Love/Hate left our screens for another year last weekend leaving us wondering what on earth we'd be watching at 9.30pm of a Sunday night. Enter Dermot Bannon and Season 7 (yes SEVEN) of RTE's Room To Improve.
"I wish Love/Hate was on" Bannon laughs down the line. "It's a bit of a tough act to follow because I actually got into Love/Hate at the end of this year, I bought the box set during the summer so I was totally addicted and myself and my wife were dying for Sunday nights. I actually feel like I'm going to be a bit of a let down."
Viewers will know Bannon best as the architect who takes on some of the most difficult and rewarding renovation projects in the country, and this year he promises we'll be seeing plenty of explosive action on screen. "Oh yeah, there's lots of butting heads" he assures us, "I was just trying to remember if there's a programme that doesn't have that actually."
Bannon studied architecture at University for 6 years before going on to design schools and hospitals, so when he fell into Room To Improve he wasn't exactly prepared for all the opinions that would come his way. "It's weird because I still kind of can't fathom that", he says of clients' objections to his ideas, before revealing how he's learned how to deal with issues over the past 6 series.
"You learn to be a salesman" Bannon explains. "If you've got a good idea and think it's what they need and what suits them you need to learn to sell your ideas over and over again". It's clear that he doesn't need to sell Room To Improve to anyone though: Ireland has well and truly bought into this programme, with a loyal fanbase that just keeps coming back for more. What can they expect from the show in 2013?
'I'd love to say it's totally different to last year but it's not" Bannon says. "It's more of the same. There are six big projects that they haven't seen before." That continuity and stability doesn't prevent the old nerves from developing though. "It's kind of like you're being judges all over again" he says, as the projects he's already closed the door on start from scratch on the TV screen. "At this time of the year I get almost stressed again about something I have no control over."
Episode 1 hits our TV screens on Sunday night at 9.30pm, and Bannon admits he's got his own concerns about it. "There's one scene in it that I'm kind of nervous about going out on air " he laughs, "because [the client] was giving out to me about the bath, getting in and out of the bath, and she made me get into the bath. It's not like Nidge in the brothel though" he assures us. "It's a very funny scene."
That's not to say Dermot hasn't promised us we'll spot him in his own Love/Hate Season 4 finale scene this season. "There is a hot tub scene" he reveals when asked if he'll be tearing at himself like Nidge with the frustration over projects, "so you do see my chest at the end of one of the programmes." And we're sure there'll be a fair few Irish lasses who won't object to that...
Catch Room To Improve on RTE One at 9.30pm every Sunday from November 17th