July 28, 2009 / 11:14 PM / 10 years ago

Brits prove a challenge for "Extreme Makeover"

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Ty Pennington is used to a challenge.

But the energetic host of “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” got more than he bargained for when he tried to mobilize a whole community of polite, unhurried Britons.

The American makeover king, whose TV show takes regular homes and transforms them into personal castles, spent a week in the sleepy English seaside town of Portreath to revamp a neglected park and inject new life into the divided community.

But lacking his usual team of home designers, plumbers and carpenters, Pennington said he found the biggest challenge of “Ty’s Great British Adventure,” which airs on ABC this coming Sunday, August 2, was the British themselves.

“The British are so polite, they are afraid of ruffling each other’s feathers. They had to take the time to discuss it properly. That was one of the biggest challenges — to get everyone to agree on what we were going to do and then convincing them they could do it,” Pennington said.

Pennington’s get up and go attitude, together with his one week schedule to transform the muddy land into a playground and soccer field, was not an instant hit in the southwest England town, despite having been invited there by fans of the American TV show.

“The British were more like, ‘you are very charming but let’s sit down and have a cup of tea.’ I love them for that...their blood pressure must be fantastic because they don’t let anything stress them out.

“I don’t think they had ever been in that sort of rush,” he said.

But after set-backs — including the unreliable British weather — Pennington encouraged the entire community of kids, seniors, local officials, moms and small businessmen, to pull together and get the park completed after two years of stalled efforts.

“It was like a new start for them. People started talking again instead of staying in their homes. Everyone got involved, they got reconnected,” Pennington said.

The TV host said he would love to do more work outside the United States, but he has his hands full with “Extreme Makeover” and his decorating and remodeling books and magazines.

After five years and dozens of home renovations for deserving American families on TV, Pennington said he is still driven by the same goal.

“Putting a smile on peoples’ faces. Seeing people come together and communities come together. If everyone thought like that it would be a better world. That’s what I love.” he said.

Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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