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21st May, 2022

Five minutes with… The Repair Shop’s Dominic Chinea

Solihull Editorial 4th May, 2022

If you’re anything like me you love The Repair Shop and have a mental list of at least ten possessions you’d love to take in and see what they could do to transform them back to their former glory.

As the popular show returns with another series, we caught up with the metalwork expert about why he feels this one is the ‘best yet’.

With a degree in graphic design, a career history in set design, a passion for classic car restoration and a popular YouTube channel, The Repair Shop’s Dominic Chinea is a jack of many trades – and master of many, too.

Chinea, best known for his master metalwork on the BBC programme, is a self-confessed “car nut” who loves to tinker with machinery in his workshop.

He was over the moon when a rusting pedal car was brought into the barn for the first episode of The Repair Shop’s latest series – a series he claims is “the best yet”.

For those unfamiliar with the set up, The Repair Shop sees members of the public bring battered, broken, neglected or forsaken items, usually with incredible sentimental value, into the Repair Shop barn – the Weald and Downland Living Museum in West Sussex – for the resident experts to mend and restore.

The skilled craftspeople include foreman and furniture restorer Jay Blades, clock restorer Steven Fletcher, painting conservator Lucia Scalisi, ceramics expert Kirsten Ramsay and carpenter Will Kirk, each at the top of their game in their respective trades.

Repair Shop experts Will Kirk, Jay Blades, Steve Fletcher. Picture credit: BBC/Ricochet/Ian West.

Series 10 of The Repair Shop features two of Chinea’s favourite ever repairs, some heart-warming stories of sentimental value and, of course, the same talented team of craftwork experts fans have come to know and love.

But what’s it really like working in the barn, and what can we expect from the latest season?

YOU’VE BEEN ON THE REPAIR SHOP SINCE SERIES ONE. WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING ON THE PROGRAMME?

I’ve worked in quite a few workshops over the years, building props, set design – and honestly I can say there is no other workshop like it that I’ve ever been to, anywhere.

It is a unique place where we get to work side by side with the most talented people around. We’re in that barn, and it’s a very, very inspiring space. Everyone loves what they do.

OUT OF ALL THE ITEMS YOU’VE WORKED ON SO FAR, WHICH IS YOUR FAVOURITE?

The pedal car in this series is my all-time favourite item. Honestly, that was a dream.

I am a bit of a car nut, I do like my classic cars, and I think that’s as close as we’d get to actually restoring a classic car at the barn.

It was for such a worthy family, they were so over the moon. To see it on the race track, on the finish line, the two kids dressed up in their boiler suits, the chequered flag – it was just a goosebump moment. A really, really, really special thing.

Every single part was repaired, new, rechromed, repainted – it was just beautiful in the end. I’m really quite proud of it.

THAT MOMENT WHEN YOU UNVEIL THE RESTORED OBJECT TO THE OWNER – WHAT’S THAT LIKE?

It’s terrifying! Before they’ve seen it, and that blanket’s over it…

We all tread very carefully with the repairs, we try to keep those memories in it. It’s the attention to detail, the little things, it’s about keeping the integrity.

Every single nut and bolt that I take off, there’s a decision: whether we keep it, we clean it, replace it, put it back on. There are an awful lot of decisions to make, and that’s the pressure of the show.

Once you’ve got all that done, standing there at the build table… you just hope they like it.

WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING IN THE BARN WITH SUCH A TALENTED TEAM?

I love watching them all.

Chris Shaw could be trying to delaminate a piece of paper, literally peeling a piece of paper in half, and then Kirsten’s over there gluing back together some ridiculous pot that’s smashed into a million pieces. It’s quite a weird situation.

We do all take the work home – not the physical object, but the decisions and the thought process. It’s constantly in your brain, thinking in the evenings: ‘What do I do with this? What about that? Shall I do this? What do you think?’ We bounce ideas off each other, which is really nice.

DO YOU THINK WE’RE MOVING AWAY FROM THROWAWAY CULTURE AND LOOKING MORE TO REPAIRING?

Yes. We used to always say that we’re in a bit of a throwaway culture, but I think lockdown helped a lot. People are a lot more aware and conscious of trying not to throw stuff away, and repairing things. Not everyone is able to, but everyone is a lot more aware.

We need that younger generation coming in, realising that these crafts are still relevant. There is still a need for old crafts in the modern world today – I feel strongly about that. I mean, I wasn’t very good at school, and I would have loved to have gone on an apprenticeship and done something like that.

I’m doing as much as I can with my YouTube channel and what I do personally to try and get as many people as possible inspired to do these old crafts, keep them alive.

It’s lovely being part of that movement – I think the show has done amazing things.

WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOOK FORWARD TO IN THE REPAIR SHOP’S NEW SERIES?

Every year it gets better and better. Whether it’s the objects that we’re working on, the people that have brought them in, the reasons why these things mean so much to these people, the stories they’ve got attached to them.

A couple of the items that I’ve worked on are the best things that I’ve ever repaired down there, honestly. Two things: the pedal car – my all-time favourite item, and then a hammer, which seems like such an obscure thing, but it was one of the most satisfying, lovely things to repair, and the story attached to it.

It’s going to be the best series yet. For sure.

The Repair Shop returns to BBC One on Wednesday, May 11.

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