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Pinball machines are whirring and circuitboards buzz as we talk to ‘super-fixers’ Rob Howard and Matt Marchant from the TV show Retro Electro Workshop, about the experience of making a show about retro repair and how to encourage more people to repair their things. Retro Electro Workshop features Rob, Matt, and Shamil (who you will remember from our episode about Armstrong Audio) as we watch them dig out broken treasures and repair them to their former glory.
The ‘warm buzz’ of repair
It’s hard not to want to dive into repairing your stuff when you hear Matt and Rob talk about it. From the satisfaction of making an antique radio sing again, to the sensory experience of hearing clicking contacts and smelling electrical components firing, it’s clear that they live and breathe repair. The hosts share their favourite repairs from the show including an old pinball machine, wartime radios, and a very sentimental Pinnochio toy. But more than anything, Matt and Rob say it’s the process of repairing they love – no matter the final outcome (though the pinball machine did sound fun to play with).
The older, the better
New isn’t always better according to Rob and Matt (and us). While they recognise the limits of old cassette players for example, a lot of older devices were built to last unlike more contemporary gadgets. They tell us about the time when receiving a service manual with your device was the default, and things were designed to be taken apart and repaired.
“I think people have sort of forgotten that a little bit. We talk about circular economy, we talk about sustainability. But there’s still a lot of people who just think the first thing that happens if their appliance breaks is just to bin it, rather than actually, well maybe there is a repair thats sort of cost effective and sustainable for it.”
Nowadays, a lack of repair guides and the abundance of glued and teeny tiny parts means that the average person will have a very difficult time repairing their gadgets. Perhaps, having a go at fixing an older item thats been sitting in your attic is a good place to start.
Why not give it a go?
An important lesson for any budding repairers is just give it a go – your device is already broken anyway! Of course don’t go sticking your hands into the back of a radiator, says Rob, but if you take the proper precautions, there’s nothing to be afraid of with repair. Both Rob and Matt believe that repair education should be built into the curriculum in schools so that people can keep repair in mind as a solution from an early age. They’ve already received many letters from viewers who either were inspired to dig out an old toy and fix it up to working condition, and hope that Retro Electro Workshop will inspire you as well.
- All episodes of Retro Electro Workshop are available to stream for free on UKTV Play
- Fix It Workshop
- Restart Podcast Ep. 52: Combining nostalgia with the new at Armstrong Audio
[Images and video courtesy of UKTV’s Retro Electro Workshop]