how to get your home on TV

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Look around you at those familiar four walls. Is the paint peeling in places? Is the wallpaper a trifle faded? Are the floorboards still uncarpeted, despite all your good intentions? If so, you could be on to a nice little earner. Your shabby home could be just what a location manager is looking for.

It's tempting to think that once you've ragged and rolled and sponged and stippled, your home would make an ideal film location. In fact, the opposite is true. If the place is unpretentious, uncluttered and decorated in plain colours, it will be just what film types are looking for - a blank canvas they can transform to suit the script. Sit back and let them get on with it, and you could soon be seeing chez vous in an episode of Poirot.

Lending your home to a television production company is a lucrative business, and can bring in anything from pounds 500 to pounds 1,000 a day. Of course, there are disadvantages to putting your house on the stage. Once you've been chosen for a spot of filming, you will be descended on by a crew of 40, a handful of petulant actors, and several miles of gaffer tape. Boom microphones will scrape the paint off the ceilings, huge pantechnicon lorries will block your neighbours' cars in their driveways, 40 pairs of feet will tread mud into your carpets, and 40 bottoms will sit on your loo.

According to Anna Webber, of Lavish Locations, the way you behave is almost as important as the way your home looks. "You must be so laid back as to be horizontal, because you will be invaded by a tribe of 'darlings' who will make your life hell if you're vaguely house-proud," she explains. "They will ask to redecorate, want to pull up your carpets, and at the end of it all you might end up seeing no more than a picture hook in the finished programme."

New York-style lofts and warehouse conversions are in big demand, but most properties stand a chance of getting themselves on TV. "We work on everything from stills photography, to adverts and feature films," says Webber. "As long as a house has got star quality we're interested, and that could be anything from a two-up, two-down, to a stately home."

One big drawback, though, is location. Even if you think your pad fulfils all the criteria, you're at a disadvantage if you live more than 50 or so miles from the M25. "Producers and photographers want things in London, and only travel if it's absolutely necessary," says David Johnson, of The Location Company.

Rosemary and Tony Healey's home has had a regular slot on BBC1 since 1990. Their two-bedroom bungalow doubles as Hyacinth Bouquet's house in Keeping Up Appearances, and they often open the curtains on Sunday morning to find complete strangers standing in the driveway taking photographs of their hanging baskets.

"We were approached out of the blue by BBC location managers, and although we were keen, we didn't realise what was involved," says Rosemary. "The first day the crews arrived we were horrified - there were 46 people, two huge wagons, cars, equipment, generators and all sorts. The whole road was blocked."

Since then, things have improved, and now the Healeys are happy to have their home taken over for 10 days at a time. "While they're filming we have to keep a low profile, so we stay at the back of the house," says Rosemary. "You have to be careful with noise, not dropping anything, or putting on the vacuum. But we don't mind and are used to it now."

Johnson suggests that if you've got stars in your cavity wall insulation, you should pinpoint your home's individual features, then let them sell themselves. "Always in demand are wooden floors and nice big kitchens," he says. "Outdoor swimming pools are popular in the summer. Again, central London is preferred, but crews are happy to travel to Chigwell."

Lavish Locations (0181-744 2992). The Location Company (0171-637 7766)

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