The Weird and Wonderful Council Homes of Britain

Tonight, Channel 4 is exploring the weird and wonderful world of council houses and the tenants that have turned them into their dream homes.

From a replica of the Sistine Chapel to a baked bean museum, these tenants really have had a love affair with their properties!

Robert Burns spent a huge 12 years turning his three-bedroom terraced house in Brighton into the Sistine Chapel.

The former decorator recreated Michelangelo’s ceiling and The Last Judgement fresco in his humble abode.

He also reinvented the frescos on the walls of the chapel, which were painted by famous Renaissance artists, by incorporating modern stars into the work, including Wayne Rooney, Nigella Lawson and Simon Cowell.

It took him three times as long to complete his masterpiece as it took Michelangelo to finish his work in Rome. But Burns has never even been to Italy, or been taught how to paint. He also spent just £350 on paint supplies to finish the transformation.

He began the ambitious task after buying a Renaissance art book at a local car boot sale for £2 back in 2003.

He shares the home with his wife Linda. Their three bedrooms, hallway, kitchen, dining room and living room now all resemble something you’re more likely to see in the Vatican than in Brighton.

Burns had previously painted comedian Russell Brand as Jesus and former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho as Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi.

Burns explains the project, which he calls a “labour of love”: “I was inspired by the Sistine Chapel in particular; every room was amazing and beautiful – that’s what got me going. I loved the Renaissance artwork and was hooked straight away; it didn’t stop me that I’ve never been to Italy.

“I have done this all from books. I have never seen any of these paintings in situ. I am pretty quick now. I can paint a ceiling in a couple of weeks. When I first started I was working as a painter and decorator, but I didn’t like the Renaissance artwork in the house at first.

“I asked my wife Linda if she thought it looked like a dog’s breakfast and she said she thought about it and she said she thought it was excellent – so I blamed her for me continuing.”

During the course of the project, Burns retired, allowing him more time to work on his masterpiece.

He adds: “Some days I’d spend up to six hours a day painting in the house and I’m very proud to be living here. I don’t plan on moving – unless I win the lottery.”1 

Another tenant featured on the programme is ex-Merchant Navy chef and pensioner Adrian Reeman, who has spent decades transforming his 11th-floor flat in Portsmouth into an exact replica of The Queen Mary, a cruise ship he once worked on.

Meanwhile, baked bean superfan Barry Kirk, 61, has converted his flat in Port Talbot, south Wales, into a museum dedicated to the savoury dish.

Kirk, who enjoys dressing up as superhero Captain Beany, claims the task cost him £10,000 over the years.

A council flat in Preston has also undergone a major alteration, after Jam Imani Rad, 65, decorated the home with mosaics inspired by Gaudi. The retired teacher spent £2,000 and around 11 years to complete the project.

Britain’s Weirdest Council Houses, scheduled for 10pm tonight on Channel 4, celebrates eccentric British taste and the lengths some tenants go to to make their council house a home.


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