The Georgian cabinets and antique desks of Lancashire’s Towneley Hall are receiving record viewing numbers following the recording of all 12 episodes of new BBC show Antiques Master there. The final episode, a celebrity special, aired in September, but with a new series in the offing the visitor numbers are higher than ever.
The BBC is TV’s antiques capital. From Cornwall to Cumbria, Victorian dining chairs and other family heirlooms are being looked at in a new light as people get addicted to shows like Flog It!, Bargain Hunt, and that old perennial favourite, Antiques Roadshow. A lot of shows use a “value it/auction it” approach, but Antiques Master has gone back to the quiz show formula of highly popular but sadly demised Going for a Song, which had its last incarnation in the 1990s.
Antiques Master, though, features amateur antiques enthusiasts rather than TV experts. Using their experience and specialist knowledge, they have to sort the valuable from the worthless, and put a value to each piece. The Antiques Master team scoured the UK’s antique shops, museums and private collections for the show, which has the most varied collection of antiques ever seen on British television.
TV expert Eric Knowles, who co-hosts the programme with Sandi Toksvig, has more than a passing affection for Towneley. A Lancashire lad himself, he spent many happy hours there as a child. The final celebrity episode also featured Geoff Capes, Ricky Groves and TV presenter Saira Khan, who enthused over Victorian dining chairs.
Of course, Lancashire is famed for its Victorian dining chairs, being one of the centres of the Arts & Crafts movement, and has plenty of antiques dealers who don’t mind in the least being “quizzed” over their knowledge.
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