FFurniture restorer Jason “Jay” Blades, 53, was raised by a single mother in east London. He struggled at school due to his undeserved dyslexia, then worked as a laborer and in workshops before founding a charity to train disadvantaged youth in furniture restoration. TV producers spotted him in a short film, thought he was a natural on screen and asked him to front plates for the BBC hit Repair Shop. He presented his documents, opened his first bricks and mortar shop, Jay & Co in Poole, and was due to appear on the day. The The Great Celebrity Bake Off. He is married with three children and lives in Shallow.
What is perpetual appeal? Repair Shop?
It is about love. The experts who fix things have a passion for their craft. People who inherit valuable heirlooms have a love for their families. At the same time and magic.
There are often tears in the show. How much do you cry?
Not often because what I’ve come to realize is that it’s not about me. It is almost the entire person who brings the item in. My job is to ask why it is so important to them, and to listen to the story. I know nothing certain before me. Thirty seconds before they come through the door, I ask the manager for their name and that’s it. We only have a conversation.
You always wonder who they are Repair shop fans?
It seems to appeal across the board from grannies up to five years old. The only thing that offends me is when people approach me at the urinal station. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. Zip first, matte.
Did you ever drop something while carrying your precious things around the factory? Never. Working in restoration, you soon learn that if you decide something, you have to fix it. What struck me when I was trained by the teachers was that I was always so cautious. But hey, if I dropped something, I’d be in the right place!
The artists on the show – the likes of carpenter Dom, carpenter Will, horologist Steve and ceramist Kirsten – have become cult men. What is nice to see?
It is lovely. They work a lot in their fields, and do not show off or celebrate what they do. It is terrible to see them in national, and sometimes international, evaluation. We spent nine months of the year filming, all staying in the same hotel and having meals together, we became like a family.
How did the BBC centenary deal with King Charles (then Prince Charles)?
The time was right. Like me, he has a deep love for the castle of inheritance. I think he can relax because we are talking about emotions. When we went to the cinema at Dumfries House, we sat down to dinner together and had a decent chinwag. The guy is really cool. He has been talking about environmental issues for 40 years and now everyone is caught up. I think it’s just a geezer.
How long do you hold out? Repair Shop?
I don’t see myself going anywhere. If they will have me, you will see me grow very old in that barn. I already shave my head, but my eyebrows are singing.
How many pairs of glasses and flat tiaras do you have?
I have 15 pairs of glasses and six hats that I wear regularly. All the cups are in their cases and I carry the hats in the bag. All my clothes are colored, put in their place and ready to wear. It’s with my tools. All being as it is. If someone else is using your tools and you don’t store them where they are, they’re working big time.
You came to the attention of TV producers through Out of the darkness, O youth’s charity, which thou hast run in High Wycombe. Do you hear the success stories of how those young people got away?
It is incredibly rewarding and rewarding. I have worked with the police, social services, schools and hearing referral units. It’s going to be all kinds of young people, and I’m going to teach them how to restore and restore old stuff. Hopefully, if you put them on the straight and narrow in education, they will be involved. I am Leigh-Anne’s mentor [Pinnock] from Little Mix and this is ultra-successful. Others, having had stable careers, became teachers themselves or stopped teaching. Those are all success stories.
Pleased with the reaction to last year’s document; Learning to read at 51?
My philosophy is always to nurture or influence people I’m never going to meet. If I can do that with my work, I’m over the moon. About 8 million people in this country have reading difficulties, so I was happy to expose my vulnerability if I was going to inspire and help people. That’s what he did. Adult literacy charity ReadEasy was inundated with volunteer offers and duplicate inquiries from those wanting to chime in on their services.
What is your lesson now?
A little better. Doing scripted voiceovers takes about as long as it takes. I’m not a fluent reader, but I ask for words I don’t understand.
Is there a book you want to read?
I love to read my life. I told my ghost story and told my readers it sounded like I was talking to them. So I like to read and just think, “Is it what it sounds like? let them cool down!”
You opened your first shop, Jay & Co in Poole, last month. Was it a proud moment?
Really proud. In the official opening, there were loads of people there, so they didn’t have the chance to take it. It was only when everyone was gone that I was like “wow, I did this. This is clear.” He does well. Every time a person goes down there, it’s like “whoosh!” and suddenly the room fills up.
Do you have to stop yourself at home and keep the pieces for yourself?
One hundred percent. I am addicted to decoration. I have two factory set ups and the view was stacked high when I bought the furniture, but I don’t know what to do with it yet.
You’ve been upcycling for decades. Has the world now come to your opinion?
And so I am glad. It’s not leaving garbage for the next generation. Leaving a mess behind for someone else to deal with is not nice. You don’t do that in someone’s house. Why planets? Rejection, recycling, redesigning – this is the way forward.
How do you relax when you are not working?
Play records and dance when sent. I jam into some reggae, soul, jazz or rare groove, then we dance really hard for two hours. Or as long as it takes me anyway.
you are seen Strictly danceChristmas special in 2021. How was this?
I loved every minute of it, but I did one of the hardest. Forgetting that your fingers have muscles, but my fingers are killing me after doing these five exercises.
The next day in you The Great Celebrity Bake Off for Rise up Cancer.
Don’t warn me! I am not a baker. They sent me mixed and prepared instruments to train me. I never opened the box. I just went on Let’s cook it off like a tent, “Here we go, let’s do this!” We East Enders have a flair about us, so we’re totally winged.
Was Paul Hollywood scary?
No, he’s a really nice guy. And the cameras don’t do her eyes justice! I have never seen a shade of blue like it. I could not look. I fall in love with him. He hypnotized me.
Jay Blades’s shop Jay & Co. It is now open in Polo and online