‘The Despair Shop’, where precious but faded treasures are restored to their former glory and old duffers are reduced to blubbering wrecks, opens its doors again tonight on BBC1. The show will kick off with Salford a publican, 64-year-old Chris Barlow, who brought in a rusty old pub sign, ‘The Hung Drawn and Quartered’ a memento of the days when he had a flourishing business.
‘The sign means a lot to me with all the happy memories, said Barlow. ‘You know, in the days before local lock downs when people could walk into a pub like conjoined twins, stick their piss-stained fingers into the peanut bowl on the bar and down a few pints of Old Leg Humper before kicking out time at 3 a.m. So, I hope your team of crafts people can work their magic on it.’
‘This is the kind of job I like,’ said carpenter Will, who is taking charge of the project. ‘It’s a change from working on the oak coffins we keep in stock for the endless stream of emotionally wrecked people who pass through here – just in case. Dom the blacksmith can knock up a personalised brass plaque in a few minutes and the girls can stick in some pink or blue satin liner according to taste.’
Next into The Despair Shop will be 50-year-old London cab driver Dave Arnold, who is hoping that leather expert Suzie Fletcher can repair his father’s well-worn leather strap. ‘Apart from the physical and mental scars, it’s the only thing I’ve got left to remind me of the old geezer, God rest his soul,’ said Arnold. ‘I’d like Suzie to clean it up a bit but leave the blood stains on if she can and, if she can repair the broken buckle, where it came into contact with my skull, that’d be nice.’
In the next episode, presenter Jay Blades and car restorer Brenton West will put their heads together on how best to repair an antique iron lung machine, brought in by an overstretched ICU doctor who is running out of bed spaces and life-saving equipment. ‘We hope you’ll enjoy the outcome,’ said Jay. ‘But don’t hold your breath…’