Channel Five television is hoping that it has unearthed architecture's equivalent to TV chef Jamie Oliver in a first-time presenter it has plucked from obscurity for a new six-part series which begins screening in July.
C5 has chosen 26-year old Royal College of Art student Charlie Luxton for the weekly 'Modern British Architects' shows, which will begin at noon on 2 July and feature separate 'insightful and entertaining' documentaries on James Stirling, Norman Foster, Michael Hopkins, Nicholas Grimshaw and 'futurist architect companies' - Future Systems and Alsop & Stormer.
The first show focuses on Richard Rogers and the Pompidou Centre, the Lloyd's building, the Millennium Dome and the Channel Four headquarters. On Pompidou, Rogers says he was 'rather opposed' to entering the competition to design a 'palace for a president' given his left wing political beliefs, but that Renzo Piano per - suaded him to enter, which they did 'rather lightheartedly'. Rogers called 'all his mates' from LA to work on the scheme, none of them older than 30. 'We did everything ten times, 100 times before we realised which was the right way to do it, ' he says.
Rogers also discloses how he was attacked by an umbrella-wielding little old lady outside the Pompidou when he revealed he was the architect, and ruminates on the initial bad press the practice received about Lloyd's and the Millennium Dome. But he declares that he made 'a very early decision not to get involved' on the interior of the £758 million Greenwich project.
Sydney-born Luxton, who has a first in architecture from Oxford Brookes University, said he landed the job as presenter for the upbeat, youth-orientated programme aimed at 'Joe Public' after seeing the advert pinned to the student notice - board at the RCA. After completing his MA there this summer, Luxton wants to set up his own practice focusing on 'environmental' schemes but is hoping to carry on with lucrative TV work.
'The show's aimed at someone who's kind of interested in architecture but doesn't know, ' he said. 'The hardest thing was the dialogue and it took a long time to get rid of some of the 'mystical' words architects use. We're trying to explode that.'