Nick Knowles has promised a special episode of DIY SOS: The Big Build for BBC Children In Need will help “repair” viewers’ faith in humanity.
The host said he hoped to bring positivity to people at home during the coronavirus pandemic, when much news coverage was about “the bad things and the negative things”.
The 58-year-old and his team of volunteer tradespeople transformed Surfability UK in Caswell Bay, Swansea: a community interest company that gives surfing lessons to people with disabilities and learning difficulties.
Alongside interior designer Gabrielle Blackman, Knowles turned a disused bus shelter with no electricity, running water or ventilation into a wet suit and surf board storage centre.
Recorded earlier in the year, filming on the special episode took place across nine days while observing social distancing and finished just two days before that region of Wales went into tougher lockdown restrictions.
Knowles told the PA news agency that the experience had been especially moving.
“I think it was more emotionally charged on a number of levels,” he said.
“One is that we have finally got to understand what it is like to be locked in your home – like a lot of people with disabilities are because the facilities just aren’t there. That was important and an important message to learn.
“A lot of people are frightened of things, a lot of people are suspicious of each other and how people act and whether we are all pulling together.”
He added: “There’s a lot of bad news around and I think this is a really good new moment, reminding people what a generous group of nations we are in terms of time and ability, and how people have helped each other out.
“That story has been floating around in the background but the majority of coverage has been about the bad things and the negative things. It’s worth reminding people how amazing people are.
“You don’t want to be too evangelical about it but it comes at a really important time where if people watch I think they will have their faith in humanity repaired a little.
“It brings a little positivity when positivity is in short supply.”
Surfability UK, which was set up by Ben Clifford in 2013, receives a grant of £120,000 from Children in Need to provide activities for disabled children and young people.
The build was completed using locally sourced and sustainable materials, with the building designed in the shape of a surfboard.
— Nick Knowles (@MrNickKnowles) November 11, 2020
Knowles, who took part in I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! in 2018, finishing sixth, also suggested this year’s series of the ITV show would bring new challenges.
The programme has been filmed in Australia since it first aired on ITV in 2002 but this year it will be filmed at Gwrych Castle in Conwy as a result of the pandemic.
He told PA: “The series in Australia was nice because it was occasionally warm and you could sunbathe. But I think that the sunbathing opportunities in winter in a castle in Wales are going to be fairly few and far between.
“It’s going to be quite chilly and the trials I imagine will have an extra edge because I don’t believe there won’t be any water involved. I think people are going to get quite cold and damp.
“I think this time it’s going to be a little bit more like SAS: Who Dares Wins than I’m A Celebrity.”
DIY SOS: The Big Build BBC Children In Need special airs on Thursday November 12 on BBC One at 8pm.