August 8, 2008
When BBC bosses handed Jonathan Ross an 18million contract, some licence-fee payers may have thought it was like pouring money down the plughole.
And they were not entirely wrong.
For it has emerged that the television presenter has spent an astonishing 40,000 on a huge marble bathtub which weighs nearly three-quarters of a ton.
The installation of the bespoke tub is part of a transformation of his family's North London home.
Ross is estimated to have spent close to half a million pounds turning the interior of his seven-bedroom Georgian property into what one recent visitor described as 'a 17th century baroque palace as seen through a kaleidoscope, drunk'.
To achieve the desired effect, Ross bypassed the usual trip to Ikea or Homebase. Instead the 47-year-old father of three employed one of Britain's most exclusive interior designers to come up with something more in keeping with his extrovert personality.
The bathtub, which is hewn from a single rock of marble, was made extra-large for Ross after an initial version was deemed to be too small. Two rooms of the remodelled property boast skirting boards, cornicing and picture rails covered with real gold leaf.
The leaf costs around 150 a square metre to apply and was painted on by Italian experts more usually employed re-touching Renaissance church interiors
In another room a zebra-print shag-pile carpet is teamed with a 7,000 glass shelving unit into which are embedded hundreds of tiny fairy lights. The presenter's love of hi-tech gizmos has seen him construct a bizarre three-storey cupboard that, at the press of a button, rises from the floor.
Each of the cupboard's 'storeys' contains a honeycomb of capsules, each of which is big enough to store a pair of Ross's brightly coloured shoes.
There's a remote-controlled toilet seat: the lid lifts on command. And, appropriately enough for the presenter of Film 2008, there's a television viewing room with a screen projected onto the ceiling. Ross sits in a 15,000 space-ship style reclining chair - built by Dutch designer Marcel Wanders - to watch it.
The redesign has taken over a year to complete and all contractors have been sworn to secrecy. Mobile phones were banned from the site to prevent builders taking photographs.
However, one recent visitor to the house told the Mail: 'It is absolutely amazing inside. It is like he said, 'This is exactly what I want - money is no object'. It must have cost hundred and hundreds of thousands of pounds. The whole place is amazingly ostentatious and fun.'
Extravagant: 1,500 gold-plated juicer
Another source revealed that the most expensive room in the house was the bathroom, which cost a total of 100,000 as its walls are covered with a hand-made rose motif mosaic which costs 2,000 per square metre.
Yesterday, however, design experts said he may regret the expensive choice of bath because marble's ability to remain cold means that the bath water cools extremely quickly. Some stone bath owners have resorted to installing special heaters which warm up the tub before the hot water is drawn.
Ros, who is married to former journalist Jane Goldman, came from a humble background in East London to become Britain's best paid presenter.
In 2006, the BBC controversially offered him a 18million over three years 'golden handcuffs' deal, after an intense bidding war with ITV and Channel 4. He is no stranger to excess. In June last year he bought a gold-plated fruit juicer costing 1,500.
Ros and his wife bought the now remodelled property for 2.5million eight years ago.