Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr episode 2: riotous classroom task ups the creativity

Michelle Ogundehin with guest judge Sophie Robinson (BBC)
Michelle Ogundehin with guest judge Sophie Robinson (BBC)

In the opening episode of the fourth series of Interior Design Masters, criminal defense lawyer Temi was nearly undone by the lofty installation of a peg board in a room for a small child.

Our aspiring decorators will have hoped to have a firmer grasp on the height of the average preschooler ahead of last night’s task, which followed Karl Mok’s exit at the end of the first episode.

An Oxfordshire day care is the unlikely stage for this second design challenge, which asks the contestants to work in teams to transform a classroom with distinct ‘play’, ‘creative’ and ‘calm’ zones.

There may be shades of the Great British Bake Off in Alan Carr’s rallying delivery of “it’s nursery week”, but instead of flour, eggs and sugar, each must prove their creativity in paint and plywood.

“I want to see designs that inspire young minds in active play and learning, but also rest and relaxation,” says head judge Michelle Ogundehin, who warns that children “can be very demanding clients”.

Buse hopes her dark brown walls will feel cocooning (BBC)
Buse hopes her dark brown walls will feel cocooning (BBC)

A handful of contestants have an immediate grasp of the potential pitfalls; you can practically hear the parents nodding along with Joanne’s sage observation that “if you’ve got paint and sand, you need to be near water”.

Ibiza Peter’s first instinct is less promising: “does anyone know any two- or three-year-olds?”

It is an assignment that threatens to separate the parents, aunts and uncles from the uninitiated, who at turns describe the brief as “a nightmare” (Ry) and simply “not for me” (Monika). Carr is clearly unconvinced by Tom’s tonal (read: beige) concept, but there is also welcome whimsy in the form of fake trees, floating hot air balloons and a bubble machine birdhouse.

“These days kids are surrounded by all these fantastic toys, but cardboard is just as good,” counters Peter, as he admires his DIY pen. “Did you have a Victorian childhood?” asks Carr.

In the back of every mind will be the big prize at the end of it all, revealed last week as a contract to design a real-life cocktail bar.

With sadly no kids in sight, guest judging duties fall to interior designer Sophie Robinson, whose spirited assessments prove a smart foil to Ogundehin’s measured, detail-focused approach.

Bounding from one room to the next, she is “blown away by the creativity and resourcefulness” on display – but highlights the trickiness of designing shared spaces by suggesting Peter’s bold play zone has “swallowed up” Charlotte’s quiet corner.

On the judging sofa, it is the ‘babies’ team of Tom, Temi and Ry that receive top marks, while Jack and Peter are the top performers from their respective teams.

Joanne is pulled up on a lack of ambition, while Buse has tried to cram too many disparate ideas into a small classroom. “Sometimes when we have great ideas, the hardest thing in the world is to do slightly less,” says Ogundehin.

And it is Buse, admirably resolute in her decision to stick to those brown walls in the face of so much doubt, who was the second contestant to leave the series.

Both judges were unconvinced by the child-friendly qualities of her tree stumps and reclaimed wood, described accurately by Ogundehin as a “splinter hazard” — we watched it give Buse a splinter not thirty minutes earlier. The room is also, said the head judge, “really rather dark”.

Now down to eight, the fourth series of Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr continues on BBC One at 8pm next Tuesday 21st March.