Stacey Dooley on her new TV show This is MY House: ‘It’s total escapism’

What lengths would you go to in order to convince a stranger that your house is your own?

Proof that a simple idea can often be the most effective, brand new BBC One show This Is MY House poses that very question.

Pitting one homeowner against three actors, all four contestants must set out to convince a celebrity panel that the house they are standing in is in fact theirs.

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Hosted by presenter and former Strictly Come Dancing champion Stacey Dooley, This Is MY House can only be described as Would I Lie To You but with a property-themed twist.

“It’s really daft and fun, it’s total escapism,” says 34-year-old Dooley.

“My favourite part is when you meet the partner, and they stay mute, but you have three strangers declaring their undying love for this person.

“It’s so awkward, the real homeowner has to watch these strangers tell their husband or wife how gorgeous they are.”

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It is a change of pace for Dooley, who is far more likely to be found tackling hard-hitting documentary projects than hosting a primetime entertainment show.

“We’ve all had such a hellish time and everyone has had such an unbearable year, and this show is just such a laugh.

“We’re all wired with these prejudices and unconscious biases, and find ourselves automatically judging people, so I love the fact the show breaks down those boundaries and it goes against the grain.

“Right at the start when I signed up, I said I didn’t want to know who the homeowner was or who the actors were, so I could play along as we filmed.

“At the end of filming when the actors broke character, it was so interesting hearing about their real selves.

“So I love how the show goes against everything you know.”

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Featuring a celebrity panel composed of comedians Bill Bailey, Emily Atack, Jamali Maddix and Judi Love, This Is MY House is a show packed full of laughs and awkward moments in equal measure.

As the panellists are drip fed clues and questioned by Dooley throughout the episode, the four celebrities sit back and confer as to who the real homeowner is.

“Emily is a total sweetheart, I have never worked with her before so that was lovely,” says Dooley.

“Judi is a scream, she is so funny; Bill is the kindest man in television, he bought me a cake on the last day of filming, and Jamali reminds me of the lads I grew up with which was really lovely.

“Jamali had the best eye for honesty though, nothing got past him, he is so sharp.”

Testing the comedians’ judgment to the limit, the series is at its funniest when the celebrities are convinced of the imposter, only to get it terribly wrong.

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“It was interesting because I think we all thought we’d be really good judges of character and figure it out straightaway, but it was so much harder than we thought,” says Attack, 31.

“The more we filmed, the more we thought we could figure it out and learn from the last.

“It was quite funny when there were pets involved because we just assumed they would run straight to the owner, but they often didn’t.

“The dog was just generally confused as to why a load of strangers were in its owner’s bedroom.

“Jamali should actually be a detective, he got really stuck in with finding out the real homeowners, his commitment was really impressive.”

“Essentially I’m a lie detector,” chimes in fellow panellist Maddix, 29.

And with a cash prize up for grabs, there is more than just pride at stake.

If the homeowner convinces the panel the house is theirs, they walk away with a £1,000 prize. If the celebrities guess an actor, the homeowner walks away with nothing.

However, despite the celebrities’ initial expectations when it came to the ease of the guessing game, the realities of sifting fact from fiction proved to be a more difficult challenge.

“It’s a lot harder than you think to identify the real owners and we were caught out a few times,” remarks the show’s second Strictly Come Dancing champion, Bailey, 56.

“I think everyone displayed good intuition, especially Jamali who seemed to have a good instinct for investigating.

“It was surprising how much of all of our own life experiences were brought to bear for this show.

“Video calls have shown us all how curious we are about the lives of others and how the backgrounds of video calls have generated as much interest as the calls themselves.

“It also gives us a glimpse into other people’s lives.”

It is a view seconded by fellow comedian Love, 40.

“I am a little bit nosy to be honest,” she declares.

“I think when you look at society, and how our perceptions are formed by the way people dress, where they live, and looking at their different relationships, it’s really interesting and that drew me into the show.

“I thought I’d easily be able to spot the liars, it’s a real life game of Guess Who? and who doesn’t like that?

“Jamali was great, he had a real way of taking the information and processing it without saying much and then he’d come to a conclusion.

“Most of the time he was right.”

This is MY House starts on Wednesday March 24 at 9pm on BBC One and will also be available on BBC iPlayer.

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