Celebrity builder Tommy Walsh, who is starring in new series Clean It, Fix It, got the Ground Force gig after working on a producer’s garden and once got into a row over sawdust
We all know Tommy Walsh as the cheeky cockney builder on Ground Force – but it wasn’t always smiles off-camera.
Building expert Tommy, who is back on our screens in new series Clean it, Fix It, once had an awkward clash with Alan Titchmarsh that “got a bit hairy”.
The loveable tradesmen stayed on Ground Force for the duration of its run – having got the iconic job after completing work on the executive producer’s garden.
“I got my break into television totally by chance when I was about 40,” Tommy told the Express .
“I had no intention of becoming a TV personality but in the mid 1990s, one particular client, a TV producer who lived in Hampstead, who I’d done some building work for, asked me to have a look at a pilot she was working on.
“She was keen for me to consider a role on the show, but I wasn’t convinced at all. Eventually one of my daughters persuaded me to have a go.”
Birmingham Post and Mail)
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Ground Force brought gardening to the masses – with Tommy joined by supreme horticulture expert Alan Titchmarsh and fellow green-fingered maestro Charlie Dimmock.
Running for a whopping 12 series between 1997 and 2005, Ground Force saw the team trying to transform a rubbish garden into a backdoor paradise in just two days.
As well as attracting 12 million viewers at its peak, Ground Force led to an increase of garden decking sales, with B&Q revealing sales had risen from £5,000 in 1997 to £16 million in 2001.
While the three main stars have remained close friends, there were times when they didn’t see eye to eye.
There was once a bit of tension when Alan reportedly got angry at Tommy after he inadvertently covered his flowerbeds in sawdust while sawing timber.
“For a while it did get a bit hairy,” Tommy told The Independent in September 2000.
“But when we’d both calmed down we actually kissed (yes) and made up. What made me cross was that I was working flat out to get everything ready and here was Alan moaning about a bit of stray sawdust.”
When Ground Force finished in 2005, Tommy continued in the showbiz world and went on to host what seems like hundreds of his own TV shows.
These included Cowboys and Angels, Challenge Tommy Walsh, Tommy’s Ultimate Workshop, Tommy’s DIY survival, Tommy Walsh’s Eco House and Flip That House with Tommy Walsh.
He also had a small acting role in the film One, writes DIY and gardening books and has his own DIY brand that was sold in Poundland.
The 64-year-old lives in hackney with his wife Marie Walsh and they have three children – Charlotte, Natalie and Jonjo.
“After I left school, I worked for my dad for a couple of years, before starting off on my own,” he said in an interview with The Express.
“I met my wife-to-be, Marie, when I was 20 and fell in love. By the time I was in my thirties, I was in great demand as a builder.”
In 2013, Tommy opened up on his family’s tragic experience of breast cancer and how alarm bells rang when he found two lumps on his chest.
One of his sisters, who recovered, had a lumpectomy for breast cancer when she was 31, while his aunt contracted breast cancer in her late 50s but left it untreated.
Like most People. Tommy has no idea that men could get breast cancer, but around 2,600 are expected to be diagnosed with the disease this year – with sadly 500 anticipated to die.
He told The Mirror: “I was being a bit of a bloke about the whole thing. I just buried myself in my work and then went along for the day surgery where the lumps were removed under a general anaesthetic.
“It was only then that it sort of hit me that this could actually be serious and I could have breast cancer, like my relatives.
“Luckily for me, the test results showed that the lumps were benign but it was a bit of a wake-up call about the disease.”
Last year, Tommy joined the presenting team on daytime favourite Homes Under The Hammer.
Tommy is currently back on our screens in brand new BBC home makeover show Clean It, Fix It, where a team of experts have just one day to help families fall back in love with their homes.
The building legend is joined by extreme cleaner Maxine Dwyer and skilled carpenter Asher Edwards, who use clever hacks that won’t break the bank.
On what makes this series stand out from others, Tommy explained: “I think it’s done with a lot of empathy.
“It’s important not to point a finger at people, because we can all find ourselves in a similar situation.
“What we do is give people a platform that will hopefully help resolve some of the issues many of us face when trying to keep our homes tidy.
“We give people a foundation to build on, and continue to live brighter, happier lives.”
*Clean It, Fix It airs today on BBC One at 3.45pm
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