Jenni Falconer discusses the intense house envy she experienced while filming Fantasy Homes By The Sea, which screens weeknights at 9pm on the Home channel (Sky 246, Virgin 265, Top Up 26)... How would you sum up Fantasy Homes By The Sea? "Well, it’s the fifth series and my third series of the show and basically it’s for families, couples or individuals that are looking for us to find them the fantasy home that they’ve been dreaming of by the sea." Where do you go to find these properties? "We can go anywhere in the UK and in Europe. In previous series we’ve gone to Dublin, Northern Ireland and Morocco. This series we’re primarily in the south coast of the UK, but we also visit France, Italy, Spain – it’s really varied." How has the format changed for this series? "This series, we had more of a variety of budgets, from £250,000 to £600,00 and every week we try and show people houses that satisfy their demands. In each location we show them a very flash house in our ‘millionaire moment’ which is new, as well as showing them three houses that are much more affordable in our 'fantasy find’". There are lots of property programmes on television, how does Fantasy Homes By The Sea set itself apart from the rest? "Ours is very inspiring because it’s all in coastal locations so you get to see beautiful scenery and beautiful spots even in this country. Everything is by the sea and there’s something really calming and revitalising about being in those locations. "Also it’s a bit more indulgent where we have this millionaire moment. All the couples love this part of the show as they get to nosey around this fantastic big grand house and that’s definitely one of the selling points. The millionaire moment really makes the fantasy bit come true." What is your favourite bit about the show? "The fantasy find is definitely my favourite bit. For £100,000 we find you something that’s pretty amazing. Except when we went to Nice we couldn’t find anything. We ended up finding one place that was about 5-10 minutes from the beachfront and it was literally the size of a cupboard that cost £150,000. I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous. It was hilarious, I did the tour of the house and all I did was walk around the camera. The prices down there are ridiculous." Do you ever get jealous going round these multi-million pound properties? "Yeah sometimes you do, you look at these houses and think 'what have these people done to get a house like this?' Some of these properties you just imagine 'wow to be able to afford something like that'. It's even more incredible that some of the people that own them have like five or six houses of that price - it’s like once you’re rich you can just afford anything. It's astounding, but at the same time it's great as you get design tips and really great ideas while walking around these houses. "I always come back and show my husband photos I’ve taken on my mobile and say 'we’re going to do that', but we haven’t actually done any of it. Every week last year when I came home I’d go 'right, this is what I’m going to do with that room', but it never happens. So you do have a little bit of house envy, but sometimes you certainly don’t, sometimes you’re like, my god, my house is so amazing compared to this." Do you ever dream of living by the sea? "I would love to be by the sea. I grew up in Glasgow so I was only ever 15 minutes from Loch Lomond and 45 minutes from the sea, I’d just go there as a day off with my friends, it wouldn’t be a big deal. Now that I live in London going to the sea is quite a big trek, it’s not just half an hour down the road. I know we’ve got Brighton, but to go to a really beautiful sandy beach it takes a little bit longer, so yeah it would be great to be by the sea. However I work in London most of the time so the convenience of being in town is good and the convenience of having 24 hour shops, I like that. There will come a time I imagine when I want to get out there though and I think if you put coast versus countryside I think the coast definitely wins. It's a really romantic and energising place to be." Do you have your own holiday home? "No I don’t, I’d like one, but I don’t know where I’d have one. I saw one on the Fantasy Find part of the show that I would have loved - it was in Italy in Puglia, they have these little buildings called trullis; basically they’re what the farmers used to live in when they worked the land to keep cool in the summer and warm in the winter. They’re like little cones that have been turned into desirable holiday homes that are pretty cool. They’re not for the tall people though. I’m 5’9” and I did have to bend down, but they’re so full of character, they’re beautiful and they’re really affordable." What’s it about the sea that you think is so attractive? "I didn’t get it until I worked on the show. And then you go to the sea and you realise how it’s just a different vibe altogether, calmer, friendlier, cosier and it’s just really refreshing and energising. "When I was filming the series, I was training for a half marathon, which happened the week I finished, so I had to run the whole summer. So every morning I’d get up at 6am and go for a run and everwhere you film by the coast there’s amazing promenades and fantastic outdoor spaces. When I’ve been to Australia and California there’s this real appetite for an outdoor life – everybody’s out cycling, rollerblading or running. You can’t do that in the city. By the sea everyone has that get-up-and-go outlook, people walking, children growing up playing by the sea front. It’s a really nice outdoor life no matter whether its sunny or raining." What do you love most about your own home? "I love my home, it’s very personal to me in that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s relatively modern, contemporary and it’s very white. It’s not practical when you have a husband and a dog but it’s what I like." So what does the future hold for you? "Well, everything is different all the time. I’ve done three series of Fantasy Homes By The Sea which I love, I get to travel and nosey about people’s homes, but further series are decided at the end of the run so I’ll have to wait and see on that one... I don’t know what the future holds at the moment, but hopefully something exciting will come up."
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Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix.
An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.