Donald MacInnes: 'TV schedules packed with old tat like Storage Hunters - what a turn-off'

In the show, prospectors cluster around a succession of personal storage units, before bidding on their contents

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I hate to begin with a cliché (albeit one which is paraphrased), but it would appear that old TV programmes don't die – they just slide down the pecking order in your on-screen programme guide until they find a welcoming berth on any of those repeat-heavy channels which seem to have started broadcasting mere seconds before you switched on your TV.

Channels like Bing-Bong, UK Leapfrog and Omelette churn out decrepit old tat in the hope that someone somewhere will be able to find a use for their second-hand programming. Actually, none of these channels is real … apart from Omelette +1.

As such is it apt that so many of these channels seem to offer docusoaps featuring badly denimed Americans either ploughing a lone furrow as they root through Louisiana backyards for crap they can sell on or getting into bidding wars with other badly denimed Americans in what can only be described as car boot sales with concealed weaponry.

And if you think all of those hellish late-Nineties British reality shows became much of a muchness after a while, the American taste for endless variations on a theme is staggering. There was Baggage Battles, where teams would try to outbid each other for unclaimed left luggage. Then there was Container Wars, where teams would try to outbid each other on the contents of shipping containers. King among these cancelled-but-still-being-shown shows is Storage Hunters, in which prospectors cluster around a succession of personal storage units, before bidding on their contents.

Now I must have seen this show about half a dozen times and I have never had it explained to me why the owners of this stuff are allowing it to be auctioned off. The assumption must be that the person either defaulted on their storage fees or passed away. Either way, the host of the show theatrically breaks the padlock on the unit and swings open the doors to reveal whatever it is the owner was storing.

Unfortunately, bidders are not allowed to touch the contents and must only use their nose for a bargain to guess there might be something of value inside. It's a bit like those Lucky Bags we use to get as kids. You may have had a hunch that your bag contained an everlasting gobstopper and a few toy soldiers, but it could just as easily contain some girly stickers and a sparkly necklace.

Aside from filling in a contents insurance form, how many of us will have ever had to put a sterling value on our possessions? And while you may have paid £700 for that onyx statuette of Dermot O'Leary, it's unlikely that anyone else will share your valuation.

I have used storage units a few times in my life. Usually if I was between flats or simply didn't have room for some of my things in a new place. I shudder to think what the Storage Hunter team would have made of my ABBA records and signed Ken Hom wok. Not much, I would suspect.

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