'A puerile and irrelevant project': Verdict on the National Trust’s controversial partnership with reality TV show Big Brother - by a Tory MP

Conservative MP Daniel Kawczynski criticises 'cost-neutral' move as charity attempts to attract younger people to heritage sites

The National Trust’s controversial partnership with reality TV show Big Brother is a “hare brained scheme” and a waste of charity money on a “puerile and irrelevant project,” according to Daniel Kawczynski, Conservative MP for Shrewsbury.

The strongly worded attack - directed against the National Trust’s  director general Dame Helen Ghosh - comes as hundreds prepare to go on sell-out tours of the Big Brother house at Elstree Studios, Hertfordshire, this weekend.

Referring to Dame Ghosh’s former role as permanent secretary at the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs during the “fiasco” over the privatisation of forests, Mr Kawczynski commented: “She and her team put that hare brained scheme together and now she’s come up with this hare brained scheme.” He added: “I think she’s going to have some difficulty justifying to her members that they ought to carry on funding on such a worthwhile body if the money is spent in such a flippant way.”

The charity - which describes itself as “protecting historic places” - has produced a guide to the Big Brother house in which the Diary Room chair is described as being “of iconic importance on a scale that can only be compared with Edward the Confessor’s Coronation Throne that sits behind glass in Westminster Abbey.” The living room is “a direct descendant of the multi-purpose Medieval Great Hall,” while the vegetable patch is compared to the Victorian gardens of Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire: “The parallels are indisputable.”

Yet in contrast to Elstree studios, Shrewsbury has the largest number of old and historic buildings of any town in England, claims Mr Kawczynski. “It is particularly irritating and demoralising when we are trying to get funding for these important buildings, this money is squandered on such a puerile and irrelevant project of no historical interest or value to future generations.”

And the MP has written to Dame Ghosh, inviting her to visit his constituency and see “sites where National Trust’s support could make a huge impact and difference.”

Although better known for protecting ancient monuments such as Hadrian’s Wall and Stonehenge, and stately homes and gardens across country, the National Trust’s involvement with the reality TV show is part of a deliberate attempt to attract younger people to heritage sites.

Joseph Watson, programme manager of the National Trust London project, said: “The opening of the Big Brother house for two days is intended to offer people an unusual, exciting, and even funny experience. It’s also an opportunity to debate the meaning of heritage to society. Heritage of the future or not, it’s clear that the Big Brother house is a special place to many, and says something important about the epoch we’re living through.”

He added: “We welcome Daniel Kawczynski’s contribution to that debate, but would also wish to reassure him that there is no question of the Trust acquiring the house.” The opening will be “cost-neutral,” said Mr Watson.

And the heritage charity is considering opening up a number of other “interesting” sites in the London area. These include a former ballroom, an old vinyl factory, and a Victorian sewage works.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Clinical Lead / RGN

£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: IT Sales Consultant

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...

Recruitment Genius: Works Engineer

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Hire Manager - Tool Hire

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago