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Grand Designs Guaranteed To Get Hearts Racing

If you ever find yourself fancying a thriller to watch, or something to get your heart pumping, have you ever thought about putting on a home renovation show? Here at, we noticed that TV time can feel a little bit, well, stressful and wanted to find out whether others felt the same way.

We decided to survey 2,500 Brits to find out which reality TV shows really got people on the edge of their seats. We asked survey respondents to tell us what genre of TV show made them feel the most stressed, or like they had butterflies in their stomachs. 

The top five reality TV subgenres that are the most stressful to watch are:

  1. Dating shows
  2. Home renovation shows
  3. Game shows
  4. Talent contest shows
  5. Cooking shows

Interestingly, when home renovation shows came second place, we wanted to find out more – so we decided some extra research was required. We found 50 willing participants (who wouldn’t want to watch TV for a good cause?) to take part in a study to find out exactly what home improvement / renovation show is the most stressful.

The participants were all aged between 18 and 72, from a range of backgrounds, locations and genders to ensure there was a good and diverse sample. To keep things as fair and controlled as we possibly could, we asked all participants to watch the TV clips alone and in a seated position to reduce external factors from affecting their heart rate.

When conducting the study into home renovation shows, participants were asked to wear an approved medical device to monitor their heart rates whilst watching episodes from popular home renovation TV shows available in the UK. Participants were given a preselected shortlist of 15 TV shows available on iPlayer, Netflix, All4 and Amazon Prime. Shortlisted shows that didn’t make the top five include; Netflix’s Dream Home Makeover and Channel 4’s George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces. 

The top 10 most stressful home renovation shows (and the average increase in heart rates):

  1. Grand Designs – 34%
  2. Interior Design Masters – 31%
  3. DIY SOS – 28%
  4. George Clarke’s Old House, New Home – 23%
  5. Your Home, Made Perfect – 22%
  6. Changing Rooms – 21%
  7. Dream Home Makeover – 20%
  8. George Clarke’s Remarkable Renovations – 18%
  9. Extraordinary Extensions – 15%
  10. George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces – 13% 

Participants were also asked to note down when they felt particularly uncomfortable or stressed out, which also made for some unexpected results. More than three quarters (77%) of study participants said they felt stressed when the time to complete the projects in the show started to run out. This was followed by four in 10 (41%) agreeing they felt uneasy or awkward when show participants started working off-brief and a tenth (12%) when the weather affected the progress of the projects.

Agree? Disagree? We’d love to hear your thoughts, head over to our socials and join the conversation.

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