THERE are no wisecracks or gibes as John Doyle discusses the history of Australian homes and the importance of everyday families owning their very own castles.
The Newcastle-trained teacher and thespian is better known as Roy Slaven of Roy and HG fame, but he describes his latest television role as "a straight job, telling a very straight story".
He is passionate about the hosting gig and feels it is a privilege to be invited into people's homes.
Following the screening of Building Australia, Doyle will reveal some of his own family experiences to audiences later in the year. His new theatre show about dementia was inspired by his late father.
Building Australia is a new series that uncovers the history of Australia's houses. It will premiere on the History channel on Foxtel from Tuesday.
"The Australian relationship with the house is an interesting and special one," Doyle says.
"It has affected the Australian character, I think. Housing is really important to us and the way we relate to our home, because there is so much ownership involved. It has made us quite proud, I think, of the places we live in."
Throughout the six-part series, Doyle makes his own observations and has conversations with a range of experts, enthusiasts and homeowners around the country.
"We have a very high percentage of home ownership compared to the rest of the world," he says.
"This is something that was developed post-Federation, when former prime minister Stanley Bruce was concerned about the rise of Bolshevism and communism. And his argument was, if people had a mortgage they were less likely to become communists.
"So it was a conscious political decision to have Australia a nation of homeowners."
Doyle explores the architecture of the terrace house, the Queenslander, the homestead, the weekender, the federation house and even project homes.
Among his favourite homes while he was filming the show was Camden Park in south-western Sydney.
The grand homestead was designed for John Macarthur, who, among other things, introduced merino sheep to Australia.
The house has been in the same family since the 1830s - longer than any other in Australia. It is a farmhouse featuring skilled joinery and the extensive use of timber.
"Macarthur started building it back in the 1820s," Doyle says.
"It is a remarkably beautiful Georgian-style house but difficult to live in, in a way, because the upkeep requires skills that are long gone, trades that no longer exist - and it costs a fortune."
During the final episode, Doyle travels from Canberra to Wahroonga to the Blue Mountains looking at the design of project homes. Following World War II, houses were transported on trucks from the decommissioned air force base in Tocumwal, NSW, to Canberra in an attempt to address the housing crisis in the nation's capital.
However, with post-war immigration and the Baby Boom, the rest of Australia still needed some 400,000 new homes. The project home was born.
"The airconditioner changed everything - we don't really need to take into account the Australian climate any more," Doyle says of today's project homes.
"A project home in Brisbane now looks identical to a project home in Sydney or Newcastle or Melbourne. Whether that's a good thing or not, I don't know."
DURING his early career, when he was studying teaching in Newcastle, Doyle lived in Bull Street, Mayfield, close to heavy industry.
"It was a great time to be in Newcastle," he says.
"It's always been, I think, a really interesting city because you have very much a working-class city but with a lot of students. So you have those things sitting side by side - working class and students melding together - and I think that's a really healthy mix."
Doyle credits his time living in Newcastle as changing his direction in life.
After graduating from Newcastle Teachers' College in 1973 and completing a bachelor of arts degree at the University of Newcastle in 1978, Doyle discovered the theatre.
He joined the Hunter Valley Theatre Company and continued to perform while teaching at Glendale High School.
He resigned from teaching after seven years and moved to Sydney, where he worked with the Sydney Theatre Company.
"Newcastle got me interested in making shows," he says.
"I resigned from teaching from Newcastle and joined the theatre company and that set in train what I've done since."
During his time with the Hunter Valley Theatre Company in the early 1980s, Doyle performed alongside fellow future stars such as Dein Perry, Jonathan Biggins and Tony Squires.
Theatre has remained one of Doyle's great loves and his latest work with the Sydney Theatre Company provided a creative outlet during an extremely difficult year personally.
"I have written a play called Vere and it's about dementia," he says.
"I wrote that while I was looking after my father. Dementia got him in the end last year. I lost my mum last year as well."
Vere is concerned with a professor of physics (played by Paul Blackwell) who is diagnosed with dementia.
The production will premiere in Adelaide in October before transferring to the Sydney Opera House in November.
Though Doyle could have chosen to write the production in a dark way, he says it is a comedy as much as anything else.
Whether it's exploring people's homes and behaviour or bringing real-life stories to the stage, Doyle is still very much a storyteller.
"I'm always interested in the way people live," he says.