How would you like to snoop through your neighbour's home? That's what five York people have done for a new TV show. MAXINE GORDON reports

A RED van pulls up outside a light-stone bungalow on the outskirts of York and a group of five men and women empty into the deserted street and move in on the property.

They peer through the window, making sure no one is at home, then enter through the front door.

Time to call the police?

Hold fire because this gang are no crack team of burglars. No, they are a group of judges for a new BBC One show, Best House in Town.

The programme, which starts next Monday, pitches homes in one location against each other and invites a team of local judges to go through the keyhole to snoop around each property.

The new series begins in York and runs over the entire week, with a different winner chosen each day and an overall victor declared Best House in Town on the final day. After York, the action moves to Cardiff, St Albans and Leicester, where a new set of local judges will dish out the honours.

Each episode sees different types of homes compete against each other, from flats and terraces to detached homes and "wild card" entries that defy categorisation.

Local art gallery owner Greg McGee and vintage interiors shop owner Maureen Scott are two of York's five judges – or nosy neighbours.

We meet for a coffee in the suitably stylish The Press Kitchen cafe/restaurant in Walmgate, and once Greg and Maureen have finished discussing the striking decor of the place, they start to spill the beans on the TV show.

So what was it like having the keys to all these different properties for a week?

Brilliant – echo the pair – adding, it was a great excuse to be nosy.

Greg, who owns the According to McGee gallery on Tower Street, York, with wife Ails, said: "It was great primarily because of the nosiness factor. Everybody is nosy and we are increasingly nosy."

Maureen, owner of Flax and Twine on Shambles, York, added: "It was fab – everyone wants to see how other people live and wants to have a nosey around other people's houses."

Over the week of filming in York, Greg and Maureen join fellow York judges electrician Alex Cowton, cafe owner Joe Ferraioli and student Sophie Austin, and visit more than a dozen homes in the area.

Each episode focuses on a particular type of property. In episode one, which airs next Monday at 3.50pm, they visit three detached homes. Over the week, they check out flats, terraced houses and a selection of wild card properties.

In the first episode, the would-be famous five visit a Victorian railway cottage which has undergone a nine-year renovation project by owners John and Deanna and is full of train memorabilia. The next house call is to a 1960s farmhouse owned by Pandora and James, where every nook and cranny is packed full of objects. Finally, they call into the light-stone bungalow which is anything but dull and beige and has had a serious update by local interior designer and owner Tessa.

In the second episode, on Tuesday February 12, they visit four flats in York, including a modern penthouse with a killer view; a split-level flat with a very "sweet" history; a new build that will take you down the rabbit hole, and a Georgian home built in the shadow of the medieval York walls.

The winner of each day will compete for the overall title and the glory of being the owner of the York's Best House in Town, with the announcement revealed on Friday, February 15.

Judges have been instructed to make the call according to a set of criteria: the functionality of the home, the ambition of its interior design and finally, the ‘X factor’.

Greg said: "A home can't be a showroom; it's got to be functional and surprising. I want to see ambition, but I realise I have to see its functionality too."

Maureen agrees and says it was important for her to spot the homeowner's personality in a property. "I love the history of a place, but am interested in how they interact as a family." She said she lived in a Victorian terrace in York and loved homes with character. "I am not minimalist and like lots of my personal things about. We have fireplaces, wooden floors, and high ceilings. I like colour."

Greg agrees. At Pandora and James's busy 60s farmhouse, he praises what he calls "maximalism" where every part of the floor and wall appears to be festooned with furniture, ornaments, paintings and photographs. Greg, who lives in a town house in Bishopthorpe Road, with Ails and their three young children, said: "We follow the Scandinavian principle of hygge. Simplicity but not too simple; homes should be cosy."

To find out which York homeowner wins the Best House in Town, tune in next to BBC One Monday at 3.50pm.