George Clarke’s Flipping Fast review – an addictive trip into stupidity | Television & radio
Boy, does it never seem like a bad time to watch real estate shows – unless maybe they’ve been revamped to show us how to isolate them to deal with the energy crisis, or turn the downstairs lavatory into a vermin-proof pantry to guard against food shortages, or set up a lead-lined bunker ready for the apocalyptic combination of the above and more. But no. That old workhorse Location, Location, Location is back; Sarah Beeny is set to return with Little House, Big Plans; and between them is Flipping Fast (Channel 4) by George Clarke.
This new show has, at least, captured something of the zeitgeist by adding a competitive element — and a slight whiff of desperation that thickens as the series progresses — to the standard real estate show. Six teams are given £100,000 each to buy, revamp and resell as many places as possible for as much profit as possible within the space of a year. At the end of this period, the team that has made the most profit can keep the £100,000 – as the friendly and gracious host George Clarke puts it. I suspect the winner actually gets another £100,000. If the losing teams were to repay theirs, it would bankrupt most of them and give the series a very grim ending. Still, we are in 2022 – that would be compliant. I advise all competitors to check the fine print.
As always with this kind of show, a simple setup delivers a complex and addictive journey down the highways of misplaced optimism, the circuitous ways of human madness, the occasional slalom into the brick wall of actual stupidity and the even more occasional emergence into the sun. highlands of a working intelligence.
Our companions on the opener’s highways, back roads and slaloms – all of which are available for review – are Gordon and Pamela, husband and wife from Norfolk. This couple listens carefully to the advice that the team of real estate developers brothers Scarlette and Stuart Douglas offer to all teams, and happily proceed to do the exact opposite. It’s glorious.
“Do some research on the area you are considering buying from!” Scarlette and Stuart shout, out of sheer common sense. “OK!” Gordon and Pamela shout. “Not!” They opt for a house in Stockton-on-Tees, a place they have never seen or heard of. Property prices in the area, we are told, fell 11% last year.
“See the property well before buying it!” Scarlette and Stuart shout, because of sanity.
“Absolutely!” say Gordon and Pamela. “We will not!” They buy a house online without even a survey. “It looks different from the pictures!” Pamela says when they arrive at their newly purchased wreck, as happily as she comes across a stuffed box of chocolates. “We have our work cut out for us!” Gordon said, apparently passing through the same box. “There’s a shower in the kitchen!” Pamela says, in a tone – inexplicably – that suggests she’s just spotted a top-notch peppermint cream.
“This shouldn’t be news to you, the home buyer!” yells every spectator watching. “This should never be news to you, the home buyer!”
“Don’t go over budget at any time!” Scarlette and Stuart shout. “£100,000 isn’t a lot of money when it comes to buying and flipping properties. Pay attention, do it.
“We,” say Gordon and Pamela, as they move the shower out of the kitchen, “will not!” They broke their budget by buying the house, for £3,000 less than a fully refurbished equivalent nearby would have cost. The unexpected expense of rewiring the place takes up half of their total planned renovation budget of £6,000. And then there’s the water that starts flowing everywhere (“You’d better turn off the electricity, Gordon!” laughs Pamela) when they try to manage everything themselves. This probably needs to be sorted.
“I think our bet paid off,” Gordon said. “Let’s buy another place for £31,000 as a celebration!”
“A really interesting strategy, that,” Clarke says.
Meanwhile, Harriet, a 28-year-old sports journalist, is busy buying a one-bedroom apartment, forcing her highly qualified relatives to do it with her and sell it for a profit of £19,000.
The other four have not yet left the blocks. The smart money is of course on Harriet, but our hearts are with Gordon and Pamela. Where would we and the real estate shows with an element of competition be without them and the irrepressible optimism of their fellow slalomers. The world would be a duller place, that’s for sure. Yes, it must be admitted, probably safer and more watertight.