Nick Benson

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Lucy Alexander: ‘There’s a budding entrepreneur in everybody’

Lucy Alexander talks to Gemma Dunn about hit daytime show, The Customer Is Always Right.

The Customer Is Always Right is back for a second series and with creativity sparked in the home, what better time to feel inspired?

The BBC One daytime show, presented by former Homes Under The Hammer star Lucy Alexander, sees Britain’s best entrepreneurs put their precious products to the test as customers unbox, examine and score their inventions.

From beauty tools to bread ovens, baby sleeping aids to car cleaning kits, there is something to interest every viewer but which savvy inventor will take home the coveted winner’s trophy each week? We chat to host Alexander to find out more.

With people asked to stay at home, do you think the show will spur on creativity and welcome budding entrepreneurs?
I think there’s a budding entrepreneur in everybody; I really believe there’s been a time in everybody’s life where you’ve gone, ‘Oh this would be brilliant’. The entrepreneurs that we meet in the studio are these people. But some of them have taken it to the next level where they’ve re-mortgaged their houses, borrowed money, and their products are still not perfect.
But the three people in each episode, by the end of it, they’re like family. We have tears and we have highs and lows; it’s quite a rollercoaster, but I love it.

After a successful first run, were you inundated with applications for the second series?
Yeah, it’s funny, it’s exactly like Homes Under The Hammer. When I first started that, we were scratching around for properties, and then ahead of the second, people would actually come up to you! So, this series we’ve had a better selection, from a car cleaning product to a bread baker, as we had a lot more to choose from. It’s just so much fun.

What’s your favourite part of the show?
Meeting the entrepreneurs. I don’t watch the customer feedback footage beforehand; I like to be neutral, so I don’t know what’s coming and I also don’t know who’s going to win. It’s a bit of game for me, because the producers were like, ‘Do you want to know?’ and I go, ‘Nope, nope’. Problem is, halfway through, I’m saying to the producer ‘I bet it’s so and so’ but she says, ‘I’m not saying!’ So I go on the journey with them.

Do you have a series highlight?
A lot of my favourites all stem from the people who come across well. There was one guy who made a hand cream called Nursem; it was for nurses who were constantly washing their hands. He was a nurse himself, and he was the kindest, loveliest man, and I just know the reasons why he did it.
Another one was a man who brought in a bread oven. I wanted to take it home with me. The inventor was fantastic and it really made the most unbelievable bread.

Price is a huge factor in a product’s success, too. How do the entrepreneurs handle such criticism?
People certainly like to know that what they’re getting is good value for money. For example, the bread oven was quite expensive, but for what you got and for what he displayed, it was worth it.
But our YouTubers are very honest and very brutal, and sometimes the people in the studio don’t want to hear it. I used to tell them, ‘You’ll get no other opportunity like this. Even if you don’t win, just take away the experience’. You get a chance to sit and watch how your product is perceived, it’s just gold dust.

It’s a show that appeals to all ages.
Yes, it’s good for young audiences because of the YouTuber side, and my dad’s generation really enjoy all the products. So, it spans the age groups quite well. It’s light-hearted, it’s fun, and you can have a laugh while watching it, but also, it might just spur ideas.
People now have a lot more time at home to experiment and to think about things. This gives them a chance to prepare and think about what they want to do.

Has working on this left you dreaming up your own inventions?
Because I’m so used to all the inventions, I do find myself thinking I should do this now. But yes, it does make you think that there are things I could develop. Everybody has got that entrepreneurialism in them. I’m hoping people will watch this show and it will spur them on to drive their own product forward.

What else are you up to?
I’ve got a few really exciting things in the pipeline. Hopefully a new series of this; I’m hoping this will be my regular job now and I would love to do more for the BBC.
I’m also renovating a little cottage down in Whitstable, so I’ve got still got my property passion. I’ve been sharing it on my Instagram stories, doing step by step, talking to the camera, although I can’t get down there at the moment so it’s sat still. But I’ve just been really busy at home with the family and I’m still doing all my voiceovers, which keeps me busy.

Are you still approached for Homes Under The Hammer?
The whole time. Everybody asks me whether I’m coming back. But I’m still on it! Really are showing episodes of Homes Under The Hammer every day, so I’m still on the screen and I haven’t done it for about five years! It still feels like yesterday; I still see Martin Roberts and we go for a drink and have a laugh and talk about the good old days. It was a huge part of my life that I loved so much, and I still love. Never say never!

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