Jay Blades explains how The Repair Shop ‘fixed’ him after a rough childhood

Jay Blades said the team at The Repair Shop had “fixed” him by bringing him to another family after a difficult childhood that saw him suffer neglect, racism and abuse.

he furniture restorer and host of the popular BBC One show has reflected on his challenges growing up, including having an absent father, who he calls ‘the man who helped birth me’, and how it didn’t prepared to have his child at 20.

Blades told Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Records: ‘I just wasn’t ready, plain and simple. I didn’t know how to be a father and that proved that I wasn’t ready because I didn’t stay very long with Maria, Levi’s mom.

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Jay Blades (Matt Crossick/PA)

Pennsylvania

Jay Blades (Matt Crossick/PA)

“I think I stuck with her for about a year and that was it. If you don’t see something, you can’t be. You have to learn how to do it or you have to see a positive role model.

“I had a lot of positive role models as uncles growing up, extended uncles, but I never saw them being a father, normally I just played with the kids and we just went out, we did what we did.

“I didn’t see what they were doing as being a father. So it’s very difficult for me to do that. Really, really hard.

The TV host explained that when his mother made him turn 17 or 18, she was kicked out of the family home and Blade’s father promised to buy them an apartment, but he instead disappeared with the silver.

Blades also revealed that he later found out he had 27 half-siblings and was close to two of them.

The furniture restorer has recalled how his school and teenage years in Hackney, London were also difficult as he was racially bullied and put in the back of a police van and ‘beaten’ during the stop and search period.

Later in life, Blades took over furniture restoration and set up a new business called J&CO before joining the BBC to host The Repair Shop in 2017.

Reflecting on the impact the show had on his life, he said: “The Repair Shop fixed me because what they did actually brought me to another family, that’s- i.e. people in front of and behind the camera, who cared about me and understand my kind of, I’ll call them differences, and I just accepted them.

He added: “Kirsten, Steve, Will – you have to be there to understand that what you see on TV is great, don’t get me wrong, it’s even better in real life.”

Blades said he thinks the show’s success hinges on its community spirit, saying, “It’s about things we all want, which is community, people coming together, l love, and then also just kindness.

“It’s like people feel comfortable and open up.”

The full interview on Desert Island Discs is available on BBC Sounds.

Daniel C. Williams