Joanna Symons, The Daily Telegraph, September 9, 2013
In an attempt to pep up its image, the National Trust will be offering tours of the Big Brother house for one weekend later this month.
On Friday, September 27 and Saturday, September 28 the public will be allowed access to the site that has created so many tabloid heroes and villains.
Sited at Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire, the house and Studios will be open for 80-minute guided tours, which will, of course, include a stint in the Diary Room. Visitors, the Trust claims, can enjoy many of the traditional pleasures of the National Trust experience: enthusiastic volunteers, good signage and interpretation, and even a guidebook to the house.
Some Trust members might splutter that it’s all a gimmick and not genuine heritage. But the Trust’s London Director, Ivo Dawnay, speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, explained his mission to broaden the appeal of the organisastion. “It’s about time the Trust was a bit funnier," he said. "The Big Brother house is a special place. It says something about the epoch we’re living through.”
The fact that the house is flanked by astroturf and a hot tub, rather than Capability Brown parkland, is unlikely to dent demand for tickets. On the final ‘Eviction Night’ this summer, about two million people tuned in to watch the Channel 5 series – only a little short of the number who visited the Tower of London last year.
Tickets are strictly limited and will be available on a first come first served basis exclusively through nationaltrust.org.uk/london .
Admission is £16, or £12 for Trust Members and concessions and tours will leave every half hour between 10am and 6pm. . Directions at www.elstreestudios.co.uk/Contact/directions.aspx
The Big Brother house opening is part of the National Trust’s London Project, a scheme to engage younger, urban audiences in their built and natural heritage by bringing the history, stories and character of places to life in new and relevant ways. In October, the London Project launch their newly-restored Routemaster bus, offering roadtrips to some intriguing locations in London and to John Betjeman’s ‘Metroland’.