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The journalist and broadcaster will host an online valuation and appraisal service for QXL, backed by his television company Fine Art Productions Ltd and a range of expert contacts in the antiques trade.

Users of the new medium will have to submit a digitalised image of their object via e-mail in order to receive the estimated value, and QXL hopes that the service will be taken up by those seeking valuations for insurance and probate, as well as to set “realistic reserves” for auction.

Free valuations are part of the appeal of the Antiques Roadshow and QXL have not yet announced the service fee, but a company spokesman disclosed that a flat rate would be applied for each item, rather than a percentage of the eventual sale price which is the preferred system of some traditional auction houses.

Mr Scully will initially be paid £700,000 through his production company with a further £2.3m and a 10 per cent share in profits when the service is launched early next year. QXL have offered him the option of taking up to £2m of his fee in the company’s shares at a fixed price of 195p – the value at which they were floated earlier this month; this week they stood at 176p.