Two Margate contestants take on BBC One’s Interior Design Masters challenge

Hosts Alan Carr with Michelle Ogundehin (centre) with contestants including Jess (right, front row) and Sheree (right, back row) Image BBC One

Interior Design Masters returns to BBC One next week with not one but two Margate contestants in the line-up.

Series 5 of the show, hosted by Alan Carr with Michelle Ogundehin and guest judges, screens from March 12 and follows ten novice interior designers over an eight-week journey.

The competition pits the amateur interior designers against each other for a chance to win a commercial contract.

Each week, a different challenge is set with contenders redesigning commercial spaces, from shops to restaurants and salons.

In 2021 Alan Carr and the crew were in Margate filming scenes as contestants gave Olby’s Soul Cafe and Charlie’s Bar a redesign. Those challenges were screened in 2022.

Now Margate features once again in the shape of copywriter Sheree Millington and upholsterer and part-owner of Camp queer bar and community space in Cliftonville, Jessica du Preez.

Sheree image BBC One

Sheree, 36, moved to Margate from London two years ago. Originally from Leeds, Sheree says ten minutes into a visit to the town around five years ago and she knew it was the place for her.

She said: “It’s a nice way of life, being by the sea is so calming but it has the good bits of London, bars, restaurants and a good arts scene.”

Sheree is an ardent Interior Design Masters fan, watching it from the first series, but says taking part was harder than she had imagined.

She said: “I assumed there would be some TV magic and didn’t know I would have to do everything!”

Sourcing items ready for the first challenge gave Sheree the chance to dig out some treasures from venues including Ronnie Scott’s and Junk Deluxe in Cliftonville and Paraphernalia Antiques Vintage in the Old Town.

Sheree got her design ideas flowing when she bought her home in Margate. She said: “It has always been a passion of mine but I live in rented properties and house shares so never had my own space, when you rent you can’t do anything.

“As soon as I got my house and got the keys (I released) many pent up years of wanting to paint a wall and have nice furniture.”

Image BBC One

Sheree says the production is so huge it was like a ‘travelling circus’ with “hundreds of people around, all the cast, presenters and lots of tradespeople.”

Saying how ‘incredible’ the design contestants were, Sheree admitted she has “literally never done any interior design’ apart from her own home.

The series was filmed around a year ago and Sheree said she did not think she would make it through to be a contestant.

She said: “I had no expectation of being on the show at all. I never wanted to be an interior designer, I was just interested. It did show me that interior design is way more difficult than I thought but I am the kind of person that doesn’t turn down any opportunity.”

The first challenge takes place at a former convent in Norfolk, where the contestants had to  transform nuns’ cells into single bed B&B bedrooms. They had just two days and a £1,000 budget to come up with their design and then get stuck into the practical tasks to make that a reality.

The short timescale was a challenge, says Sheree, who admits to never reading instructions and preferring to take her time.

But, she added: “I loved the whole thing. It was such an unusual experience.”

Sheree had not met Jess before the show but now they, and the rest of the cast, are tight-knit with conversations in a WhatsApp group and some of the contestants travelling to Margate for visits.

Jess image BBC One

The cast will be in Margate again when the first episode airs with Jess hosting a get together for everyone to watch it at Camp.

Jess, 35, moved to Margate eight-years-ago. She is one of five people, including her brother Derek and her partner Olivia,  who are at the helm of Camp in Northdown Road.

Having twice filled out applications for the show but not pressing the send button, Jess was prompted to finally enter after the production got in touch to see if any of her upholstery students wanted to take part.

Instead, Jess pressed send on her already filled out application. She said: “I felt like it was a serendipitous moment.”

Jess says the experience was “positive,” adding: “It makes you confront a lot about yourself and what you do and I met some amazing friends in the cast and crew. I genuinely felt everyone was playing a part to make a brilliant series.”

The cast had some colourful characters which Jess says “brought a different energy to the show.”

She added: “I think upholstery gave me an edge for getting on to the show, having a skill going in there. I have never called myself an interior designer because even though I create spaces it is always in conjunction with other people.

“It was about pushing myself and seeing what I was capable of and showing off my upholstery skills and what’s possible with upholstery in interior design. I wanted that part of my design to be inspiring.”

Image BBC One

Jess designed the interior for Camp after she and her co-founders took on a former computer shop and carried out a full refurbishment.

Despite that experience and her upholstery skills Jess found the Interior Design Masters process did present challenges. She said: “I was second guessing myself at points and trying to follow my gut and found that quite difficult. I was not as confident as some of the other designers.”

Despite the challenge Jess says she would do the show again “in a heartbeat,” adding: “It was physically and emotionally quite demanding but it was the most fun ever and I am so grateful to have had that experience.”

Jess moved to Margate from Hackney after taking an events job at Dreamland for a year but says she first fell in love with the town many years before that during a visit to Cliftonville.

She said: “I am originally from South Africa and used to holiday in a place called Margate there. I came here and there were sandy beaches and it kind of felt like a little bit of South Africa and I was instantly at home.”

Jess, who runs her upholstery business at Margate Design Collective in Northdown Road, says the Interior Design Masters experience has made her want to try out other experimental and set design projects.

To find out how Sheree, Jess and the other contestants got on, tune in to Interior Design Master, BBC One at 8pm, from March 12.

5 Comments

    • Got it in one. Very typical BBC photo… a bunch of clowns entertaining a whole load more (possibly) clowns.

  1. Why don’t you try doing something like that- how about upholstery, a very useful skill?- and see how you get on with it, instead of being so rude about these people ?

    • I think it’s a very justified comment – they have Carr-Ma-Suittra (Joe 90) dressed in a wonderful pink suit and a clown in front with all fantastically brightly dressed for the cameras and all set to enter the Circus ring 🙂

  2. Most of the people in the photo are wearing brightly coloured clothes, but only one is dressed in a garment based on a clown’s outfit but in pastel colours rather than bright ones. It’s not a crime to wear bright colours, after all.

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