Behind Closed Doors

Monday, September 8, 2008 by

They say hidden gems can be found in the most unlikely places.

Such a show is Behind Closed Doors, which offers a televisual look at buildings not normally seen on the tourist map; where free-ranging, burly, security guards roam, prowling the jungle to stop gazelle-like visitors viewing the open plains.

Five, in trying to pep up its daytime schedule, have succeeded in both finding a new star and an opportunistic programme with an endless source of interest. Charlie Luxton is our guide through this terrain, and he doffs his safari urbanite hat while swashbuckling through the barbed wire forest and concrete cancer jungle.

The show starts with triumphant music, and images of power and force, such as the Palace of Westminster and the Liver Building – icons from the days before MDF and soft furnishing. Glowing oak and shiny brass are the order of the day here.

Today’s episode first touches upon a modern housing estate in Dollis Hill, North London. During the war, a secret base for Winston Churchill’s cabinet was established on the site, and from 1940 to 1943 the place snaked its way into the community from the offspring of the old Bakerloo branch – the tree of government growing among suburbia. As we delve deeper,  Charlie’s childlike enthusiasm is apparent – like an evacuee from the old smoke visiting the country for the first time.

After a quick sabbatical back to the modern world, we are then whisked away to Manchester to peruse its town hall, which has been featured in many a TV programme, such as Sherlock Holmes and The Forsyte Saga. It’s only when Charlie gets into the innards of the building his exuberance shines again, staring in awe at the vastness which appears before him. The Great Hall calls him to venture ever onward.

Finally, he arrives at the masterpiece of the clock tower. “The Victorians thought they could control anything they wanted… Even time,” Charlie comments.

It is a shame that during this episode they try to do too much, making the programme feel squashed like St Paul’s in modern day London. Nonetheless, Charlie Luxton – like Dan Cruickshank and Jeremy Clarkson before him – is a modern day orator with a focus on entertaining and outspoken views. Surely he’ll soon make the jump to prime time and, along the way, conquer the mountains of buildings our country bounds up with life.


One Response to “Behind Closed Doors”

  1. Zashkaser on August 5th, 2009 5:52 pm

    This is an excellent review.