HOW the hell does Changing Rooms (soon to be painted out of BBC1's Monday line-up forever) manage to decorate a room in two days?

The frustrations of trying to replace parts of an imperial measures fireplace with today's mumbo-jumbo metric appliances led my wife to tear the B&Q "buying a fireplace" brochure into pieces.

"It's bloody useless having loads of DIY stores if they all stock the same sizes which are hopeless for older houses," she raged. So we've bought all new, wasted time, done some brilliant bodging and gone over budget (again)... and I'm beginning to sound horribly like Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen scolding designer Graham Wynne.

"And why am I listening to House Doctor Ann Maurice? I'm suddenly painting everything neutral colours and I'm not even thinking of selling the damn house," added the fireplace firebrand, who also de-cluttered the walls of "our family growing up" pictures.

So you turn to the TV for a little light relief. Now if you can accept that the Home Secretary will let a mass murderer out of prison within two years for turning informer then Frances Tuesday (ITV1 Mon-Tues) still didn't make a great deal of sense. The cops and robbers were about as likely as Billy Connolly being voted Britain's favourite comedian. So the attention focused on Tamzin Outhwaite and how recognisable she was after having facial make-up added which was supposed to be plastic surgery. She certainly looked better than Alan Titchmarsh's transformation to Neanderthal man in British Isles: a Natural History (BBC1, next Wednesday). Outhwaite, as Frances West, was escaping the wrath of her psychotic jailed husband (Douglas Henshall), and they hadn't even got as far as renewing a fireplace. I also have to confess that she looked so different that I originally thought the images were those of another actress. I'm pretty sure if I met my wife with a repainted head I'd recognise her again, but Henshall's character didn't until it was too late.

"And why was the progamme called Frances Tuesday when her name was West?" asked my wife. The publicity I've seen so far offered no clues, apart from episode two was shown on Tuesday.

Fortunately, Frances made her final escape to East Anglia and missed the delights of Bulgaria featured on Package Holiday Undercover (ITV1, Tuesday). The Royal Park Hotel's unfinished rooms took a real drubbing from a Gateshead family who thought they'd paid for four-star luxury. Presenter Jonathan Maitland, who looks like he's enjoyed the holiday food far more than those featured, also took a team out to Majorca to test swimming pool water and ensured most of us will be keeping out mouths tightly shut next time we take a dip. And there are bugs in ice cream, drinks and fast food to come. Thanks Jonathan, that makes me about as happy as taking Michael Fish's word for the weather prospects - and I haven't trusted anything he's said since his hurricane days.

And all this is just putting off the final decorating assault on the dining room. My youngest "can I borrow a tenner?" son has been full of encouragement. "Why don't you just get a professional in?" he said reassuringly.

Published: 09/10/2004