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Lockdown has been a chance for many people to beaver away at various projects, but few can have been as busy as dealer David Harper. He has used the past weeks to decorate a holiday home, finish a book and set up an antiques shop.

Well-known for his TV appearances on programmes such as Antiques Road Trip, Bargain Hunt and Flog It!, Harper usually occupies himself with an extensive schedule of stage shows.

But with the arrival of Covid-19, all such activities halted.

He was considering his next steps when the tenant in his Barnard Castle premises gave notice.

“I didn’t have much of a choice but as I thought about going back to dealing from a shop, I realised this is actually what I want to do and I got pretty excited,” Harper told ATG.

After five years out of bricks-and-mortar, he has spent a busy month sprucing up the four-floor Grade-II listed Georgian premises.

Along with a selection of antiques, he plans to offer 20th century design and his own artwork, mainly prints and sculptures.

He will also run his brokerage business from the premises.

Walk to work

Life in a shop will be a big change from Harper’s former schedule, which could involve driving hundreds of miles a day for theatre or guest appearances. His commute is now a three-mile walk.

Meanwhile, he has transformed the two floors above the shop, a space he used to use as his studio, into a holiday let.

Decked out with eclectic furnishings, ‘The Old Art Studio’ will open along with the shop once the government gives the all-clear.

These launches are likely to coincide with the release of his new book, A Romp with the Georgians, due for release at the end of the month.

“I’d been working on it for about eight months but during lockdown I threw myself into it for a few weeks,” said Harper.

“It’s the most un-academic work, full of funny true stories about Georgian life that history teachers certainly wouldn’t tell you about.”

He adds: “We’re living through very strange times, but so did the Georgians. So has every other generation before us.”