Perhaps it's because Big Brother 11 – which beginson Wednesday evening – will be the final series of the show for Channel 4, but this year's house is surprisingly romantic. Perspex walls have been printed with vintage-looking line-drawn leaves,stags, and chandeliers, while large glass teardrops containing tiny model birds hang like installations behind them. The living room with its massive, comfortable modular sofa is a vision in pink, coral,teal and duck-egg blue; if you removed the microphones and cameras it could pass very nicely as a high-end shop selling homeware you don't really need, but are somehow persuaded into buying.
In thekitchen, concrete worksurfaces are tempered by huge distorted images of blue and white china and veneered wood cabinets. In fact, curvy strips of veneer run throughout the house, forming kitchenchairs, the steps that lead to the door (and of course freedom), and even the beds. Of which there are nine: five singles and four doubles. The show's producers say that they are intending to put between12 and 14 people into the house this year, so at least some housemates will be snuggling up together.
But the oddest thing about visiting the Big Brother house is that things you take for grantedon television – a glass wall dividing the bathroom from the living room, for example – become ridiculously intrusive when you're standing among them. Open plan living is all very well in theory (and ofcourse works brilliantly for the cameras) but the idea of people on the sofa being able to see you having a shower or brushing your teeth, albeit in a decadently large and lovely bathroom, seems alittle bonkers.
There are a couple of areas that provide a little more privacy, although not, of course, from the cameras. The diary room this year is decorated with the same blue sky and fluffy...