I don’t know if you ever watch “Antiques Roadshow” on BBC television. I’ll be honest, I haven’t followed the last couple of series anything as much as I’d like to, but I still enjoy the show whenever I get to watch it. I was surfing the net idly a month or so ago, when it suddenly occurred to me to wonder whether it was coming anywhere near us in South Wales during the filming for the next season. A couple of years ago it was in St. Fagan’s just outside Cardiff, but that was filmed on a school day so it was outers for me. Checking out the show’s website I found out that not only was the show being recorded in Tredegar House, Newport, but it was also being recorded on a Sunday – last Sunday to be precise, 22nd June.
Mary and I talked about it and we both decided that we’d rather like to go and see what it was like in the flesh as it were. “Now then,” Mary began, “have we got anything we could take along?” I began humming ‘Approaching Menace’, and miming sitting in a black chair. She did not take the hint. So I spelled it out to her – why didn’t we take my Mastermind bowl along?
”It’s not an antique.” she quite reasonably pointed out.
”Neither is some of the other stuff they have on the show, but I reckon it’s just the sort of thing they might think has a bit of novelty value.”
So basically that’s what we decided to do, take the bowl out for an awayday, and see what happened.
Can I stress at this point that my lovely bowl will NOT be appearing on eBay (other popular internet auction sites are available) any time soon?! I’ll be honest, I wasn’t even that interested in getting a valuation on it either, since the only way it will ever be sold is after having been prised out of my cold, dead fingers. But, well, I don’t know, the idea of taking it along pandered to my natural tendency to show off – never very far from the surface – and the fact that it was maybe the sort of thing that might make an interesting novelty item on the show.
Mary’s very good at this sort of thing. She found a bed and breakfast about 5 minutes’ walk from Tredegar House, and we stayed overnight there on Saturday. After we’d checked in, we walked the route to Tredegar House and had a chat with a couple of the groundsmen there. They advised us that if we were there by about 7 am on the Sunday morning we’d be pretty certain of getting a decent parking space, otherwise we were leaving it to chance. So on Sunday morning we drove the car to the car park by 7am and left it there. Then we walked back to the B and B to have our B. We came back by about 8, and started to queue. Now, I saw it reported in a local paper yesterday that queues were forming by 6 am. Rubbish. You can add another two hours to that. There were maybe a hundred or so of us waiting at about 8:15 when they opened the gates. This let us in only so far, and then we had to wait for another hour before the reception was open and ready for business. In all honesty that wasn’t a huge hardship. We had a chat with a very nice couple who had brought along the 1950s double decker bus they had restored. Then Henry Sandon, world expert on Royal Worcester came out to have a chat with the people in the queue. Top man for doing that.
Once the reception was opened things started moving pretty quickly. I didn’t take the bowl all the way out its box, just showed them that it was a piece of glassware, and they directed me over to Andy the specialist. Once again, I don’t know if you are a devotee of the show, but if you are a regular viewer you’ll know that Andy the Glass Specialist is not a man to whom the words ‘shrinking’, ‘violet’ or ‘introvert’ could ever be applied. We were his first ‘customers’ of the day, and he was on his phone, but he broke off for a second, said, “Have you got a piece of glass for me? Then whack it on the table and let’s have a look!” – then carried on with his phone call. He picked up the bowl, had a good look at it, and said “Look, I’ve got to go – first one of the day, and he’s just brought in a blimmin’ Mastermind bowl!” Then, and I kid you not, got on his knees and started doing the ‘We’re not worthy!’ thing. Then he immediately picked up a form, said “Scuse me a minute, this is definitely one for the recording.” and disappeared for a moment to find the producer.
So, first we were escorted to an outside ‘holding area’, where one of the producers would come up and basically give the yea or nay as to whether they were going to film you and your item or not. We passed that hurdle, although my hopes weren’t exactly raised when he came up to me and said,
”Hello David. Tell me, how much does this mean to you?”
which meant me think that he was going to go on and say,
“ – because although it means a lot to you, we ain’t interested - “
- or -
” – because although you love it, it ain’t an antique and we ain’t interested.’
Actually he said neither. What he did say was that they’d like to film me and the bowl with Andy just as a brief 30 second quickie. Fair enough, said I. So then we were moved from the outside holding area to the, well, I suppose it was a sort of green room. I had some slap applied, and apparently while this was happening Fiona Bruce came in to have hers done at the same time. I never noticed – shame.
Off to do the film, then, and this was a short , standing up job. It’s funny, but all you have to do to get a crowd to gather round is to point a TV camera. Suddenly we were surrounded, and Andy, I have to say, seemed to be in his element. He basically said, look, I’m not going to ask you a question, but I’ll start and you come in when you can. Fair enough. So we began with the spiel about it being the iconic prize for the show, and that the shape was fairly more known although he was used to seeing them in amethyst. I did correct Andy, for he said that the artist who creates each bowl is David Mann. I had to tell him that the gentleman in question is actually Denis Mann. That aside it was a perfectly pleasant chat, which I really rather enjoyed.
Right, I am one of those people who, when I watch the show and see people saying that they aren’t that bothered to hear the valuation, think – Liars! But honestly, in my case, I really wasn’t bothered – or really even that interested in the valuation. Because whatever it might have been, it wouldn’t begin to approach its value to me. As it is, how could you value it? As far as I know one has never been sold – although I am always willing to be proven wrong on that one. So what he did do was to tell me the approximate cost of getting another bowl, and commissioning the artist to produce a similar design. I’m sorry, but if you want to know that you’ll either have to look it up for yourself, or watch the show when it’s eventually transmitted.
Mary and I just went to it because we felt it would be a bit of fun, and that’s precisely what it was. Mind you, she didn’t win herself any brownie points in the queue earlier. when the nice couple with the bus asked her “What old antique have you brought along?” quick as a flash she replied,