Friday, 6 June 2008

My Antiques Roadshow shock

The following might come as a shock to anyone who regularly watches The Antiques Roadshow.

You know the big reveal - the bit where a keen collector is told the broach he found buried in his garden is actually worth a five figure sum? That doesn't actually happen.

Not in the way it appears on TV anyway. In actual fact the antique's owner has already been told how much their prized artefact is worth, often by the same person who 'reveals' it to them and the TV audience.

Having spent an afternoon observing a filmed section of the show in picturesque Bolton Abbey in North Yorkshire with my girlfriend's family, I can now reveal the somewhat shocking truth.

As TV scandals go it's not quite up there with the Blue Peter cat-voting fiasco or Queengate, but it certainly surprised me.

As it turns out the middle England, tea-and-scones world of the Antiques Roadshow is actually a lot more hustling and bustling than you would imagine.
Posh-sounding Oxbridge types hurry round waving clipboards while antique owners sit around nervously sit around nervously waiting for their pride and joy to be evaluated. A disturbing number of (mostly male) people also seem to be there purely to see Fiona Bruce, the BBC2 Sunday tea time equivalent of Angelina Jolie.

One item brought along by my girlfriend's father garners a lot of interest, and after much waiting around he was ushered in front of a camera crew, with the other members of our party lined up in the background.

Our job was to look shocked and surprised when the value of his medal was disclosed, perhaps even gasp a little. Given that we had already been told its value, we didn't produce the look of shock that was required of us and were asked to do it again.

I'm not sure we did any better the next time round, but given the traditional perception of Yorkshire folk being less than animated the viewer at home probably wouldn't notice anything amiss.

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