These were two of the shows that I became obsessed with in the post-Twin Peaks, non-network TV period of my life, basically, most of the late 90's. I'd record episodes off BBC-America, where they played them seemingly ALL THE TIME (the way Top Gear is now) and watch them over and over and over. The hilarious part of this is that in my real life, I have absolutely no interest in gardening or decorating. (Any more than I actually have an interest cars aside from Top Gear.)
I loved the Britishness of it all, plus the fantasy of being the sort of person who did those thing. I loved the dynamics and snarkiness between the characters. Andy's sniping at Lawrence's mad schemes and all the things he was asked to do. Alan Titchmarsh's benevolent calm in the face of Tommy's grousing. CHARLIE DIMMOCK'S NIPPLES! I remember the first time I noticed them and actually pointed it out to Hubby. You just didn't see women with their nipples so obviously asserting themselves on TV that much back then.
I still find it hard to believe that Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen is remotely straight, because at the time, he was just my epitome of gay fabulosity. Loved Linda Barker's accent, of course Carol Smillie's brogue. I think I may have shipped Carol and Andy and Carol with either Linda or Anna Ryder Richardson. I loved Anna in a Magnificent Bitch way.
The first time around for each episode, I was fascinated by the reveals, especially the ones that went horribly pear-shaped, a phrase I learned from Alan Titchmarsh and still use to this day. Who could forget the "tart's boudoir" with the leopard prints, or the one where someone actually burst into tears over one of Graham Wynne's "minimalist" designs?
With Ground Force, they were usually pretty happy, but there was the element of surprise, and I remember how convoluted the "keeping them away" schemes got and the few times when they broke down and it was a mad dash to the finish.
Eventually I think I started losing interest in the shows, especially when Alan left Ground Force and newer designers on Changing Rooms just weren't as interesting and eventually BBCA stopped showing the episodes all together.
For a while there these two shows were a major part of my life. On our trip to the UK in 2001, we spent our last night at an airport hotel near Heathrow, so we could make an early flight out in the morning. We had room service and television and I was excited to see on actual British Telly, a Ground Force I'd never seen before, one that actually had Sir Cliff Richard on it. I was as excited by that as I would be to watch Doctor Who in the UK when we revisited in 2011.