Aubergines are heat loving plants that grow slowly, ideally suited to climates with long summers with many hours of sunshine. For the UK, this means that aubergines are best grown in sunny conservatories, greenhouses, or polytunnels. A sheltered and south facing patio may also work well. The plants are grown like tomatoes (without the pruning regime), in that they like regular watering and feeding. They grow well in large pots, and given the requirement for heat, this is likely the better option than growing in open ground.
There are many interesting shapes and shades of aubergine to grow, much more than is commonly sold in the shops, including smooth ivory coloured aubergines, and red and white striped varieties. There are the commonly seen egg shaped aubergines, and the more unusual long cylindrical varieties, as well as dwarf varieties that produce a profusion of small fruit.
I think these alternatives are well worth considering. Standard sized aubergine plants are not overly prolific in the amount of fruit they grow, three to five aubergines per plant is a reasonable return. A small harvest of unusual aubergines is arguably more rewarding after a few months of effort, compared to a handful of fruit that look identical to what can be bought in the shops. Aside from appearance, there are differences in growing characteristics, as some varieties grow faster and are better suited to growing in the UK climate. Buying seed of hybrid F1 varieties is often more expensive, but these have been bred to improve performance.
To achieve a harvest and provide the plants with enough time to mature and produce ripe fruit, it is helpful to sow seed early in the year. February is a good month to start, planting a few seeds on a sunny windowsill (just like tomatoes). Aubergine seedlings grow slowly, and they benefit from being kept in the warmth until warm weather arrives for good in late spring, at which point they can be transferred to their final containers.