I had appeared for several years on Going for a Song with Arthur Negus, so I was a shoo-in for the new programme, on which I appeared for 32 years.
Naturally, the BBC, not knowing the antiques trade, recruited most of its ‘experts’ from the salerooms, and I soon got tired of hearing ‘at auction this would fetch….’, so I successfully recruited a few dealers in the hope of hearing ‘a good dealer might give you…’.
However, this caused confusion, because some gave an insurance valuation figure, and some gave what approximated to an auction price, so that the BBC eventually had to explain the wildly differing values.
Nevertheless, the overall impression still given by the auction-house experts on the programme is that auction is the way, although there is a BBC booklet that explains the alternatives.
Originally a short and snappy half-hour, the programme was extended to 45 minutes, and now to an hour. At the same time, to save money, the number of venues per series has gone down from 19-20 to 12-13, so the programme is longer with less content, hence the time-wasting shots of the surrounds and visitors, chats with Fiona Bruce, and silly guessing games as to the genuine item out of three.
The emphasis became the story, rather than the object, although for most experts it’s the other way round, so a characterful owner with a good back story would trump showing a good object without one.
Let’s hope that under the new director the programme will revert to expert and abstruse information about an item, which was the original reason for its success.
N Bloom & Son