I like antiques and if money were no object I wouldn’t think twice about filling my house with them. There’s nothing more pleasing to the eye than the intricate design of a Chippendale cabinet or the delicate brushwork on a Meissen porcelain figurine. The value is in the pleasure of owning something that’s unique and which has survived two World Wars, countless house moves and the destructive hands of the under fives!
I’m not the only who thinks this. Several of my friends are the proud owners of antique pieces which – though not terribly valuable – have made their way down the family into their possession. Even when times have been hard they’ve never been tempted to sell their inheritance nor have they toyed with the idea of getting it valued on The Antiques Road Show.
“What’s the point?” they say whenever the issue is raised “If it’s worth something our contents insurance will go up. Apart from that burglars would probably try to break in and nick it.”
There may well be a lot of truth in that but it’s not enough to stop thousands of people from religiously hitting the Antiques Road Show trail when the bandwagon comes rolling into town. You can see them at the start of every programme cluttering the lawns of someone’s stately home, jealously guarding their precious artefacts with the ferocity of a lioness defending her cubs. Good luck to them! It’s the utterly disingenuous expressions of surprise that I can’t handle. Let’s put it this way if an expert told me that the Royal Worcester vase I bought for a fiver in a car boot sale in Kilburn was actually worth more than twenty grand, I don’t think you’d hear me politely exclaiming:
“Gosh! Whizzo! Ha ha! That’s a jolly fine bit of news. What a spiffingly marvellous stroke of good luck!”
You’re more likely to see a dazed look of stupidity on my face followed by nervous laughter and a drizzle of expletives which would roughly translate as, “Are you serious?” or “Sure you haven’t made a mistake and you’re not taking the mickey?”
That’s how most normal people would react but then nothing’s really normal about the Antiques Road Show! People claim they’re only there to satisfy a curiosity about the history and value of an object, but I don’t believe that for one minute. Nine and a half of times out of ten they’re on the programme to satisfy their greed. It’s written large in their eyes especially when the expert’s valuation falls wildly short of what they expected. No matter how hard they struggle to put a brave face on it there’s no hiding the disappointment of discovering that the frame on a 19th century fine art landscape is actually worth more than the picture inside it! I half expect them to turn bottle green with rage and blow up to the size of the Incredible Hulk once the reality of what they’ve heard starts to sink in. At least with ITV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal you know the punters are avariciously pushing to get the one over on the expert, even if the price they’re looking for is totally unrealistic!
I’m not saying the Antiques Road Show should be permanently dropped from the schedules I just wish that people were a little more honest about their intentions.
Why is it so hard to admit that the only reason they’re getting their stuff valued is so that they can flog it on Ebay? And I wish they wouldn’t feign polite surprise when they find out that an object is actually worth something. What’s wrong with jumping up and down excitedly, or just fainting in a heap on the ground? At least that’s a bit more realistic.
I know there are plenty of people out there who will strongly disagree with my views because The Antiques Road Show is probably the highlight of their weekend TV viewing. But before you start assaulting me with brickbats I’d like you to consider the following. If the contents insurance on your house was £40,000 a year would you really want to hold onto an antique that’s so valuable it could potentially quadruple the monthly payments on your policy? Or might it be better to have never known the value in the first place? Think about it!