The six best MTV Cribs pads of all time – from Mariah's Mermaid room to Criss Angel's giant train set

The younger version of Through the Keyhole is returning, but will the roster of Towie stars be able to live up to the series’ most outlandish houses?

Cribs, MTV’s 00s version of Through the Keyhole, was a way for some of the world’s least self-aware celebrities to show cameras around their sprawling, ostentatious homes in a bid to remind viewers that they too could live the dream (so long as their dream was to have an eyesore of a house that almost always looked like it was designed by Tom Hanks in Big). The new series, which starts next week after a 10-year break, will feature a raft of tabloid celebrities from The Only Way Is Essex cast members to the son of Chris Eubank. Here are some of the best ever episodes from the show’s previous 17 years …

Richard Branson

Branson showed viewers around his private island (pictured, above) – the most expensive property ever featured on Cribs – complete with rockpool, jukebox, dancefloor, coral shower, rooftop bathtub and Mariah Carey just sort of lounging around ambiently. The upkeep of the place must be huge. No wonder he went into the private healthcare business.

Gene Simmons

Gene Simmons
Gene Simmons in his Kiss Room. Photograph: MTV Cribs

The highlight of Simmons’s house was his Kiss room, where he collects all the memorabilia from his band. There are books and masks and figurines and magazines and slippers and toilet seats and women’s underwear emblazoned with his face and the phrase ‘Lick it up’.

Mariah Carey

Mariah Carey
Mariah Carey, who has a Mermaid Room. Photograph: MTV Cribs

How Mariah Carey was Mariah Carey’s house? Well, it had gold doors, aggressively ostentatious lamps, a vast walk-in closet dedicated exclusively to lingerie, a bathroom so serene that Carey has to change outfits before using it, a kitchen with a chaise longue right in the middle of it, and something called a “Mermaid Room” that didn’t contain any mermaids or mermaid-themed decoration. So quite Mariah Carey.

50 Cent

50 Cent
50 Cent shows off some of his cars. Photograph: MTV Cribs

The rapper called his house an “East Coast Playboy Mansion”, and with good reason. Complete with 19 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms, his Connecticut home was a tasteful oasis of chandeliers and high-sheen marble. He bought his chairs from Mike Tyson, he filled his fridge with vitamin water, he has a framed picture of himself standing next to Jessica Alba. And he has a strip-club room, because of course he does.

Criss Angel
The magician’s Las Vegas house contained a giant train set that snaked around a miniature fairground, plus drawers full of sweets, teddy bears dangling from lamps and a constantly observed CCTV link to his place of business. Never trust magicians is what I’m trying to say.

Ja Rule

Ja Rule
Ja Rule shows us round ‘his’ crib. Photograph: MTV Cribs

Perhaps the greatest Cribs of all, in which the rapper showed the crew around a house that wasn’t actually his, and the owner sued him for filming there without permission. The whole episode is like a prequel to the Fyre festival.

• This article was amended on 14 Aug. An earlier version featured a photograph which had been wrongly labelled as Ja Rule.


Stuart Heritage

The GuardianTramp

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