PROFILE John Doyle
Rampaging Roy Slaven shows us his serious side and one of his lifelong passions, Australian architecture, writes Anooska Tucker-Evans.
HE’S one half of comedy duo Roy and HG, but beneath the humour John Doyle has a very serious passion.
The comedian, better known as his alter ego Roy Slaven, loves architecture. He’s been renovating houses since he was 21 and fancies himself as a bit of a DIYer.
Now, after years of indulging his passion privately, he’s taking it to the small screen in new Foxtel series
The show provides a social history of Australia through the evolution of our homes, exploring how the country has shaped the Aussie house; and how the Australian house has shaped the lives and cultures of the people who live Down Under.
‘‘I’ve always had an abiding interest in seeing what people do with houses – where ideas came from, what styles were embraced,’’ Doyle says.
For the six-part series, the presenter spent two months travelling across Australia visiting 35 of the country’s best homes from terraces to homesteads, Queenslanders to Federation homes.
‘‘We’ve always been in a sort of interesting position in Australia where we’ve always been able to cherry pick the best ideas from everywhere else. And because of the great climate variations you get some different styles happening at the same time,’’ Doyle says.
‘‘I think what’s been nice is to see the growth in the relationship between the house and the landscape. If you were going to live in Queensland or even further north, adjustments had to be made in the style of house that was built.
‘‘These days I think the airconditioner has changed everything. We don’t need to build anymore taking into account the landscape at all.’’
Exploring how our housing styles have changed meant Doyle got to snoop around other people’s homes and says it brought mixed feelings.
‘‘Of course everyone likes to see how other people live, only to be terribly disappointed when it’s nothing much unusual or pretty much exactly how you do,’’ he says.
That doesn’t mean Doyle didn’t have a good time though.
‘‘I enjoyed the variations you see in the styles of houses and comparing the way problems were answered in the northern part of the country compared to how they were answered in the southern part of the country. That regional variation I really find very interesting,’’ he says.
Particularly catching his eye was Camden Park House in Minto, in Sydney’s southwest, showcased next week.
‘‘That house impressed me the most. It is in the Palladian-Georgian-style and is the most remarkable house,’’ he says.
‘‘It needs a lot of work and a lot of upkeep but it’s brilliant with a beautiful design that takes the best of what the Georgians were doing and gives it a sort of Australian tweak by making the windows larger so you really do sense a relationship between the outdoors and indoors.’’
He also loved some of the Queenslanders he explored, which are seen in this week’s episode.
‘‘There was Rangemoor in Clayfield (in Brisbane’s innernorth) and that was a really beautiful timber, nicely designed, airy, high-ceilinged brilliant house that you would see probably nowhere else in the world,’’ he says.
‘‘It was an interesting design and a very liveable house – as liveable now as it would have been then (in 1910 when it was built).
‘‘And Fairymead House in Bundaberg that relied on the success of sugarcane – what a remarkable house it is. It has ceilings that are nearly 30ft high.’’
So did the trip inspire Doyle to return home and renovate his own Victorian cottage in Sydney he’s lived in for the past 20 years?
‘‘No, I’ve had enough of renovation,’’ he says.