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Property Ladder (2001-)

Courtesy of Fremantlemedia

Main image of Property Ladder (2001-)
Talkback for Channel 4, tx. 27/9/2001 - present
7 series of 10 x 50 min editions each
Production CompanyTalkback
ProducersSasha Bates
 Charlie Bunce
 David Emerson
 Fiona O'Sullivan
 Philippa Ransford

Presenter: Sarah Beeny

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Property developer Sarah Beeny gives frequently ignored advice to ambitious amateurs.

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Along with Location, Location, Location (Channel 4, tx. 2000-), Property Ladder was the most successful of the property programmes that increasingly came to dominate Channel 4's post-2000 schedules. Presented by professional property developer Sarah Beeny, it became a ratings hit not so much for its insights into the world of property development as for the ongoing battles between Beeny and the people featured in individual editions. The blonde, attractive Beeny also became something of a cult figure in her own right, something exploited by Channel 4 in a memorable trailer for the programme inspired by 1970s kung fu films.

A typical edition would look at two property developments over a period of several months, usually carried out by people with relatively little practical experience. Beeny would pay regular visits to offer detailed advice on the entire process, including planning, building techniques and materials, decorating and furnishing, and marketing the end result. While Location, Location, Location featured house-buyers, Property Ladder's subjects were sellers, but a regular bone of contention on Beeny's part was that they'd often forget this and develop the property according to their own quirky personal taste (often at unnecessary expense) instead of taking market requirements into account.

A more frequent problem concerned the would-be property moguls' combination of over-confidence, arrogance and inexperience, though this made the programme much more entertaining when careless mistakes made at an early stage proved expensive (or impossible) to rectify later. In one case, no provision was made for central heating until partway through development. In another, the property had already been purchased when the would-be developer discovered that it was a listed building, thus preventing him from making most of his intended improvements. More often, attempts at cutting corners to maximise potential profits turned out to have the opposite effect, especially when cack-handed attempts at DIY had to be remedied by professionals afterwards.

However, even though projects often went significantly over budget, few people ended up losing money, thanks to much of the series being broadcast during one of Britain's biggest property booms. As the seventh series began transmission during a more financially troubled 2008, Beeny said that a fall in property prices might benefit the programme, or at least her reputation, as there was a far greater risk that not following her advice would leave people out of pocket.

Michael Brooke

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Video Clips
1. The runaway budget (2:42)
2. Less is more (2:15)
3. Neighbouring difficulties (3:24)
4. The verdict (3:32)
Complete episode - Part 1 (9:59)
Part 2 (14:16)
Part 3 (11:57)
Part 4 (13:02)