Monday 24 September 2018

'We will never beat the public's love for Michael', says Dermot

Making a house wheelchair-friendly for Michael was the stand-out TV show memory for Dermot Bannon
Making a house wheelchair-friendly for Michael was the stand-out TV show memory for Dermot Bannon
Dermot Bannon

Ireland's favourite architect Dermot Bannon has taken a trip down memory lane and recalled his favourite moments from hit show Room To Improve.

The series has had its fair share of stand-out moments but the one that made the biggest impact on Dermot was when he transformed the Malahide home of Barry McCabe and Ann Higgins into a wheelchair accessible house for then 12-year-old Michael.

Michael was a former student of Ann's who visited the couple while on respite from his residential care. The transformation aired in 2015 and it seems to have had quite an impact on viewers too.

"It's the one people talk to me about. They say, 'do you remember the little boy Michael?' What do you mean do I remember him? How could I forget him?" Dermot said.

The TV host doesn't think the show will ever top Michael's appearance.

"The public fell in love with Michael. That was the pinnacle of the public's engagement with the show and I don't think we'll ever beat it and do you know something? I don't think I ever want to beat it.


"He was so good and so unique. I'd love it if that was always seen as the nation's favourite show.

"I honestly can't see how we would ever make another one like it."

Michael made a second appearance on the programme in 2016 when Dermot paid a visit to three former clients to see how they were getting on.

Viewers learned that Michael had spent Christmas time with Ann and Barry and now goes to visit their house almost every weekend.

Michael was impressed with the changes Dermot made to the house and said it made his day-to-day life easier.

"It has made a difference. It's easier than it was before. I don't have to ask anybody for help, I just do it on my own. It's all perfect for me now," he said.

Another memorable moment for Dermot came in the form of perfectionist pilot Ian.

Ian remained unconvinced about Dermot's vision to build a massive concrete feature wall in an attempt to put a contemporary stamp on a 1930s property in Drogheda, Co Louth.

"Ian was polite and was used to dealing with millimetres. There was no room for error," Dermot said.

"I was building this concrete wall that is an organic man-made material. It's never going to be perfect.

"I like that, I like when there's bubbles in it and you can see it's unique but Ian couldn't get that."


Dermot also recalled the time he discovered a "monster" living in the walls of an 1850's coach house in Maynooth.

The "monster" turned out to be fungus but it was still a bit of a stomach-churning challenge for the team.

But by the time they had finished renovating the house, the fungus was a distant memory.

Room To Improve airs on Sundays on RTE One at 9.35pm

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