Sunderland-born George Clarke may be a recognisable face, but he has little interest in the fame game. A trained architect, he tells Gemma Dunn he’s happiest as a designer-maker.

GEORGE Clarke is in his element. The architect-come-TV-presenter is stood atop a snow-capped mountain in the Alpine village of Verbier - and by his own account, he's feeling "Christmassy". But the Restoration Man star isn't simply getting his festive fix: he's in the Swiss resort to film a very special edition of his hit Channel 4 show, Amazing Spaces.

Aptly titled Winter Wonderland, the standalone episode will see Clarke and master-craftsman Will Hardie explore the ingenious small space wonders hidden away among the snowy peaks of the Swiss and Italian Alps.

Starting their epic road trip from an observation point 4,000m above sea level, the duo will set out on an adventure which takes in a secret ski lodge disguised as a boulder, a tree house resembling a giant acorn, a traditional cabin made almost entirely from concrete, a breath-taking mountaintop hotel which glows in the dark and a star-gazing hideaway which rotates with the night sky.

"Even just being here, filming, really does get you in that festive mood!" quips Sunderland-born Clarke, 44. "I'm from the North-East anyway, so it's always freezing up there! And genuinely I am a mountain person, so to be able to see Amazing Spaces' projects when there's a lovely dialogue between great design and beautiful landscapes, it's a fantastic combination."

And from the UK to Europe, there's certainly been no shortage of inspiring builds to span seven seasons of the show - plus seasonal specials.

"Every year that I think we've virtually done everything, a whole other batch of projects come up again," declares Clarke. "I'm genuinely blown away by people's inventiveness and creativity. I think that's what's unique about small spaces. If it's small and it's something that's just fun, it's easier to do. And it doesn't necessarily cost the earth either.

"Architecture and design can be quite a serious subject and I even think that the architectural profession takes itself a bit too seriously sometimes," confesses Clarke, who is the creative director of London-based design and build company, George Clarke + Partners. "Don't get me wrong, I still teach architecture and when you're teaching things like the history and theory of architecture, they can be quite deep subjects. But one of the proudest things about Amazing Spaces is I get a huge amount of school teachers, saying, 'Do you mind if we run an Amazing Spaces school project?' And I'm like, 'Go for it!' If I can inspire young kids to design a little house at the bottom of their garden or redesign their bedroom or design their dream home, that's all fantastic stuff."

He recalls the first series of Amazing Spaces, in which he converted an old static caravan into a special place for him and his three children - two sons and one daughter - to enjoy. "That was 2012 and we've still got that today," he says. "My kids love staying in my caravan more than they love staying in a posh hotel, because it's more fun. And I want design to be fun and exciting and innovative and push the boundaries of creative thinking."

As for the fame that comes with being on screen, Clarke has mixed feelings.

"I'm in a very privileged position, and I feel thankful every day with the career I've got," he answers. "Yes it's television, but all I wanted to be was an architect. And when I became an architect that was a dream come true. When I started my own architectural practice, my own company and my own design agency, that was another dream come true.

"I never thought that would happen," he confides, admitting the hardest part of his job is being away from his children when filming. "So if I'm honest, anything beyond that is a bonus - and I've got enough mates up in the North-East to make sure I keep my feet firmly on the ground!"

And the "celebrity" tag?

"I never use the 'C' word!" he retorts, with a laugh. "I don't want to be a celebrity. I want to be a good architect. I want to make and craft really beautiful programmes that people love watching," he explains. "For me it's work still. It's my job; I get up every morning, I go to work, I do pieces to camera, meet people, sketch and design.

"It's the process of making: I make buildings, I make television. It's that kind of designer-maker thing that's consistent with me," reasons Clarke, whose next TV venture, George Clarke's 100 Years of British Homes, will mark the centenary of the nation's council house movement. "The thought of being a celebrity just makes me feel a bit ill."

* Amazing Spaces Winter Wonderland is on Channel 4 on Thursday, December 13.