Pull out your tool belts and pull up a chair. Things are about to heat up on HGTV.
With the launch of Canada’s Handyman Challenge, an all-star judging panel of Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes, Holmes Inspection), Bryan Baeumler (Disaster DIY, House of Bryan) and Scott McGillivray (Income Property) is teaming up to discover Canada’s best handyman, sizing up the competition from Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax in a show format that could be called the Idol for Do-It-Yourselfers.
“It has that element of do-it-yourself and handyman, but there’s also a level of drama,” says host Jillian Harris, best known for her role on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette series, but also a designer with more than 10 years’ experience who has appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. “… While the judges are sorting out their decisions and contemplating, I’m there roughing up the contestants and having fun with them.”
Like most reality TV competitions, the new show offers everyday Canadians an opportunity to work with, and be judged by, the best in the industry. Contestants must complete a variety of skills challenges designed to test their ability to work under a deadline, such as installing a toilet, shingling a roof or building something using only the items they find in a junk pile.
The top 12 competitors — representing four from each city — then battle it out on everything from wiring and installing light fixtures to building a functional staircase.
“What surprised me the most was how talented they were,” says Harris. “You’re watching someone install a toilet and it’s someone like you and I who’s never done it before.”
During the premiere episode, (which aired last Tuesday, January 10 at 10 p.m. EST), Harris and the judges travelled to Vancouver where contestants were asked to build a perfectly functioning garden gate and apply crown moulding in a space where the walls have uneven angles. First, they need to get through the audition process by creating something cool and useful from a single sheet of plywood.
It was hard not to be impressed by the level of creativity as they file before the judges one by one. Who would have thought that plywood could be transformed into a golf bag, not to mention a folding keyboard stand, picnic table, toy lawn mower or chair?
Holmes said he was “amazed” by the talent he saw during the auditions. “We didn’t expect the selection process to be so hard…,” he said. “Canada is full of creative and talented handymen and women — it made our job as judges very difficult.”
“Some of the challenges are pretty hard and the guys take it pretty seriously,” notes Harris. “It’s hard to see a big burly man getting teary eyed … but when they get eliminated, it’s tough.”
While there’s no official crown or cash prize, contestants vie for the “serious bragging rights” that come with being named the winner of Canada’s Handyman Challenge. And in the end, only one person will be left standing.
For full episodes after they air, exclusive on-set interviews with Canada’s Handyman Challenge all-stars and interior design tips from host Jillian Harris, visit www.hgtv.ca.