Even seasoned presenter Kevin McCloud seems shocked by the huge scale of this megabasement project – yet it’s hard not to will it to succeed
As soon as Kevin McCloud sets the scene – a graveyard in south-west London – you know the latest instalment of Grand Designs (Channel 4) is going to be a classic. Surely nobody would build on such a place, “out of respect, for fear of desecration,” says McCloud, hamming up the potential for gothic drama. “But that’s exactly what my man’s going to do.”
It isn’t exactly what his man is going to do – the prospect of ripping up graves to build a “baronial architectural masterpiece” is a little much, even for Grand Designs – but his man, former army captain Justin Maxwell Stuart, is quite happy to live next to a graveyard, and has a big plan to do so. As series 20 of the ever-soothing, ever-ambitious show begins, we learn that Grand Designs’ latest builder/dreamer/victim has spent £1.8m on the warden’s lodge in a Victorian cemetery and an old toilet block next door to it. The plan is to knock down the loos, build a new extension where they once sat and then extend the neo-gothic Grade II listed lodge by excavating a hefty amount of ground underneath it, constructing a huge mega-basement.