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A BBC Institution – The Antiques Roadshow

Sunday evenings wouldn’t be the same without the Antiques Roadshow, which has been a regular television fixture since 1979. We all love to hear the stories behind the objects which people bring in to the show, and gasp in astonishment when an old, chipped plate found at a car boot sale is valued at several thousand pounds.


The idea for the Antiques Roadshow came about in 1977 after the BBC produced a documentary about an auction house which went “on tour” to give valuations for objects to the general public. The first series of the Roadshow went out in 1979 and the format has remained pretty much unchanged ever since. Each episode is filmed in or around a historic site, and during the broadcast the presenter tells the viewers a little about the site in between the segments showing the objects brought in. The longest running presenter, Hugh Scully, fronted the show from 1981 to 2000, and the current host is newsreader Fiona Bruce.

Getting Involved

If you’ve always wanted to find out how much granny’s oak furniture or uncle’s oil painting is worth, there is nothing stopping you taking it along to one of the valuation days. A list of all future filming dates is published on the BBC’s website in the late autumn, and for summer 2013 the locations being visited include the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester, Exeter Cathedral, Scone Palace and the Royal Ballet School.


If the weather is pleasant, as many as 2,000 people can turn up at every Antiques Roadshow. Getting there as early as possible means less time standing in lengthy queues. The BBC guarantee than if you arrive before 4.30pm then your item will be appraised by an expert, but this does not guarantee that you will be filmed or that your item will be one of the few chosen to be on television. If you wish to bring a heavy item of oak furniture or a large painting to the Roadshow, email the BBC with your details and a photograph of the item well in advance of filming and they will try to arrange to collect the item from you and have it taken to the venue.

Most Valuable?

It’s the one-off items which attract the highest value on the Roadshow, and the most valuable item seen to date was a mock-up of the model which later became the Angel of the North, and which was valued at a cool million pounds. A rare silver and garnet brooch designed in the 19th century was valued at well over £10,000, despite the fact the clasp was broken. A bowl which sat on a dresser in Dorset for many years was brought to the Roadshow by its owner, who didn’t think it was worth much but was keen to find out more about its history. She was stunned to hear that it was a valuable bowl from the Chinese Ming dynasty, and even more stunned when it sold at auction for almost £200,000.

  • Photograph of Antiques Roadshow by Louise McLaren Via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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  •  License: Creative Commons image source

L. Keen loves antiques and blogging about them too.  With a young family she’s opted for modern Oak dining furniture from National Furniture rather than antique furniture.

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