Last night's viewing: Wheelers, Dealers and Del Boys, BBC1
The Real White Queen and Her Rivals, BBC2
"Rome wasn't built in a day and Alan Sugar didn't become a millionaire overnight," said Sharon, one half of the nascent trading empire Sharon and Al, in Wheelers, Dealers and Del Boys. Sharon was wondering whether she might have been a little hasty in giving up her day job to concentrate exclusively on trading in tat, and this remark was by way of self-reassurance.
The fact that Sharon looks to be the same age as Lord Sugar suggested to me that she might have left it a little late. If she ultimately wants to become a figurehead of entrepreneurial flair, fronting up her own reality show, then she'd better get cracking. Richie, on the other hand, has set himself a far more realistic goal: "I hope to be Del Boy one day," he said in James Dawson's very jolly documentary about the sub-culture surrounding a south London auction house. You have no worlds left to conquer, Richie, because, barring the battered Reliant Regal van, you're there already.
The auction house is Greasby's of Tooting, which, to put it mildly, operates at the other end of the scale from grand London houses like Christie's and Sotheby's. A lot at Greasby's may consist of three repossessed lavatory bowls, or an uncollected suitcase from lost luggage or a bagful of cheap watches. The seductive possibility for those who haunt its viewings is that something of genuine value may have scraped through unnoticed.
Richie isn't much concerned about quality: "Anything I think I can earn a pound note on, I'll have it," he said. But he's really sustained by the dream of stumbling on treasure. For a while, he thought he had, after buying a Hokusai print for £200. "I think we've got something pukka there," he said and he became even more excited after his girlfriend had done a little internet research. "He is the Jackie Chan of art, yeah?"
Toni is trying to head up-market, her model (and nemesis) being Jamie, who tends to turn up and spoil her day whenever she's spotted something a bit tasty nestling in the mixed bags of costume jewellery. And you can't help fearing that competitiveness may have blurred her business sense. Toni was absolutely triumphant when she won a bidding duel for a Gucci lady's watch, but in the end it netted her only a modest profit.
Indeed, Dawson's camera appears to have jinxed most of those featured here. Richie's Hokusai turned out to be "moody" and is currently lying under his bed, the diamond cross necklace Toni had boasted she could sell for a grand eventually gave her a profit of only £30 and Sharon's wild punt on an unclaimed suitcase she hadn't even seen left her struggling to break even. What hadn't been put into the profit-and-loss calculations was the pleasure all three of them get from the pursuit, a fair bit of which got passed on to us.
The subtitle for The Real White Queen and Her Rivals, in which Philippa Gregory recounts the real history behind BBC1's Sunday-evening costume drama, should have been "Honest, I Didn't Just Make It All Up". It is a gratifyingly tangled story, full of dramatic reversals and confrontations that stretch the credulity but turn out to be true.
It also contained incidents that you can't imagine it would be easy to dramatise for a prime-time audience, such as the brutal deflowering of the 12-year-old Margaret Beaufort by her new husband, Edmund Tudor. But the film raised a question. Why is it that Philippa Gregory – who wants to give overlooked women their fair due – effectively endorses in fiction the misogynistic slurs of their enemies?
True, Elizabeth Woodville's mother, Jacquetta, thought she was descended from the river witch Melusina. But was there ever any hard evidence that she actually engaged in sorcery? This film suggests not. The drama has her at it anyway. The Earl of Warwick would have felt vindicated.
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