My body has a violent Pavlovian response to the Antiques Roadshow theme. When I was a child, its opening strings announced the end of the weekend as I knew it, and now when I hear this little trumpet title adjust my spine stiffens, my neck gets nervous with goosebumps and my mind is immersed in the essential Sunday Night Dread. So yes, I don’t watch Antiques Roadshow anymore.
The repair shop draws on a similar vibe, however: the quiet appreciation of old things; soft titration; people with practical haircuts telling slightly too long stories about their mother; Antiques People, with their violent shirts and two pairs of glasses around their necks on a cord; the middle classes sincerely describing things as “wonderful”. The Repair Shop premise – people bring important old items from their family home to be fully repaired, telling a story about who bought it and how old it was and why it was so worn out and in need of repair first place, then leave it for six weeks before coming back and crying how good it looks – should by no means be entertaining in any universe or in any timeline. And yet.
Since I learned the word “endangered” only a few years ago, I have always said it out loud to people when I watch movies, specifying whether a movie has too much or too little danger , according to a constantly evolving rating structure. my mind (sneaking out of a room without being seen, for example; jumping from one spaceship to another without a lifeline; a dead phone battery, which means you can’t text to check that you are invited to the end of high school party). The exact opposite of this “peril” is less appreciated “comfort”, a quality tangible in some television programs, but no less important. The repair shop is absolutely dripping with comfort. It is ripe with comfortable. Cozy overfloweth. They rub comfortably in the old wood and it appears in a new shiny glow.
I could argue that The Repair Shop taps into something deeper – a polite tut about our disposable culture, a reminder of how Making Do And Mending still has its place in a world of online shopping and plastic to single use – but that’s not really the point. The point is, it’s comfortable. Never has a television program succeeded in synthesizing such a feeling of nostalgia: the feeling of lying on your nan’s sofa (the one she doesn’t let anyone put your feet apart from you), the gray rain beating down at the window, milk tea and cookies on a plate on the way, two hours more and a round of meat dough sandwiches far from your father to pick you up and drive you, with your mouth open, sleeping in the back from the car to the house. The fact that he manages to do all of this with nothing more than “pictures of someone quietly making a cog” is something that looks like a miracle.