Producers want an intimate feel for the fourth series
The new-look Big Brother house for series four of the Channel 4 reality game show has been unveiled for the first time.
Journalists were given a tour of the famous property at Elstree studios in Hertfordshire that will become home to 12 strangers for up to nine weeks during the summer.
Designed to reflect a "back to basics" approach for the show's fourth annual run, the purpose-built house and garden are about a third smaller than last year.
Gone are the metal bars that divided 2002's contestants into "rich and poor".
Thirty-four cameras record the housemates' every move
More than 40 microphones capture their words
Each contestant wears a compulsory microphone
Gone, too, are the garish orange and angular furniture that made for such a stark environment in series three.
Instead, producers have tried to create a warmer, more homely space, with pastel shades and what they unashamedly refer to as feminine curves.
Our Channel 4 guide spoke earnestly of a pure, simple, uncluttered space, offering a more organic feel.
At times it felt like we were on a tour of a national architectural landmark - rather than a few sheets of painted plaster and chipboard near the M25.
Will the men or women bag the purple bedroom?
Created by TV set designer Markus Blee, the house's main living space is once more split evenly between sitting, dining and kitchen areas.
In what might be termed retro space-age chic, its oval marble-effect dining table, minimalist kitchen and flying saucer ceiling lights could come straight from a low-budget 70s sci-fi series.
The eggcup-shaped breakfast bar seating - green, plastic, extendable - is more comfortable than it looks.
Emphasising the feminine vibe, the walls are done out in soft shades of turquoise, dusty pink and cream, with fluffy rugs including a green pile beneath the table which I first mistook for Astroturf.
Heat is absorbed in the wooden roof and emitted at night
Sadly the diary room, bathroom and one of the bedrooms were out of bounds, although the second bedroom was thrown open to reveal its six single beds, wrapped in green duvets against purple walls.
Setting it all off is the grand entrance, an ice-white, brightly-lit stairway to heaven that Cecil B de Mille might have had knocked up.
Outside, the familiar six-sided swimming pool remains, along with
those lovable chickens and a revamped vegetable plot.
The kitchen has a space-age look
New this year is an outdoor undercover seating area with four mustard-coloured comfy chairs perched beneath a heat-emitting cedar wood roof.
All of this is surrounded by a nine-foot steel inner fence and an even taller external security fence topped by razor wire.
But who could possibly want to escape from such luxury? We will have to wait and see.