The Cheltonian > Articles

Nick Knowles - Original Features


Are you renovating your home? Or have you already started but are looking for some inspiration? After a highly successful first series, Nick Knowles is looking for more people for a new series of Original Features, a BBC Bristol production for the UKTV Home Channel.

Your house is not just bricks and mortar – it forms a part of our social history and Cheltenham is steeped in history. Your house may be a typical Georgian pile, a Victorian or Edwardian two up two down, an old cottage with a past or even a simple 1960’s semi. It might be an entire house or just one or two rooms, but Nick and his team will investigate the history of each house.

DIY ‘host with the most’, Nick Knowles has already helped restore ten homes back to their former glory and delved into each property’s history.

Nick, who was born in London in 1962, is a familiar and popular face on TV, having presented numerous programmes such as Saving Planet Earth, Real Rescues, Wild About Your Garden and the hugely popular lottery quiz show Who Dares Wins. Nick has also filmed in Africa for both Comic Relief and Sport Relief as well as for Mission Africa in 2007 where fifteen apprentices were guided by Nick and Major Ken Hames through six weeks living in the African bush providing security, a wildlife reserve and safe drinking water for the Samburu people in a drought hit region of northern Kenya.

Nick has always been keen on sport especially rugby, but also loves music and you may remember him hosting the brilliant show Last Choir Standing with Myleene Klass on BBC in 2008. He is currently presenting Secret Fortune - The National Lottery Show on Saturday nights on BBC One and DIYSOS - The Big Build, also made from Bristol. He is also quizmaster on Perfection, in the afternoons on BBC Two.
The purpose of Original Features is to show people who are doing up parts or the whole of their houses, with an eye on trying to reinstate some of the original features from the time that it was built. At the same time, Nick and the team will carry out a bit of investigation on the house, for instance they will research who used to live there, and whether there are any connections between the new owners and the house itself. Very often there are, even if they don’t know it yet. He then sends the owners on inspirational trips so they can build something truer to the personality of the house. In the process, they decide to stay where they are, at least for a while.

As Nick says: ‘We’re in a period at the moment where people know they’re not going to make much money on a house for the next couple of years, so they are looking at their homes and realising that it’s much better if you can fall in love with your property.’

Nick has plenty of advice for those interested in finding out more about the history of their homes.

‘The first thing to look at is the outside of the house. Its design should tell you pretty much what period the house came from. But you also get crossovers – the early Victorians making fireplaces were Georgians in their 50s and 60s who were born before the Victorian era and had changed styles. You can see a lot of these things on the outside of a house – the way the doors and windows are shaped, and the way the roof line looks. When you get inside, fireplaces are very distinct among certain periods, so that’s an ideal place to start. You can spot something Art Deco or Art Nouveau straight away. Then there’s the flooring, the staircase… any number of things!’

However, Nick admits that his own house has no history whatsoever, but he’s now looking for the perfect house in the countryside. ‘I’m going to try and find myself that Georgian rectory to do up.’ Maybe he’ll find one here in Gloucestershire.

Filming starts very soon and Nick and the team would love to hear from you if you are about to start or have already begun a restoration. The programme is likely to be covering a wide area but they are particularly interested in filming in Cheltenham and the Cotswolds. Please note that the BBC is not offering to fund the work, but the programme will be advising and providing inspiration.

If you’re interested or know anyone else who might be, email the team at: or call Helen Shields on: 0117 974 7499