8 Things I Learned When I Visited The “Big Brother” House


In an effort to connect with the yoof, the National Trust has opened the Big Brother house to the public.


“Let’s confess, we are opening the Big Brother House as a bit of a joke - against ourselves, perhaps, or is that with ourselves,” said Ivo Dawnay, the London Director of the National Trust, who is collaborating with Initial and Channel 5.

Over the next two days, 500 members of the public will enter one of the most culturally significant houses in Britain.


I went to the opening gala last night. It was massively exciting.


Sophie Lawrence, Sophie Anderton and Nicola McLean were there.

Jo Castle

Jo Castle

Jo Castle


So were ex-housemates Alex Reid, Callum Knell, Govan Hinds, Hazel O’Sullivan, Brian Belo, Charlie Travers, Dan Neal, Dexter Koh, Jackie Travers, Jemima Slade, Jack and Joe Glenny, Lauren Harris, Nathan Dunn, Nikki Grahame, Rachel White and Shabby Katchadourian.

And Layla off Desperate Scousewives. But I don’t really know why.

Camilla Long and Peter York tried to host an intellectual debate about heritage, but Brian Belo heckled them so it only lasted five minutes.


So the ex-housemates got their picture taken and then everyone just got drunk.

Simon Naylor / Twitter: @Simon_Naylor

Alex Reid got confused and thought I was an ex-housemate.

Jo Castle


“Which series were you in, babe?” he asked me.

“Oh, I’m not a housemate,” I spluttered before running to the bathroom to capture my delight with an unreasonably excited selfie.

At this point, the London Project started conducting tours of the building. And I made the following discoveries about the iconic Big Brother house.

1. Backstage, the walls are covered with signs like these.


Although Brian Belo told me that sometimes housemates can hear the producers behind the walls.

Harry Potter came out in my season,” he explained. “One day, when I was in the garden, I could hear the producers talking about it. So i sat really near the wall and listened.”

2. And all the mirrors in the house are secret windows that the producers can see through.

3. They dress in black and have to whisper when housemates are around.

4. This is the other side of the food hatch, which is next to the storeroom.


5. There’s also a gym in the house. But only celebrity housemates are allowed to use it. That’s why everyone puts on weight in there.


Then we went to the task room, where my excitement levels rocketed.


Hazel and Charlie dressed up.

Simon Naylor / Twitter: @Simon_Naylor

And Dexter got a photo with, um, himself.


6. One of the things that strikes you about the Big Brother house is how small it is. The swimming pool, for example, is the size of a big bath.

7. And the entire garden is covered in netting to stop the public throwing stuff in.

8. FYI, the outside shower works. And the jail’s really small.


At this point, I tried to go into the treehouse. But Brian Belo and Alex Reid were in the middle of a DMC so I wasn’t allowed.

So I had a nosy in the bathroom instead. It was very shabby.


Talking of Shabby, she was there.

Jo Castle

This is the secret room. Like everything in the house, it’s clearly been furnished on a very low budget.

But I didn’t care. I was in the Big Brother shower!

By this point, I had lost all shame.

“Nikki, I love you,” I confessed.

“Oh. OK,” she said, before agreeing to have this photograph with her no.1 stalker and saying that being back in the house was like “being home.” Awh.

Sophie and Nicola were having a cuddle in the bed.

Jo Castle

Where Sophie was loudly bitching about Carol McGiffin.

So I got into bed too. The sheets were quite scratchy.


And, of course, I couldn’t leave the house without a bit of Diary Room action.

Which was fully mental, because the chair is positioned on a diagonal to the camera. Mind-blowing stuff.

So this is basically the best thing the National Trust has ever done and I love it.

Jenny Dale

Click here for information on more events hosted by The London Project.

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Tabatha Leggett is head of buzz at BuzzFeed UK and is based in London.
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