Padiham fish and chip shop owner showcases her talent at creating dolls' houses from scratch in new TV show to find UK's best crafter

A Padiham fish and chip owner made her debut on the small screen in a brand new TV show that challenges amateur crafters to transform a derelict mini mansion into the ultimate fantasy dolls' house.

By Sue Plunkett
Friday, 1st April 2022, 11:52 am

Julie Gill, who runs Eddie's Place in Moor Lane with her husband Tim, was one of 10 contestants in 'The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge' presented by Sandi Toksvig that launched on More4 last Sunday.

The challenge, over eight episodes, is for the mini makers to work in teams to tackle the house room by room, with each one having to be fully furnished in a different and stunning interior design theme from history, from Regency to Art Deco. Whether it be tiny tables, toilets, curtains or food, all of the contents made for the house must be shrunk down to a twelfth of their usual size.

World-record holding micro-sculptor Dr Willard Wigan MBE and interior design guru Laura Jackson are tasked with judging the results, whittling the miniaturists down room by room, week by week. Only when the mini mansion is complete can one person be crowned champion of the Great Big Tiny Design Challenge.

Julie Gill made her debut on TV show The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge

Split into two teams, the bubbly mum of three made the viewers, fellow contestants and the production team smile when the crafters were asked to make a bust of themselves. Quick witted Julie created hers holding a bottle which she told the judges contained water!

But in the challenge to create a Regency style dining room it seemed that Julie was given one of the toughest make the dining chairs as the team worked against the clock. And while judges were impressed with Julie's stunning parquet flooring they gave the chairs a thumbs down and Julie was the first person to be eliminated.

"I was gutted," said Julie who is 54. "But someone had to be the first to leave. I had a fantastic experience and made some friends for life."

The LA trained beauty therapist saw her childhood passion for dolls' houses ignited seven years ago when she saw one in a shop window. Julie knew she had to have one, but not just any dolls' had to be in her favourite French style.

The stunning bathroom of Julie's chateau

She found a kit online and it was only when she brought it to her Sabden home that Julie realised the task ahead of her as she painstakingly put together at least 40 plus pieces of wood.

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It certainly was a labour of love that took at least a year, working on it everyday with help from Tim with his DIY skills and tool kit. Julie, who is mum to student nurse Chloe (29) upholsterer Olivia (25) and 23-year-old Lewis, who is an electrician living in Australia, furnished and decorated the house, known affectionately as Chateau Prosecco, as she says it drove her to drink.

She lovingly made furniture, curtains and even fireplaces and the detail and beauty of the chateau is a sight to behold.

Every last detail in the chateau kitchen is perfect

And it didn't end there for Julie, who ran her own salons in Burnley and Clitheroe, went on to make more homes, 15 in total. She has created them as gifts for friends and also does commissions.

The stunning exterior of Chateau Prosecco
Julie created a beautiful Regency style lounge in her chateau