Home Rescue: The Big Fix review: A emotional series return that proves a house is never just a house

Television: Now in its seventh season, this show and its hard-working presenters continue to engage and entertain

Property television is all about location, location, location – but the genre isn’t always the best at mapping its way to the viewer’s emotional side. However, that isn’t a problem for house makeover series Home Rescue: The Big Fix (RTÉ2, Thursday, 9.35pm), which this week tells the bittersweet story of a Dundalk family dealing with the sharp end of life.

It’s a tear-jerking return for the show, back for a seventh season. The action begins with designer Dee Coleman and builder Peter Finn meeting Claire and Pearse, who share a bungalow with their three children and Claire’s mother, Doreen (plus Tony the dog).

Coleman joined Home Rescue last year taking over from Róisín Murphy. She brings a lot to the job – she has oodles of empathy and positivity but takes care not to promise the sun, moon, and stars. Along with Finn, she also puts in the hours – both come across as genuinely invested in seeing the project across to the finish line.

A house is never just a house – and never has that been truer than in the case of Claire and Pearse. The bungalow was built by Doreen’s husband, Pat, a former firefighter who now has dementia and is in care.

“The love of my life is gone,” says Doreen as Coleman helps her declutter (early in his dementia, Pat had begun to horde). “He’s still there in spirit but he’s not there in reality. None of these things mean anything to me now.”

With Pat in care, Doreen faced going into a home. Instead, Claire and Pearse and their children moved in – which means six people in a relatively confined environment. There is the further complication of nine-year-old Odhrán’s autism. He had a sensory room in their previous residence. Here, with everyone living on top of one another, that hasn’t been possible.

Enter Coleman and Finn and their team of carpenters, electricians and bricklayers. It’s a significant return to Co Louth for Finn who, in a previous life, lined out for Dundalk FC. “They were really bad at the time,” he says. “[Then] they get got really good – it may have coincided with the time that I left”.

Hour by exhausting hour they knock the house into shape, and there is even space for a sensory room for Odhrán – a surprise which pushes Pearse to tears. “I wasn’t expecting the strength of emotion,” he says as he dries his eyes. It’s a moving end to an episode that tugs expertly at the heartstrings.

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