Kevin McCloud is honest about one key attraction for viewers of his Channel 4 series Grand Designs. The show is all about people building their dream homes and, he said, while viewers love the bit at the end when the dream is realised, they also like the bits in the middle where the dream becomes a nightmare, building components don’t fit, and foundations turn to quagmire.

But talking to the 300-or-so architects, engineers and other building professionals at TRADA‘s In Touch with Timber Conference this week, Mr McCloud said that another definite viewer magnet was building with wood.

“The audience is always biggest when we have a timber building,” he said. “The best we’ve had so far was for the construction of a German-made post and beam Huf Haus. That night we got over 5.9 million viewers and beat all the other terrestrial channels.”

Mr McCloud puts the allure of the shows about timber construction down to the fact that wood is “understandable”. “People love the friendliness and flexibility of the material and it helps the audience make emotional contact with the story.”

Mr McCloud is himself is a wood fan. For environmental reasons, he maintained, we are “obliged” to fell and replant more trees and use the wood in construction. “I see a great and glorious future for timber houses,” he said.

The proviso he set against this prediction was that the timber industry has to get to grips with certification so that anyone can go to their local merchant and pick up the certified product that meets their needs.

Despite the success of wood. for good, the timber industry could also afford to increase its publicity, said Mr McCloud. This point was supported by another conference speaker, Ben Tuxworth, who made a Home and Leisure channel show about the construction of his own timber frame house .

He said that the firm which made by far the most of the publicity opportunity was concrete supplier RMC.

“When they found out they’d be on TV, about 15 of them turned up wearing the shiniest helmets you’ve ever seen.”