What is it really like to live in the Spaced house?
- Credit: Archant
Costume maker Chris Winter lives with her family in the Tufnell Park house that was used as a location for the hit comedy Spaced, which aired over only two series and 14 episodes between 1999 and 2001. When a flat in the property was listed to let this summer it provoked a media storm but that’s nothing compared to the fans who continue to visit the house daily, 15 years after the final episode was screened. So what’s it like to live in a house that has become an unlikely cult icon?
“People come to visit from all over the world. If they don’t run off when they see us, which they sometimes do, they often say that they were choosing a holiday destination and they picked London so that they could visit the Spaced house. I do think that’s a bit extreme but people really love it. There’s someone outside almost all the time, we get at least one visitor a day, and if we don’t then they make up for it at the weekend.
One day a Black Mariah screeched up outside and I thought ‘what have I done?’ but then a policeman jumped out of the car, took a photo and then they car screeched away again. There was a couple the other day standing outside the house almost in tears because they love the programme so much. You should see the joy on some people’s faces. I kind of get it.
You can spot a Spaced fan from a mile off. They’re often hipsters, a lot of them wear beanies, they might be skateboarders – they look very like the characters in the programme really. I work from home so I see everybody walking by and I’m never surprised by the people who are walking down the street and then stop at the house versus the ones who just walk past. They’re across the board lovely people, they’re all very very sweet.
We’ve only ever had one problem, after the first series was out. The house is from 1870 and it’s listed and incredibly beautiful, inside and out. Two girls carved their names on the front pillar. That’s the only disrespectful thing that’s ever happened.
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We’ve had some lovely things happen though. We once got a letter through the door where somebody sent a Polaroid, with a note saying ‘I took a picture of your house, so here’s one of mine in return.’ It was lovely and I wished we’d asked everybody to do that because it would just be so interesting. It’s my only regret about the whole thing.
When we bought the house in 1993 it was completely derelict and had been on the market for a very long time – there’s was literally no interest in it, there was a mushroom growing out of one of the ceilings. But we fell in love and bought it.
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One day, after we’d been there for a few years, I was at home working and there was a car that kept driving past the front of the house. I was worried that it was a client that I’d forgotten about.
Eventually this woman came to the door and said she was a location scout and they were looking for somewhere to film a new comedy and might we let them use the house? Initially I wasn’t sure because I had no idea what it would be like and I didn’t want to be part of something bad.
Even though I’m in this business I didn’t really know what it all involved, so when she said ‘we’ll pay you £400 a day’, it seemed like a lot of money for doing nothing. The fact is, it should have been £1,000 a day – at the time that was the going rate.
Then she said they’d come and scope it out with all the crew. She said there’d be 56 people and I just laughed but it turned out she was telling the truth and they all arrived in a coach to have a look at the house.
During filming there were about 70 people or so altogether – they were there from very early to late at night so they were more or less living there and I had small children who I needed to collect from school, but I couldn’t really leave the house because they didn’t provide any security.
In the first series they used the outside of the house and the front room. They made the front room smell like a pub/Chinese takeaway – it really did smell as bad as it looked. You don’t realise when you rent out your house, you think it’s nothing but it’s really disruptive.
But then the programme came out and suddenly none of that really mattered because we just loved it, right from the beginning.
The same production company then used us for an episode of Black Books, so my two favourite comedies have been filmed here.
When the second series of Spaced was in the pipeline we were a bit stricter with our requirements and charged the proper going rate, and so they did use more or less the whole house but it was fine that second time, we had a much more reasonable time.
They filmed all the scenes inside Tim and Daisy’s flat in a studio somewhere, but the rest of it is our house, our colour palette, they didn’t do anything to the décor.
We live in the house and we do rent out a two-bedroom flat but, although the man living there at the moment is lovely, we’re nothing like Marsha... The flat’s completely separate, it’s got a separate entrance and that’s better. The tenants who are living there at the moment are big Spaced fans though. As far as I know that’s a first.
Edgar Wright, the show’s director, said he’d never ever mention our address in connection with the programme and then almost immediately the show was screened it came out. But we don’t mind really. It’s a lovely thing to be part of.”