Derbyshire workers in new BBC3 TV show Brickies show how stacks of money and fun are up for grabs in the construction industry

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The series features young masons building homes – and building lives. They use the money to transform their lives – from buying flashy homes and cars to supporting their families and developing their own professional ambitions.

Masons of all skill levels feature in the episodes – from apprentices getting to grips with their new world to seasoned bosses whose job it is to keep their teams on track as deadlines fast approach.

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Site foreman Jack Smith oversees construction of a retaining wall at Heage which features in Brickies (Picture: BBC/Button Down/Ollie Bostock)

As the scheme’s site manager, Jack Smith, 31, shows off the skills he picked up working for Hodgkinsons Builders, a Derby-based company founded in Ilkeston by town-born Ian Hodgkinson.

Jack, who has worked for Hodgkinsons Builders for 13 years, said: “A lot of my work relies on people’s skills. I sometimes think of myself as a babysitter looking after them. I have to be there for them most of the time. , giving them advice and using my experiences as a mason.

He’s in every episode of Brickies, which launches April 14, and also features several of his fellow Hodgkinsons, including general manager Ian and star apprentice Zac.

Jack said: “I was working away one day and got a phone call from Ian saying they had been approached to ask if any of our masons would be interested in doing a show as they used our sites. They were looking for someone who was still relatively young, had been an apprentice, had been a bricklayer, made money and then became a manager while still young. Obviously, I adapted the support for this. From then on, they looked for masons, a few apprentices from Hodgkinsons and young masons from elsewhere who worked on the building sites.

Jeorgia Pureser, from Monmouth, and her father Merv at the Heage site (Photo: BBC/Button Down/Ollie Bostock)

Filmed in the summer of 2021, camera crews captured bricklayers and managers at work in Heage, Northampton and Stoke.

In Heage, masons built a retaining wall to protect a new housing estate from possible landslides and flooding.

Asked about his first experience working in front of a television film crew, Jack said: “When the cameras are around, you don’t know what to say and your mouth is a bit dry. After a while, it becomes second nature. We’re just doing our day job, being ourselves and saying what we normally say. On a construction site, there are a lot of swear words and a lot of jokes!

The series reflects the difficulties faced by the construction industry. Jack said: “We are going through a bit of a turmoil with the shortage of materials that was happening in the country and is still happening now. There are issues with not getting the job done on time, which in our industry , is a really important thing.”

However, the episodes show that the benefits of being a Mason outweigh the challenges. Jack said: “Many people will be surprised at the earning potential of people in construction and the fun they can have on the building site. Obviously building sites are a dangerous place but as long as you are reasonable you will can laugh and earn some money.”

When Jack was in school, he was told masonry was not a good career, but he proved the doubters wrong. He gained construction qualifications, served a two-year apprenticeship with a firm in Ilkeston, then joined Hodgkinson’s Builders. Jack has worked his way up and is now on a salary of £45,000 with his work benefits including a vehicle and a fuel card.

Before Covid, company boss Ian took his managers to Benidorm every year for a four-day break with accommodation, flights and food paid for. This year, the task of organizing the visit of the work to Spain has been entrusted to Jack. Jack, who lives in Giltbrook, said: ‘At the moment we’ve put it on the back burner because people are trying to catch up on their holidays. I got married in September last year and seventeen people from Hodgkinsons came to my wedding night in Greece. We are like a big family, everyone is taken care of.

Brickies is co-commissioned by BBC Three and BBC England. The first episode airs Thursday, April 14 at 9 p.m. and will air weekly thereafter. The entire series will air on BBC iPlayer on April 14 at 6am.

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