Next Episode of Celebrity Home Secrets is
Famous faces revisit their former homes to share the memories and secrets from when they lived there.
Famous faces revisit their former homes to share memories and secrets from when they lived there. Broadcaster and journalist Janet Street Porter revisits the castle she built in the heart of London and reveals what she loves to do most at her home in Yorkshire.
Janet Street Porter was born Janet Bull in December 1946. Her parents owned a house in Parsons Green in west London. Janet's childhood home is the first stop on the journey through her property ladder. She recalls Parsons Green was a ‘completely working class area' then and her electrical engineer dad and school dinner lady mum could only afford to live in half the house.
Janet explains that apart from the bedroom she shared with her sister at the back of the first floor, the remainder of the two upper levels was rented out to another family. This included the only bathroom, so Janet washed and bathed in the kitchen. Her parent's bedroom was on the ground floor – where today the former bedroom and living room have been knocked into one open plan space.
It is the kitchen that provokes many memories of the family life she hated so much. She thought ‘you can't be my real parents. They just seemed like stone age people' and ‘I thought my real parents would come along and get me – that my mother had picked up the wrong baby in the nursing home'. She recalls life revolving around the radio, as it did for many people in the 1950's (in 1957 only half of all homes owned a television). Janet used to listen to Uncle Mac's Children's Favourites and wondered why ‘all the requests were for posh kids' and she used to think ‘no one's ever called Janet on this show. They've always got nice names – like Jennifer'.
As a young teenager Janet spent as much time as she could in the local library which was round the corner, or the museums in Kensington that were a short bus ride away. Just when Janet thought teenage life couldn't get any worse her dad announced they were selling up and moving to Perivale out in suburbia along the A40 Western Avenue. He had sold the Parsons Green house for £5,000. Today similar houses fetch over £2 million. Janet continued to take the train to her old grammar school each day – an hour in each direction.
When she was 19 Janet ran away from her parents home, and soon moved into a Council flat in Fulham within peeking distance of Chelsea football stadium. This is the next stop on her journey. This is where she ‘became a double barrelled woman' marrying Tim Street-Porter. She recalls how the police broke down the front door looking for drugs while she was on her honeymoon, and took away her wedding cake ‘but found nothing'. She remembers putting her studies to become an architect on hold, and quickly getting a job writing for Petticoat Magazine, which led to an offer from the Daily Mail to be deputy fashion editor. She also reveals they installed a water bed in the flat and explains how the motion made her ‘violently sick'.
Janet's next stop is the first property she ever bought. It is a former barge repair shop in Limehouse on the banks of the River Thames, which she paid for £25,000 in 1971. Janet remembers it fondly, ‘The house faces south so you've got light all day long. It was just the most fantastic site' She installed a snooker table on the ground floor and recalls with glee a weekend long snooker party she staged to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977. There was a huge flotilla on the Thames and the Queen sailed by on a barge – Janet's party all waved. She still has the trophy her friend made for her – as it was clear she wasn't going to win anything. She shows off the trophy and her scrapbook of the event that she has treasured for almost 40 years. While she lived here Janet's career was taking off and she first started presenting on LWT's Six O'clock Show.
Although she loved the house by the river Thames, Janet had always wanted to build her own house. In 1997 she and her architect friend from college days - Piers Gough set about finding a suitable site to build on. Eventually, in 1997, they found the perfect corner plot in Clerkenwell to build Janet's dream representation of a medieval castle.
This is Janet's next revisit. As Janet says her design statement was ‘don't even bother ringing the doorbell, no visitors welcome'. The design was highly controversial with its blue roof and odd shaped windows. The coloured brickwork design looks like a shadow has hit the building ‘it's such an achievement in brickwork it was on the cover of Brick Monthly.' Janet also installed her own version of a blue plaque on the outside – and believes unlike other modern buildings hers ‘is a house that's really stood the test of time'. While she was living here she was editor of The Independent, won a BAFTA for creating the innovative TV show Network 7 for Channel 4 and became head of Youth Programmes at the BBC. She remembers throwing a party to celebrate winning the BAFTA ‘and I came home, and I was so drunk, I put the award on the second floor windowsill and it fell out the window and I never saw it again'.
Eventually Janet's castle was dwarfed by new neighbouring buildings. She moved around the corner to a former warehouse that was being used as an artist's studio. This is the next stop on her tour of former homes. She added a new top floor, clad in glass. The conversion was so costly she ran out of money – and couldn't afford a kitchen. She mentioned this to friend Elton John when she was round at dinner – and he offered her his kitchen. He had a new chef who didn't like the units Elton had purchased and so they were in boxes in the garage. Now they are installed in Janet's former kitchen. Janet stayed here for 15 years – until eventually the five floor trek from the kitchen at the top to the washing machine in the basement drove her mad and she had to move on.
Janet has homes in Yorkshire and Kent and is currently looking for a new London home.
Singer and actress Sarah Harding revisits the apartments where Girls Aloud lived after their first number one success and reveals why the bathroom at her childhood home was where her dreams of stardom began.
Sarah Harding was born in 1981 and was brought up in Wraysbury, a small village outside Slough on the Heathrow flight path. This childhood home is the first visit on Sarah's journey through her property ladder.
Even as she arrives outside the home where she grew up, she is overcome with emotion at the memory of her happy childhood. Sarah recounts how she was a bit of a ‘tom-boy' and loved climbing trees. She even tried to ‘escape' from her bedroom once when she'd been sent there for being naughty. She climbed out of the window by knotting her clothes together. When the makeshift ‘rope' snapped she dropped the remaining few feet onto the patio. Luckily she was unhurt!
Even as a young girl she says she loved to ‘put on a show' for anyone who'd watch. She even remembers having a ‘set list' of songs she sang in the shower – which included Sheryl Crow's ‘All I Wanna Do'. She asked her dad ‘is this how you get famous by singing in the shower?' Her dad and brother were both musical, and as a small girl she had her own guitar and tiny amp. She bids her childhood home goodbye with fond tears – because she says ‘part of me still is that little girl.'
When Sarah was 14 her parents separated and she went to live with her mum in Manchester. It was while she was here she did her singing ‘apprenticeship' doing gigs at caravan parks and social clubs in North Wales. It was also while she lived in Manchester she attended the audition that gave her the fame she wanted so badly.
Sarah's next revisit is to the apartments the record company rented for Girls Aloud just after their first single ‘Sound of The Underground' went to number one for Christmas 2002. The audition that changed Sarah's life was for one of the earliest reality TV talent shows, ‘Pop Stars - The Rivals.' Viewers voted to select the members of a boy band and a girl band who would compete for the Christmas number one slot. Sarah's audition in Manchester won her a place in the show and after 8 weeks of judges and viewer's votes she was the final member of the new group Girls Aloud as announced by the show's host Davina McCall.
At these apartments in North London Sarah remembers the other band members were terrible pranksters, and one weekend they even phoned her to tell her that her apartment had burned down – and after she burst into tears they all ‘started cackling' down the phone. The converted former Victorian hospital was originally named Hatch Lunatic Asylum and was the biggest psychiatric hospital in Europe. The girls renamed it Pop Star Heights because of the other bands including Busted and N-Dubz who were living there too.
When Girls Aloud's success continued Sarah was able to buy her first flat in Kentish Town, north London. Perhaps influenced by the converted hospital she'd moved from, this flat was part of a converted Victorian school. She remembers gutting the flat and remodelling it – discovering in the process that property ownership isn't all plain sailing. Sometimes the building work was so noisy she used to ‘grab my duvet and go and sleep in the car.'
The next property she visits is a flat she rented in Hampstead when Girls Aloud were rehearsing for their third national tour in 2007. She loved living in Hampstead, but there was a big catch. She describes being followed by paparazzi every time she left the front door – even when she popped out to buy milk. Girls Aloud were at the height of their success when she lived here – and won a Brit Award for their single ‘The Promise.' Even Sarah's dogs were targeted by the paparazzi.
It was the unwelcome attention of photographers that led to Sarah's next house move – to her current home in Buckinghamshire. She figured the paparazzi wouldn't travel that far outside London to get a snap of her nipping out for milk.
Since Girls Aloud split in 2012 Sarah has turned to acting. She appeared in the feature film St Trinian's 2, the BBC TV movie Freefall and Coronation Street. She says she dreams of being a Bond girl. She still lives in Buckinghamshire today surrounded by her 3 dogs, 2 cats, her decks and her instruments. Although she has pop memorabilia on display, her house is surprisingly homely - her prized Aga is the centre of the kitchen. Of life now she says ‘the only thing I love and that I do take to heart is what I love doing, and that's my music.'
Businessman Duncan Bannatyne revisits his childhood home in Clydebank to reveal how he had his first business idea, and explains why his heart will always be in Yorkshire.
Choreographer Arlene Phillips revisits the house where she created outrageous 80's dance group Hot Gossip and reveals how in her 20's she was a babysitter for famous movie director Ridley Scott's young son.
Arlene Phillips is perhaps best known in her role as one of the original judges on Strictly Come Dancing, but she's had an illustrious career in dance spanning more than 50 years. She was born in Stockport in 1943 and although she dreamt of coming to London and becoming a dancer her dream ended when her mother died and she had to stay at home and look after her dad and 13 year old sister.
However in 1966 aged 23 she had the chance to attend a week-long dance course in London's Covent Garden. By the end of that week her life changed forever. She was offered a scholarship by the legendary dance teacher Molly Molloy and Arlene remembers ‘That was it. I never went home. I stayed in London and I don't know how I did because I had not a penny in my purse.'
Molly found Arlene a job as babysitter and nanny to a friend of hers, a young television and commercials director Ridley Scott, who would later become the top Hollywood director. This pretty house in South-West London is the first house Arlene revisits. She recalls ‘this was the kind of house that I aspired to. It was all white when people didn't have all white'. It was a far cry from the flat she grew up in above her father's barbershop. It was Ridley Scott who would later give Arlene one of her first big professional breaks. Molly choreographed for his commercials, and Arlene became her assistant. One day when Molly was away Ridley asked Arlene to step up, and she began choreographing big budget commercials.
Her next revisit is to the flat she and Molly shared in East Finchley. She remembers before stepping back through the front door ‘the thing I disliked most about this flat is the wallpaper was bright orange' she is almost speechless when she discovers 50 years later the walls are still painted orange! She reveals that she was very messy and her dance clothes discarded everywhere, while Molly was meticulous.
In 1971 Arlene married fashion designer Danny Noble and they purchased their first house – a mews in a new development in Hampstead. ‘It was bought for £35,000 – which I could only just scrape together with a mortgage. It was a fortune in those days'. Arlene remembers that it was while she lived here she first put together the controversial dance troupe Hot Gossip.
At the time Pan's People dominated dance on TV. Arlene says ‘They were beautiful girls and lovely dancers, but it felt to me pretty, and pretty was not what I was about. Hot was what I was about.' After a slow start Hot Gossip were booked as regulars on ITV's Kenny Everett Video show where their racy routines in skimpy outfits made headlines and Mary Whitehouse called for their overtly sexy routines to be banned.
Arlene was finally enjoying the career she'd dreamt of, and when work took over she chose dance over her marriage. After separating she had a brief affair that produced daughter Alana. Despite the demands of being a single mum Arlene was about to re-invent dance yet again when Andrew Lloyd Webber asked her to collaborate to create a musical on roller skates – and Starlight Express was born.
In 1984 with her career in full flight Arlene and daughter Alana took another on the property ladder. She revisits the newly built home she'd seen being built nearby in North London. It provided the minimalist space she'd been inspired by when she stayed at Ridley Scott's house, and naturally she painted all the walls white – although in keeping with the 80's the kitchen was black with red accessories.
Arlene remembers it was when she lived here she started choreographing pop videos for artists including Whitney Houston, Donna Summer, Duran Duran and Freddie Mercury. Working on Freddie's ‘I Was Born to Love You' video Arlene met her current partner Angus, and they have daughter Abi together. In 1997 Arlene, Angus and their daughters moved to their current home.
Now Arlene has really been able to create the home she aspired to when she first clapped eyes on Ridley Scott's home. She has created her fantasy – an all white home with light wooden floors. She even has her own dance area where she can devise routines. Recently she's created a solo piece for the Royal Ballet. Of course she also lived here when in 2004 the BBC invited her to become a judge on a new TV dance contest. She wasn't sure but her friend Bruno Tonioli who she'd worked with when he was a pop video dancer (Arlene choreographed Elton John's ‘I'm Still Standing' which Bruno featured in) begged her to take part. Arlene became one of the original judges and remained for 6 wildly successful series, before being sacked from the show in 2009. She says now ‘In truth I was devastated about Strictly. The press disruption and the things that followed, I think I was a sort of living ghost.'
But Arlene never stopped dancing and is remains very busy with the career she dreamed of as a girl growing up in Stockport. She says ‘hard work, determination and never giving up – ever, can work it's magic.'
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