Location Location Location will never die

New Zealand just can’t get enough of Kirstie and Phil. Why do we keep coming back after so many years?

Location Location Location is one of television’s most unlikely comfort clocks. It’s also one of the longest-running, with property experts Phil Spencer and Kirstie Allsopp recently filming their 38th season of the series, which is helping UK houseseekers find their next home. LLL returned to TVNZ1 this week and with previous seasons having consistently been highly rated by New Zealand viewers, we can’t seem to get enough of watching strangers visit strangers’ homes and then deciding not to buy them.

The Dream Team: Kirstie and Phil (Photo: Delivered)

What is our love affair with a foreign show that should – theoretically – be one of the most boring things on TV? Each episode of LLL is essentially the same: picky buyers can’t find a house, Kirstie and Phil try to help, and they all end up drinking in a beer garden. The properties they visit are ordinary and unremarkable, and sometimes buyers walk away after an hour of television without making an offer. It was a waste of time, and yet we’re not even mad about it.

That’s because watching LLL is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket and sipping a soothing cup of tea. There’s solace in the show’s predictability, reassurance in its never-ending optimism. Each episode of LLL is a gentle journey of opportunity, even if that opportunity comes with a huge mortgage and a lifetime of debt. It’s a show about new beginnings, and it purrs with confidence that no matter the challenge, Kirstie and Phil know exactly how to make their buyers’ dreams come true.

Phil helps two hopeful buyers negotiate a deal (Screengrab: YouTube)

LLL sells a dream, but it’s not the elegant, elaborate fantasy of shows like Grand Designs or Selling Sunset. It is the dream of ordinary people to own an ordinary house in an ordinary city. Kirstie and Phil’s buyers are looking for everything from tiny one-bedroom apartments to big-budget single-family homes, and the show treats both searches with equal importance. Not every house is chic, not every house a winner, but there’s a charm to the show’s simple, no-frills approach. Like a run-down end terrace with an odd shower wedged into a hallway, LLL never claims to be anything it isn’t.

Kirstie and Phil are the wow factor of the show, breathing life into every episode with their easygoing, endearing chemistry and cheeky banter. They’re a constant in a changing world, and I won’t be watching LLL Canada because Kirstie isn’t telling people to break through every kitchen wall, or Phil honking down a children’s slide in a stranger’s backyard. Kirstie and Phil know their stuff and aren’t afraid to politely suggest that everything their buyers have done so far is wrong.

But that’s the thing: Kirstie and Phil are almost always right. After 23 years of real estate brokerage, they know how to make people fall in love not with what they want, but with what they want need. And as shoppers roam the UK, LLL gives in to our secret desire to invade other people’s homes and assess their taste in home furnishings, all from the comfort of our own seedy home furnishings. LLL takes us to worlds of feature walls and steep stairs, to mysterious places like Tiverton and Darlington and the Home Counties. There are also a lot of ‘Live, Laugh, Love’ signs in the UK which I think is an instant sell sign.

Ultimately, LLL (Live, Laugh, Love) celebrates finding a place to belong, and that’s why we keep coming back to it season after season. It knows the housing market is crazy and how difficult it is to buy a house, but it always provides an hour of soothing, easy TV. It doesn’t matter that the show’s tried-and-true formula is the equivalent of painting your walls magnolia white. In a world full of loud, chaotic colors, sometimes a bit of magnolia is good.

Photo: Delivered

Kirstie and Phil’s buyers are looking for the tactile feel, and so are we viewers. As of this writing I have watched four episodes of LLL in a row and could easily watch four more episodes. I caught myself cheering for the husband and wife who were about to move out of their in-laws’ house and gushed over the joy of the couple who had unexpectedly found their perfect apartment on their tiny budget. It had a garden with an ivy-covered gate leading into a park overlooking the sea. “You just ripped my heart open,” the buyer said, crying. It was the happy ending we were all looking for.

Location Location Location airs Wednesdays at 8:30pm on TVNZ 1 and streams on TVNZ+.


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