Here they are, exclusive photographs taken this weekend from inside the Big Brother house.
(Click on each picture to see it full size)
This first picture shows the view from the Big Brother lounge, looking out over the Big Brother garden towards the entrance to the Big Brother compound. The Big Brother housemates entered here to face nine weeks of confinement, watched by countless TV cameras and the viewing public across the nation. Intrigue, drama, boredom, seething sexual tension, chickens - this patch of land has seen them all. In fact, this is one of the most heavily watched locations in the entire country. Just not this year...
As you may have guessed, this is the site of the first Big Brother house, used in series 1 and 2. This field is in Bow, East London, just 15 minutes walk from my house. Channel 4 built the first Big Brother House here right next to Three Mills film studios, the nerve centre for the first two series. However, Channel 4 weren't sure that the show would be a hit and only had planning permission for two years, after which Newham Council insisted that the house be pulled down and the site returned to a natural habitat. This has since happened and, as you can see, you'd never guess now from this green patch of wasteland that TV history had ever taken place here. Marjorie the chicken is long gone.
This picture shows the Big Brother lounge. It feels very strange to stand here now, surrounded by grass and gasworks, and to think back to everything that happened right here on this unassuming site. Nominations, evictions, weekly tasks and numerous secrets spilled in the diary room. Nasty Nick unmasked as a a liar and a cheat at the infamous kangaroo court round the dining table. Nichola and Craig's nude body-painting. Celebrity Jack's bid to escape through the fence. Dean's world record-breaking tower of sugar cubes. Helen falling for Paul and Paul falling for Helen. Brian's gasp at an unexpected victory. And not a blue plaque in sight.
This is the view today out of the old Big Brother compound, through the gate, over the bridge and off towards the Big Brother studios. The outside world was never very far away from the original Big Brother House, so the production team were always on the lookout for people standing on the other side of the fence, shouting out things that the contestants were never meant to hear. The new house built thirty miles away on a film lot in Elstree doesn't suffer from a public footpath along its southern border, which must help security no end. There's no security at all on the site in Bow now, just an unlocked gate into a deserted field.
Finally here's the legendary Big Brother bridge, leading across a particularly ugly concrete-banked water channel, part of the Bow Back Rivers. Davina would have crossed here twice on eviction night, once to collect the evicted housemate and then back again, running the gauntlet of the tabloid press and a baying crowd. Unfortunately I moved into the local area just a few weeks too late to attend any of the Big Brother evictions held down by the bridge. By the time I was setting up my home they were pulling down this one. However, two years later on it's fascinating to be able to walk down to the place where it all happened and to picture the ghosts of Big Brother still haunting a forgotten field. It's also a salutary lesson to this year's housemates. Enjoy your fleeting fame in the headlines while you can - you'll soon be completely forgotten too.
What's on this weekend? Spring Into Summer Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 May
40 free guided London walks. Purley Festival Friday 29 - Sunday 5 June
Bunting week, below Croydon. E17 Art Trail Sat 30th May - Sun 14th June
250 arty Walthamstow things.