Posts filed under ‘TV programmes’

Downton Abbey’s return sparks interest in stately homes

Downton Abbey is back on our screens and lovers of period melodrama will have their phones switched to silent for the next few Sunday nights as they discover whether Lady Mary will find love again and whether downtrodden Daisy will ever catch a break.

Downton Abbey

One of the biggest stars to emerge from the ITV blockbuster has been its location, Highclere Castle, and the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon have said the international interest in the property stoked by the show has helped them stay afloat – the electricity bills in a property with 50-plus bedrooms must be unimaginably frightening.

Highclere is a rarity; a country estate which remains intact and in the hands of its original owner. Many of its contemporaries have been sold off either as schools and hotels, or to be converted into apartments.

Mark CharterBuying a slice of a historic house has some serious pros and cons, but for buyers who want a home with jaw dropping kerb appeal they could be just the thing.

“You have the opportunity to acquire a quality of building and surroundings for a fraction of the price of buying the real thing – and in many cases less than the equivalent of buying a detached stand-alone version of really first class period house in large gardens,” said Mark Charter, head of the Oxford office of estate agents Carter Jonas.

DevadasonChandra Devadason, associate director at estate agents Hamptons International in Bath, believes it is the environs of this kind of property which is their biggest selling point.

“Stately homes are commonly found in stunning locations with bags of history offering kudos of living in a spectacular environment,” she said.

“Both downsizing retirees and young families are commonly attracted by property within a stately home as they can benefit from beautiful gardens and wonderfully kept grounds without having to bother with the upkeep themselves.”

On the downside the maintenance of a first class house and grounds doesn’t come cheap and you could pay four times the amount you would on maintenance fees for a regular apartment. “Service charges are generally very high,” warned Mr Charter – in some cases around £10,000 each year.

Another downside, said Ms Devadason, is that this kind of property may not be in the most convenient of locations.

“Often large country houses and stately homes were built just outside of the local village so you may have to walk or drive to local amenities,” she warned.

Another issue is that most of these buildings are listed – often at Grade I – which means that making even the most minor changes to a property could require planning permission, and old houses may not have mod cons like double glazing and lifts.

On the other hand these considerations must be set against the likelihood of wonderful original features, great views over (possibly) private parkland, and generously-proportioned rooms.

“The room size and the ceiling heights are just phenomenal,” said Mark Whincup, manager of William H Brown estate agents in Headingley, Leeds.  “They do not feel like flats because they are so spacious and that is what people like about them.”

For sale: 

1. Flete House is a gorgeous mansion house overlooking the Erme Valley in South Hams, Devon. A one bedroom apartment in the Grade I listed Elizabethan house is on the market for £150,000.

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2. Balls Park in Hertford, Hertfordshire, is such a quintessential English country house that it has been used as the location for films including Amazing Grace, The Golden Compass and The Young Victoria. A two bedroom flat in the seventeenth century property is on the market at £399,950.

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3. With its castellated façade Headingley Castle in Leeds certainly looks the part (although it was actually built for a wealthy corn merchant in 1846). Buy a two bedroom flat for £425,000.

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4. The fifthteenth century Brough Park is teeming with original features and set within its own private parklands. A three bedroom flat – complete with minstrel gallery – in the west wing is on the market for £425,000.

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5. Own your own little slice of a baronial castle in Clackmannanshire, Scotland, for £360,000.

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6. Thorndon Hall is a wonderful Palladian-style mansion set in 1,000 acres of deer park. Buy a three bedroom flat in the property, near Brentford, Essex, for £800,000.

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October 8, 2014 at 3:28 PM Leave a comment

Benefits Street is returning to a new location. Is it in your backyard?

Filming has begun for a new series of the controversial reality TV show Benefits Street. But this time, it is set in a new location.

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The Chanel 4 programme made a huge impact in its first series as it followed a close-knit community where many of the residents were on benefits.

It proved to be addictive viewing despite complaints that the participants were being exploited and the show was nothing more than ‘poverty porn’.

Its popularity made a star of Deirdre Kelly, better known as White Dee, who is currently appearing in Celebrity Big Brother.

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Benefits Street was previously filmed in Birmingham’s James Turner Street

The first series was filmed in James Turner Street in an area of Birmingham known as Winson Green.

And now the location of the second series has been unveiled as a street in Teeside.

It is Kingston Road in Stockton, which was once reported as being among the ‘most deprived’ streets in the country.

A typical three bedroom house in the area is estimated to be worth around the £50,000 mark, with a typical monthly rent being approximately £283pcm, according to Zoopla.

It compares to an average property value of almost £150,000 in Stockton-on-Tees, where prices have risen more than £5,000 during the past year.

The highest value street in the area is Aislaby Road where the average value of a home is £558,534, while the highest turnover is in Grey Street and Fairdene Avenue.

August 26, 2014 at 2:07 PM 1 comment

Rent a piece of TV history as Brookside Close home goes on the market

It was once the most popular close on television. And now fans have an opportunity to live in it for real as a property in Brookside Close goes on the market to rent.

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The three bedroom property is in Liverpool’s Brookside Close, found in the north west of the city.

The Channel 4 soap opera regularly attracted audiences of more than eight million during its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s.

It was different from other soap operas of that time as it was filmed in real, brand new homes.

Brookside was conceived by Phil Redmond, who also devised Grange Hill and Hollyoaks. He was particularly keen on buying an entire ‘close’ of houses in an attempt to add to the show’s realism.

Famous storylines included that of the ‘body under the patio’ and the first pre-watershed lesbian kiss on British television between actresses Anna Friel and Nicola Stephenson.

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The series began in 1982 and ran for 21 years until November 2003.

The unfurnished property is available to rent from the end of this month for £690 through lettings agents Belvoir in West Derby.

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August 4, 2014 at 11:01 AM Leave a comment

How to be on property TV: Get a fixer-upper

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

Are you digging out your workman’s boots and hard hat while channelling your inner Sarah Beeny? Then presenter, actor and property renovator Simon O’Brien wants to hear from you.

From Brookside and Fraggle Rock to My Derelict Dream Home, Simon O’Brien will front the new UKTV property TV show

O’Brien will be the front man of the aptly named TV show about finding your new property called My Derelict Dream Home due to air on UKTV in 2012.

As you’d imagine, transforming a wreck into your ultimate house  is likely to take time, which is why the producers need to find you now –  they’ll presumably be following you (and your muddy boots) around for the next year or so to capture all the drama of taking on an unloved property as a renovating challenge.

Plus, you’ll no doubt also get to hang (or at least meet) Simon O’Brien who made his name on Brookside back in the 80s. O’Brien has since featured on Grange Hill, been a radio and TV presenter and was even part of the short-lived, but much loved UK version of Fraggle Rock.

For more details about My Derelict Dream Home contact Joe Forrest at True North Productions on 0113 394 5480 /

December 1, 2011 at 2:06 PM Leave a comment

Estate agent video mockumentary goes viral as backlash bites

This is a legacy post from the blog which is now maintained as an archive within the Zoopla blog. Links have been preserved.

When was contacted last Tuesday about a new fly-on-the-wall documentary about estate agents called we weren’t sure what to make of it.

The production company insisted it was real, but to our eyes, it had a decidedly mockumentary feel to it. The footage followed a day in the life of an unnamed West London estate agent. (Scroll down to watch the video). James and Charlotte – the two estate agents who star in the film – are portrayed in an unflattering light.

Instead of posting the video on this blog, as the production company had asked, we tweeted it out to our followers to see what they thought. While we felt it was funny (in a laughing at ourselves kind of way) we were under no illusions that others might not feel the same way – and they didn’t.

The problem with this film is that its aims appear to be confused. While it’s now been revealed that it was made by the estate agents Douglas & Gordon – an agent with a reputation for innovation – and features one of their negotiators James Turner in the leading role – the reason for the film is unclear.

On the one hand, Ed Mead, a director of Douglas and Gordon told the Daily Mail that it was intended only for industry insiders and the hype around the film has since “got completely out of hand”. Meanwhile,  the production company have been touting it as a fly-on-the-wall, factual documentary.

Lee Helliar, the producer, emailed us last week and said: “We managed to capture the devious side of London estate agents, a side that’s normally shrouded in secrecy. We felt obligated to share our footage with the rest of the public to reveal the true colours of those who claim to help buy and sell our homes.”

She then asked: “I would add that as ‘the public’ do we really mind what our agent does to sell the house as long as we get the best price. Are we morally complicit?”

And that’s the problem with this film. It’s a film about estate agents that is essentially a piece of fiction. While Douglas & Gordon now say it was only intended for internal use, the production company Real Impact Productions says it’s something else entirely and is shopping it all over town.

So what’s at stake here? While this film, which clearly cost a good deal of money to make, is a much needed chance to have a laugh and blow off some steam, the shine is taken off because it’s not clear who is laughing at whom.

September 26, 2011 at 10:38 AM 3 comments

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