Antiques Roadshow 1st Broadcast
The BBC knew it was on a winner when it first screened Antiques Roadshow: the genteel game-show Going for a Song had been a hit for years; and a pilot had been very well received.
The first episode proper was filmed at Newbury, with Bruce Parker as the presenter. Somewhat better known hosts after him have included Angela Rippon, Hugh Scully, Michael Aspel and Fiona Bruce. The team of experts has toured Britain annually ever since, the best showing their love of subject and an ability to communicate their expertise; the worst trying to be ‘personalities’.
For the record the highest valuation as of 2010 was £1 million for the final maquette for the Angel of the North sculpture, seen during a visit to Gateshead. But more charming moments stick in the memory too: a student paying 50p for a shiny cylindrical cup finding she had bought a Faberge silver vodka vessel; an old lady bringing out piece after piece of Japanese porcelain from a cardboard box, each worth a fortune, the encounter capped with her comment that she had far more at home; a first edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species bought at a jumble sale.
And it’s not just the antiques that provide that charm (and certain grasping owners detract from it): the carefully chosen settings have highlighted some of the loveliest buildings in Britain: take for instance recent visits to Tatton Park; Beverley Minster; Somerleyton Hall and Brighton College.
Now in its 33rd series, the programme shows no signs of losing its appeal – a mix of curiosity, culture, history and greed – and unless some BBC genius intervenes with gimmickry – Antiques Roadshow on Ice perhaps – looks set for years to come.
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