CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Welcome to your ideal home – if you’ve got £30m and no taste
Britain’s Most Expensive Houses
The Great British Dig: History In Your Back Garden
Everyone needs a circular staircase, darling. How else are you meant to float downstairs at noon, silk dressing gown over your shoulders and a cigarette holder limply held, like Bette Davis with a hangover?
But if everyone has got one, the architect must dream up something extra, to ensure a billionaire buyer feels special.
At Harford Manor in Windsor, showcased on Britain’s Most Expensive Houses (C4), the solution was a curving set of steps from the stableyard into the party swimming pool.
When your guests are bathing in champagne and rose petals, you can enliven their frolics by leading a horse or two into the shallow end. Caligula would be proud.
The estate agents from UK Sotheby’s Realty, who pretentiously prefer to call themselves ‘brokers’
The country around Windsor Castle is notorious for its appalling mansions, and Harford is spectacularly ghastly. All disjointed angles and sloping roofs, it looks like someone has dropped a pile of cardboard boxes and stamped on them.
Still, if you’ve got no taste and too much money, it’s ideal. The estate agents from UK Sotheby’s Realty, who pretentiously prefer to call themselves ‘brokers’, reckon it will fetch £30 million — and they know a man in Dubai who regards 30 mill as pocket money.
This show had no presenter: actress Arabella Weir supplied a corporate voiceover as cameras followed a sales team (in socks or bare feet, to save the shag pile) through the endless ensuite bedrooms.
The interior glass walls turned opaque or transparent at the touch of a button. The metal-clad island in the kitchen was embossed with leaves from the garden. On the roof terrace, the sun awning had sensors to gauge the wind speed.
What could be more lavish, or more useless?
The man from Dubai never came to view the place. No doubt he took one look at the brochure, saw that the garages had room for only eight supercars, and decided he required somewhere a little more luxurious to take his racehorses for a swim.
Elsewhere, a Russian businesswoman called Anna with a cosmetic treatment clinic in Harley Street was being picky about London apartments in the £3 million to £5 million range.
Obviously, at that price, you expect some pop culture thrown in. Anna wasn’t taken with actress Lily Cole’s flat in the clock tower of St Pancras, where the Spice Girls shot their Wannabe video.
‘Comedian Hugh Dennis, a born geography teacher who has somehow wandered into showbiz and doesn’t know how to get out’, writes CHRISTOPHER STEVENS
And she was unimpressed by the poky rooms overlooking The Beatles’ Abbey Road zebra crossing. But she did like a suite at Battersea Power Station.
I wonder if it comes with Pink Floyd’s inflatable flying pig . . .
All these edifices will one day be puzzling archaeologists on the 40th-century equivalent of The Great British Dig: History In Your Back Garden (More4).
Comedian Hugh Dennis, a born geography teacher who has somehow wandered into showbiz and doesn’t know how to get out, joined historians in Falkirk to uncover the remains of a Roman fort — buried under domestic gardens.
The finds were modest: a fragment of glazed Samian ware from a dinner service, a tile from a room with heated walls, some spelt bread seeds.
But the experts did a good job of explaining the evidence, and graphics helped create a picture of life for soldiers on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire.
Hugh wasn’t around much. That didn’t matter: some of the householders, though wary of seeing their flowerbeds excavated, soon took over the presenting duties. ‘As we go deeper,’ one chap told the cameras, ‘we’re hoping it will be like a time machine.’ Very professional patter, nothing wrong with that.
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