Antiques Roadshow is a British television show broadcast internationally in which antiques appraisers travel to various regions of the United Kingdom (and occasionally in other countries) to appraise antiques and collectables brought in by the public. It has been running since 1979, based on a 1977 documentary series. The series has spawned its own versions in other countries with the same TV format, including Canada and the United States. As of 2017 it is presented by Fiona Bruce and is in its 40th series.
The series began as a 1977 BBC documentary about a London auction house doing a tour of the West Country in England. The pilot roadshow was recorded in Hereford on 17 May 1977 presented by contributor Bruce Parker, a presenter of news/current affairs programme Nationwide, and antiques expert Arthur Negus, who had previously worked on a similarly-themed show, Going for a Song. The pilot was so successful that it was transmitted and the format has remained almost unchanged ever since. Negus appeared on Antiques Roadshow until 1983. In the original BBC series, various towns or famous places are advertised as venues. The original theme music was Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3 (for several years in a Moog synthesiser version by Walter Carlos), but was changed in the early 1990s to an original piece, by Paul Reade and Tim Gibson, which has been used ever since. The show has since visited a number of other countries (including Canada in 2001 and Australia in 2005) and has been imitated by other TV production companies around the world.
In the United Kingdom, annual children's Christmas specials aired from 1991 until 2006. These specials aired under the title Antiques Roadshow: The Next Generation (except for the 1991 edition, which was titled Antiques Roadshow Going Live) and used a specially reworked version of the regular theme music. However, there was no children's special in 2007; instead an edition was devoted to "antiques of the future" dating from the 1950s to the present day.
A spin-off series, 20th Century Roadshow, focusing on modern collectibles, aired between April and June 2005. It was hosted by Alan Titchmarsh. Two other spin-off series, Antiques Roadshow Gems (1991) and Priceless Antiques Roadshow (2009–10), revisited items from the show's history and provided background information on the making of the show and interviews with the programme's experts.
In the 1980s a girl wrote in to Jim'll Fix It to ask if Jimmy Savile would "fix it" for her to "accidentally" drop and smash a seemingly-valuable vase in an episode of the show. This was broadcast as part of a regular edition, as well as in the Jim'll Fix It episode, with many of the Roadshow spectators looking on in astonishment, until antiques expert David Battie explained the ruse.
The most valuable item to ever appear on the show featured on 16 November 2008. This was an original 1990s maquette of the Angel of the North sculpture by Antony Gormley, owned by Gateshead Council, which was valued at £1,000,000 by Philip Mould. Glassware expert Andy McConnell later valued a collection of chandeliers at seven million pounds (their actual insurance value), noting as he did so that this beat Mould's record; however these were fixtures of the building in which the show was being filmed (Bath Assembly Rooms) rather than an item that had been brought in. In reality, the two most expensive objects to be sold as a result of being discovered on the show are the 1932 camera found by Marc Allum which realised over $600,000 (US) in 2013 and the Christofle et Cie Japonisme jardiniere filmed by Eric Knowles which sold for £668,450 (including buyers premium). Conversely, many items brought before the experts are worthless. However, these are seldom shown in the broadcast episodes, to spare embarrassment for the individuals involved. Value is not the only criterion for inclusion; items with an interesting story attached, or of a provenance relevant to the show's location, will often be featured regardless of value, and counterfeit objects are sometimes included to give experts an opportunity to explain the difference between real and fake items. All items are appraised, although most appraisals take place off-camera, with only the most promising items (around 50 on an average day) being filmed, of which about 20 appear in the final programme.
The theme music for the show was written by Paul Reade and Tim Gibson and was published by Air Edel.
Local people bring along their possessions to be evaluated for authenticity and interest (especially related to the venue) and an approximate valuation is given. Often, the professional evaluators give a rather in-depth historical, craft, or artistic context to the antique, adding a very strong cultural element to the show. This increases the show's appeal to people interested in the study of the past or some particular crafts, or certain arts, regardless of the monetary value of the objects. At the core though, the focus of the production is on the interplay between the owner and the evaluator.
Antiques Roadshow has been hosted by:
- Bruce Parker (1979)
- Angela Rippon (1979)
- Arthur Negus (1979–1983)
- Hugh Scully (1981–2000)
- Michael Aspel (2000–2007)
- Fiona Bruce (2008–present)
Antiques experts and appraisers
Many experts in the various antiques fields appear(ed) on the show either regularly or intermittently. Among the best known are:
- Marc Allum, miscellaneous (since 1998)
- Ronnie Archer Morgan, miscellaneous
- Paul Atterbury, journalist, 20th century art and design
- Jon Baddeley, nautical antiques
- David Battie, FRSA, Japanese and Chinese artefacts/ceramics
- John Benjamin, gems and jewellery
- John Bly, furniture
- Penny Brittain, furniture and miscellaneous
- Simon Bull, clocks, watches and scientific instruments
- Roy Butler, arms & militaria
- Bunny Campione, miscellaneous and toys
- Lennox Cato, furniture and related accessories
- Alastair Dickenson, silver
- Dendy Easton, fine art
- Clive Farahar, books and manuscripts
- Will Farmer, ceramics and 20th century decorative arts
- Fergus Gambon, ceramics
- Matthew Haley, miscellaneous, books and manuscripts
- Bill Harriman, arms and militaria
- Mark Hill, miscellaneous and collectibles
- Hilary Kay, miscellaneous, fabrics and toys
- Eric Knowles, miscellaneous and ceramics
- Graham Lay, militaria and military history (died in 2016)
- Anthony J Lester, Hon.RMS, FRSA, British art (worked on the show during the late 1980s and early 1990s)
- Victoria Leatham, eastern ceramics
- Rupert Maas (art critic), Impressionist and Pre-Raphaelite paintings
- Andy McConnell, glassware
- Judith Miller (author), fabrics
- Steven Moore, ceramics
- Philip Mould, British portraiture
- Geoffrey Munn, OBE, FSA, jewellery
- Peter Nahum, paintings (appeared between 1981 and 2002)
- Arthur Negus, OBE, clocks and furniture (first presenter)
- Christopher Payne, furniture
- Ian Pickford, silver
- Mark Poltimore (7th Baron Poltimore), paintings
- Richard Price, clocks
- Henry Sandon, MBE, ceramics (father of John)
- John Sandon, ceramics and glassware (son of Henry)
- Adam Schoon, fine arts
- Clive Stewart-Lockhart, miscellaneous and pictures
- Chloe Taylor, wildlife figurines
- Lars Tharp, Japanese and Chinese artefacts/ceramics and pottery
- Mark Wallace, antique pistols from 1810-1900
- Tim Wonnacott, fine and decorative arts (also former presenter of the BBC's Bargain Hunt)
- Ben Wright, clocks
Episodes are usually filmed during the spring and summer and aired the following autumn and winter (into the following year). Each episode is filmed at a different location, although some locations feature in two episodes.
In 2005, part of the BBC team visited Australia and produced six one-hour episodes in conjunction with The LifeStyle Channel (XYZnetworks). These were titled Antiques Roadshow Australia. A special was also made about the visit to Australia, entitled Antiques Roadshow Australia: Behind the Scenes.
A Canadian version – called Canadian Antiques Roadshow – debuted in January 2005 on CBC Television and CBC Newsworld. It is hosted by Valerie Pringle. The show has also been aired on CBC Country Canada.
The most expensive item featured was Henry Nelson O'Neil's "Eastward Ho!" oil on canvas. Recommended insurance: CDN$500,000, later sold at Sotheby's in London for GB£164,800 (about CDN$300,000 at 2008 exchange rate).
In Germany, various versions are broadcast regularly on the public regional channels of the ARD, the eldest being the BR production Kunst und Krempel (in English: Art and Junk), which came into being in 1985. Other formats include Lieb & teuer (in English: Near & dear), shown on NDR, Kitsch oder Kunst?, shown on HR (in English: Kitsch or Art?) or Echt antik?!, shown on SWR (in English: Genuinely antique?!).
Since 1984, a version has also been aired in the Netherlands under the name Tussen Kunst & Kitsch (in English: 'Between Art & Kitsch'). Shown on the public broadcaster AVRO (since the end of 2014 by AVROTROS), the programme is usually set in a museum in the Netherlands or sometimes in Belgium and Germany. It has become so popular through the years that even specials have been made in which the experts take the viewers on a "cultural-art-trip" to places of great importance in the history of art.
In 2011, a painting of Joost van Geel with the title Het Kantwerkstertje was discovered with an estimated value of 250,000 euro. The programme has been presented by Cees van Drongelen (1984-2002) and Nelleke van der Krogt (2002-2015), celebrating its 30th series in 2014, and has shown its latest series in 2017 with a new presenter as of September 2015, namely Frits Sissing.
The Swedish version started out as a co-production between SVT Malmö and the BBC, where the Antiques Roadshow would visit Scandinavia for two programmes. Antikrundan, its Swedish title, premiered in August 1989 on TV2. Since then, it has been shown on SVT every year.
As of 2010, 21 seasons have been shown and most of the experts have been with the programme since its start. Jesper Aspegren was the original host. He left in 2000, and from the 2001 season Antikrundan is hosted by Anne Lundberg.
American public broadcaster PBS created a similar show in 1997. The American version of Antiques Roadshow is produced by WGBH, a PBS member station in Boston, Massachusetts. Mark Walberg is host and Marsha Bemko is executive producer.
PBS also airs the original BBC series, though it is called Antiques Roadshow UK to differentiate it from its own version. Values of items in United States dollars are often superimposed over the pound sterling values given in the original broadcast.
- Antiques Roadshow: The First Ten Years (20 December 1987)
- Antiques Roadshow: Going Live! (26 December 1991)
- Antiques Roadshow: The Next Generation (12 editions, broadcast 1 January 1992 – 29 December 2006)
- Antiques Roadshow: Fifteen Priceless Years (28 March 1993)
- Antiques Roadshow: Junior Roadshow (13 August 1993)
- Antiques Roadshow: Priceless Gems (6 editions, broadcast 1 October 1996 – 11 April 2001)
- Antiques Roadshow: Unwrapped – 21st Anniversary (20 December 1998)
- Antiques Roadshow: 25 Years On! (1 September 2002)
- Antiques Roadshow: Greatest Finds (3 editions, broadcast 3 – 17 September 2006)
- Antiques Roadshow: Farewell To Michael Aspel (30 March 2008)
- Priceless Antiques Roadshow Series 1 (15 editions, broadcast 9 – 27 March 2009)
- Priceless Antiques Roadshow Series 2 (20 editions, broadcast 1 – 26 February 2010)
- Restoration Roadshow (20 editions, broadcast 9 August – 3 September 2010; presented by Eric Knowles)
- Shakespeare Special (29 April 2012)
- Diamond Jubilee Special (10 June 2012)
- Antiques Roadshow Detectives (15 editions, broadcast 6 – 24 April 2015) - a series of programmes looking at some of the stories behind featured objects in more detail
- Balmoral Royal Special (30 September 2015)
- Golden Age of Travel Special (30 October 2016) - a look at items from the golden age of rail, air and sea including the world's most famous steam locomotive 60103 Flying Scotsman
- Highlights of 2016 (28 December 2016)
Hugh Scully hosted a Beaulieu based show on 3 January 1993, a Jamaican based show on 14 February 1993, a Cork based show on 13 February 1994 and a Brussels based show on 16 April 1995, all on the BBC.
The BBC publishes a monthly Home & Antiques magazine, which offers behind-the-scenes insights into Antiques Roadshow, as well as offering tips and advice on buying and evaluating antiques.
There is also a spin-off magazine of the American version of the show called Antiques Roadshow Insider, which gives fans an inside look at the show as well as offering special features about antiques and collectibles from the series itself.