Bring out your junk: it could be a star

TV is in the grip of antiques mania, reports Louise Jury

THEY were once a minority interest, the preserve of the wealthy. But the nation's obsession with antiques has now won them prime-time television status.

The BBC's Antiques Roadshow made the top 10 in the Christmas television ratings, close behind Only Fools and Horses andJurassic Park. Going for a Song was revived last year. Tomorrow Channel 4 joins the treasure hunt with a new programme, Collectors' Lot, to be broadcast four times a week at 3.30pm.

Based in a different home each week, from a Cornish tin miner's cottage to an architect's apartment in an old printing works, the series may have been sparked by the public fascination with the old and potentially valuable, but will not to restrict itself to antiques: it will feature collecting in every shape and form.

Sue Cook, after spending 11 years presenting Crimewatch UK, will front the new series with the aid of antiques expert and Independent on Sunday contributor Sarah Jane Checkland and writer David Stafford.

They will visit individuals with collections whose value is as much in the personal memories as the monetary value, such as a couple from Ealing, west London, who live and breathe the Forties.

The secret hobbies of celebrities will be unveiled. Barbara Dickson, the singer, shows her collection of samplers, while the Chancellor's wife, Gillian Clarke, looks at quilts, and prima ballerina Bryony Brind displays her ballet souvenirs.

There will be tips on distinguishing fakes from the real thing, the best places to indulge in collecting and items of living history. Sarah Jane Checkland will visit a dental museum to dscover the horrors of the Victorian dentist's chair.

She said yesterday: "The country is crawling with collectors. Their passions range from Meissen pottery to brands of lavatory paper. In devoting four days a week to the subject, Channel 4 clearly believes that we are also a nation of voyeurs."

Denis Bristow, 76, whose 18th century home, Bishopsworth Manor in Bristol is featured in the first programme, describes his house as "living history". He said: "When I bought it, I asked the owner if he knew anything about the history. He didn't. Since we have done our research, I can hold forth for any length of time and can go through nearly 1,000 years. There was probably a house on this site in the year 500."

For Jill Lourie, the series producer, the new programme is "for anyone who has an interest in the past, anything from the Sixties to the 1600s. It is about a passion for the past." Judging by the television schedules, that passion is now widespread.

Philip Hook, who heads the Impressionists department at Sotheby's, was an Antiques Roadshow expert from the start 19 years ago. He can remember when "it was a complete minority interest conceived for a dead-end slot on BBC2 and viewing figures of 2 million were thought incredible".

The show's success mushroomed, it transferred to BBC1 and now has up to 13 million viewers a week in its Sunday early evening slot, foiling ITV's bid to improve Coronation Street's ratings with a fourth weekly episode at the same time.

The antiques world now has glamour, Mr Hook said. People are increasingly conscious of the potential worth of what they own, and want to know its value.But he believes there is more to it than that: "It's people wanting to know more about their roots, and looking back into history for something to anchor them."

Christopher Lewis, executive producer of the Antiques Roadshow, said what the viewers appeared to enjoy was picking up what was normally good news by eavesdropping on conversations between the experts and ordinary people like themselves.

"It's quite pleasant viewing seeing people being given information and good news. Then add to that the dimension of a quiz - anticipating the valuation. Everyone reckons they're a bit of an expert these days."

The BBC is so pleased with the popularity of the Antiques Roadshow and its stablemate the Great Antiques Hunt, that it is planning another weekly programme for BBC2 for the spring, provisionally called The Antiques Show. Aiming for the traditional antiques programme following, it also has an eye on the "30-something and 40-something aspirational nestbuilder" with insider tips and consumer investigations.

Like the ubiquitous television chefs, experts on Wedgwood, Chippendale and cloisonne look set to be unavoidable.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Microsoft Gold partner, our c...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant

£14500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an experie...

Recruitment Genius: Canteen Manager Required

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's Frozen...

Recruitment Genius: Canteen Assistants Required

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's Frozen...

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum