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Appointment Viewing: Exploring the Posh Concrete Dog Jungle of Antiques Roadtrip

Calum Henderson takes a television roadie in a car full of poshos through the bleak bartering wilderness of Antiques Roadtrip

What’s it about?

After Flog It! proved far from the genuine article, I did what any antiques peddler would do after an auction failure and scrambled to recoup my losses. I MySkyed several episodes of Antiques Roadtrip and slumped on the couch to watch them in an unresponsive trance.

Roadtrip sees a pair of antiques experts (almost always men, though I did see a lady expert once) on the hunt for bargains – driving an antique car around unpopular, obscure, and in some cases entirely fictional British towns.

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It’s sort of like The Trip with talking by the wry narrator from Come Dine With Me, or a Top Gear where the hosts see cars as little more than a means to drive cautiously between antique shops.

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The experts are usually benign poshos with the kinds of regional English accents seldom heard on TV outside of the cricket. They have been given a budget of £200 each at the start of the week. With this sum they have to wheel, deal and flick things off at auction to see who can be crowned the antiques champ.

In the shops they just sort of rummage around, go “oh that’s nice” and then gently barter with the shop owners, most of whom have no business (or, presumably, desire for) being on TV.

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Today, the most charismatic posho has found and become fixated on a concrete dog. The shop owner awkwardly won’t sell it to him and he has to wait around for another person to show up and authorise the sale. Yes, he can have the dog for a tenner.

Before heading to one of England’s many real and spectacularly depressing auction houses, the experts meet to dramatically reveal their antiques to each other from underneath a giant velvet blanket.

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The young one (approx 45 years old) makes fun of the poor, ridiculous concrete dog that has been weighing down their tiny car all the way from Appledore to Sandwich. Oh pup. Please do well at auction.

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The bad news is that this grumpy old Sherlock Holmes seems to be the only one bidding at today’s auction, but the good news is that he seems to be bidding on every lot. Imagine, in a fully integrated future TV age we might be able to gesticulate at the screen and view his episode of Extreme Hoarders.

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The concrete dog sells for £12, making a £2 pound profit. Seems about right.

Who’s it for?

Combining the familiar relaxing pace and tone of Roadshow but with the gently mocking narration of Come Dine With Me, this show seems to have quite a broad appeal. It’s remarkably boring, but in a romantic way – small town high streets bathed in late afternoon light and lingering shots of 19th century jewellery boxes. The intrigue of the auction at the end provides a necessary pull to see it through.

What’s working?

I really like the realistic portrayal of antiquing as a slightly bleak, low reward pastime. The experts here rarely make a living wage in profits from a hard day’s flicking on of antiques, giving a nice counterpoint to the Roadshow dream of unearthing a million pound vase for a thruppence.

What’s not?

Honestly Antiques Roadshow is almost faultless in my eyes. If I have one suggestion it’d be more graphics. Auctions can be a confusing whirlwind and probably a nightmare to film at. It’d be good if they got the price ticking over in real time to better keep track of the profits – or crushing losses – being made by our heroic antiquers.

Should I get amongst it?

Whether you have the time but not the inclination to go to antique shops and auctions, or vice versa, yes.

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