Fancy seeing what some classic UK TV homes would have looked like in the 1940s?

So, Age Co (who do home insurance, in case you didn’t know and wondered why they were doing this) have decided it might be quite fun to reimagine what various modern house interiors would have looked like in the 1940s.

Their choices? Gavin & Stacey, Emmerdale and The Great British Bake-Off. For obvious reasons, let’s stick with Gavin & Stacey.


Says Age Co:

With an abundance of soft furnishings, including decadent curtains, cushions and a large rug, the lounge featured in hit comedy show Gavin and Stacey exudes comfort and offers a relaxed style. It also has a large leather three-piece suite, an elegant gas fireplace and a substantial coffee table.

The 1940s version of this room looks very different. With an Art Deco style, which was very popular at the time, it has a much more austere and restrained appearance. The furniture is simpler and less luxurious. At the time, families kept items such as sofas and chairs for much longer because replacements were expensive and in short supply. An open coal fireplace features at the centre of the room, and other focal points would have included a wireless set, as well as a wind-up gramophone.

The mannequin is a sign of the shortage of clothes. Many people made and repurposed their own garments during this time, and this trend accelerated when clothes rationing came into force in June 1941. When choosing curtains during the war period, families had to think about much more than just style. They needed heavy duty blackout curtains that would prevent German bombers from detecting any light coming from within the home.

Which is actually quite interesting. TBH, the Gavin & Stacey decor always looked a bit dated anyway, particularly when you consider what the actual decor looks like:

I mean that’s clearly modern, isn’t it? And that discrepancy and datedness of the interior – I’d have said it looked a tad 80s or 90s – I always thought was supposed to show how old-fashioned Gwen was.

So it’s actually an interesting question: is dated decor a modern thing? Would the interior of a 1940s Gavin & Stacey house actually look like a then-modern 1940s house or would it look like something from the 1920s or 1930s?

Anyway, that aside, there’s also the question of whether Gwen – quasi middle-class and maybe the inheritor of some money when her husband passed away – would have had as much money in 1940s Barry. In all likelihood, she wouldn’t.

As long time TMINE readers know, Lovely Wife comes from South Wales working class stock and judging from photos of her mum’s house from when she was growing up – rare, obviously – that’s quite a plush interior. Where’s the extra coal for the coal fire? Plus one train set? I’m gambling there would have been far more kids and far more toys around. Plus an electric lamp? There’s fancy for you.

Even a quick trip to the 1940s Swansea Bay museum Facebook page will show you what I mean – that home would have been chocka.

All the same, it’s quite an interesting depiction of 1940s interior. Plus I’m not Welsh, an expert on interiors or old-enough to have grown up in the 1940s, so what do I know?

Up to you decide what you think about the Emmerdale and GBBO ones…


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.