“When people think of Alan Carr, they don’t normally think ‘oh, I bet he knows a lovely colour scheme’” chuckles the exuberant TV star.
Fresh from his judging role as part of RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, presenter and comedian Alan Carr swaps face paint for wall paint as he fronts returning BBC Two show, Interior Design Masters.
Arriving on our screens this February, the eight-part series sees 10 aspiring designers showcase their skills in a bid to forge a career in the competitive world of commercial interior design.
“I love interior design,” continues Carr, 44, “and what I like about this show is it’s enjoyable but you do also pick up some handy hints.
“I found out ombre – do you know what ombre is? I don’t want to spoil this, but I go into one room later in the series and I think ‘Oh, this poor woman, she’s run out of paint!’ “And the crew go, ‘no, Alan, it’s ombre’ and of course you do that if you want to make your room look taller and a bit more dynamic.
“I was coming back (from filming) and my partner Paul was here and I was like, ‘Paul, what is this room saying to us? What is the downstairs toilet saying? Has it got a good flow?’ So, I was probably becoming a bit too involved in it.”
Following in the wake of cult television design shows like Changing Rooms and Grand Designs, each week Interior Design Masters puts the aspiring designers through their paces, introducing a new space that requires a complete transformation.
The series sees Carr joined by returning judge and design industry expert Michelle Ogundehin, alongside an ever-changing interiors guru who assists as a weekly guest judge.
And the Changing Rooms comparisons do not stop there, as viewers can also expect a hearty dose of telly nostalgia courtesy of opening guest judge and Changing Rooms hero, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.
“Isn’t it funny, that episode where she bursts into tears,” recalls Carr, attempting to stifle a laugh.
A particularly memorable instalment of the hit 90s home decor show, the episode in question sees Bowen transform a magnolia extension into a Queen Anne-inspired dining room.
Complete with chequered floor, deep plum walls and homemade portraits of the homeowners as Nell Gwyn and Samuel Pepys, it is fair to say the design choices didn’t go down well.
“It’s really bad because Laurence, he’s made a whole career with his interior design and his wallpaper range and he’s such an articulate designer – and yet everyone remembers him making that woman cry.
“Hadn’t he taken her head and put her on a dog in a portrait? And it was like a chess board. But I do feel sorry for him, because that’s the one thing that just sticks in your head.
“He’s so interesting to listen to; he is the master and he knows his stuff. It’s no surprise they put him on the first one because he just talks a lot of sense.
“He reminds me of a cocker spaniel – he’s quite full of life and he is one of those joys because he can just talk and talk and talk.”
With the 10 aspiring designers hailing from all walks of life – the line-up features former doctors and current art directors, the show sees the contestants pushed outside of their comfort zones, developing new skills as they progress through the competition.
“For me, I think it was the upscaling stuff that really blew my mind,” says Carr.
“In week six or seven, they were upholstering, they were making their own pelmets, they were rewiring, it was like one of those Open University courses,” recalls Carr.
“They find some amazing stuff that people have thrown out in skips and tips and they just rejuvenate it.
“They said, ‘I couldn’t even wallpaper a wall’, but that just makes better telly.
“It’s a bit like X Factor, you know? If you’ve got 10 amazing singers it gets pretty boring, but they’ve all got different skills.”
However, when it comes to his own taste and interior design choices, Carr openly admits to relinquishing the reins.
“I can write a stand-up set and go and perform it in a theatre, no problem, but try and get a dado rail or a rug that matches a wallpaper and for me it’s like the enigma code,” he declares.
“I’m quite restrained but it’s Paul, my other half, who takes the chances. If I tell you this, it will give you the idea of what it’s like [at home].
“I did a star jump and I knocked a Perspex shark head off the wall and it hit me on the head.
“He will not only buy it, he’ll knock them down price wise too. And we went to the New Forest and there was a charity shop open – he bought a load of old BBC stage doors.
“He’s got a really good eye but I go ‘oh my God!’ – and I’m a bit like that on the actual show.
“I’ll be like ‘Oh my God! This is s*** and then when it’s in situ at the end, you go ‘Alan, that is a stroke of genius, why didn’t you think of that?’.
“That’s what I love about the show, because they’re very talented people and they’re finding things in skips that look absolutely stunning. It’s like a super power.”
Series two of Interior Design Masters starts on BBC Two on 2 February.