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Wednesday, 10 July, 2002, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
BBC plans 'Pop Idol' for buildings
English Heritage's Dr Simon Thurley next to at-risk Brixton Windmill
English Heritage's Dr Simon Thurley at Brixton Windmill
A new TV show hopes to drum up interest in saving historic buildings by offering viewers a Pop Idol-style voting competition to choose which crumbling relic should be restored.

The BBC Two series, called Restoration, will feature 10 regional heats showcasing threatened buildings before viewers choose which most deserves the "prize money" in a grand final.

London Zoo
Part of London Zoo is under threat
The show will be made by the company behind Big Brother, Endemol, who hope to emulate the success of the reality TV series, which attract millions of phone votes each week.

English Heritage, who have just published a report naming 1,542 listed buildings that are at risk of falling down, are also taking part.

"I believe that television can play an important role in focussing public attention on the whole issue of buildings at risk in an engaging and intelligent way," BBC Two controller Jane Root said.

The show will feature all types of buildings - including cottages, castles, railway stations and chapels - from all eras.

The regional heats will delve into their histories, talk to owners and locals, and encourage viewers to imagine what they were like in their heyday.


These buildings are both our history and our future

Dr Simon Thurley
English Heritage
The winner will be restored from cash raised by the programme.

Dr Simon Thurley, chief executive of English Heritage, said old buildings were an invaluable part of our lives and culture.

"They are not just castles and stately homes but familiar landmarks, public halls, old pubs and houses that define the character and appearance of our streets," he said.

"Losing these through neglect and decay changes the way a town, city or village looks forever and squanders its most valuable assets.

Risk

"These buildings are both our history and our future."

Brighton's West Pier
Brighton's West Pier is in a derilict state
Brighton's West Pier, the Gorilla House at London Zoo, Brixton Windmill, Durham Castle and St Pancras Chambers were just a few of the structures at risk across the country, he said.

At least 400m was needed to save all the threatened buildings, he added.

Buildings in Scotland and Wales will also be featured on the show, which will be seen in the summer of 2003.

See also:

18 Feb 02 | England
30 Oct 00 | UK
07 Nov 01 | England
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