dominic Chinea, Julie Tatchell, Lucia Scalisi, Kirsten Ramsay, Jay Blades

What do you think the secret of The Repair Shop’s success is?

Jay Blades: “I think people love it because it’s all about community, family and kindness. There are a lot of TV shows that are taking the mickey out of people, especially the talent type shows, but this is all about doing something kind for other people. And it’s not just a show about fixing things, you’ve got history in there, emotion, you’re meeting people who have beautiful stories to tell.”

How emotional do things get this series?

JB: “Very! One that stood out for me was Geoff  Clark who brought in a jukebox which he’d had for nearly 50 years and which he played on his wedding day. His wife, Marie, passed away seven years ago and the jukebox has long since stopped working. Our audio expert Mark Stuckey managed to fix it and Geoff played Glen Miller’s Moonlight Serenade which he and Marie danced to at their wedding reception in their living room. It’s rare you see my bottom lip going but I was really struggling to keep it together seeing his reaction as he was transported back to such a special moment in his life.”

(L-R) Steve Fletcher, Will Kirk, Jay Blades and Suzie Fletcher

When did your passion for restoration and up-cycling begin?

JB: “I was a community worker, working with young people and when government funding dried up I had to think of a way of creating revenue. I started restoring and revamping old future and with the help of people in the business, taught young people how to do it too. The idea was to give people work skills as well as life skills.”

The Repair Shop 2020

David Burville is asked to repair the precious pump organ that sisters Angela Jackson have brought in

Did you have an interest in furniture before that?

JB: “My interest came from a ‘Make do and mend’ approach. I come from a poor background so I’d do things like make my own furniture. I remember making a whole sofa suite out of pallets. It was quite cool actually.”

Do you think the show inspires people to learn new skills and see how it’s possible to re-use things?

JB: “Definitely. We live in this consumerist society where if something breaks, or if it’s old, we of often think ‘Just buy another one’, but I think the tide is turning, people are starting to hold onto things and repair them and are more aware of waste. I get a lot of emails from young people asking me for advice and saying they want to get into restoring or recycling which is fantastic.”

The Repair Shop 2020

Nicholas McCullen has brought in the naval rigging set used by his late father who travelled the seas for Suzie Fletcher to restore

What do you love most about the show?

JB: “It’s the camaraderie which is just unreal. We’re like one big family and to have all those experts under one roof is something very special. It’s like the modern day version of Bagpuss which I used to love watching on TV as a child. We’re the Bagpuss mice that used to fix everything. We even have a little dance and a song in the Repair Shop like the mice. It’s a wonderful thing and I’m so honoured to be a part of it.”

What’s the thing you’re most proud of repairing?

JB: “I’d say repairing myself. About five years ago, everything went wrong. My marriage broke up, I found myself homeless and I was in a really dark place but I got myself out of it and I’m here now. I’m enjoying life again.”

The Repair Shop begins on BBC1 on Wednesday 18 March, 8pm, BBC1

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