When Trentham turned TV set
Christine Conlin got a press pass for the September 3rd visit of BBC One’s Antiques Roadshow
Didn’t they have a lovely time the day they came to Trentham? Despite the chill breeze and occasional morning showers, sunbeams shafted onto the red umbrellas dotted around the upper Italian Gardens. Sitting under the umbrellas, reference books to hand, were over a dozen well-known antiques specialists talking to people eager to have their items identified and valued.
“It’s my first visit to Trentham and the landscape is simply stunning,”
said Roadshow presenter and BBC news reporter Fiona Bruce at a pre-opening press call.
Fiona, who also collects children’s embroidered samplers, was particularly struck by Trentham’s tall herbaceous borders and had fallen in love with the fairies round the lake. It was to be a long day for Fiona, who remained on hand with the central reception team, for the specialists who’d stocked up with water and sweets to keep their voices going, for the camera crews and for the owners, who patiently queued first for the reception desk, and then to be seen by their allotted specialist. But the wait was worth it – if you’re in by 4.30pm, you will be seen, the Roadshow guarantees. It would be a good day for ceramics, predicted pottery expert John Sandon (son of Henry Sandon).
“As we’re in Trentham, I’m expecting to be shown items which won’t have travelled far, including perhaps some trial versions of prestige pieces which never went on sale but which pottery workers might have taken home as a keepsake,” he told the Gazette.
It wasn’t all about cashing in – most owners were more interested in finding out about the background and history of their items than their monetary worth. As for those lucky few who discovered that their item was much more valuable than they had thought – they seemed even more determined not to part with them. But, as was generally the case, an item’s worth was not very great, the specialists had a lovely way of letting you down gently. They seemed genuinely thrilled by everything they were shown and made every owner seem valued. They put the item into historical context and pointed out features an untrained eye would overlook, such as a silver watch chain whose every link was hallmarked.
Sometimes, a specialist’s attention would be drawn to a watch or piece of jewellery an owner was wearing which proved more interesting – and sometimes more valuable than the item presented. But with every item, the specialist was keen to tease out its owners’ story – as a family heirloom or a find in a car boot sale.
The Roadshow was surprisingly accessible – whether you were there as an owner or a casual visitor you could just stroll in, look in on valuations and join other bystanders in the on-the-spot filming sessions for items of special value and interest. This was a chance to witness live filming techniques. Once the main part of the interview is “in the can”, the crew recorded the “noddies”, the listener’s reactions they later edit in to contrast with the “talking head”.
And when an unexpectedly high valuation came up, the crew would ask the crowd to re-reprise their “oohs” and gasps for the re-takes! If you fancied a break from antiques, you could tour the lower Italian Gardens with their waving ornamental grasses, lose yourself in the floral maze, explore the show gardens, take a refreshment break or just go for a wander by the lake.
Our local venue came up trumps, and whatever your reason for attending the Roadshow – as owner, onlooker, volunteer or professional – your visit to Trentham Gardens would have been a day of added value. The Trentham filming, part of the 26-programme season of the 38th series of the Antiques Roadshow, will be broadcast during the autumn and winter of 2015-2016. The transmission date, which is yet to be confirmed, will be publicised on the BBC Antiques Roadshow website on http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mj2y