Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen: ‘I feel quite cross that evolution denied me a foxy tail’

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Born in London, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, 57, studied at Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts then gained a master’s degree in painting. He went on to star in the BBC’s DIY show Changing Rooms, which ran from 1996 to 2004. Since 2021, he has fronted the Channel 4 reboot of the show and will host Outrageous Homes With Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, scheduled for release next year. He has his own interior design practice and product range. His new book is More More More: Making Maximalism Work in Your Home and Life. He lives in the Cotswolds with his family.

When were you happiest?This is going to horribly upset my wife, my children and my grandchildren, but it was when I did The Greatest Snowman last year for Channel 4. Being let loose on an Austrian mountainside to build snow sculptures was my happy point, and who knew I’d find an icy G-spot at nearly 58.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?The missus. She is the glamour mamma mia at the top of our feudal pyramid. We all live together, so she’s a full-time grandmother and rules the roost. How she steered us through lockdown was extraordinary.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?I am crucified by my modesty: it’s terrible.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?Other people’s decorating, if I feel they’ve missed an opportunity and just decorated in that wet-cardboard, modern-grey thing. That’s a life not properly lived.

Aside from a property, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?My wife. I am a lavish present-giver. I love worshipping my wife with beautiful bits and pieces – it is one of my greatest pleasures.

What is your most treasured possession?A little marbled paper owl that was given to me by my grandson Albion, who is now six.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?I feel quite cross that evolution denied me a foxy tail.

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would you choose?Lord Byron. He is one of my maximalist icons.

Who would play you in the film of your life?People who look like me: Dave Grohl; Jay Rayner, who looks just like me in a different-scaled kind of way, and David Dickinson – he gets the orange right, which is important.

What is your most unappealing habit?This is a long list. I remember after my original screen test for Changing Rooms they were quick to tell me that my performance was appalling: I was rude, offhand, snooty; I had the most ridiculous name; I wore stupid clothes to decorate; and I was perfect – I’d got the job. So I’ve used being annoying to not only get on television but stay on television.

Who is your celebrity crush?Margo Leadbetter in The Good Life. She defines everything I find most sexually attractive in ladykind.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?I have got such a thick hide, and my greatest delight at the moment is diving deep into the fetid waters of trolldom as people start screaming with condemnation about what I’m getting up to on Changing Rooms. I enjoy every minute.

What is the closest you’ve come to death?I was nearly hit by an enormous gold-fibreglass cherub in a shopping centre. It fell five storeys and smashed into a thousand pieces about 4ft away from me.

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