And here I am the day after the week before and I’m in a reflective mood. I’ve had lots of people asking me all about my premiere as a St Albans judge on The Best House In Town which was shown last week on BBC1. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to tell you a bit about it and it’s a nice walk down memory lane for me too as we filmed before Christmas!
So how did it all come about?
The casting crew messaged me via Instagram and when I responded (immediately!) they rang the very same day. We arranged to meet the following week and I had a really long interview in the shop and then a reeeallllly long interview on camera and that was that. Well it might have been if I’d been prepared to leave it there, but I wasn’t! I was so excited about the thought of doing this show that I followed up my interviews with the enthusiasm of a puppy, thanking everyone for their time and sending a massive long list of any relevant achievements since I opened Cositas, from championing the high street on radio, being a finalist for Retailer of the Year in St Albans and being shortlisted for Best Start Up Businesses in the UK. I’m not sure if it was my huge raft of TV experience, (minor appearances on Money For Nothing and The French Collection) that finally clinched it for me but something did! I just couldn’t believe my luck when the call came asking if I was free for a week of filming as they wanted to cast me as a judge! I was so professional I squealed down the phone! But massive delight aside, if I hadn’t got it, I still would have been proud of myself for pushing myself out of my comfort zone in relation to blowing my own trumpet in that email. I learnt a valuable lesson, be proud and don’t be afraid to be proud.
It took 6 long days of filming in St Albans. Those days started unspeakably early, the glamour of TV, I now know (kinda) how Holly Willouby feels, with me getting up before 5 so I could apply double the amount of make up and actually ‘do’ my hair. It was cold and November and my normal life sort of stopped that for a week. My girls were amazing and got their brother up and off to school and picked him up most days too. We really pulled together as a family; I’m always reminding my children of the importance of supporting each other to help us all be the best that we can be but it’s not usually me who benefits the most, but in this week I really did. Gosh, I’ve just remembered I missed Parents Evening at school! But what was really hard, was having this massive thing going on in my life but not being able to tell anyone about it. Turns out I’ve got quite a good poker face!
How long did it take to film?
Did you know your fellow judges already?
Not at all! I met Olwyn, Randa, Dean and Kuldip on day one along with the lovely crew. And I mean lovely, really the crew were so, so lovely, an absolute delight and they made me feel so comfortable and at ease. I had the earliest call time out of everyone on that first day and did my face to camera with one of the most emotionally intelligent people I’ve ever met which was a helpful trait for her to possess to put me at ease as I was rather nervous.
When I’d finished filming I went to get a coffee and that’s when Kuldip came in. He was really friendly, we said hi and chatted about our businesses a bit and then he went off to do his filming. Then Randa walked in with her lovely warm smile and the we clicked straight away. The wonderful Olwyn came next and was so calming to me and then at the end in walked Dean who was kind and funny. From day one it was obvious that we’d been picked not only for our individual skills and attributes but for how we would operate as a team. And I think we all glided effortlessly into our group situation. I remember thinking that day, that this was a team well casted. 5 more days of early mornings and long days followed, all of which were an absolute pleasure thanks to the crew and the other judges.
Initially I thought it was going to be filmed in one day because we had to wear the same clothes. Now I know that it’s to make the editing easier. And honestly it made it so much easier not having to worry about getting 6 outfits together!
Did you see all the houses before you picked the winner of each category?
No we did a category a day, so we’d see the houses and at the end of each day we made our choices.
Was there one category that you found particularly hard?
There were two actually: the Terraced Houses and the Final. So the first and the last. By the final I was so emotional! I ugly cried on national TV!
Was that your biggest cringe from the whole show.
Yes, that emotional ugly cry and when I lay on the bed and my tummy showed. I was mortified. I actually screamed out loud for about 10 seconds “Noooooooooooo!!!!” And there’s a teaser for the final where my facial expressions are out of control. That was hilarious but also cringey.
Did you do your own hair and makeup?
Yes, my sister sells Tropic Skincare so I stocked up and put it on how she told me and I’m really glad I used it because my skin’s terrible in real life but you couldn’t see it at all on camera, I had so many compliments on it. And I did my own hair. The one thing I splashed out on was my hair. I had some extensions put in and I’m so glad I did. So my hair looked good on the first day because my hairdresser had done it the night before but I do think it goes downhill after that a bit when I’m doing my own blow dry. By the final where I got so stressed out it’s a bit messy! But with the extensions as my cheat it couldn’t ever really look that bad.
Would you do it again if you could?
Absolutely, categorically, yes! In a flash! I loved every second and surprised myself with how much I enjoyed being in front of the camera!
Have you kept in touch with the other judges or met any of the homeowners?
Yes all the judges have kept in touch and we continue to talk on the phone and meet up. We have a lot of fun together and have got an evening out planned soon actually. I haven’t met any of the homeowners only stumbled across them on our shared Insta platforms. Maybe they’ll pop into the shop sometime… it would be really nice to meet them and put the real life person with the personalities projected in their houses.
Have you had any negative feedback at all?
No hardly any. Everyone’s been very complimentary. There have been a few people online saying that we were rubbish or upset that one of us criticised something or other, but that’s a tiny minority. Some have said that they’d like to come and judge the judges houses (to see how we like it I assume) well that’s definitely not going to happen! I didn’t ever claim to have The Best House In Town!
…..And as they say in TV, “That’s a Wrap”! What am I going to do next…..
You can watch all the episodes on BBC IPlayer here
And if your local to St Albans you can check out the coverage from Herts Advertisier here.
Find out more about the other judges here:
Randa – Randa Kort
Olwyn – Tickled Pink Interiors
Dean – Cre8tive Construction
Kuldip – Gallery Rouge