Thursday, 13 February 2014

Fill Your House For Free? Hardly...

Why we're not convinced by Kirstie Allsopp and Kirstie's Fill Your Home For Free

It’s fair to say that I’m all for recycling. Most of my clothes come from charity shops, I’ve donated items to my local Freecycle group and I always (well, nearly always) separate out my plastics, glass, cardboard etc from my kitchen rubbish.

Then there’s my (albeit small) involvement in Reloved Vintage. The whole ethos of the business is to take good quality vintage items and ensure they get a new home for years to come, rather than becoming landfill, so I completely agree with and applaud the sentiment behind Channel 4 show Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free (which has a second series in the pipeline).

What a great idea – bringing upcycling and recycling into the mainstream. We should all be encouraged to turn our backs on our throwaway society and invest in quality products that eliminate the need for harmful manufacturing processes, or shown ideas for repurposing stuff that would otherwise get dumped.
It’s great in principle, even if it will drive up prices in charity shops (good for the charities, not good for bargain hunters like me).

A lovely wool tie, 75p from a charity shop

Another charity shop gem...

But there’s something about KFYHFF which doesn’t quite ring true. First, I have to try to eliminate the Allsopp element from my appraisal. I’m not a fan. Laura loves watching Location, Location, Location, but I find the forced banter between Kirstie and Phil painful – not to mention the smug couples who we’re supposed to empathise for when they reveal they can only afford a £450,000  mortgage.

Then there are the Kirstie craft shows, in which she enlists the country’s leading crafters to give up hundreds of pounds worth of their time to create a bespoke gift – then tells us we can all do that too!

So, putting The Allsopp to one side, here’s my beef with Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free: they never fill anyone’s house for free.
That’s a pretty major flaw for me. It’s like John Humphrys not bothering to ask any questions on Mastermind, or Gregg Wallace and John Torode telling the Masterchef contestants they can just get a takeaway in if they like.

In the last series, people from all over the country (including a very middle class lady whose very expensive home needed some new furniture after her ‘snug’ was flooded – poor her), were invited to look around Kirstie’ shop full of free stuff, in Glasgow and invited to help themselves. So in this case, to get something for free, they have to travel hundreds of miles to a shop that doesn’t exist in real life. Brilliant.

Then there were the objects sourced by Kirstie and her elves from Freecycle groups – meaning a couple from Coventry (or somewhere equally bleak, I forget where) were matched up with a ‘free’ fireplace from Dundee (or somewhere equally distant – you don’t expect me to research this do you?). 

Firstly, the KFYHFF production team were scouring Freecycle, to nab the best bits, in order to make a TV show, in order to make money. That’s surely against the spirit of freecycling.
Secondly, they were taking things from all over the country and giving them to people from miles away – that doesn’t work outside the confines of a TV show.
Thirdly, I’ve never seen such good quality, and obviously worth a few quid, items offered on my local Freecycle groups…

And then there were the items, sourced from antiques shops and reclamation yards which they PAID for. Yes, in a programme called ‘Fill Your House For Free’ they paid for items to fill their house.

And I haven’t even mentioned Kirstie’s repeated suggestion of “go to a house clearance”. How, Kirstie? Should I quit my job to set up a house clearance firm, then turn up at a dead man’s house, help myself to an old sideboard and bugger off? Be more helpful with your suggestions!

"Give us stuff so we can make money!"

So why am I blogging about it now, months after it was broadcast? Well, I’ve just seen an appeal on Twitter, from Kirstie and Phil’s production company, Raise The Roof, appealing for donations of furniture and furnishings, specifically copper piping, for the upcoming series.
Now, call me a jaded old cycnic, but if an item like copper piping is in such short supply that a TV production company with experience of sourcing items for free can’t get hold of any, then it’s probably pretty unlikely that Joe and Jo Bloggs from Walsall are going to find a load on their local Freecycle group.

In fact, appealing for people to give you free furniture for your TV show, so you can show the British public how easy it is to get free furniture, is slightly disingenuous, if you ask me.
Kirstie’s Fill Your House For Free? More like Kirstie’s Fill Your House By Appearing On A TV Show That Has Run A National PR Campaign, Fronted By A Famous Face, Appealing For Donations Of Furniture, Or, Like In The Last Series, By Appearing On A TV Show That Sources Items From Freecycle Groups Hundreds Of Miles From Your House, Or Pays For Items, Thus Not Making Them Free Anymore...
Not so catchy though, that one…

As always, tell me below if you agree, or if you think I’m being a pillock