Unless you’re a D-list celeb, reality TV producer or work in painting and decorating in the Elstree and Borehamwood area, it’s unlikely you’ll get the chance to have a proper look inside the Celebrity Big Brother house.
Which is why when I was asked if I’d like to pop round to see the new CBB pad, I jumped at the chance faster than Sarah Harding jumped on Chad Johnson.
And after the summer’s dodgy tenants caused such a mess, it’s no surprise that the landlord (aka Channel 5) has decided to re-decorate and renovate the whole house – with sumptuous sofas, a classy colour palette and copper and rose-gold accessories.
But what is perhaps a little surprising is that when we arrive on the morning of the launch, the decorators are still very much in evidence. While one is drilling in the bedroom (if you’ll pardon the expression), others are stapling fluffy throws to outdoor benches (clearly feeling optimistic about the January weather) and putting the final touches to the astroturf lawn.
In fact the sauna, which is brand new to the house for 2018, is so brand new that it’s also being finished off as we look around. But although I sadly can’t go inside it, I am given the chance to see it from ‘the other side’.
‘The other side’, it turns out, is through a secret door in the back right hand corner of the garden that leads to an undercover world of black felt.
The floor, the walls, the ceiling – anywhere and everywhere – is draped in blackout fabric forming a network of corridors that allow the cameramen to silently dart around the periphery of the house capturing the best angles and the best drama.
There are curtains and sheets everywhere, covering all of the windows that masquerade as mirrors throughout the house.
And sure enough, pulling back one of these curtains reveals a sheet of one-way glass so you can see – in potentially full-frontal glory – straight inside the sauna.
It’s deceptively large and has no doubt been installed so that even in the depths of freezing January when the prospect of a pool is too chilly we’ll still get to gawp at the celebs in their skimpies. Clever stuff.
Despite there not being anyone actually in the sauna when we snoop, the whole cloaked-blackout-one-way-glass thing feels really voyeuristic, like watching a peep show (not that we’d know, of course).
Moving swiftly back out into the garden and there’s the ever-popular (heated) smoking area and a jacuzzi, with the corrugated iron walls making the celebs feel right at home. As long as home is a post-apocalyptic garden centre.
Back inside and the Diary Room is hidden behind some seriously heavy doors covered in spiky grey soundproofing that give off some proper Game of Thrones vibes, whilst the chair itself looks less like an actual chair and more like a soft play gymboree in Westeros. And we can report: it is not comfortable.
Although we always see plenty of the diary room, it occurs to us that we rarely get a look inside the kitchen cupboards so we proceed to have a good old rifle through them. And what do we find?
Well we’ve done our very own inventory for the new tenants, not including the stuff pictured below (breakages will be paid for). We found: one copper bread bin, matching tea, sugar and coffee caddies, a pair of black oven gloves from Tesco, a totally empty fridge, one cheese grater and a grand total of 18 (!) mugs (which will increase to 19 mugs if rumoured Love Island star Jonny Mitchell enters the house later on this series).
The somewhat bizarre theme of CBB this year is marking the centenary of women winning the right to vote. So to celebrate the work of suffragettes Emmeline Pankhurst and Emily Davison, these remarkable ladies have the very great honour of having the two bedrooms in the house named after them, the Pankhurst Bedroom and the Davison Bedroom. This is what they were fighting for!
Lastly – and arguably most importantly – we come to the toilets and bathroom. And although the WC is nothing to write home about and wouldn’t look out of place in a worksite pre-fab (seriously have a look)…
…the bathroom is nothing short of spectacular:
Yep, all of that is just the bathroom. It’s basically the size of a decent one-bed flat in Zone 3 and features a comically deep bathtub – in which you’d be bathing in full view of the entire garden – microphones dangling everywhere from the ceiling and endless copper drawers. Although when I try and have a look inside, it turns out they’re all glued shut and are just for show. Nothing’s ever as it seems on TV, eh?
There are also two shower cubicles in the corner of the room that are fitted with just a simple on / off switch so if the celebs are partial to a particularly hot shower (or need a cold one to calm them down), they’re out of luck; there’s no adjusting that temperature.
Yep, it’s just another subtle, psychological removal of free will bestowed by the producers. So although women might’ve won the right to vote (and nominate), in CBB they haven’t yet got the right to a shower with a temperature gauge.
Celebrity Big Brother starts at 9pm on Tuesday 2nd January on Channel 5