Kevin McCloud on 25 years of standing in mud filming Grand Designs
Kevin McCloud at Grand Designs Live at NEC Birmingham in October 2022

Kevin McCloud on 25 years of standing in mud

Behind-the-scenes tales from a quarter of a century spent filming on building sites

By Jason Podesta |

Grand Designs Live kicked off its five-day run at the NEC Birmingham on Wednesday 9 October with the traditional ribbon cutting, followed by an exciting programme of informative and entertaining talks.

Kevin McCloud took to the Grand Designs Magazine Theatre stage to share behind-the-scenes tales from a quarter of a century spent filming on building sites. The Grand Designs magazine editor-at-large and TV presenter delivered a talk titled 25 Years of Standing in Mud, where he shared his best, worst and most memorable moments from the entire run of 23 series of Grand Designs.

He highlighted his hatred of mud (‘I really, really don’t like it’), but said that a career spent walking around cold building sites had taught him a lot about keeping warm: ‘Most of the learning I’ve gained from filming for 25 years, which comes from standing outside in rain and snow and mud, is how to stay warm,’ said Kevin.

Kevin McCloud at Grand Designs Live at NEC Birmingham in October 2022

If anybody can do layers, it’s Kevin McCloud, pictured on stage at Grand Designs Live at NEC Birmingham. Photo: Media10

‘A mug of tea helps keep your hands warm, but we’ve forgotten how to get dressed in the morning. We’re all wearing t-shirts made of plastic and turning our thermostats up. Layer up and do a bit of movement. I do star jumps when we’re filming.’ 

Kevin arrived on stage bundled up in six layers of clothing to demonstrate the point, before proceeding to remove jackets and jumpers and throw them into the audience. He was highlighting the importance of insulation – insulting the body and, in the face of a climate crisis and soaring energy prices, insulating our homes.

Grand Designs Live has focused increasingly on energy efficiency and sustainability over the years. The new Green Living Live show – which visitors to Grand Designs Live can also visit for free – is dedicated to all things environmentally friendly. As well as getting expert advice on lowering your carbon footprint, you can also discover the latest eco-friendly building materials, and visit the Sustainable Future Theatre, which runs a programme of talks discussing ways to lower our impact on the environment.

Kevin McCloud talks about spending 25 years standing in mud while filming Grand Designs

‘I really, really don’t like mud,’ said Kevin McCloud at Grand Designs Live. Photo: Channel 4

Kevin’s Green Heroes, which showcases Kevin’s pick of the latest products and concepts that champion sustainability, is another must-see. Get up close to innovations such as the Alvearium bee shelter, part of a collection of design-led urban wildlife shelters created by Jessica Carter, and Kelda’s high-efficiency, air-powered showers that reduce water usage and carbon emissions.

‘These products are the vanguard,’ said Kevin. ‘They set out the innovations and products of the future.’

Other highlights from opening day include TV presenter and property expert Kunle Barker leading a talk on Architecture & Wellbeing; grand designers Ruth Grimshaw and Rob Glass discussing their experience of rebuilding a crumbling Cumbrian water mill; and self-build advocate Richard Bacon MP joining Kevin on stage to discuss ways to help more people build their own homes.

Richard, who was commissioned by Boris Johnson in 2021 to lead a review into scaling up the custom and self-build sector, said: ‘I’m trying to make it possible for everyone who wants to get a serviced plot of land to do so. There is the potential to transform how we build housing in this country.’

Grand Designs Live continues until Sunday 9 October 2022 with plenty more talks, expert advice and a wide range of exhibitors across four project zones, covering self-build, kitchens and bathrooms, interiors and gardens.

Upcoming talks include Tools and Tips for Upcycling Furniture, How to Add Character to a New Build, Net Zero and Beyond and The Tool Club with Max McMurdo and Jess Grizzle.

Grand Designs Live is at the NEC Birmingham from 5-9 October 2022. For tickets visit