Irish builder, Peter Finn takes you on his personal television journey.
Excerpts taken from an interview with Constructive Lives’ presenter, Steve Randall.
Steve Randall: So Peter, what kind of work does your construction company do?
Peter Finn: I suppose I’d call us a medium-sized construction company. We do high-end one-off domestic projects and some commercial work. And a little bit of TV work has come our way as well.
Steve Randall: The TV stuff, I think that’s something that is very interesting. We’ve seen that grow over the years with a lot of builders making their way onto our screens, both here in the UK and in Ireland, and around the world. And there will be people listening, thinking, you know, I fancy a bit of that. That sounds like a good gig to have. How did you get into doing TV?
Peter Finn: All these things are a funny story, I suppose. I can just clarify one thing when you’re a TV builder, you are officially a Z-list celebrity. So make sure if you’re listening to this, you realise what you’re aiming for is to become a Z–list celebrity.
It was a chance meeting that got us started. There’s a show in Ireland called Room to Improve – with an architect called Dermot Bannon. And the very first series of that show, we were asked by an engineer that we had worked with previously if we would be interested – the way he put it was “helping out on a TV show”. So then we got a phone call from the production company and then we met with them and very quickly afterwards we were on site.
So it was a bit of a baptism of fire because you know, it was the first time that show had ever been filmed in Ireland. So I didn’t really fully understand the concept of the show. And then it was an actual live building project. You know, you’re under the microscope very quickly and all your work is being filmed. Then there are the nerves that come with that.
I suppose I just relaxed into it and I got along very well with Dermot early in the process. I was quite comfortable speaking to the camera for whatever reason, I don’t really know why – I was just relaxed doing that. I had a bit of banter with Dermot. I had a little bit of a row with him. There was a few, you know, high drama moments, and they seem to enjoy that part of it.
But at that point, I was only one builder on six shows of one series. So then they asked me to do a second series, this time, they asked me to be the builder on two of the shows, and it went from there.
So the concept of that show is that he’s the architect on every job, but there is a different builder on each show. Sometimes the builder gets some good screen time, sometimes they don’t, I suppose they gave me a little bit more screen time than others. And then they kept asking me to come back and do the show. So that was the start of it.
Then after that, I was approached then to go and do the second show, which is called Home Rescue, which is still being recorded at the moment. We just finished our last series, just before Christmas it went on screen. And our next series is in the plans. And I think there’s some exciting news that this year, it used to just be half an hour-long, and now it is going to an hour-long, or it’s very close to being announced as an hour-long show.
It’s a different concept. Really, it’s a makeover show where myself and an architect called Roisín Murphy, the two of us work together with our teams. We basically have three days to blitz a house and correct all the wrongs that have been done before and make the house more usable for the homeowner. So that’s how I kind of got into it.
It has developed, you know, kind of in bursts is the best way to put it with a bit of a slow start. I really had to decide did I want to do it or not. So when I was asked to do the Home Rescue show, I actually said no, because we were so busy. I just didn’t think that I’d have the time to do it. But then once I met them and I kind of got the full concept of the show, I really enjoyed it.
It wasn’t until it actually went on TV that I realised how much you’re actually giving to the homeowners. It is a real feelgood factor and a real kind of give back to people who have got, you know, some sort of trauma in their life.
You could be rearranging a house to make it more accessible for someone who may have a disability or sometimes life just gets on top of people and they’ve got a lot of clutter in the house and the house isn’t functioning. So we clear that out completely. Then we redesign and hand the house back to them. So it’s a very honest job. And it certainly gives people an insight into what you can do on a fairly small budget with Home Rescue, whereas the other show was a full-scale job. It could have been a full extension renovation.