Talking to Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud about drinking games and death metal was ... unexpected. But there's more to the BAFTA-winning broadcaster, television host, writer and environmentalist than just architecture. There are many intriguing sides to this multi-talented and immensely popular man who is returning to our shores in 2024 for his Home Truths tour. He calls from the United Kingdom and immediately apologises for being a little late. He had been talking to Tom Webster, Grand Designs New Zealand's presenter, and "got a little carried away". McCloud was raised in a house his parents built in Bedfordshire. The son of a rocket scientist, he studied the history of art and architecture at Cambridge where he also designed shows for the Footlights theatre club and its stars, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. McCloud also studied opera in Italy and, randomly, designed the famous fruit and vegetable ceiling at the Harrods Food Hall. He has been the host of popular BBC series Grand Designs for more than two decades, where he shares his insights and knowledge of architecture, design, sustainable building and living and so much more while showcasing some of the most extraordinary home renovations undertaken across the UK. Ahead of a 2020 trip to Canberra, he told us he had long admired the capital for its unique planning history, and described it as "the Palm Springs of Australia". "There are so many great buildings I want to see and just soak up the wider energy of the place, because it has been explained to me as a park with buildings in it," he said. "The lovely thing about Canberra is it's not an overly layered city and in the West we are absolutely burdened by the fact that cities are thousands of years old and you can't even move or plan anything. "I remember reading when [the late architect Enrico] Taglietti came to Australia that he loved it because it was like a blank canvas, he didn't have the weight of history burdening his work. And while Canberra is often compared to the Brazilian capital Brasilia, he said the main difference was the collaborative nature of Canberra's planning process. "What I see in the history of Canberra, and it's a glorious, transparent thing really, is this coming together of a dozen, maybe two dozen individuals who themselves are influenced by exciting things happening in the world," he says. "What I love about that idea is when Oscar Niemeyer planned Brasilia, it was, terrifyingly, the vision of one man. I'm sorry, but you know it dangerously verges on the control freak. "But [in Canberra] these guys collaborated ... I suspect the atmosphere was sometimes charged but it was generally highly creative and it was collaborative. What a wonderful place to be working in." Meanwhile, he also has plenty of family living Down Under. "My brother lives about an hour-and-a-half north of Sydney, at Gosford, so I'll pop in and see him on the way," he says. "My brother's son had a baby last year - we all became grandparents last year, us three brothers - and my nephew is the sweetest man, he's the drummer in a death metal thrash band that I can't remember the name of it just now." We talk (very) briefly about death metal before the conversation switches to UK festival Glastonbury. McCloud used to live "about five miles" from the festival site. "When the Dalai Lama came to Glastonbury, his helicopter flew there and back, over my house. A lot of rock bands did the same, so there's loads of air traffic," he says. "My experience of going is that you go to the main stage to see, say, Paul McCartney and then you want to go and see, I don't know, Radiohead, and they're on the Holts Stage which, if you were to walk there across the fields any other time of the year would take about 40 seconds, but it takes about 25 minutes during the festival and you end up missing half the set. "Or you're stuck standing in a queue to get another beer and miss the set. And let's not even talk about the toilet situation. "These days I prefer to stay home, get the beer out and watch the bands being live streamed on the BBC." So he likes his music? "Yes, big time," McCloud replies. He is (surprisingly) familiar with the many and varied versions of the "Kevin McCloud drinking game" where people watch Grand Designs and down a shot of alcohol every time he says a particular word or phrase. That includes, but is not limited to, "bespoke", "timeless", "sustainable" ("Oh come on, too easy," he says), "elegant", "awe inspiring" ("That reminds me, 'a triumph' is another good one"), and "over budget" ("Well, everyone is guaranteed a drink, aren't they?"). "I have to say, there are about 10 versions of this game around the world, and some of them are for families, like playing bingo, and others are pure drinking games and more hardcore," he says. I ask if he's bemused by the adoration he receives from fans worldwide, especially for his Grand Designs role. "Yes, and I think it's misplaced," he replies. "But the thing is, I don't think they love me, they love the program, and I'm very happy about that because I know I've got a job for the next few years. "When people come up to me in the street and they tell me what they like and they don't like about the show, my standard line is 'Well, thank you for watching'. Every single viewer makes a huge difference." After a pause, he adds: "I have to say that I'm quite private and I'm quite introverted, so I tend not to go to parties or appear ostentatiously at film previews or anything because it's just showing off. "And I have a slight suspicion about showing off. When I was a singer, I happened to have a voice, and I trained, and I was never completely comfortable with standing up in front of an audience and doing that 'Hey, look at me' thing. "I performed on stage a bit when I was at university and I kind of enjoyed that too, inhabiting other people's personalities, but again, I didn't like the idea of showing off. And, of course, what am I doing now? I'm touring Australia and New Zealand with a one-man show in theatres, which is showing off!" His Home Truths live show will feature humorous anecdotes, insights from his television career and even a no-holds-barred Q&amp;A where the audience gets to ask their own questions. "If any of your readers think they have a question they'd like to ask me, they can get on to my Twitter feed or X or whatever it's called now, and ask me that question and also tell me where they're from, then I can put it in the show," he says. I ask him what the world thinks about Australia, in terms of sustainable building practices and adapting to extreme weather conditions. We should be leading the world, but are we? "That's a really good question, and I think your government, like in the UK, is being too cautious in looking at ways they can improve building performance standards," he says. "Generally speaking I think Australia, again like the UK, are behind in terms of both public opinion but also in terms of actually dealing with this at a level which is on scale." He refers to a series he made recently on Channel 4, The Big Climate Fight, and says what it's really all about - unfortunately - is politics. "When it comes to dealing with climate change and getting to net zero, individuals can actually contribute 26 per cent maximum towards responses and innovation," he says. "We all, of course, have an individual responsibility but our carbon footprint is an idea invented by big oil in the 1990s to deflect away from business and government responsibilities. "So the vast majority of the response is going to be down to big business, oil, and government, and they cannot shirk this responsibility. "We look at Australia and we think 'My god, they're on fire'. In a way Australia is the canary in the coal mine, it is showing us what is going to happen to other parts of the world. "You're experiencing more extreme weather phenomena and more extreme reactions to increases in global temperatures than pretty much anywhere else and that of course suggests the government should be moving faster." He'll be addressing this issue and the many questions it raises in Home Truths. "In the UK last summer, when temperatures hit 42 degrees Celsius, I did a thing about how to keep cool and how people keep their buildings cool in places like Morocco, and how termites keep their termite mounds cool, and how you can use passive natural stack ventilation, how you can use cross ventilation, how you can use evaporative cooling, all basic science really," he says. "So there is a part of the evening when I am going to become a high school science teacher. I'm trying to make it fun and easy because not all of us have the luxury of building a house. Most of us are condemned to live where we are and deal with the buildings we have, some of which were put up in much more benign times. "So how do we make them work for us without spending a fortune on energy to cool them and heat them?"