Charlie Albone -Selling Houses’ secret weapon.

2014-06-23_2029Andrew Winter and Shaynna Blaze may get the lion’s share of media attention for LifeStyle’s hit series, Selling Houses Australia, but it’s landscaper Charlie Albone who is the show’s quiet achiever.

The hunky British-born bloke who oversees the outdoor component of the renovation show is regularly recognised by fans wanting tips, and occasionally a bit more.

“Being a landscaper on television it’s great to inspire people,” he says.

“People pull out their plans, that they carry around and ask me ‘What would you do here?’ They show me pictures on their iPhones and ask for advice.

“Normally with the over-50s there are marriage proposals, and there are a couple of (jealous) looks from their husbands as well.

“It’s not exactly what I envisaged when I got into Television, but I’m happy with it.

“I go back to England to the Chelsea Flower Show and I will always run into someone in the hotel lobby and they will come up and tell me they love the show in Australia. So that’s really weird. You get people used to saying hello in Australia, and that’s very nice, but when you’re in a totally different country and people say they like what you’re doing, that’s a very weird experience.”

The show’s popularity goes from strength to strength. With multiple ASTRA Awards already under their belt, the 7th season was recently declared as the highest-rating series on Foxtel ever, out-performing profile shows including Game of Thrones, Wentworth and Breaking Bad.

“I was in the UK when I heard that news,” Albone recalls. “We can’t believe it. The three of us went for dinner the other night and we were saying how shocked we were compared to 7 and a half years ago when we started, we never thought it would turn into this –let alone a spin-off series.”

The spin-off is Inside Selling Houses, the first of two behind-the-scenes specials produced specially for fans until the next series premieres.

“We’re very lucky with Selling Houses. We have a great fanbase of people who love the show, and they understand that it takes a while to produce the series.

“We go to Andrew’s house and have a snoop around his house on the Gold Coast. The nice thing about this we sit around and chat about the old shows and reminisce about how horrific we look, because it’s nearly been a decade now. And we talk about the Design principles we did. So it’s not like a revisited show where we just rehash the old footage. We wanted people to be able to take something home from it like they would with a normal Selling Houses show,” he explains.

“There’s a theme to the episode such as ‘hoarders’ or ‘the ones that never got finished’ and we discuss five or six of them, then Andrew goes back to see the most memorable house in that genre. He goes back and berates them a little bit more.”

But Albone says it isn’t the properties or makeovers that usually elicit the most reactions from fans.

“They always love the renovations but, and I think this is what spawned Inside Selling Houses, every person has a different story that they like. And they normally like it because of the home owners,” he insists.

“People do like the work and take some tips bit every single person I meet will have a favourite character from the show and they will want to know what they are really like.”

Makeovers on the show take just 3 days, with another day if the plumbing is more involved. The show has been around the country, including Perth, Darwin, and Port Douglas, but is yet to visit Tasmania.

Pre-production is already underway on Season 8, which will feature 13 new properties.

“The first house has 7 siblings fighting over a deceased estate and the second one is a humongous Tuscan-style villa in the middle of the Central Coast.”

But what does Albone attribute as the reason for the show’s enduring popularity, and how have LifeStyle’s property shows attracted such acclaim over many of their Free to Air contemporaries?

“I think because there is a start and a finish. With commercial TV they tend to do a makeover but they always leave you hanging at the end. But with Selling Houses people can see a story, invest in the characters, take something home and learn from it be it for their garden or interiors,” he suggests.

“People say we have a great rapport, but really we are all just 3 friends hanging out doing what we love. Andrew is obsessed with real estate, I’m obsessed with gardens and Shayna loves the interiors.

“So we’re just doing what we love and we get on well and people enjoy watching it.”

Inside Selling Houses airs 8:30pm Wednesday on LifeStyle.

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