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When I first started watching Bargain Hunt, I dismissed David Dickinson
as a harmless clown. The entire purpose of the show, moreover, seemed
to be that the people at flea markets and antique shows always know the
worth of their goods and will get the better of the buyer almost every
single time. After several seasons, however, I've changed my mind.
First, Dickinson is indeed a bit of a clown, but he also imparts much more realistic and helpful information on antiques and collectibles than almost any of the competing programs. Want to know how to tell cut glass from pressed glass? Interested in spotting fake brass figurines? Has your antique table been hybridized? Is your rare vase a victim of some restorer's attempt to cover up the chips and cracks? You're much more likely to discover the answer to these questions on Bargain Hunt than on Antiques Roadshow or even the otherwise wonderful Cash in the Attic.
So, too, will Dickinson be much more honest with his colleagues in the field, not to mention the poor contestants who blow their wad on some worthless twentieth century imitation fakery. As opposed to the valuers, who almost always over-reach, Dickinson seems to have a much better pulse on the only real value of items up for auction, which is, of course, defined as the money someone is willing to pay--and no more. And especially pity the poor contestant who overpays for some silver plated trifle. How bad it must be to have Dickinson laughing at you on nationwide TV, while revealing that you spent £200 on a POS.
Comparatively speaking, Dickinson is brutal to the people who appear on his program. And what a breath of fresh air it all is. How truly informative and honest in comparison to the pasty faced gnomes who mumble greedy nothings into the ears of the gullible and avaricious lemmings lined up on Antiques Roadshow. Dickinson reveals the real business side of antiques. And when he's through, you'll realize making money in the art and antiques world is not nearly so easy as it seems.
Finally, one other thing to note. If I were a seller OR a buyer, I'd sure hate to have Dickinson on the other side of the transaction.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For those who've never seen BARGAIN HUNT, it consists of two teams, the
"red" and the "blue", each of two people, each given an amount of cash,
200 pounds early on, later increased to 300 pounds, to spend at
collectors' fairs, antique centres and similar markets on three items
of choice, with a one-hour time limit. Each team is provided with an
"expert" in the form of an antique dealer or auctioneer who can advise
on possible purchases. Whether or not their advice is taken, is up to
the teams. Later the items will be sold at auction and profits if any
go to the teams. The two experts each buy an item, which will be
offered to the two teams as "swaps", if they wish to swap. To simplify
things, commissions and other auction fees aren't taken into account.
Reality shows come and go, but BARGAIN HUNT rolls on and on. This is due in no small part to the welcome presence of England's most amiable host, Tim Wonnacott.
The original host for BH was the effervescent David Dickinson who polarized viewers; they either loved or hated him. I found David both interesting and entertaining, despite what other people have written about him here and elsewhere. However, the arrival of Tim Wonnacott brought a more cheerful and learned presence. Tim's extensive knowledge of the "trade", endearing manner and ability to get along with almost everybody makes for an entertaining and informative 45 minutes. No two shows are quite the same, although the same background filler material may be apparent from multi-used locations. Several episodes will be filmed at one spot with purchased items going through the same auction.
This reviewer is currently watching 2006 episodes in Australia so the show's format may have changed in later series. Tim often visits stately homes or other interesting landmarks in the area. He introduces the viewer to choice items and talks of their history. For me, this is the highpoint of each show. Occasionally he reveals bargains he's picked up, or items he's spotted in the auction. You'll see the results of his "auction finds" when they are auctioned as well as the items from the two teams. Occasionally he puts items in the auction with any profit going to charity.
The show does well in gathering a cross section of society, with parent/child, co-workers and entire families making up the teams. Rarely do the teams consist of people with any genuine knowledge of collectables. So it may seem strange that it's not unusual for them to ignore the experts. Often they buy items without having the good manners to at least show their expert until the deed is done! This isn't to say the experts are right all the time. Often they aren't, far from it. This all goes to make each show good fun. You never know what to expect.
The experts are often more interesting and entertaining than the team contestants. With hundreds of episodes watched, these experts and auctioneers, together with Tim's expertise, have become my main reasons for watching. Originally it was to see the collectables but in reality, one tires of seeing contestants buying the same old things: blue and white plates, timber boxes, cut glass decanters, "aged" kitchenalia made last week and boxed sets of plated spoons which no one wants! It's not unusual to see experts and auctioneers playing dual roles. BARGAIN HUNT is like a real life version of MIDSOMER MURDERS on some levels. In one episode Philip Serrell or Elizabeth Talbot will be the auctioneer; five episodes later they'll pop up as an expert. Philip And Elizabeth are my favorites, both having distinctively interesting personalities.
All up, BARGAIN HUNT scores my vote as the best slice of English reality television.
Two teams of two people are handed £200 and an "expert" and let loose
for an hour in a car boot sale. Their aim is to get items for sale at
auction later and the winning team is the one that makes the most
profit off their investment at the auction. While they do this the
presenter himself heads off to look around, highlighting how to judge
items, how to spot fakes and so on to the viewers.
Yet another piece of daytime television that deals with car boot sales, low-cost collectables and auctions in the same way as Cash in the Attic, Car Booty and other reality shows on BBC mornings do. This one is probably more well known than those others because of the presence of David Dickenson, his camp manner, cheap puns and orange skin. Of course this student cult appeal of the host does not mean that the show is any good and indeed the audience this is aimed at is limited, does not really include me and I suspected I would hate it when I saw the cheesy and cheap title sequence with some twit mugging across the screen. Certainly I'm not a car boot fan and have never been to auction so I'm not really target audience and cannot imagine ever watching more than the couple I have seen.
Having said that though I did like the way the show does have "educational" value in the way that the experts talk and also the host gives details behind other items for those into this sort of thing I can see why it appeals. It is certainly better than some of the similar shows doing the same sort of thing but in a much more trashy way. Dickenson helped it get the comic appeal but in fairness his replacement Wonnacott does have a nice bit of daytime telly character and also sounds like he knows what he is talking about plus Dickenson had become a parody of himself very quickly anyway.
A show with limited appeal perhaps but it is actually better than you would expect, with interesting contributions. It is a daytime reality show about auctions and tat though complete with dull guests, hammy hosts and bad puns but, among its peers it marks itself out just don't expect it to be anything that could work in a more demanding slot.
Two teams of amateur antiques collectors are given £500 & sent out to hunt
for bargains in one of the many antique fairs the length & breadth of the
British Isles. An expert is on hand to help with advice on what to buy and
how to haggle. The antiques are later sold at a local auction. The team to
make the most profit wins.
Doesn't sound like the most exciting show eh? Well you've reckoned without the charm, flair & caddish wit of the one & only . . . the man, the myth, The Duke . . . David Dickinson! With his dapper suits, the spray on tan & classic barnet he is a mix of Lovejoy & Roger Moore with an added dash of Leslie Phillips & a merest hint of David Niven! One eye on the antiques & one eye on the ladies he took the daytime schedules by storm ripping up the rule book of dull TV & is now pushing open the envelope of entertainment in a prime-time slot!
His love of antiques & the ladies radiates out of the screen! The warmth flows from the TV - every man wants to be him, every woman wants to be loved by him! Resplendent in his classic English gent finery & his trademark quips - "cheap as chips", "for the ladies " - he is never afraid to take the mickey out of himself with the many sketches that permeate the show. Nevertheless when it comes to the final showdown, the climactic auction, The Duke knows his stuff! He is honest in his evaluation of the antiques bought by the contestants & is invaribly proved right but is the first to admit when he has misjudged an item. No matter how much you know - & The Duke knows a lot - you can still be surprised. Such is the random factor of the antique buying world!
Whilst interviewing the contestants & throughout the show there are various asides to the camera. Knowing glances. Wonderful quips. He involves the public at home. Whether in council flat or castle millions of bums are on the edge of millions of seats. Will the contestants make a profit? What witty aside will The Duke come out with next? Throughout we are referred to as Bargain Hunters not viewers! Its true, aren't we all in some way Bargain Hunters of one sort or another in the great antique fair of life?
For so long the sole delight of the daytime viewer - the unemployable, the chore neglecting housewife, the layabout student - Bargain Hunt is now in a prime-time evening slot. Make no excuses! Delay no longer! Watch one episode & become hooked! You know it makes sense!
This programme is perfect for the student waiting for his class to start. The wonderful presenter makes this show (which could have easily become stuffy and boring) light hearted and fun. Antiques have needed this breath of fresh air ever since the Antiques roadshow made them all about obscene amounts of money.
Another great British program on American television, this one is found on
the HGTV network, and it is a very entertaining half hour.
It is about two teams of two people, one is called the "red" team, while the
other is the "blue" team, and they have a set amount of money to spend at a
flea market. Then, the items both teams purchased are put up for auction and
the team that makes a bigger profit from the sale of the items
I would love to have the time to attend that huge flea market that the teams
get to attend to find their items for the auction.
The host is very good, very knowledgable and affable with
If this is your type of program, I recommend it very much.
Two teams (of two) have a limited budget and an hour at an antiques fair to
acquire the best bargains. These are then sold at a real auction and the
team with the greatest profit, or smallest loss as is often the case, wins
Enjoyable afternoon viewing, with the host in fine form.
'Bargain Hunt' shouldn't be addictive viewing. It shouldn't be that
entertaining. It's people rooting through old tat and selling it.
But yet if you watch enough of it then oddly you start to care about the teams, you learn something about the potentially worthwhile tat and shout at the TV "don't buy candle sticks, they never sell".
The odd situation at the time of writing is that the host has left and they are showing endless repeats until a new one can be found. Although not a huge part of the proceedings the personality of the host is key, so I wish the BBC would hurry up and give it to someone.
Addictive viewing, even if I don't know how.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Why the BBC continues to churn out such risible guff as this I do not
know. Every episode is just a tick box episode, the so called experts
advise contests about the tat that they want to buy, then offer the
seller an offer far below the asking price with the phrase ' What's
your very best price?' Items purchased never make much money and a
profit is a rarity. The experts are a dislikable bunch of smarmy
Lovejoy types who clearly know the cost of everything and the value of
nothing to quote Oscar Wilde.
Cheap and pointless programme that brushes over a subject that could be interesting in the right hands.
A very entertaining programme based on the simple premises that you try to buy articles cheap at antique fairs and then sell them at a profit at auction. There are to teams of two each with an expert to help them. My favourite expert is Phillipa Deeley from Tunbridge Wells although she is not that good. My least favourite is Michael Hogben who appears to be a bit of a wide boy from the south coast. I do, however acknowledge the expertise of David Barby and James Braxton. The star is David ( Duke ) Dickinson who presents with warmth humour and knowledge. The programme has been transfered to prime time but it has suffered from two things. 1. It has been up against the very popular soaps 2. They have tried to inject too much humour into it.
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