TWO small businesses have had a ‘big’ part to play in a reality TV show aired across the UK this summer.

Hitchin-based companies Expressions Bridalwear and ShingleTec were both asked by Big Brother producers Endemol to come to Elstree Studios and provided services for this year’s 11th and final series.

As part of a top secret operation, Expressions Bridalwear, based in Hermitage Road, were contacted by the Channel 4 show’s producers on Wednesday, September 1, just two days before Vanessa Feltz was due to enter the house as part of Ultimate Big Brother, a spin-off of the main show.

“We had to find eight wedding dresses for her (Vanessa Feltz) to give her a choice and she went with the first one she picked out,” said director Carole Wilding.

“She loved the dress and she looked amazing - she was lovely to work with.

As well as customising the dress for the English TV personality, Expressions Bridlewear also had to provide a veil to hide her identity from the watching public until the last moment.

Ms Wilding, who has been running the business since 1997, added: “I couldn’t believe how top secret it was.

“There were security on guard all the time to make sure it was kept a secret until the release at 10.30pm, when it went live on TV and she lifted the veil up.”

Paul Lloyd, who set up consultancy firm SingleTec from his Hitchin home in Franklin Gardens, also played a crucial role in Big Brother before the programme hit TV screens in June after advising producers on what material to use for the ‘nest’, situated in the garden of the house.

He said: “We got a phone asking for us to come down to Elstree.

“We were then shown the pod which they had already started to construct for the Big Brother set.

“The design team had been using Sweet Chestnut shakes but we suggested switching the specification to Western Red Cedar, which is what they used.”