Organizational guru Walsh digs beneath clutter

Clutter clean-up king Peter Walsh says he’s got a soft spot for Canadian fans, noting they’ve proven to be among his most dedicated neat freaks.

Peter Walsh

Peter Walsh

TORONTO — Clutter clean-up king Peter Walsh says he’s got a soft spot for Canadian fans, noting they’ve proven to be among his most dedicated neat freaks.

“I don’t know what it is about Canadians but they love their TLC, their home makeovers, their what’s-happening-in-people’s-homes kind of shows,” Walsh says by phone from Los Angeles.

“I’ve always been incredibly welcomed in Canada and, in fact, Canada is the only place where I’ve had to leave a public forum because I had fans chasing me.”

The Australian organizational guru recalls a visit to Toronto three years ago when a trip to the mall turned into an impromptu meet-and-greet with fans.

“As I was trying on a pair of pants in the changing room I could hear people saying, ‘No, it’s definitely him. I’m sure it’s him. No, it’s him,”’ he recalls.

“And I came out of the change room and there were about 20 people standing there wanting an autograph. It was hilarious on the one hand and a total freakout on the other.”

Walsh endeared himself to untidy TV addicts as part of TLC’s former makeover series Clean Sweep, in which a group of design experts transformed an overwhelmed homeowner’s space into a serene retreat.

Now he’s helming his own series, Enough Already! with Peter Walsh on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, which officially launched in Canada this week. OWN has been airing in the U.S. since Jan. 1.

Here, the focus is on helping people rid their homes of clutter and in getting pack rats to deal with the underlying issues that keep them buried by belongings.

Stories include a mom with a quilting hobby whose fabric and material take over so much of the family home her grandchildren can no longer visit, and a relentless bargain hunter whose mounting purchases threaten the survival of her marriage.

The consequences of having too much stuff can be much more severe than just coping with a disorderly home, says Walsh. At every turn, he sees strained relationships that often teeter on the edge of complete breakdown.

“I learned long ago that where there’s clutter it’s never about the stuff,” says Walsh, whose job requires him to be equal parts therapist and organizational master.

“That’s what differentiates Enough Already, that’s what sets it apart. I’ve never had an interest in doing ostensibly ‘a clutter show’ that’s about the stuff because it’s always about something else. Always. And I think the only way that you’re able to help people in any kind of permanent way and to see effective, long-term change is by dealing with the underlying issues.”

Walsh, who began his career as a high school math and science teacher, says he hopes the show will inspire viewers, noting that it concentrates on everyday people with relatable struggles.

“It’s not a hoarding show and I think that needs to be said up front.

“There is such an emphasis at the moment on hoarding shows and I think that’s because of the spectacle of those shows. But hoarders may be one per cent of the population. This is a show that is for everyone else.”

Finding everyday inspiration is a big part of programming at OWN, where Winfrey has stocked the schedule with series revolving around her rousing mantra: “Live your best life.” Other Winfrey-endorsed experts doling out life advice on the network include money maven Suze Orman, sex therapist Dr. Laura Berman and psychologist Dr. Phil McGraw.

Walsh, who says his show has already been renewed for a second season, says Winfrey’s uplifting values are also guiding principles for “Enough Already!”

“Anytime you’re working with Oprah, anytime you’re working with her organization, the one question that is constantly asked is: ’What is our intention? What is our intention here?’,” says Walsh.

“And that is the starting point for every meeting, every discussion, every planning session that you have and the intention for the network is very clear, that they want to create programming that is inspirational and entertaining.”

Canadians got a taste of “Enough Already!” back in January when W Network aired one episode as part of an OWN preview.

“Enough Already! with Peter Walsh” begins airing regularly on OWN on Thursday before settling into its regular time slot on Mondays.