I do not like the antiques roadshow. Not one bit. Sorry to continue the mini-theme of television coverage, but I turned on the tv briefly last night at around 6pm only to be forced to turn it back off in disgust after ploughing through about 4 minutes of this stupid, awful show.
Middle England has, for as long as I can remember, had an appalling fascination with antiques and heirlooms. I will never understand why, in a world where I can easily purchase just about anything I need (within reasonable affordability constraints), we continue to fuss over ancient items that have no use. Historically, people would pass on a bone china tea set, because the cost of buying a new one was huge, and it could easily take months for the replacement to arrive. Hence people would persevere with the chipped version that they inherited, instead of replacing it. That all makes sense, but nowadays, that is not the reason for the misty-eyed attachment to these artefacts.
I don’t mind particularly if the items are useable; when my wife and I bought our first home, my Father gave us an electric drill and stepladder to facilitate the myriad of DIY jobs that I would soon be messing up. They are, to use AR parlance, “full of character”, but also, fully functional. Never mind that I could easily replace both items for the cost of an evening out, I don’t need to because these older items still work. However, you will notice that the antiques on display never work, they are never functional, and are instead most of the time, broken, covered in rust or dust and often barely recognisable.
The antiques roadshow is the preserve of only a very small sub-section of the population. If you observe the audience on the television show, you will notice that they are exclusively white (seriously, this show must be the least racially diverse thing on television) and either elderly or a family with gormless children who (bizarrely) show an interest in collecting old coins or fountain pens (or something equally pointless). Either way, they are a type of person for whom a trip to a stately home is an exciting day out. It takes a very specific sort of person to be given an option of taking a day trip to (in yesterday’s example) an old naval base, or just not going, and choose the former. The show in question was filmed on a beautifully sunny day which by rights should have been spent in the park or beer garden, but instead you elect to stand motionless behind Fiona Bruce and practice your “wow” face on camera.
The worst part about AR is that they insist on applying value to absolutely everything that they bring in. This annoys me because the owner of the antique is not particularly interested in the value, except as an exercise in boastfulness. If you thought your grandfather’s pocket watch was worth thousands of pounds, you wouldn’t wait for the BBC to bus an expert to your home town, you’d go and actively find out. And if you didn’t think it was valuable, you probably wouldn’t seek humiliation on national television. Worst of all, the vast majority of people are not the sort of person to whom a £300 valuation is going to make a huge difference. Admittedly, you do hear about people who discover that the ballerina figurine they have been using to hang their keys on is actually worth half a million pounds (to whom, I ask?), but mostly these middle class pensioners are living in relative luxury and their lives will not be affected by the knowledge that their knick-knacks are worth more than their grandson’s first car.
The second worst part about the show is that it is totally unnecessary. Daytime TV (which, by rights, is where the program belongs) is already overflowing with entire channels devoted to antique hunting, where idiots wearing colourful fleeces get ripped off by antiques dealers. Seriously, professional dealers must rub their hands with glee when someone comes to their shop wearing a “Bargain Hunter” jacket. It is a license to double all prices in your store. There is a good reason why they don’t bother to put price tags on anything…
But it wouldn’t be so bad if there was anything else on instead. There is a blackspot on Sunday afternoons where you can only watch songs of praise followed by AR, or (inevitably) go and do something else. Other channels, inexplicably, do nothing to attempt to compete at this time, as though they have all agreed that only white haired people watch television for this period. I am a young man, with very few responsibilities, and yet I do not tend to go out on Sunday evening. It is a time for ironing shirts and being quietly annoyed that you have to go back to work, and the TV scheduling does nothing to make this any easier. Please will somebody sort this out? I just want one channel out of sixty to show something vaguely entertaining, is that really too much to ask?