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Robert "Barry" Barraby Bucknell (26 January 1912 Hampstead, London – 21 February 2003 St Mawes, Cornwall) was an English TV presenter who popularised Do It Yourself (DIY) on the BBC in the United Kingdom.
Bucknell was educated at the William Ellis School, Camden, and served an apprenticeship with Daimler, after which he joined his father's building and electrical firm in St Pancras, London. He was a conscientious objector in World War II, working in the National Fire Service in London during the Blitz and later. In the 1950s he served as a Labour Party member of St Pancras Borough Council.
Home improvement shows
After his first child was born, Bucknell was asked by a BBC radio producer to give a talk on becoming a parent. It was after this that he was asked to demonstrate home improvements on TV.
About The Home
Initially, he was one of a number of experts answering viewers' questions, but his manner, both magisterial and welcoming, was so much liked he was given his own spot on About The Home in 1956, showing Joan Gilbert how to put up shelves or make a tool box. A generation of women who had worked in wartime factories or served in the forces appreciated Bucknell's humorous and uncondescening manner over jobs that, before the war, were regarded as "not for women". Male viewers learned how to save face.
Barry Bucknell's Do It Yourself
In the late 1950s he began presenting the long running BBC TV series Barry Bucknell's Do It Yourself which at its peak attracted seven million viewers. The programmes were presented live and, despite rehearsing his projects at home with his wife timing him, occasionally resulted in on-screen mishaps with Bucknell saying "This is how not to do it!".
Bucknell often demonstrated techniques to 'modernise' older properties, most typically using cheap materials including plywood to cover up architectural detail such as period doors and fireplaces, which at that time were considered unfashionable. By the 1990s, some critics argued that he was largely responsible for millions of home owners altering their properties to a style that, in turn, is now considered dated again.
The 1962 series Bucknell's House followed a 39-week BBC project renovating a house, bought for £2,250, in Ealing. The house was now said to be worth £800,000 on How TV Changed Britain (C4, 22 June 2008)
From the mid-1960s on he became increasingly involved in sailing and he and Jack Holt designed the popular Mirror Dinghy. He also designed a two-man canoe for the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, and a catamaran for his wife and himself, which he moored next to his house in St Mawes, Cornwall and caravans.
Energy Sense is Common Sense
He appeared in a public information film Energy Sense is Common Sense in 1976.
- Whirligig TV website
- "Making the Modern World" website of The Science Museum
- BBC News Online obituary