Can TV show characters afford the houses they live in? Scott Bryan investigates…

From Albert Square to Outnumbered, Midsomer to Dibley, where are they really filmed - and how realistic is that anyway?

Albert Square - Walford sign

Nothing seems to unite people more than trying to find errors in a TV show. Why? So we can completely undermine it, even though we know that TV being fictional is what makes it so appealing in the first place.

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In the week when we mocked Game of Thrones over the appearance of a coffee cup, what if we looked at bigger mistakes. Like the biggest. The homes characters live in and whether they would actually be able to afford them.

Why? Content. So hold on to your mortgage applications, we’re going for a ride through television house prices…


EastEnders

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EastEnders’ Albert Square is based on the layout of a real street called Fassett Square, in Dalston, East London. Whilst never used for filming for the show, the houses, the square, feel eerily familiar if you ever happen to visit. It is quieter than the real Albert Square too, with no pubs, cafes or shops nearby.

There is however, a Tesco Metro five minutes away, which at one time was so bad an East Londoner made a Tumblr about it. The Tesco Tumblr soon went viral and was reported on national news. Yes, that sentence is the most East London thing you will read today.

Property value: A four bedroom house on Fassett Square recently went for £950,000. Larger properties on the estate have gone for £1,500,000(!!)

Can they afford to live there? Well, probably not now. But look at it like this: a flat valued at £120,000 in 1999 was sold for £690,000 in 2018. If you were in the soap from the 1990s (and you haven’t been murdered) you would have made a tidy investment.


Outnumbered

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Outnumbered is set in Chiswick, but outside shots (such as the one above) were filmed in Dempster Road in Wandsworth, so I’m basing my housing calculations on that.

Property value: Oh boy, this area has gone up in value. Some of the properties on that road have gone up in value by more than ten times in the last 20 years. For example, a four bedroom house that was worth £115,000 in 1996 is now worth £1.2 million. Meanwhile, another terraced house on that road, that was once worth £500,000, is now worth £1.5 million.

Can they afford to live there? If they had moved in before house prices went stratospheric, then yeah, they could have done. Not bad for a school history teacher and a part-time personal assistant. Also the following image has no relevance to the article but I am adding it in anyway. Hope that’s OK.

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(Source: Buzzfeed)


Midsomer Murders

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My favourite death in Midsomer Murders was when Martine McCutcheon was crushed by a giant wheel of cheese. Her face there just before it landed. Someone else died in Midsomer Murders by drowning in soup, which, personally, is how I’m going to go.

Property value: Property values vary wildly because Midsomer has been filmed in lots of different places and there has been a lot of death. For example, a lovely cottage from an episode where someone died by strangulation from piano wire was sold last year for £600,000 . Then there’s Bulstrode Estate, featured in an episode where someone was killed by a giant corkscrew and mounted on a wall alongside his butterfly collection. It was recently sold for £13 million.

I think once you get past the fact that more than 200 people have died across several villages and nobody seems worried, but instead blindly carry on with their lives as if nothing’s happened, the Midsomer area is a great place to live.

Can you afford to live there? Depends where you live, before you inevitably die by being hit over the head with a golf club.


Peep Show

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The El Dude Brothers live in a modest flat in a block in Croydon, south London. Jeremy’s confined to a box room, and at various times the bathroom has lacked a door, so we’re not exactly talking palatial here.

Property value: Relatively affordable (although Millennials may not agree). Peep Show was filmed on location in sunny Croydon. Properties within the area vary, but usually range between £100,000 and £275,000. And good news for Mark, the value of his flat is likely to have gone up by around £50,000 in the course of the show’s nine-episode run. “I am the Lord of the Bus said he!”

Can the characters afford to live there? With Mark paying the bills, Jeremy certainly can.


The Big Breakfast

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It exists! The house Channel 4’s breakfast show (now dead and replaced by endless reruns of Frasier and Seinfeld) was broadcast from is still there. I went past it recently whilst on a run and out of breath shouted out the Big Breakfast address to the house. In case you want to take a peek at it too, it’s is in Hackney Wick, just behind the Olympic Stadium.

Property value: Reports from 2002 said that the house was on the market for “more than £1m”, but then it was ravaged by fire. A Zoopla listing from 2013 said that the property was available to rent unfurnished for £2,058 per month. The space is also used for filming various other TV shows so maybe it will end up appearing again in the sequel to this article.

Can they afford to live there? I don’t know, Chris Evans is doing alright, but I’m still fuming they cancelled this for RI:SE.


The Vicar of Dibley

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What I love about television is how small the world is. The same village where Villanelle went on a murderous rampage in Killing Eve is the one where Hugo and Alice had their Teletubbies themed wedding in The Vicar of Dibley. The village is Turville in Oxfordshire.

Property value: Whilst Geraldine Granger’s house has not been up for sale in recent years, houses on the very same idyllic street have gone for an average of £622,500. But what makes The Vicar of Dibley so appealing is not just the picturesque village and quirky community, it’s also its convenient location near the M40. In fact. you see the motorway in the opening titles of every second episode.

Can they afford to live there? No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no no yes.


The Kumars at Number 42

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I don’t know how much you know about available studio space within the M25 (as you are an interesting person, I’m guessing not much) but there’s a bit of a chronic shortage in London at the moment.

The studios for ITV’s This Morning have been closed and moved to Television Centre, while the glitz, glamour and sparkle of Strictly Come Dancing has swapped TVC for a move to Elstree Studios in Borehamwood, which to the horror of any Londoner *starts shaking* is outside Zone 3. The Kumars at Number 42 meanwhile somehow managed to pull off an enormous full size studio at the back of their house. It must be a hugely sought after studio space. Central location. A* amenities.

Property value: Houses in Wembley are on average worth £425,000, but four bedroom houses around this size are on sale for £650,000.

However, I can comfortably predict the house/studio complex being worth approximately £2.3 billion.

Can they afford to live there? The bigger question here is how this place got planning permission.


Sex Education

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I wish it was easy to tell you how much the houses in Sex Education are worth, but it isn’t entirely obvious where the hell it’s supposed to be set. It’s filmed in Wales, but there are no Welsh people. The school is British, but the interiors, with those tall yellow lockers (ugh), feel very American. When I asked Netflix where it is supposed to be set, in an article for BuzzFeed, I was informed by a cheery publicist that it was in “South West UK.”

South West UK? Nobody in “South West UK” refers it as “South West UK.” What’s that supposed to mean?! Cornwall? There’s no sea. Wales? THERE’S NO WELSH.

Property value: So, I’m going by the filming location of Otis (Asa Butterfield) and his mum Dr Jean’s (Gillian Anderson) house in the picture above – Symonds Yat in the Wye Valley, Gloucestershire. According to Zoopla, the property is estimated to be worth £774,000, but could be up to £885,000.

Can they afford to live there? Yes, if you can actually tell me where the show is set.


Love Island

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One bedroom. Ghastly font. I’m ending my review here.

Property value: A property expert last year said the main villa was likely to be worth £2.5 million. The nearby Casa Amor (where the boys traditionally meet a bevy of new ladies to test their loyalties) was up for sale last year for 2.5 million euros, about £2,168,487 and fifty pence, according to Google’s currency convertor.

Can the cast afford to live there? I’m just going to leave this quote here: “So does that mean we won’t have any trees?


My Family

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LOOK AT THE SIZE OF THEIR LIVING ROOM. It is in Chiswick! How can they afford something so big? Also, whilst we’re here, where the hell did Nick disappear to after the fifth series? And why the hell did the BBC make more than 120 episodes?!

I started to tot up how long Ben (Robert Lindsay) and Susan Harper (Zoe Wanamaker) would need to save their respectable dentist and art gallery income for to come up with a deposit for a house that appears to be a small airport hanger in W4, but then I remembered that as this show is entirely shot within a studio and doesn’t have any outside locations I don’t know exactly where it is, so that would be pointless.

Property value: According to Foxtons, the average house price in the Chiswick area is a whacking £1,745,625. For a house that is so unbelievably large, I expect it to go for even more.

Can they afford to live there? After 120 episodes, anything is possible.


Noel’s House Party

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The interiors of Noel’s House Party were filmed at BBC Television Centre, but (sorry to ruin the magic) the exterior shot you see at the start is of Chavenage House in Gloucestershire. It’s the same filming location used in Lark Rise to Candleford and Poldark.

Property value: £250,000 or 1p

Can they afford to live there? Depends which box you open.

No, really. How much is the property worth?  It hasn’t ever been put up for sale, but you can have a guided tour for only £10.

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And normally when they do guided tours of your house it tends to be worth a lot.