CRAIG Phillips' life could have gone in a very different direction. At 13 he started working in a small butcher's shop in Liverpool, and, battling with dyslexia, left school at 15 with no qualifications to work there full-time.
By the age of 18 he was running two shops successfully, but having doubts about his career. 'I came to a turning point. I couldn't see a big future in being a butcher, supermarkets were sweeping the board. I went off and travelled around Europe for six months. When I came back I had no money and no job. I got offered a labouring job in Shropshire, where my mum and stepdad were running a pub.' While working for Wrekin he completed a City and Guilds in brickwork, and took further night school courses.
'I've always had a lot of drive, and realised that I wouldn't go very far very quickly in a large company. I worked as a sole trader for several years. It was hard to make a name for myself. They had the image of a stereotypical thieving Scouser ? it took me years of working hard for next to nothing to prove myself. I did the refurbishment on the pub my parents ran which dates from the 1400s. After five years I was in a great position where I could pick and choose my jobs.' By the end he was employing over 30 tradesmen and turning over more than £1 million. But after Big Brother he did not have the time to keep his building company going. These days, his hands-on building work is reserved for derelict properties in Merseyside that he buys and refurbishes.
He is also taking on a project renovating a cottage for another celebrity with a history in construction, Ricky Tomlinson.
'He told me it was a bit unusual because you got a boat with it. I asked if it was by a canal, but he said no, there was no road and for three months a year the river was flooded and you needed a boat to get out!'