Dirty Weekenders in France, TV review: Disappointingly chaste


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The Independent Culture

There wasn’t quite enough Dick in Dirty Weekenders in France with Richard E Grant (Channel 4). That title does promise a certain amount of intimacy with our host, non? But aside from a scene in which Richard writhed (fully clothed) on the bed of the 15th-century converted mill he was staying at, Dirty Weekenders was disappointingly chaste.

In fact, like a moralistic landlady at a 1950s B&B, Dirty Weekenders kept its participants entirely separate, to the extent that this was actually two programmes in one. The first, a travelogue, hosted by the Withnail and I star in which he indulged his taste for antiques by rummaging around markets in Provence, making fruity-voiced announcements such as: “I don’t need any of it at all, but... I want it.” The other was a more serious documentary about how professional collectors like Stuart Patterson and Matt Black make their living.

Matt was on a desperate hunt, not for “the finest wines available to humanity”, but for 150 antique club chairs. He had  a year to source them for his hotelier  client in the US, which was just as well, because it took him four trips to France,  just to locate 19 of the things. His problem was he can’t help but be side-tracked by  a tempting factory closing-down sale,  These events are, apparently, “a treasure trove of industrial chic”.

One man’s tat is another man’s treasure, of course, and this truism also applied to Stuart, a specialist in “rustic tableware”. To the eye of this Ikea shopper, it looked indistinguishable from the ordinary stuff. Still, you have to admire a man who can buy an “18th-century truffle jar” for three euros and sell it on for £100. Or get a ratty €100 chair reupholstered, then sell it to some Notting Hill mug for £950. Apparently, there are a lot of people in the UK with exquisite good taste. Or more money than sense, depending on which way you want to look at it.