Opinions: Suburbia: is it heaven or hell?

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Indy Lifestyle Online
A new Channel 4 series is putting the suburbs under the microscope

SIR TERENCE CONRAN: I like the principle of suburbia, but the architecture has gone wrong and public transport to the city has gone wrong. Suburbia that is simply a density of housing doesn't embrace the countryside and has no advantage of being out of the centre doesn't seem at all attractive. I've never lived in suburbia and never intend to. The furthest out of the centre of London I've lived is Camden Town.

LUCINDA LAMBTON, writer: I love it and loathe it in equal measure - love it for its physical cosiness and loathe it for its social sterility.

NICHOLAS BARKER, producer, Signs of the Times: I adore suburbia. I live quite close to Hampstead Garden Suburb which is the most exquisite suburb in all of England. It's tranquil, it's small-minded and it makes one feel all's well with the world.

SCARLETT, fashion manager: Suburbs are a good idea - they keep suburban-minded people out of the city which means that there's more room for the rest of us. They're for people who don't want excitement - where the most important thing in life is getting a new washing machine.

SIR ROY STRONG: I spent the first 24 years of my life trying to escape from it. I wanted to be where the intellectual cut and thrust was and where everything was happening in the arts. Suburbia represented a lot of things that I wanted to get away from - conformity and constriction, the nuances of class differentiation. Suburbia is Hyacinth Bucket land.

ANNE SELBY, housewife: I love it. It's so friendly and one can see exactly what one's neighbours are doing. They don't have a moment's privacy and we don't either. Who needs television programmes when one can have the real thing? I really would find country life too quiet and the city brings on my funny turns.

JOSEPH FIENNES, actor: I'd rather spend my money on a crate of whisky, drink it and die happy than live in suburbia. It should be renamed sub-humania.

GILDA O'NEILL, historian: It all depends where you're coming from. As a kid growing up in the East End, moving out to the suburbs like Ilford and Forest Gate was a glamorous, unattainable dream.

MICHAEL FRAYN, writer: I liked it very much as a child. I grew up in the south-western suburbs of London and, in the Thirties and Forties, it seemed an ideal place. There were lots of left-over bits of wasteland between the houses to play on. I got bored when I was in my adolescence. I sometimes feel nostalgic, but being used to living in town it would be difficult.

ELISABETH BROOKE, white witch and writer: I grew up in the suburbs and had a long standing fantasy of detonating Bromley High Street. Funnily enough there are actually quite a few witches in the suburbs, who I guess are being asked how to poison husbands, brew aphrodisiacs or win marrow competitions.

(Photograph omitted)

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