With its famous workshop transformed into a winter wonderland, BBC1’s The Repair Shop and its much-loved experts are about to spread some Christmas magic as they deliver the heart-warming gift of making dreams come true.
“Seeing a person’s reaction when you present them with their item means everything,” presenter Jay Blades tells us exclusively of how the team has been busy restoring faded treasures to make them merry and bright. “It gives us that Ready Brek glow, knowing that, yes, we did it.”
In the TV show’s Christmas special, they set to work on festive-themed items that include a mechanical Christmas cake, Victorian Father Christmas ornaments, a retro record player and a tropical steel drum.
“We’re never told in advance what’s coming on,” Jay tells HELLO!. “So when we see an item for the first time and hear the story behind it, it just hits you and the reaction is genuine. It takes you on such an emotional journey.”
There’s not a dry eye in the barn when mum Jo Thomas unveils a faulty record player – the last Christmas gift from her son Ben before he died at the age of 11 – in the hope that the experts can bring music back into her life again.
Repairing it was a labour of love for electronics expert Mark Stuckey and furniture restorer Will Kirk, who created oak legs for the device so that Jo, who suffers from arthritis, would no longer have to bend down to use it.
“Being a parent made this task all the more poignant for me,” says Will who welcomed a baby girl with his wife Polly last year. “Since becoming a dad, I’ve become an emotional guy. It made me think about my daughter and how precious she is.”
The show, which brings joy into the lives of its millions of fans and won a Best Daytime Bafta as well as a National TV Award earlier this year, has a royal fan, too: the King, who starred in a one-off episode, The Repair Shop: A Royal Visit, to mark the BBC’s centenary last year.
Filmed in 2021, the special saw Jay visit His Majesty – then the Prince of Wales – at Dumfries House in Scotland where the King’s Foundation building craft programme is based.
“It meant so much having him on the show,” recalls Jay, who was invested with an MBE for services to craft by His Majesty in 2022.
“It was a case of like minds coming together; we’re on the same wavelength about craft and how important it is. He’s from a royal estate, I grew up on a council estate, and we connected. At the end of filming the show, I told him: ‘Don’t be a stranger,’ and he hasn’t. I hosted his 75th birthday at Highgrove, which tied in with the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation.”
Jay, whose 2022 wedding to personal trainer Lisa Zbozen featured exclusively in HELLO!, will soon be hosting another big get-together – a Christmas dinner of Caribbean favourites such as curried goat, chicken, lamb, beef, rice and peas, and roast potatoes for 28 members of his family.
“It’s such a big production that the ladies organising it have made a spreadsheet. My job is to peel all the potatoes,” he laughs.
CREDIT: The Repair Shop’s Christmas special is on BBC1 and iPlayer later this month.