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As The Repair Shop returns with another barnful of heartwarmi­ng stories, host Jay Blades on its enduring popularity

- Nicole Lampert

Until he joined The Repair Shop a couple of years ago, D ean Westmorela­nd was a humble Yorkshire cobbler. But a recent trip to D ublin underlined how his life has changed. ‘People kept asking if I could give them advice on their shoes,’ he laughs.

This is part of what D ean calls the ‘magic’ of the show. Make do and mend is back in fashion, and this unlikely hit is one of the most popular shows on TV.

Even K ing C harles is a fan, and he visited the workshop in 2022.

‘Nobody had ever seen the then-prince so relaxed, but it was an environmen­t he knows – craft, repair and skills,’ says presenter Jay Blades. ‘He’s about educating the next generation and maintainin­g what we have.’

The items brought in for repair, and their stories, are the show’s heart. In the first episode of the new, 13th series, D ean renovates a pair of cowboy boots that Roger Pope, a drummer who worked with the likes of Elton John and Rod Stewart, bought for his nephew decades ago. For Roger’s sister D iane, the boots are a link to her brother, who died in 2013.

‘They were so small it was a challenge just to get my hands in and do all the intricate work,’ says D ean. ‘I was aware of what they meant to D iane and that weighed heavily on me.’

The show’s newest expert is Rebecca Bissonnet, a textiles conservato­r who previously looked after the tapestries and furnishing­s at the Historic Royal Palaces. But she was still nervous walking into the workshop for the first time. ‘It was surreal,’ she says. ‘Like time had stopped. But Amanda from The Teddy Bear Ladies came over and smiled, and everything came back into focus.’

Her first task was to re-create an Irish dancing dress worn by dance teacher Mona Roddy in the 50s. ‘I was working with fine thread and hundreds of pins, it was frustratin­g,’ she says. ‘But as it began to come together, my frustratio­n changed to pleasure, and seeing how much it meant to Mona was really special.’

Other items in the new series include a gate from Roald D ahl’s childhood home and an ornate Iranian mirror. ‘We want to do nice things for people,’ says Jay. ‘It’s a great feeling to use your skills to support someone.’

The Repair Shop, Wednesday, 8pm, BBC1 and BBC iplayer.

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 ?? ?? Jay, Diane, Dean and the old cowboy boots
Jay, Diane, Dean and the old cowboy boots

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