Daily Mail

The only thing you can say about these Grand Designs is . . . Wow!

- ROLAND WHITE LAST NIGHT’S TV Grand Designs: House Of The Year HHHII Inside Monster Mansion: HMP Frankland HHHII CHRISTOPHE­R STEVENS is away.

HeRe’s a brilliant idea for a fabulous new property show. I’ll call it The Wow Factor. The concept is that five houses compete, and are judged by the number of times a presenter says ‘Wow!’ as they are being shown round. I see only one slight problem. This already seems to be the format of Grand Designs: House Of The Year (C4).

‘Oh, wow!’ said interiors expert Michelle Ogundehin as she stepped into a pink, beachside home on the south coast of england. ‘Wow!’ she added on seeing the high-tech steam room.

‘Woooah!’ exclaimed presenter Kevin McCloud as he got his first glimpse of a renovated 1960s bungalow.

But they were sober and downbeat compared with architect Natasha huq, who was visiting a house in stirlingsh­ire in the shape of a large cube clad with larch wood.

A chest of drawers fitted into the staircase? Wow! The view from the bedroom window? Wow! I counted four ‘ wows’ in all, but might have missed a few.

Not that this enthusiasm was at all misplaced. The five properties featured last night have all been long-listed for the Royal Institute of British Architects house of the Year prize.

All were hard to build in different ways — the beach house was 100 metres from the nearest road — and all of them had quirks and points of interest wherever you looked.

Two of the houses were shortliste­d for the final last night: the pink house and The Red house, a mixture of red brick and dazzling green paintwork said by architect Damion Burrows to be ‘ as mindboggli­ng a work of post-modern art as I’ve ever seen’.

Unfortunat­ely, some of the neighbours don’t see it that way. The owner once heard somebody muttering in a loud stage whisper: ‘It’s hard to imagine something less appropriat­e for the site.’

What can you say to that but: ‘Wow!’

While C4 has cornered the market in property shows, Channel 5 has done the same for prison shock docs. After glimpses of hMP Belmarsh, hMP Wakefield and hMP styal, Inside Monster Mansion (C5) took us to hMP Frankland, a highsecuri­ty jail in County Durham.

The Yorkshire Ripper was held here. soham murderer Ian huntley won’t be coming out any time soon. Neither will levi Bellfield, the killer of Milly Dowler, nor Wayne Couzens, who murdered sarah everard while a serving policeman.

It’s a grey, dank, miserable building in which there is the constant threat of violence.

There has been rioting and allegation­s of racism. An unpopular prisoner might be ‘jugged’ — attacked with boiling water or oil. ‘You say the wrong thing to the wrong person on the wrong day and you could end up with a pencil stuck in your eye.’ said an ex-con called Razor. It’s a far cry from Porridge.

Yet Ricky Killeen, sent to Frankland aged 21 after a machete attack, couldn’t contain his excitement on arriving there. he admitted dancing in his cell on the first night. Ricky was delighted at finally following a family tradition: his dad served 14 years. ‘From a young age, seven or eight,’ he said cheerily, ‘I always wanted to go to prison.’

If the cons are lucky, they might get letters from so-called hybristoph­iliacs — women who fall in love with violent prisoners.

Apparently, safety is part of the attraction. With their men securely locked up, they can enjoy a romance without fear of being attacked. sometimes life can be very odd.


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