Panorama, tonight, BBC 1, 8.30pm: The Great House Price Bubble? Note the question mark. The programme hunts for affordable homes, meets a two-income family priced out of the market and somebody helped to buy by the Help To Buy scheme. These kinds of documentaries are almost always disappointing, failing to delve under the surface to properly analyse regional variation and place the market in any historical context. Still… we can hope. More details here.
Remember Tepilo? It was SB's no-fees, bypass-an-agent property sales website. We discussed it briefly in 2009, and on the subject of monetization she seemed hopeful of future sponsorship, but reluctant to charge a fee. It's hardly a defeat, given what's happened to the economy in the years since, but it seems that SB's decided the only way forward is with fees… and the new Tepilo offers fixed-fee estate agency with all the online trimmings (Rightmove advertising, for instance). More info and fee structure here.
And what does it say about the Government's attitude to debt and responsible lending, in this supposed new, post-2008 economic climate?
She goes on to make an interesting historical point.
In this country, until the beginning of the last century, if you didn’t own land you couldn’t vote and your voice didn’t count. So our obsession [with property] is historic, and it went into our psyche: the idea that the people who matter are those who own property.
Now they're hoping that £6.5m might just compensate for the stress.
The property's on the market with Knight Frank, just six months after the show was aired. There's certainly nothing else quite like it, and the glass-heavy design certainly makes for 360 degree views. But, looking at the photos in the particulars, you've got to wonder about the ratio of eyes looking out to eyes looking in.
If - like me - you missed last night's Inside Out investigation into the letting agents who are renting out "secret garden homes" (alternatively, garages-with-beds-and-no-windows) to families… it's on iPlayer for another seven days.
Dragon's Den series 11 will feature top interior designer Kelly Hoppen, who likely to bring a bit of (much needed) glamour to the show. Read her tweeted announcement here. Follow the Rat and Mouse here.
There's a BBC investigation programme, looking at two fast-purchase firms accused of gazundering. One of them claims to be able to buy a property in as little as seven days, but its contracts stipulate it can take up to 12 months to completion. In one instance, an agreed price of £75,000 was dropped to a £40,000 offer the day before the removal men were due to arrive. Ugly. More here.
It's De Vere House, in Lavenham… the location for both Potter's and Dumbledore's birthplace, in the popular film franchise, if that kind of thing floats your boat. It's a 14th Century cottage, new to the market for £950,000. Incidentally, it's the UK's second most photographed doorway, after 10 Downing Street. It's also currently a guest house. More here.
From Fawlty Towers (Wooburn Grange Country Club) to Outnumbered (Dempster Road, Wandsworth) to The Young Ones (Codrington Road and Broadway, Bristol)… 12 properties that starred in UK sitcoms, over at the Telegraph.
If you're looking to buy a coastal property (in the UK or abroad), fancy seeing yourself on the telly and wouldn't mind a bit of help from the lovely Jenni Falconer of UKTV Home's "Fantasy Homes By The Sea", drop these guys a line or call 0207 255 5442 for more information.
It's hard to tell whether the newspaper is wilfully making too much of a throwaway comment, but the Sunday Mirror reports here that the rapper-turned-property investor-turned-US-property show presenter with a home in Richmond is planning a UK television makeover show. What would it be like? Here's a clip from his ongoing US show, The Vanilla Ice Project.
Did you see Channel 4's 1900 House? It was one of those period living shows, in which a modern family travels back in time and experiences life as it was at the turn of the previous century. They did it in a very nice five-bedroom mid-terrace with - as you'd expect - period features, in SE7. The house is now for sale, with Felicity J Lord (that's an independent estate agents, not a posh lady thrown in as an extra feature), and a guide price of £550,000. Interestingly, it's described as "a contemporary home". Click this for some fancy particulars.
It's an interview you'll either love or hate in the Sunday Telegraph, in which she talks about family, investment theory and her plans for "the Kirstie brand". The reader comments afterwards are probably more entertaining, though. Apparently everybody in Brighton loves Kirstie. But what about this:
It was apparently on the market back in February with a guide price of £15.75m. It's on Hamilton Terrace, between Maida Vale and St Johns Wood, and it's a wedding-cake-on-the-outside, modern-on-the-inside style place with five bedroom, screening room, nice garden. Go here for a floorplan. According to the Daily Mail, it's still for sale, but I don't know where they've got that information. I can't find a listing anywhere.
Congratulations to Douglas & Gordon's Ed Mead for this fabulously risky and funny bit of work. Under Offer... a mockumentary following the exploits of the Hammersmith office of a leading London estate agents.
The word is that Phil Spencer is about to font a new Channel 4 show in which he acts as estate agent for viewers who are having problems shifting their homes. He's going to leap in unannounced and work out what's going wrong... overpriced, house looks crap, overpriced, not marketed properly, overpriced... you get the picture. The show's going to be called "Phil Spencer - Secret Agent". More here.
They haven't had the most distinguished record on The Apprentice, but here's another estate agent looking to impress Alan Sugar, when the Series 7 kicks off tomorrow night. He's called Alex Britez Cabral, he's 28, and - apparently - he's "not frightened to make enemies and I like being unpopular because usually that means you're doing your job properly". Wow... so much to learn. He's apparently based in London. I've been trying to work out where he's been working, but it turns out he's been working for himself. (The uncomfortable truth is that becoming an estate agent can be like becoming a movie producer... you go and get some cards printed.) Watch his audition reel here.
Phil Spencer appears to not only have blown a deer away but blasted a great hole in his own popularity by appearing on a web-based TV channel shooting a deer. Animal welfare charities have been quick to come out and condemn the film. The pick of the bunch? Elisa Allen, from PETA:
Spencer makes an impassioned defence... he comes from farming stock, has been blasting away things that move all his life, 100,000 deer are culled out of necessity every year and at least he's not an estate agent. (Okay, I made the last one up.) Next week: Kirstie Allsopp makes a necklace from kittens' teeth.
Tonight, BBC 4, 9pm: The Great Estate: The Rise & Fall of the Council House... a "grand tour" of the British council estate, by writer Michael Collins. Apparently, more than a third of the UK population lived in council houses in the 1970s, before Margaret Thatcher's great sell-off. More here.
Interesting, and a common error... the assumption that the estate agent is somehow there to serve the buyer. The vendor, of course, pays the agent, and while it's in the vendor's best interests to ensure his agent isn't pissing buyers off, you can't expect silver service from an agent every time you take a casual interest in a property.
There's some debate about whether the agency featured - London's well-established Martyn Gerrard - came away well or badly. Some might think they were crazy to even contemplate getting. Greene & Co did well out of a reality TV show a few (quite a few) years ago (anyone remember that?). But Portas's shows are different... they're set up around a premise that something's badly wrong. What do you think?
The Modern Estate Agent has an interesting perspective here.
Asked what was the dodgiest project on Grand Designs, Kevin McCloud has said:
A houseboat in Kent. The owners had no mooring, no architect and designed it with what they found rather than what they looked for. Given it was assembled from bits of rubbish it looked surprisingly alright but it wasn’t architecture. It wasn’t very uplifting. The owner did a little drawing on an envelope and those were the plans. Some bits of it were good but we won’t be doing another one of those on the programme any time soon. It wasn’t an episode of Grand Designs, it was a floating episode of Scrapheap Challenge.
The boat is said to have washed up at Southend-on-Sea this morning. (Photo here.) For more on the background, go here.
Remember Christopher Farrell, the ex-Marine and Cheshire mortgage broker fired by Sir Alan for lacking a ruthless streak? He's just pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud - doctoring documents to make hefty mortgage applications and pocket the commission - at Plymouth Magistrates' court. He'll be sentenced on January 28. More here.
And support Homeless charity Broadway and its Homes For Phones campaign (which raises money by recycling electronic equipment). The competition is photographic in nature. Take a photograph of the thing that most reminds you of home, upload it to the special Facebook page. The lucky winner will enjoy dinner-for-two, with Channel 4 4homes property show heart-throb and Middle England pin-up Phil Spencer. More here.
He's Jamie Lester, an overseas property developer and former London estate agent, and he's into "dogs, cars and water sports". I don't want to cast aspersions, but it's probably safe to say he's no Alain de Botton. Nor is he the only representative from the property industry competing on this year's The Apprentice. Meet Christopher Farrell, ex-Marine, mortgage broker... except (and the BBC aren't promoting this on his biography page) he's apparently on bail for mortgage fraud, and has previous for possession of an offensive weapon. Already fired... from Mortgages4Plymouth... classy. The Apprentice starts Wednesday.
You've 15 minutes to stick on the telly and hunker down for Nightmare Tenants (ITV, 7.30pm), Jonathan Maitland telling tales of arrears, evictions and filthy French tenants who let pigeons move in with them. Alternatively, catch it later on ITV Player.
Just bought a new home and in the process of an interior renovation/redesign? Fancy being on the telly? Then the Dragonfly Productions is interested in hearing from you, with regard to a new series for the BBC. Contact Alice Wikham here, or call 020 7033 2317.
It's a new show, planned for BBC 1, looking for six individuals with ambitious grand designs. The show will fund the projects through to completion, and film the process. But - and here's the twist - only the "winner" (judged by an as-yet-unannounced property "guru") will get to keep their home. It's like Britain's Got Talent, crossed with Grand Designs, crossed with Property Ladder, crossed with Fame Academy.
A strange - and sad - one. A Watford father-of-three, scheduled to appear on DIY SOS on Bank Holiday Monday, has reportedly smashed up his new kitchen, held his wife hostage and then shot himself dead. During filming, Mrs Walters had been diagnosed with a rare neurological disease. Mr Walters apparently described the visit by the show's crew as taking his mind off his wife's illness. More here. The BBC's has apparently called the episode: Dad in Despair.
Surely someone must be. Even if it's not the Prime Minister.
Does your experience give you an unrivalled knowledge of the potential ups and downs of the property ladder, an eye for what makes a property a great investment and the intuitive insight to turn an average property into a profit maximising, great one? Shed Media are looking for an authoritative new TV Presenter to front a brand new property series for one of the UK’s leading broadcasters.
If you feel you could be a TV presenter with a capital "P", forward your contact details, CV and photo to this gentleman. Tell him the Rat and Mouse sent you.
Looks good. Does this mean - following the demise of Garrington Home Finders - he's leveraging his celebrity to provide a personal home search service? Makes sense. Spencer has great contacts, experience and intelligence.
Kristian Digby, BBC's To Buy Or Not To Buy presenter, was found dead at his flat in Newham yesterday. As yet, the circumstances are being described by police as "unexplained", although rumours of an auto-asphyxiation that went wrong are rife. More here.
Kirstie and Phil find themselves the subjects of the Radio Times "Why I Hate..." column. It's a programme, says Michael Hodges, "based on greed and sex". Okay, greed... that's endemic in the way the Brits view property. It's not pretty, we'd agree. But sex? Where? When? And - if so - what's so hateful about that?
To be honest... that had never really occurred to me. Certainly, C4 has made more and more of the chemistry, but personally I've always thought it's been about the way they clash (Phil's bumbling geezer v Kirstie's frosty aristo), and if you'd put them in a bed together the effect would have been more like watching Morecombe and Wise sharing their double divan than Burton and Taylor. But what do I know?
So what - everyone, and not least Channel 4, wants to know - is what Kirstie and Phil were doing on a top BBC talent list, leaked yesterday? According to this, they've almost certainly been poached, and will be joining the BBC roster after their 4homes contract ends in March. We'd welcome a comment from our friends at 4homes...
Funnily enough there's a lot of people who would say that now is obviously not the time to develop whereas when the market was really hot, when it was right at the top, they were saying everyone should develop and you kind of think... no, no, you shouldn't do the same as everyone else you should do the opposite of everyone else.
The new series of I'm A Celebrity (Get Me Out Of Here) starts Sunday, and the latest is that Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan (the brains behind such unmissable TV culture as Million Pound Property Experiment, How Not To Decorate and Trading Up, and pictured here in the nest competing for a large Witjuti grub from the beak of a giant reality TV bird) are expected to join an all-star cast of has-beens and publicity whores, where they'll eat insects and perhaps fashion scatter cushions from fronds. Can't wait.
Considering renovating and selling on? Or getting in some tenants? Need advice on the way forward? Get your entry in before December 9 to win a home visit by someone who knows what they're talking about. More here.
Remember The Curved House... on Channel 4's Grand Designs? The story was: David and Anjana needed to expand their tiny Clapham coach house, so they could fit in a family. They hired architect Peter Romaniuk and built a curved wood and glass house around a protected horse chestnut tree. It was, is, lovely. And it's for sale. Guide price: £1.5m, particulars here.
Do you drool over the pages of glossy interior magazines and wish that your home had a unique, individual style?
Antiques Expert, Mark Hill, and Interior Designer, Kathryn Rayward, present a brand new BBC interior design show that will prove that furnishing your home with vintage items, beautiful antiques and bespoke pieces doesn’t have to cost any more than shopping on the High Street.
If you’ve got a room in your house that you’d love to see transformed and are willing to put in some of your own money, we’ll provide an interior designer and antiques expert to help you hunt out design classics, antiques and one-off items to create a truly original home.
What? I'm a property blogger, I've all the money in the world. What do I do next?
Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0207 907 3440 for further details of how to be on the programme.
That's a headline I never thought I'd type. But, according to the Sun, in a piece that quotes Spencer closely, he'd been employed by Michael Jackson to find a home for the singer and family while he played his forthcoming UK dates. He was close to getting the star to sign... after persuading some wealthy individuals to clear off and vacate their own pukka pads, but - alas - it wasn't to be. Spencer missed out on his fee. Ticket holders miss out on what would have been some historic gigs. We all miss Michael.
A big thanks to our sponsors for continuing to support the Rat and Mouse. Remember, Primelocation.com isn't just about searching properties listed by 4,000 leading estate agents, the website's a mine of useful advice, information and links.
For instance: this - on the winner of Channel 4's I Own Britain's Best Home - or, more to the point, I Used To Own Britain's Best Home, because, as Primelocation has discovered, the Norfolk eco-mansion is for sale.
If you want to know more about advertising opportunities on the Rat and Mouse, drop me a line. Or if you just want to chat with the Rat, we're on Twitter here, or email us tips here.
According to the Daily Mail, there's bin-a-bit-a-bitchin' on the Western Morning News letters page, regarding Kirstie's Homemade Second Home. She is, according to a local man, adding to the affordable housing crisis in the region, without giving anything back to the community. Not so, says Allsopp, who replies on the page listing a whole group of local community bodies that he should approach and ask to find out whether Kirstie's mucking in.
It was a hard show to take an opinion on. I liked the way it championed local artisans. I thought Kirstie's tour around her parents' pad was unwise; but that's Kirstie Allsopp's fatal flaw... she doesn't appear to have any idea how unusually privileged how own background is or how that alienates a certain sector of her viewers. Interestingly, the result is a programme that appears to assume the hard part of renovating a house is choosing the cushion covers and crockery, rather than paying the workmen to make it structurally sound.
Yeah, like estate agents pay their license fees. (A joke... okay?!) Here's a link to the show... and notice that it's Axe The Agent?, rather than Axe The Agent. What a difference a question mark makes. Or doesn't.
The facts: it's a big ruby-lookalike surrounded by diamonds, it was lost in Hackney (which makes it, arguably, the most valuable item in a radius of several square miles) yesterday, while Kirstie was shooting her new series. There's a £1,000 reward, and a special website here.
Last November, we reported that TV's Phil Spencer was downscaling his Garrington Home Finders business. Today, the picture looks a lot worse, with Spencer appearing to admit he's dependent on a buyer if he's to keep the company afloat. He's also said to have been paying his employees' salaries out of his own pocket for several months.
We are looking for people in the process of a building/renovation project who have discovered they may have a protected species such as a bat, great crested newt, badger, bird or red squirrel on their site. This may mean their plans for the project have to change or could be delayed. Is this you? How has this made you feel? Are you in a state of shock? Are you concerned about the extra costs and delays? Are you worried this may stretch your budget a little too far? Or are you just flaming mad that you are being told what to do on your own personal property? If so we would love to hear from you.
Contact Kristy on 020 8965 6694 or email her here.
Oh, for Christ's sake. The programme is what is known in the industry as "a piece of entertainment". K&P aren't IFAs; intelligent viewers take certain things from their programmes and reject others. We're not sheep. And what about the people - the vast majority - who aren't in negative equity and have made a killing? The programme was strange, though. Our friend Henry Pryor was suave; Merryn Somerset Webb eminently sensible. But those K/P chats... I got the impression Kirstie knows she's being blamed by the Internet's hysterical haters for virtually the entire credit crunch, and she's attempting a little damage limitation. Clearly (judging by Mr Angry) it's not working.
Property search company Garrington is closing its recently-opened Knutsford (leafy Cheshire) office, and downscaling (with, apparently, other closures likely). Before all the cries of schadenfraude, it's worth noting that the north west operation will now be run out of the Altrincham office, which is little more than a D&G handbag's glint from Knutsford. Crisis? Not exactly.
Tonight, at 8pm, Channel 4 answers the question, how do you make a programme about property when prices are falling and nobody's buying or selling, by launching The Home Show, in which architect George Clarke (photographed in Jill Greenberg style here) tackles renovating and redesigning.
And it's true. Kirstie Allsopp does seem to catch more criticism than her TV partner Phil or just about any other property presenter. Why? Apparently she once said that house prices can't go down... although I'm yet to see the context in which she's supposed to have said that. I think it's more to do with the fact that she's posh. Phil... you can imagine a night down the boozer and onto Spearmint Rhino with Phil. With Kirstie... no way. She was born wealthy. And then she had the temerity to go on and be successful. In the Times, she comes out fighting... and even at this late stage she won't be bullied into agreeing that we're seeing a market correction:
It is much easier to fire off flippant articles blaming property TV shows than properly examining why there has been a fall in transactions and - in some places, though not all - a fall in property prices. Some of the recent gloomy headlines make me suspect that all the journalists in the country have sold up and are doing everything in their power to cause a property house price crash so that they can buy at rock bottom.
That's the question being asked by recent first-time buyers who've seen the value of their new assets fall, recently. The economists' answer - according to a survey by the Society of Business Economists for ITV's Tonight - is that it could take until 2012 for prices to regain 2007 levels. According to 44%, we won't reach the bottom of the slide until 2009. More here. The Tonight show is scheduled for - er - tonight, at 7pm on ITV1. This, from the ITV website:
The BBC is trailing interesting research from its new series of The Truth About Property that suggests that not only are more people "crash-proof" than in the early 1990s (it would take a house price drop of 56% to put the average borrower into negative equity), but that a house price crash would be far from entirely unwelcome, even among the property-owning class. People, apparently, are seeing a fall in values as an opportunity to trade up for less. The last series of this show was excellent, the Rat and Mouse has high hopes for series two, starting tonight, at 8pm, on BBC 2.
That's according to an international poll of ten million people, reported here. It means she's officially sexier than Kate Moss and Jennifer Lopez. Actress Megan Fox topped the poll. More headline news throughout the day...
Have you developed with the intention of adding value to your property? This could be from scratch after buying a derelict house, or maybe you’ve added an extension or some other home improvement. Has the recent slow down in the market meant you’ve lost out financially – or even gone bankrupt? Perhaps you’re trying to sell now, but know that you’re likely to make a loss? If you’re interested in taking part in the programme, then please contact me on 084488 16453 / 07786 547227 or email email@example.com.
Grand Designs have a week of live TV planned for May, during which they'll reveal their top 25 houses, picked from all the shows. You can catch up on missed properties, and vote, too, by going here. Vote for this one and you're barred.
Sofie (no "p", no "h") Allsopp (two "l"s, two "p"s) is apparently doing like big sister Kirstie (no "y") and - after a stint as an estate agent, and a stint alongside Phil (no "f") when Kirstie was pregnant (no alcohol) - enjoying a bit of property TV... in Canada, no less. Any more Allsopp sisters out there? The Rat and Mouse is on the hunt for a guest property blogger, and I know for a fact the Guv'nor would be pretty thrilled if he could bag an Allsopp.
They're looking for stories of triumph or tragedy in the current property market for The Truth About Property... a property TV highlight of 2007. If it sound like you, contact Gemma Peakhall and tell her the Rat and Mouse sent you.
UPDATE - I'M TOLD THE ABOVE IS A DODGY EMAIL ADDRESS... I'LL LOOK INTO IT, BUT FOR NOW THERE'S A CONTACT PAGE, COURTESY OF THE BBC, HERE.
Business journalist Jeff Randall investigates how and why the nation got hooked on spending money it doesn't have - and concludes that people are about to wake up to the painful realisation that all debts eventually have to be paid.
An exposure of sharp practice in the housing market which has kept house prices artificially high and plunged some homeowners into negative equity. Developers, valuers and solicitors all come under the microscope in Raphael Rowe's report, which reveals some nasty surprises for those who joined the buy-to let-frenzy.
Channel 4 seeks people with strange buildings - you know the score, water towers, windmills, toilets - to take part in a renovation series. Interested? Contact Emma Martins here. Tell her the Rat and Mouse sent you.
"By becoming part of FIC's international bouquet of channels, RETV will be able to leverage the company's publishing, online and other channels to further improve our viewers experience while enhancing at the same time the value proposition we can offer to our advertisers."
That's sweet-smelling Real Estate TV's MD Mark Dodd (or just "MD" for short) on Fox's purchase of the satcab channel.
It was pretty inevitable. Kirstie Allsopp was always very vocal about the shortcomings of HIPs, and now she's an adviser to the Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps (whose name I love saying). But - wait for this - they intend to keep the Energy Performance Certificate. Now, the Rat and Mouse is as green as (probably greener than) the next property blogger, but aren't EPCs a) a significant part of what we call a HIP? b) an utterly pointless waste of time benefitting nobody except the clipboard monkeys? So what are the Tory plans? Proposals being considered include offers being made legally binding (to put an end to gasumping/gazundering)... and, as far as I can see, that's it. Although there is the remote prospect of nudity. This, from the BBC:
"If everyone says they like HIPs I will walk naked across College Green," [Kirstie Allsopp] added.
Take a photograph of one of your grotty rooms, then go here to find out how to send it to the suspiciously immaculate Naomi for close scrutiny. Five photographs will be selected (randomly, so don't trash your house in order to get attention), and the lucky winners will be shown the secrets of good taste.
Soap characters, property prices, complete blending of fiction and reality... it's the Sun and the Rat and Mouse loves it. The piece ("an exclusive investigation") looks at Eastenders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, and asks whether the characters could really afford to live there. Obviously, the Rat and Mouse is interested in Eastenders, here, and that will only change when somebody proves to us that the north really exists. Apparently Albert Square is based on Fassett Square in Dalston:
According to a Foxtons agent interviewed by the Sun, Fassett Square prices have risen by 70% in the last three years, with a three-bedroom house costing around the £800,000 mark... not much more than what Max and Tanya Branning would have had to pay for their Albert Square semi. Max is a dodgy insurance salesman, Tanya's a slutty beautician... even if they'd paid a giant deposit, perhaps negotiated by their agents with the BBC (see how I can do that fiction-reality mix-up thing, too?), they'd still be looking at a 17xsalary mortgage. The Sun suggests they're dealing. Wouldn't put it past them.
We've been asked to put the word out on the street and - like Huggy - we're happy to co-operate. Unlike Huggy, we don't see any greenbacks... we're doing it because we care.
Channel 4 are looking for somebody selling a family-sized London home for their well-regarded Cutting Edge documentary strand. They want to hear from vendors and/or estate agents. The idea is that - in a single, one-hour documentary - they'll follow the process from marketing to completion, and offer a "360 degree view" of the transaction. The person who contacted me seems aware that readers might be a little wary... that - on one or two occasions in the past - honest, hard-working folk have been made to look like chumps by documentary film-makers whose smiles hide fork-tongues. This - we're assured - will be different... and the director certainly has an impressive track-record for sensitive, grown-up documentaries.
So, there you have it. If you're a vendor or an estate agent and want to talk (in confidence)... email Nonie Creagh-Brown or call 020 7907 0894.
A big thanks to the Rat and Mouse reader who alerted me to today's Working Lunch property special. In answer to your question... no I hadn't seen it, and I'm looking forward to settling down in front my laptop and enjoying it shortly. Thought I'd post the link right way, though, so that other Rat and Mouse readers could take advantage of the BBC's streaming generosity.
It's Dispatches: Britain's Bad Housing, on Channel 4 at 8pm. Andrew Gilligan - yes, that Andrew Gilligan - apparently demonstrates why the private sector doesn't have the answer to the country's so-called housing shortage. (A trip up the M5 will demonstrate something similar.) But there's more... have a look at this piece by Gilligan himself. The programme promises to reveal some very interesting evidence that lobby group PPS have been forging signatures, bugging council officials, bribing, bullying, writing fictitious letters from fictitious residents in support of planning applications... while working for high-profile builders including Berkeley Homes, Barratt, Taylor Woodrow and others. Interestingly, there appears to be a whiff of unpleasantness surrounding Fulham's Imperial Wharf.
The Rat and Mouse continues to enjoy the BBC series The Tower - which, as far as we're concerned - is a very moving and sympathetic view of the life on the Pepys Estate, and an effective indictment of the insanity of the London housing market... the very insanity the Rat and Mouse is here to document. Apparently, though, not everyone's delighted with the series:
What's been going on in this programme is not really good enough. They have turned some of these drug addicts into film stars but they should have been looking at the pensioners round here instead. We're not the best in the world around here but we're not as bad as all that.
... the words of the leader of the local pensioners' group. He's retired, himself. Apparently he used to be a gangster. But he wasn't a drug addict.
Let's start Friday with something scurrilous. News from the counties is that Nick Page - presenter of BBC's Escape to the Country - might need to escape the country altogether if he's to avoid a prison sentence. He's been found guilty by a Gloucestershire court of... drumroll please... forging a cheque to extract £500 from the IR, fraudulently obtaining £30,700 via a fake loan application, fiddling a £7,000 Tesco loan application by suggesting it was taken out by his wife... four further fraud allegations relating to at least £35,000 were "allowed to lie on file". He'll be sentenced July 23.