PRO­FILE John Doyle

Ram­pag­ing Roy Slaven shows us his se­ri­ous side and one of his life­long pas­sions, Aus­tralian ar­chi­tec­ture, writes Anooska Tucker-Evans.

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - TV Guide - - CELEBRITY -

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

Build­ing Aus­tralia.

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.

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