The Outdoor Room

Jamie Durie has made a lot of The Outdoor Room being an idea he has wanted to do for a long time. And why wouldn’t he? He gets to fly around the world for landscaping inspiration to then bestow upon ‘worthy’ families back in Australia. Yep it’s Backyard Blitz meets Getaway.

That said, you have to give the guy his dues. It’s pure escapist television. What’s not to love here? Backyard makeovers, luxury travelogues, surprised couples and Durie himself. There isn’t anybody in this show that isn’t smiling by the time the credits roll –just what the genre ordered.

Gardening makeovers have been working since they were the mainstay of Backyard Blitz and Ground Force, and it doesn’t really matter whether they feature in Domestic Blitz, Australia’s Best Backyards, Renovation Rescue or The Outdoor Room. We love to watch transformation, and most especially, the moment of surprise.

In the first episode Durie remodels a crumbling backyard for an Italian-Australian couple about to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary. The makeover is pitched as a present from the couple’s daughters. It isn’t abundantly clear how the lucky couple were selected for the free new garden, but I digress…

In Italy, Durie soaks up the Italian culture: glorious fountains, hanging gardens, even a woodfired oven from a small country town. Gee, Jamie, how do we get your job? I guess the answer is ‘you earn it’, and to be fair, Durie has. Everything here is sumptuous, from lavish gardens to sexy tracking shots while our charming host beams with pride as he describes the best features.

Back in Oz, Durie surprises his unsuspecting party and shuffles them away for a short hotel holiday. With Jody Rigby, his team get down to work building key ideas he has brought back from Italy. A few company logos are evident in this section of the show, and there’s even a separate travel agent advertorial a la Getaway. Gotta keep the sponsors happy as well as the lucky couple, I guess.

One of the neat additions to the show is its use of computer graphics. We are suddenly treated to seeing botany at work in fast motion, as well as Durie’s landscaping plans superimposed over a camera shot of the pre-existing garden. It’s a clever device.

For his part, Durie is fast becoming an Australian counterpart to his pal, Oprah. Easy on the eye, brimming with knowledge, spelling out all the key moments with emphatically articulated delivery. He has a way of drawing the viewer in that would get him a gig in Kids’ TV should he ever tire of gardens. You have taught him well Obi-wan-Don-Burke-Kenobi.

The first episode of Outdoor Room clocks in at 60 minutes (with ads) which is pushing the goodwill a little too far, but it drops back to a digestible 30 minutes a week later when he visits the UK.

Slotted perfectly into 6:30pm Sundays this is an easy, carefree diversion working well as ‘blue sky television.’ It looks like Durie could be criss-crossing the globe for some time yet…

The Outdoor Room premieres 6:30pm Sunday on Seven.

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