TV CHAT with Dominic Littlewood
Dominic Littlewood made his television debut on Channel 4’s Faking It in 2002, and has been a mainstay on the small screen ever since. He was born in Southend, Essex, in 1965, and he currently presents Cowboy Builders on Five alongside Melinda Messenger.
WHAT CAN VIEWERS EXPECT FROM THE SECOND SERIES OF COWBOY BUILDERS?
In the first series, we sent a shockwave throughout the industry to the bad builders, and in the second series we’re not looking for builders who do a bit of a dodgy paint job, we’re after the people who are out there deceiving, destroying lives and leaving people in debt. In the second series, we’re leaving no stone unturned to get these guys and bring them to justice. We’ve managed to track down one builder who Trading Standards have been after for five years. They couldn’t find him, he was very elusive, he kept moving addresses but we managed to track him down and as a result he was arrested and charged.
HOW DO THESE ROGUE BULDERS GET AWAY WITH CHEATING MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC?
I am very anti-registers. There are companies that take builders on their books and those builders pay them an annual subscription to be on their books – so it’s not in their interest to say ‘no, I’m not taking you on – you’re a bad builder’. They take absolutely everybody who says they’re a builder on their books and it’s only when they get lots and lots of complaints will they ever investigate a builder. Unfortunately, the way they advertise, they make people believe all these builders are qualified and have good records. I found out that’s not the case.
WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH MELINDA MESSENGER AGAIN?
Melinda and I get on like a house on fire – she’s bubbly, she’s lively, she’s jolly. She can demand things from the builders which I wouldn’t be able to get away with because she’s pretty, she has a lovely smile and she’s a nice person. If I demanded the work and extra labour that she did, I’d probably get hit over the head with a club hammer, whereas she gets a smile and they get on with it. I liken our partnership to Beauty and the Beast – the lovely Melinda Messenger does the nice stuff while I chase the bad guys.
HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO KEEP YOUR COOL WHEN CONFRONTING THE COWBOY BUILDERS?
You have to keep your composure because you don’t want to lower yourself to their level. Things can get awkward – I got attacked while filming the second series. He lost his rag, he was a very aggressive, nasty person and after investigating I found out the guy had convictions for GBH. But that doesn’t stop me – at the end of the day I’m there to bring them to justice and if it gets a bit nasty then so be it.
DO YOU GET EMOTIONALLY ATTACHED TO THE FAMILIES WHO HAVE BEEN CONNED?
I do really care because I see grown men, woman and children crying their eyes out and saying, ‘please help me, Dominic’ and that does get to me. I’m very much a people person and I don’t want to see people being ripped off so it does really infuriate and annoy me. The more I can do to help stop these people, the better.
IS THERE A THIRD SERIES OF COWBOY BUILDERS IN THE PIPELINE?
We’ve already filmed series three – but that’s not coming out until later in the year. Series three is much more powerful than series one and two. Series one was very eye-opening and popular, we’ve upped the ante in series two and, in series three, we get them on the rails. There’s no shortage of bad builders out there.