Advance apologies to anyone attracted by the headline and expecting a serious, weighty piece on the Elgin marbles, preservation of historic art or the repatriation of disputed works.
One of my guilty TV pleasure’s is ITV’s Dickinson’s Real Deal, a sort of Antiques Roadshow meets Cash in the Attic where members of the pubic queue up to sell their family heirlooms for a few quid to dealers or, in the case of the wary and greedy, in a local auction.
Uncharitable people would describe a lot of the items on the show as tat but as much of it has been passed down the generations I find myself shouting in the direction of the TV at people’s willingness to sell off items their parents and grandparents have obviously enjoyed and cared for.
Some of the dealers remind me of the spiv in Dad’s Army, taking the pursuit of a good deal to new depths. Viewers have the benefit of being able to see an onscreen independent valuation of the item up for grabs, and it’s not unusual to see a dealer offering a few twenties for something valued in the hundreds.
Acting as the honest broker, Dickinson will step in and stop the seller agreeing to a bad deal, and more than once he’s taken the dealer aside after they’ve struck a deal and insisted they hand over a bit more cash.
But what really makes me hurl the cushions at the screen is the spectacle of people told their attractive, 100 year old item isn’t worth much because of some microscopic scratch which is hardly noticeable even with the benefit of a TV camera on high zoom.
Which takes us back to the headline, I suspect that if the curator of the British Museum took the marbles on the show, some wide boy dealer would claim there’s too much damage for them to worth much but, because the seller is a nice chap he’s prepared to offer £20.
If you’ve not yet caught up with Dickinson’s latest TV exploits set your video for ITV1 weekdays at 4pm. If, on the other hand, you still want some information on the marbles, visit britishmuseum.org