Repairing hearts and minds this Christmas (Photo: Supplied).
Repairing hearts and minds this Christmas (Photo: Supplied).

TelevisionJuly 17, 2020

The Repair Shop is the nicest show on television right now

Repairing hearts and minds this Christmas (Photo: Supplied).
Repairing hearts and minds this Christmas (Photo: Supplied).

Think The Repair Shop is just a boring television show for the oldies? Think again. 

The Repair Shop is the nicest show on television, and yes, I am talking about that programme on Friday nights where old people take their old junk to an old shed to be fixed. Your nana probably loves The Repair Shop, but that’s because nanas know their shit. They know a good television show when they see one, even if they think there’s only one channel and reckon Bradley Walsh is a total dreamboat. Again, they’re not wrong, but that’s a Walshalicious story for another day.

Everything about The Repair Shop is heartwarming telly. If you want a show to weep through, this is it. If you want a show to fill your heart with hope, this is also it. Leave your cynicism at the barn door, because inside this thatched haven lies a magical place where decrepit family heirlooms are transformed into beautiful treasures. The Repair Shop wraps us in a warm, nostalgic blanket of green fields and golden sunsets and says, “We know things are a bit shit right now, but we’re about to make it better by varnishing the crap out of this charming art-deco piano stool.”

The Repair Shop features a team of expert craftspeople who take worn-down family heirlooms and repair them with tender, loving care. In this hectic world of fast fashion and disposable bargains, The Repair Shop celebrates resilience and hand-crafted brilliance, as the experts repair wonky typewriters and 19th century firefighter helmets and radios that survived Dunkirk. While the rest of us struggle to superglue two pieces of plastic together, The Repair Shop restorers work slowly and patiently, quietly fixing the world, one beautiful thing at a time.

Also, for a show about old stuff, The Repair Shop is edgier than you’d think. Once you get past the fairy lights, there are sharp tools and flammable solvents everywhere. Chaos is only one naked flame away, and you never get that sort of tension on The Chase.

But it’s the human stories, rather than the objects themselves, that make The Repair Shop such a lovely watch. Each piece has a moving backstory that makes the item come alive, transporting us to a special time and place. These memories give the show its soul, because it’s not like Antiques Roadshow where Great Aunt Mabel’s ugly candlesticks are special because they’re valued at a bajillion dollars. Here, the sentimental value makes these treasures worth saving. They might not look pretty, or be worth a lot of cash, but there’s an emotional connection in The Repair Shop that money can’t buy.

A repair, a tear.

Everyone who enters The Repair Shop cries, but it’s fine. You’ll cry too, probably in a really ugly way, bawling your eyes out over a cat teapot that someone got during the war for saving people from the Nazis. What can I say? Cats always make me cry, especially ceramic ones.

There’s the retired widower who brings the transistor radio he bought when he was courting his wife, or the gentleman who offers his grandfather’s old card table, complete with ancient splodges of Worcester sauce. One woman brings in a worn teddy bear that belonged to her stepfather, only three weeks after his sudden death, while another brings in a child’s puzzle that he and his father used to play with. He’s missing his dad as much as he’s missing a piece of his puzzle, and did someone say “ceramic cat” again? I’m bawling.

Who is she???

The talented craftspeople take these broken hearts and broken things and put them back together with their rare, incredibly niche skills. They hold every one of these treasures in their heart, and they’re so bloody nice about it. There’s no judgement, not even for the man who admitted he sniffed the Worcester sauce stains. You could give them a stinky sock with holes in it and tell them you wore it the day you got an amazing deal at The Warehouse, and they would marvel at its unique wonder and darn that sock with the most delicate of touches.

The best bits, of course, are the reactions of the families when they see their restored objects for the first time. Everyone leaves The Repair Shop happier than when they went in, and the barn is filled with delighted families who are thrilled that a stranger gave their treasure the time and love they always knew it was worth. No money changes hands, no bad words are uttered, and nobody gets voted off the island. This is pure, wholesome television. It’s comfort TV at its very best.

The Repair Shop finds joy in the smallest of things, and brings people together to make the world better. It’s a show that celebrates the past and looks forward to the future, and reminds us that the simplest of objects can carry a lot of power. As you watch, you’ll find yourself thinking about your own special memories and taonga, and the quiet nature of The Repair Shop means you have plenty of time and space to sit with these memories. Everyone’s a winner here, which makes The Repair Shop the happy ending we all need right now.

The Repair Shop screens on TVNZ1 on Fridays at 7.30pm, and is available on TVNZ OnDemand.

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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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