Fiona Bruce, presenter of The Antiques Road Show

On The Road (Show)

14th May 2010

Long range Diary Date alert: BBC One’s popular Antiques Roadshow will be filming in the grounds of Hatfield House, on Thursday 15 July. If you have a little something (or even a not-so-little something that you’d like assessed, this is the perfect opportunity.

Leading antiques and fine arts specialists will be there to offer free advice and valuations to visitors, so to raid your attics and bring along your family heirlooms, household treasures and car boot bargains for inspection by the experts.

This is presenter Fiona Bruce’s third year presenting the Roadshow, which she describes as “one of those rare and very lucky coincidences in television when you get to work on a show that you already love to watch. Exploring the human story behind every object is what makes Antiques Roadshow so fascinating. And everyone loves the agony and ecstasy of the 'what's it worth?’ moment. The AR isn't just about antiques – it's history, beauty and drama all wrapped up in one.” Series Editor Simon Shaw adds: “We regularly see between 1500 and 2000 visitors on the day,” but promises that despite the high turnout “everyone will get to see an expert”.

The last series, watched by an average of over six and half million viewers, had some great Roadshow stories, including a collection of 1930s posters bought for 50p in the 1970s and now worth over £30,000, and the first £100,000 plate seen on the Roadshow. What’s in your house...?

See for more details, including times.

Nicholas Mitchell

Many of the most exciting treasures seen on the Antiques Roadshow are first spotted on the Furniture Round by expert Nicholas Mitchell, a Roadshow veteran of 26 years standing…

Almost a full week before the Roadshow team rolls into town, Nicholas checks into a local hotel armed with a bulging file of letters, emails and photographs sent in by members of the public.

“Anyone who writes in and lives within a 25 mile radius of the venue is likely get a visit,” says Nicholas who hits the ground running, making and keeping as many as 20 appointments a day over four days.

“I may see large pieces of furniture, huge paintings or even, in one case, the most enormous stuffed gorilla, but the object doesn’t have to be large or difficult to transport for me to drop by. As a matter of courtesy, providing the home is in the area, I’ll have a look.”

If the Roadshow is on a Thursday, Nicholas makes his final selection on Tuesday. Wednesday is spent with the experienced removals team collecting objects and delivering them to the venue, and on the day after the Roadshow, each piece is carefully re-packed and returned. “I oversee every step of the process,” says Nicholas, “and every object is packed as if it were being transported to the moon…”

Nicholas is selective about what goes on the lorry, but likes everyone he visits to feel that it was worthwhile writing to the office ahead of time. “Even if I can’t bring something in, I usually supply a pass so that the long wait outside can be avoided and the visitor can make their way straight to Reception before joining the relevant queue.”

He appreciates that raiding one’s home of precious possessions and going to the Roadshow is a step into the unknown for most people: “If I explain how the event works and make things a little easier, they’re more likely to have a good day.”

Nicholas has become adept at matching object to expert. “I know which specialists will be on the team,” he explains, “so I might decide to bring in a piece of Arts & Crafts furniture because Paul Atterbury is coming, or I might spot a Chinese vase that the owner has disregarded but that I know will excite David Battie. These days, value is less crucial than a good story. We do love a good story on the Antiques Roadshow!’

Nicholas’s long association with the programme has been varied and colourful. He’s picked his way by torchlight across broken floorboards in a derelict house surrounded by barbed wire where a vast personal collection of valuable objects was stored, and been led through a cold and empty meat market early on a Sunday morning to look at a selection of gory medical antiques kept in a back room.

Most visits, however, are to warm and welcoming homes. “I’ve come away with pots of homemade jam and cuttings from plants I’ve admired in gardens,” he says. “We’re often invited in for tea, but sadly, there’s never time to stop.

Nicholas’s goal is both a good show and a good time for the participants. “When we return people’s objects, I put the same question to everyone: ‘Did you enjoy yourself?’ I want everyone to have a great experience – so do keep writing in!”

If you have an object you would like to offer for the furniture round – which can include large paintings and heavy pots, or, indeed, any items that would be difficult to carry to the show – contact the Roadshow with details and photographs of the objects.

Email or write to Antiques Roadshow, BBC, Whiteladies Road, Bristol BS8 2LR.

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