Buying London, review: the UK’s own Selling Sunset is artificial, vulgar, post-truth TV

Estate agents Rosi and Rasa, with interior designer Juliana, on Netflix's Buying London
Scripted reality: estate agents Rosi (left) and Rasa (right), with interior designer Juliana (centre) - Netflix

“I’m getting Shakespearean vibes,” says one of the estate agents in Buying London (Netflix) as she arrives at a new property. Sure. Nothing says Shakespeare like a £15 million new-build with a velvet-walled cinema room.

Buying London is one of those “constructed reality” shows which would like you to think it’s a fly-on-the-wall documentary, but mainly consists of phoney conversations, confected drama and lip filler. It is a copy of the wildly popular, LA-based Selling Sunset, but it owes as much to The Only Way is Essex – superficially fun, but ultimately soulless and artificial.

The subject is an estate agency focused on the luxury property market: Mayfair, Belgravia, the Home Counties. We’re in the land of new money. Everyone in the team seems to drive a supercar and dress for a Dubai bottomless brunch even when they’re in Weybridge.

Discretion is not high on the agenda. “I’ve got a very, very big property in Holland Park. The Beckhams are four doors up.” “Simon Cowell I literally think you can see his house from here.” “Fun little fact: Salma Hayek used to live in this house. The walk-in wardrobe wasn’t quite enough for her clothes so she had extra wardrobes built downstairs.”

Agency boss Daniel Daggers is the most likeable character
Agency boss Daniel Daggers is the most likeable character - Netflix

The show has a cast of characters – well, they’re real people, but not for nothing does the series boast three “story producers”. Agency boss Daniel Daggers is the likeable one, who can at least laugh at himself as he comes out with lines like: “There is no ‘I’ in team but there is one ‘I’ in super-prime and that is me.” Rasa gives off Bond villain vibes as she narrows her eyes at her “rival”, a glossy South African named Lauren. Rasa doesn’t mention that she has also appeared in another reality show, Channel 4’s Selling Super Houses, while plummy Rosi was once a minor player in Made In Chelsea.

The series is essentially a marketing exercise for the company and the properties and the people involved. Daggers goes to visit John Caudwell, mobile phone magnate, who has koi carp swimming in his Thai-themed dining room and explains that his house was kitted out by “the world’s best furniture manufacturer”. He would “listen to an offer of £500m” for the place: “If Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos wanted to buy this house, half a billion to them wouldn’t scratch the surface.” Daggers assures him that “our client base is at these levels”, and who are we to doubt him?

You wonder how many of these houses the team actually sell, because the production has such an air of unreality. It’s post-truth television. The people on screen aren’t reciting a script, they’ve just learned – through prolonged exposure to “scripted reality” shows – to actually speak like this. They know what is required of them. The whole thing plays out like one long Instagram reel.

There is one male agent, Chelsea boy Oli, and a storyline about his wife becoming jealous when he attracts the attention of Juliana, “the hottest interior designer in London”. Juliana is employed to stage the properties for sale, and that’s not the only staging going on around here.

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