FEATURE: My Letchworth Big Brother house experience

WITH a festival taking place next month celebrating all things ‘70s and ‘80s, the Big Brother Recession House opened in Letchworth GC to get the town in the mood. Comet reporter Nick Gill spent some time in Letchworth Arts Centre’s creation last week.

I must confess that when I walked through the door of the house it wasn’t so much a trip back in time as a look into history.

Let’s just say that I don’t remember much about being an ’80s child, other than sitting in a high chair and having an older sister who thought I was cute.

So in that sense I was very dependent on my housemates for the day to help me through, be it working the record player or answering questions on ’80s trivia.

Split into two halves, the empty retail unit in Leys Avenue epitomised one decade on each side, with furniture supplied by YMCA Central Herts and gadgets to match.


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In the ’70s room there were black and white TVs playing tapes of Grange Hill, some funky black and orange wallpaper and an archaic typewriter.

The slightly less alien side of the ’80s included a hostess trolley, an extensive record collection with the familiar sounds of Stevie Wonder, Wham and Spandau Ballet, and a family-friendly dining room table where we played a game of the 1983 version of Trivial Pursuit. Needless to say, afro wig or otherwise, I was hopeless.

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Joining me were five housemates who were better placed to reflect on the authenticity of the experience, with Hayley Winship even donning a frock from years gone by to get in the spirit.

“I wanted to get away from the digital age and instead remember what it was like for everyone to sit around a table playing games and having fun,” said the St Ippolytts resident.

To compliment the experience Sam Alexander from Letchworth Arts Centre, who has been coordinating the project, delivered some spam sandwiches and Battenburg cake for lunch.

She added: “I’m very pleased with the response and how many memories it’s provoked.”

I can’t say I was able to contribute to that but Letchworth GC resident Robert Henry was one of the members of public who popped into the house during my stay.

Sitting in the ’70s room, he said: “It takes me right back to the place I lived in. The ’70s to me were very fun years and after that it all went down hill.”

The house situated in the former Moore’s Pharmacy store is open to the general public until 4pm today (Saturday) and again from 10am to 4pm on Monday. There will be a chance to share photos from the decade and write down your memories.

And if you don’t have a chance to reminisce this time around, Letchworth Arts Centre will be hosting Now That’s What I Call a Recession in Broadway Gardens on November 17 and 18 with much more from both decades to enjoy.

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