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As widely reported in the national press, the last day of Antiques For Everyone (Sunday, April 3) was marred by a vocal and physical stand-up row between the dealer-turned-celebrity and an exhibitor from Section Two who accused him of ruining the antiques business through his TV work.

Mr Dickinson was at the fair to film the final part of a new BBC series, provisionally titled Dealing With Dickinson. In it he teaches members of the British public how to be antiques dealers. The cameras have been following the two teams of three antiques enthusiasts over the last two months as they have spent close to £50,000 buying antiques at fairs (including Olympia) and auctions, having them cleaned and restored and finally attempted to resell them at a profit.

If the incident itself was perhaps a storm in a teacup – a heated argument more than a tabloid ‘bust-up’ – then it underlines the trade’s current antagonism towards the popular media and antiques television in particular. As reported in this week’s issue, half of LAPADA members see negativity in the media as a problem that the trade needs to overcome. The gentleman who chose to challenge Mr Dickinson was not the only dealer at the fair upset by the sideshow. It is understood that the row was prompted by rumours of ‘cheap as chips’ price-slashing on the contestants’ Section One stand as the fair slowed into the weekend.

Fair organiser Fran Foster told ATG that she had rebuffed the lure of Bargain Hunt and its like in the past but had agreed to allow the cameras into the April fair in the belief that this particular programme would be portraying the antiques trade in a more positive light. The production company, Lion TV, are selling the programme as a real ‘fly on the wall’ series that rebuffs many of the myths and clichés of the antiques trade – although they have not been persuaded to drop the game-show format altogether. Some of the two teams of antiques enthusiasts who made up the Eclectability stand were chosen at a previous NEC fair.

After much discussion with the vetting committee who were persuaded by Centre Exhibitions’ decision, a letter was sent to all dealers exhibiting at the fair forewarning them of the presence of Mr Dickinson and his teams, and the organisers were happy to accommodate the two or three dealers who had asked to be moved away from the Eclectabil-ity stand. No special treatment had been given to the newcomers and Lion TV had filmed much behind-the-scenes footage, including the vetting process where some label changes were recommended and more than one piece was thrown off the stand.

Fran Foster believes her fair, and the antiques trade in general, could benefit if this kind of footage makes the programme scheduled for a primetime slot on BBC 1 in September. However, she has “no current plans to repeat the exercise”.

And not everyone left the NEC upset. “It made a very dull afternoon in Birmingham most enjoyable,” said one ATG caller.