TV entertainers Neil Stuke and Penny Smith hit the road with £400 to invest in antiques, joined by antiques experts Paul Laidlaw and Thomas Plant.
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-Some of the nation's favourite celebrities...
-That's the pig for you.
-..one antiques expert each...
We're here to make money.
..and one big challenge - who can seek out and buy the best antiques at the very best prices?
I've got a lovely eye. Just the one.
And auction for a big profit further down the road?
-Who will spot the good investments? Who will listen to good advice?
-It goes with your eyes.
And who will be the first to say, "Don't you know who I am?!"?
Time to put your pedal to the metal.
This is Celebrity Antiques Road Trip!
Heroic Herefordshire opens its antiques shops for this round of the Road Trip.
Squeezed into this rather suave 1972 Alfa Romeo Spider
we have a pair of TV favourites.
-You need a comedy moustache. What a shame. I've got a big bag, but no comedy moustache.
Each with £400 to spend on antiques for auction.
Do you know anything about antiques?
Em...not a great deal.
How about your good self?
I once had a much older boyfriend.
-Do you collect anything?
-I collect wine.
-That's not an antique.
-I collect art.
-You should collect Toby jugs.
-How do you know I don't?
How do you know that I'm not an antiques expert?
He's not. He's the former comedy actor who took the sitcom to new depths -
I mean heights - with the hilarious Game On.
Thursday, half seven. Coming to my room to watch the netball team go past?
Then he got all serious on us with glossy drama and he hasn't looked back.
I've seen it all now. I am off to lunch.
He's the smooth, handsome dealmaker from Silk. He's Neil Stuke.
This land of ours...
Shakespeare was here, you know.
-This is England.
-Are you drunk?
And we have this charming spring flower, this lady from Rutland,
the face of GMTV for 17 years.
She kept us entertained throughout the day.
She read us the news.
They'll have police in inner city schools with high crime and truancy.
-She made us laugh.
She even sang us to sleep.
-When I fall in love
-It will be forever...
And she's promised to sing no more! She's Penny Smith.
-It doesn't matter if you hit all the notes, does it?
-No, not here.
-I think the key here, obviously, is...
-To listen to the people who are our antiques experts!
It is our job to make money.
So it's not about what we like, it's about making money.
And it's about what I like.
And it's about trust, so we've pulled out all the stops to get the very best experts.
-When they weren't available, we got the best we could fit in this tiny Fiat Gamine.
-Put on a few pounds?
How very dare you! It's this car.
-Does it make my bum look big?
-It makes it look huge!
He's the cavalier Caledonian, the maestro of militaria.
-'and over your money, sir!
-He's the Napoleon of negotiation.
This is where the nice young man turns into a hideous monster.
He's a serious professional. He's Paul Laidlaw.
Oh, dear! She's not sounding that good, is she?
Either that or the SAS are machine-gunning at us!
And I know what you're thinking - that cool cat's got some swagger. What's his name?
I just want to smash them! Oh, God...!
He's the strong, manly auctioneer who knows a lot about jewellery.
I need to buy more!
He's vivacious, he's bodacious, he's keen to impress us. He's Thomas Plant.
-Any preference as to which...?
-Not really. I don't really mind. As long as I don't get the Noddy car!
-I've got a shopping list. Lava lamp.
-Some sort of 1970s Japanese television.
-Action Men figures.
-Action Men figures!
Will you get a Barbie and make them make babies?
I think you can do better than that with £400, frankly.
However, silly experts are not our celebrities' biggest problem.
-She's a fantastic back seat driver.
-Front seat driver.
-Penelope needs a pit stop.
-We're actually not that far away.
-Let's do it.
Apologies for the wounded motor. Just a blip in a soon-to-be-perfect day, we hope!
Ah, here we go.
-How are you doing?
-We don't have a car.
-We had car trouble.
-What do you guys want to do?
-What do you like talking about?
-You bored me a bit about military history.
-That's a match made in heaven. They will be spooning.
It's going to be unpleasant, is it? It'll be nasty?
That I didn't know about.
-Read the small print!
-I need to just call my agent.
Too late, Neil. We gotcha!
Now let's see where we'll send ya.
Hereford is the first port of call before our new teams cross into Shropshire
and head for a decisive auction in Newport. But we're getting ahead and there's still that transport issue.
-There go two losers.
-Yeah, that's great that they're losers,
but they've got a car and we haven't.
I'm hoping to just get antiques that I like.
-Is that the name of the game?
-Well, yes and no.
They do have to kind of make a profit.
-Let's find the heart of Hereford.
-Follow our noses, yeah?
-Mind the bump!
-I know! I saw it too late! Far too late.
Penny and Thomas have made it to the towering Hereford Antiques Centre.
Standing by to defend the cash register is marvellous Matthew.
-Let me just have a quick look round. I'm a quick shopper.
If it doesn't take my eye, it's not getting bought.
OK, well, I like this one and the fact there's another one.
-You like it because it's neat and restrained and tidy.
-It's clean, lovely colours. You can't go wrong with blue and white.
-No, you can't.
-I quite like that.
-It's a story, isn't it?
-His flames. Actually...hang on.
-Hang on? What? Have you noticed something?
-A star hairline crack.
-Just there, look.
-Any point in just getting one?
-Not really, no. You want the two. It's better in pairs.
-What did you see?
-Actually... The big brass vase is quite me.
-That looks like a milk churn.
-OK, this is probably German.
It's Art Nouveau style. Can we just turn it over?
-Isn't it a bit woofed or whatever your word is?
-Metal can be whacked. It's fine.
-Metal is allowed to be whacked?
You can have silver or metal.
-Have a look at this.
-What is it?
It was plated. Big Art Nouveau bowl.
But it's...1890s. It's brass. It was silver-plated.
-And the silver plate's all come off.
-Does it matter?
Not really. You can get it re-plated.
I almost want it upside down. I almost want you to wear it.
-Like a Viking helmet?
-Oh, now you see that...
-Now it comes alive.
-And it goes with your eyes.
-It's a much more attractive piece!
Are you... Oh, that was a bit close. I think I might be having your child!
-Is that OK?
-Blimey! This working relationship is going very well!
-I love the colour.
-Uranium has been put in that to make it that colour.
-What is uranium?
-Well, it's the thing that powers nuclear power stations.
-So are they radioactive?
-If you put a Geiger counter to them, they'd go a little bit higher.
-Really? That's quite exciting.
-It's quite nice being a pair.
Uranium is famous as a source of fuel in the creation of nuclear power,
but has been used since Roma times as a yellow colorant for glass and ceramics.
These vases should not be too radioactive. However, they do say that two heads are better than one.
-Victorian moulded uranium vases, glasses.
-I will get them for a lot less than that.
-Is it worth having?
-Not really, but...
-I quite like them. Are they buffed? Chaffed?
-Whacked. Does it matter that this one is woofed?
-Woofed. It's got a chip.
I know. Chips for lunch. I'm hungry.
It'll have to be a working lunch, Penelope.
Suave, business-savvy Matthew is waiting for a deal!
Best, best price.
-No, so that's not going to happen.
-What are you thinking is best price?
-Less than that.
-The very best would be fifty.
It's got the look.
It's got something, all right. So can Matthew stoically hold to £38 on the uranium glass vases?
-What's the best price?
-Even though they're whacked?
-One's got a chip.
-One's got a chip with no mayonnaise.
I can hear your tummy rumble.
-This one here.
-Twenty's your best price?
-That's 70 quid.
-I'd like to do a deal at 50 for the two.
-Plus you're going to sign my book.
-Oh, I like that.
-Look at him. He's screwing that chair to the floor.
My mother, when she sees this, will be just...
Well, if it's not one thing, it's your mother. That's life.
-It's hard enough in this world.
-You should tread the boards.
-Why don't we go 57?
-OK, we're willing to go for 57. Don't roll your eyes at me. 57.
No, look. He wanted 55. I'm going to 57.
Otherwise he'll be really annoyed and I've got three days with him! It's going to be awful.
57, a signature and you're done.
-Well done, Penny. Two great purchases under your belt.
So, car or no car, our chaps need to make some antique investments this morning.
OK, let's go do some work.
Matthew's on a double shift and bracing himself for a second celebrity onslaught.
-Let's hope he can make mother proud.
-I'm slightly daunted.
-I've already noticed quite a few pairs of these dogs.
-I'd call those wally dugs.
They are, can I say, the working man's hearth ornaments.
-They are ubiquitous.
-If Neil wants to make serious money, he'll need to look harder
-for shrewd investments.
So this place is... It's very big. There's another pair of those dogs up there.
Then there's some more there, look.
I think they're screaming, "Don't buy me! Don't buy me! We're so common."
Well, focus on something you DO like the look of, common or not.
I just can't help but think
that in these cases
there is something of value.
-There's a pair there.
-Wemyss. A pair of waisted - that describes the form - vases.
That's a big cabbage rose you've got there. I do like that they're a pair
and they've got a brand that's immediately recognisable.
-Wemyss were highly collectable. Let me see if I can get one for you...
One for me. We're looking at the condition.
Wemyss ware hails from the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland.
This highly collectable cabbage rose pattern, designed by gifted bohemian painter Karel Nikola.
-The pair are priced at £165.
-I think I spotted in here, while we've got the door open,
-a cocktail shaker.
-These are decadent things.
-My eye always goes on cocktail shakers. I used to be a cocktail barman.
So you found something you like that could possibly make some money.
And I still love to make cocktails all the time.
-I trained under the great Dick Bradsell.
-THE great Dick Bradsell?
-THE great Dick Bradsell.
-Who was he?
-One of the world's most famous mixologists.
-Mixology. That's what Tom Cruise is into.
-You prat! I don't think we should be talking about that.
Although Tom Cruise once made a film all about cocktails. I forget the name - must have been drunk.
This suave Asprey's cocktail shaker is currently priced at £95, so it's time for Matthew to call the dealer.
Go for it, Matt.
-What do you want to pay?
Sorry. Who am I talking to?
-Hi. How are you?
I'm Paul and I'm on a mission to spend some money today.
But I'm as miserable as sin.
Not miserable! Just tight.
Hang on a minute. ..Could we buy the two? How would you feel about the two?
If we bought the two, what could they be? I'm wanting to pay 120.
What are you saying?
You've gone down to 135.
Look, don't say that's it. Give me it on a round number. 130.
And we nail it.
You've got a deal, my man.
I do apologise, Richard.
So at 120 for cash, yeah?
Paul's influence is rubbing off!
I could murder a cocktail at this juncture.
-Ahh. Come on. Let's do it.
-A bit early, isn't it?
Meanwhile, Penny and Thomas are hard at it and pressing on.
-What was your first job?
-Plucking turkeys for Christmas.
-Is this in Rutland?
-In Rutland, yes.
And then a man phoned me and said, "Would you like to come to a new thing we're doing called Sky News?"
So I went to Sky News and I became the first face on Sky News.
Penny Smith is certainly a girl on the move.
And this Road Trip is moving at last, making its way safely and soberly
14 miles due north to a place they call Leominster.
My dad's an engineer and my mum was the worst hairdresser in the world.
She used to cut our hair so badly that we looked like a collection of steak and kidney puddings.
In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles
described Leominster as "situated in a fertile valley, its commerce is chiefly hops and cider".
Fortunately, both Penny and Thomas are responsible designated drivers, come rain or shine.
-Are we dying?
We're dying! Oh, no! ENGINE SPLUTTERS
-I'm getting out.
Oh, dear. Our vintage cars are not faring well today,
but at least the mechanics of Hereford will be kept busy.
I do feel very sorry for it.
-Are we going down Cordwainers Lane?
-There's some wee.
That's you boys and your inability to stop weeing in places.
Honestly, you boys!
Still, at last we reach the Leominster Antiques Market,
an enticing, up and downy cavern of potential treasures.
We're going to have a good look.
Yeah, you and your whips.
A-ha-ha! So nice. I'll repay the favour.
-Give me some...
It is a massage. I'm not quite ready for it yet.
It's OK. Nothing to see here.
Did you see these lovely brass things here?
That's what we used to spend Sundays doing, wet Sundays.
-Mum got all the brass out.
-And get you to polish it?
Last to finish got a Mrs Smith haircut, no doubt.
-What have they got here? I love agricultural things.
-What is it?
-I don't know.
-Didn't you put things on and pull it behind a cow?
-What a lovely bit of wood.
It is a delightful shaped piece of sycamore.
A four-pronged oxen yoke, possibly 19th-century
and definitely with an asking price of £85.
-You could mount that on a wall.
-Or mount it the other way and have it for coats.
Good idea! Just occasionally, negotiations occur behind closed doors, but Penny and Thomas got
a fairly reasonable deal at £50.
Gosh, they're working hard today.
Back in Hereford, dedicated Neil is leading Paul to...
-Good morning. Welcome to the Cider Museum. I'm Margaret Thompson.
-Good morning. Neil.
Well, we're here now.
Hereford's fascinating Cider Museum is a living, breathing, drinking recreation
of a cottage industry grown into mass production.
Britain has been a highly-organised cider producer since the Middle Ages.
Apple pressing and fermenting is an art and, with the right equipment, can be achieved in vast quantities.
The museum has steadfastly acquired some amazing artefacts,
like this huge, 300-year-old apple press from Normandy.
-That's a trunk of a tree!
I've never seen anything like this.
In France, they would make the cheese using straw, whereas in Herefordshire,
-we would make a cheese using hairs.
-That's quite interesting.
You're using the word "cheese" in relation to cider?!
-Can you explain that?
-When making cider in Hereford,
we would take a cloth and the crushed apple would be put into the middle of the cloth.
They would be stacked on the press, eight to fourteen high.
-When it's on the press and built, it's called a cheese.
-But then cheese and cider goes extremely well, anyway.
This incredible machine is the beginning of industrial production,
but cider making has had its peaks and troughs.
Medieval orchards declined during the Black Death and War of the Roses
until Henry VIII ordered new apple trees to be imported from Europe.
The cider cottage industry boomed well into the Industrial Revolution.
This type of equipment, the portable scratter, was introduced about 1850.
We probably don't appreciate the efforts the travelling cider maker went to. It's so heavy.
-There's no power steering.
-We in this country are fascinated by that,
but that still happens in villages in Italy and Spain and France,
where they bring their grapes from their grapevines
and they have a village wine that's produced in one place.
Neil certainly knows his stuff, especially when it's about booze.
Fortunately, small artisan production never died out.
In fact, we've seen a cider-making resurgence throughout Britain fuelled by nostalgia
and a seemingly-unquenchable thirst.
So today the process is much bigger, but...
-it's gone back to its green and more organic roots
-Many of the craft cider makers grow
and use the local fruit. Some commercial cider makers
probably have to import some apple concentrate. It still makes good drink, though.
Speaking of which...
That leads me on nicely... I don't know about you.
The back of my throat is so dry.
Sorry, Margaret. I'm sure our cheeky chaps are just practising their negotiation skills.
It is such a shame you're driving. It really is.
I'm going to get my jacket.
Sorry about this. Really not good Road Trip behaviour, frankly.
No sympathy! You brought it on yourself.
Aye. Though not without incident, it's been a great first day.
The shops close, the sun sets across the county
and only shoe leather can deliver our lads and lass to their lodgings,
but whilst most road trippers are in bed, Neil is road testing his new favourite antique.
And this time Paul is not the designated driver.
-Oh, look at that!
-Bottoms up, old chap.
Now drink responsibly, lads. Night night.
Morning! With clear heads - well, more or less -
-our celebrities face the first issue of the day.
-Right. What's the car situation?
-We blew ours up.
-We're now two cars down. We're without a car.
-I know, but apparently something else is coming.
Something's coming, all right. It's blue, it's from 1960
Is it me or has this car got bigger and changed colour?
The Noddy car, I'm afraid I have to say, is dead.
-That cute, lovable, adorable...
-Don't rub it in!
-You killed the car.
-So far, Penny and Thomas have launched into proceedings
spending a sober £107 on three items.
The Art Nouveau brass fruit bowl,
the uranium glass vases
and the sycamore yoke. They face another day with £293 left to spend.
-Sorry. I'm on my knees now.
-Are you all right on your knees?
Oh, dear. Neil and Paul, meanwhile, kind of eased into the day,
eventually spending a well-lubricated £130 on two items.
The cabbage rose Wemyss vases
and the Asprey cocktail shaker.
The wayward barflies have £270 to help them beat Penny and Tom.
There's another pair of the dogs.
Now let's resolve the burning issue.
-We've got a car. Have we?
-Do we not have a car?
- We do not have a car. - You had it yesterday. - You've got the Morris.
-Have a good one.
-Before today's Road Trip can move on, our teams have unfinished business in Leominster.
So let's hope Neil and Paul can stay off the sauce, eh?
Looks like we have rolled into town, dude.
Rolled being the operative word.
Leominster House Antiques Centre has five floors of wonders. The lights are on and Nigel's home. Hi, Nige.
-So it's down...
-But can Neil find the investment he's seeking?
Come on, Paul. Only 16 more floors.
I've found something. ..That's a period spinning wheel.
-By period, I mean 19th century.
For me, I think it's quite interesting because it's mechanical
and made of wood. There's clearly some craftsmanship gone into this.
I don't like it, but I need to know if it's going to make money.
Truth of the matter is, while once you got a couple of hundred pounds for good ones at auction,
now £50-£80 tends to be the mark.
But look at the price tag.
We're in the right region.
£55 is the right ballpark and this delightful 19th-century machine works,
spinning fine yarn from the rawest of wool.
I'd like to buy that for £30-£35 to be able to sleep easy. We're going to make a little.
-What do you think?
-I don't know what to think.
-Have we got time to think?
-That's not going to be sold.
Good question. As the shopping moments evaporate, I'd say it's time to find Nigel and have a good grab.
-We have something we want to talk to you about.
-A spinning wheel.
The spinning wheel is up there because it's never going to sell.
-It's sitting at £55. I see its merit, but I see its detractors.
Nigel needs to check his books and Neil needs to decide if he really wants to take the plunge.
That happens to be mine. The best I could do on that is 45.
-40, cash, and we'll take it.
-No, 45 cash. I'm sticking there.
Poor Neil. It's not an easy decision, especially with a sore head. He needs shades.
I say we move on. I've got to be honest with you.
I don't like it, but I understand its beauty. ..I feel terrible.
I feel terrible. Look...
How big a risk...? We're going to walk away from that. How big a risk is £45 on that?
We're back. We are back.
-We're going to do it. We'll take you up on the wheel.
You're a hard man.
-You're a hard man.
-Thank you. Thanks for your custom.
-Wish us luck!
-£5 change, please.
-It's coming now!
Keep your hair on, Neil. You've got a wonderful new purchase to feel great about.
-I've bought a spinning wheel.
An old granny's spinning wheel!
Oh, dear. And as Minster House Antique Centre sighs with relief,
Penny and Thomas arrive on foot ready for their rummage,
now under the watchful eye of "Jeremie" in his beret.
He looks a bit French to me.
-You want Sooty's Xylophone! That's the only thing you want.
Ah, well, the old ones are the best ones, so let's find some good, old objects!
What an unusual thing!
What would you use...?
For the garden?
-Yeah, you could do.
-It would kill the plants.
-Look at this. This is a mortar, a 17th century mortar.
Now, that is exciting. How much is it?
65. That is amazing.
Do you want the lead or the pestle...? If I hold the two up, I'm just doing my exercise here.
-Could you hold them higher?
-I don't know. I think I prefer the lead one.
To be honest with you, Penny, it's fun, but the medieval one's got more going for it.
OK. Can we just take it, otherwise we'll never get fed?
Still thinking about chips, eh, Penny? Hmm, chips!
-Do you like a Deco bowl?
-I do like a Deco bowl.
"Art Deco, pressed glass vase, £36."
And it's got the thing in the middle.
It's got the little stand. It's sweet. It's lovely, very decorative.
I also like the touring game.
-"Rare 1930s touring game, £26."
-It's like our little Noddy car, isn't it?
Oh, it is! You almost want to get it just because it's like our little Noddy car that you've blown up.
No, no, it just...
And look, it's "exciting, interesting" and "educative".
I'm liking this cupboard.
-It's got nice taste. What's on the base?
-Bit of nice-looking pewter.
-OK, are we done?
-Let's take that down.
-That is gorgeous.
-I'm good, aren't I?
-You've got a really nice eye.
-I'm good on pots.
And so modest(!) Penny and Thomas have gathered a host of potential, all before lunchtime. Oh, chips!
But they've got the Art Nouveau pewter vase for £22, the Art Deco vase for £36,
the medieval mortar for £65
and the road trip game for £26. Lovely!
I can do this for 20. That gives you a really good sporting chance.
What can you do that one for?
The very best for 30.
Unless I get a kiss and you might get it for 28.
I don't care. I've sold my kisses...
-I was talking to Thomas!
I sold mine once for chips and curry sauce.
Enough with the chips already. What's it going to be?
Jeremy's offers come to £120 plus a kiss.
-Shall we make that 121?
-Or 120 to make it nice and round.
-That really is...
-Do I get the kiss?
Yes, you do. Tom, give him a kiss.
-Thank you, Jeremy.
-I feel like I'm in France.
France, beret, French fries...
Ooh, French fries!
That's a bumper bag of potential profit-makers for Penny.
So it's lucky that Neil is taking his shopping so seriously.
I just wanted to mention the budget to you.
You know you gave me the money yesterday...
PAUL LAUGHS LOUDLY
Well, you know, because when you lot went to bed last night...
I don't know.
I'm sure we can get to a cash point and stuff.
He's joking, of course.
Petrol money or not, the road trip moves on.
Leominster becomes the past
as we head 30 miles north into the future, into Shropshire
and on to Bridgnorth, but Paul wants to journey into Neil's past, especially his favourite TV sitcom.
That was a big deal for me, man!
It's so lovely that people hold... that people cherish that.
People have got such fond memories of it, something I did 16 years ago.
Obviously, now people are talking about Silk,
but there was quite a bit of work in between.
But no-one ever talks about that!
Bridgnorth prospered greatly from many a King Henry.
Henry I granted privileges to the town's burgesses.
Henry II extended these privileges.
Henry III granted liberties to the guild merchants.
And Henry VI gave regulations for local trade in bread and ale.
He came after the Agincourt Henry and before the fat one with all those wives.
I bow to your experience and your knowledge and frankly feel utterly inadequate next to it,
but thank God you're here!
Now, Micawber Antiques presents a world of opportunity
with Nick standing by. Hi, Nick.
But what kind of object could possibly catch Neil's eye?
These are amazing, aren't they?
They're so heavy. It's unbelievable!
-Are you drawn to those?
-Absolutely beautiful. Yeah, totally and utterly.
With your interest in wine...
We should be a double act here. We're wasting our time talking about these if there's much damage at all
and I've got fretting on that edge of that stopper already.
If they are to adorn a table, they really do need to be fine. Are you interested, warts and all?
We've just walked in the door, so we know they're there. That's a great beginning.
-But obviously... I've spotted something.
-There they are!
-Do you feel like you're being followed then, Neil? Paranoia? They might be fans.
MAKES HOOTING SOUND
I have to say the two decanters so far are...
-Are they still doing it for you?
-Yeah. But we're not going to make much money on them.
Even if he does a good deal.
We need to do something that's going to make us loads of money!
Don't stress, Neil! Just try your best.
Or let Paul knock them down from £45.
-Can I be really brutal?
-Because I'm an auctioneer.
But as a trade buyer...
20 quid? Can you help? Have you got much invested in them?
I can just about get out on 25.
Thank you. I really respect that.
So we know where we're at.
What do you make of the pewter there?
OK, this is...
I'm guessing Deco, is it?
It's a Wurttembergische... MUMBLES
-Yeah, exactly. That's what I said.
Neil is trying to say Wurttembergische Metallwarenfabrik.
But we can just say WMF, luckily.
German Art Nouveau from the early 20th century with a £90 ticket.
Auf Wiedersehen, pet!
What is the death on the WMF, so I know where we're...?
It would have to be 35 on the basket, yes.
Which do you prefer?
I think we should ask what you'd do for both of them.
-The decanters are 25.
And the Vorsprung durch Technik...
-That's 35 at the moment?
-Can we get rid of those 5s?
-We might get rid of one of them.
-Can we dig our heels... For a fiver?
-Go on then.
-Thank you very much.
Well done, boys, especially Neil. He's really quite good when he brightens up, isn't he?
Both celebrities have made a great fist of this shopping adventure
and quietly impressed their attentive experts.
So Penny is dragging poor Thomas to a tea-time treat that is right up her street.
-It's so sort of otherworldly, isn't it?
I had no sense of smell for five years.
That explains everything, Thomas!
In this part of the world, in a secret location, there's an amazing collection of fellow entertainers -
some stringed and some hand-operated.
This is the archive of the British Puppet and Model Theatre Guild,
lovingly curated by honorary archivist Michael Dixon.
He's real, by the way. No strings attached. Watch!
Michael, how did you get to be involved in all of this?
I met Jim Henson when I was seven years old. I was very interested in the Muppets.
I met him and interviewed him and Kermit on TV.
Though Michael's only seven, he's a total Muppet maniac, whose dream has been to meet the great Muppet maker.
Why did you call the Muppets Muppets?
Well, you know, in reality, it was just a word that we made up.
I used to tell people it was a combination of "puppets" and "marionettes",
but that was just an answer, so I would have something to tell people when they asked the question.
The Muppets are probably the world's most famous puppets,
created by hippie genius Jim Henson.
But many characters date back centuries to the dawn of entertainment.
2012 is the 350th anniversary of Punch and Judy,
probably the oldest known puppets in Britain.
This collection has built up over ten years to around 3,000 puppets,
half of which are Michael's own.
These are the ancestors of today's entertainers.
Early TV cameras were large and cumbersome, so puppet shows were ideal for test recordings.
When John Logie Baird was doing his experimental television at the end of the 1920s, early '30s,
he asked the Guild to come and perform.
Harry Whanslaw, one of the Presidents of the Guild,
made this puppet which was the first ever made for television.
He was painted in these colours, so he'd show up.
Isn't he lovely? He's slightly evil.
-Was he supposed to be slightly evil?
-Some people think all puppets are evil.
Some people? Naturally, puppets also became some of television's early stars.
Children of the 1950s enjoyed the simple exploits of Andy Pandy and Bill and Ben,
but they were not the first to steal the nation's heart.
And now we're going to give you just a little bit of our...
LOUD BANGING Muffin, stop it!
-I know that one.
The Hogarth Puppets actually created Muffin the Mule.
They were approached by the BBC to have a puppet created
to go on a show with Annette Mills while she was on the piano,
but as he got more famous, lots of people wanted to see him, but the puppet was quite small.
Fred Tickner created and carved the puppet,
so Fred Ticker made a reproduction of Muffin but in a much larger scale which is this one.
-He's got a friendly face.
-I like Muffin. He's sweet.
-Look at him with his little pink lips.
-He is sweet.
Technological advancements changed the way puppets entertained us and also changed the audience,
so by the 1980s, it was big kids watching grown-up puppets.
-What puppets did you have?
-I had some Muppet-style puppets.
Are Muppets... They're marionettes, aren't they?
No, they're hand in the mouth, so they operate with a glove or a rod and a hand like that.
-I know you don't like working in the shadow of somebody else, but he's a very intelligent man.
It's not part of my reality.
The Muppet Show was filmed in Britain, but a lot of UK puppeteers went on to work on Spitting Image,
one of our most famous puppet shows.
Spitting Image was certainly not for children - hilarious, foul-mouthed, heavy satire,
created by little-known sculptors Peter Fluck and Roger Law in the 1980s.
Its unwitting targets were usually the so-called great and good, especially Margaret Thatcher.
When they were in a restaurant, she said, "I'll have the meat raw."
"What about the vegetables?" "They'll have the same."
-That's right, the Cabinet...
-The Cabinet were around there, yes.
The Queen puppet there is quite an early version.
-Speaking like, "My husband and I would like to thank you all for coming."
-You've got all the voices.
-Princess Anne just went, "Naff off."
I remember that!
In the evolution of entertainment, Spitting Image was probably the last great TV puppet show
before computer animation won the day. Penny remembers the voices, but has she got the moves?
-You're doing very well. Look at that.
-There we go.
# High on a hill with a lonely goatherd
# Lay ee odl lay ee odl lay hee ho... #
I'm imagining I'm Captain von Trapp myself, as grumpy, but really kind-hearted.
-He's playing that.
-Very good. Look at that.
There we are, bowing.
-Time for us to go. Bye!
-Bye-bye, Mr Puppet.
Now the shopping's done, it's time to put on make-up,
it's time to light the lights and review what they've bought.
-Do we go over here?
-We can go over.
-Something of interest.
- So what did you buy it with? - We got the pair of Wemyss and that for 130.
-130 for the two. It's got a hairline crack in there though, hasn't it?
-How very dare you!
May I introduce you to our star...
-Your "star" star?
- Look at the craftsmanship. - It is lovely. Look at those lovely little turns.
We paid what for it?
Nice work, chaps.
Now, what do Penny and Thomas have underneath their black shroud?
Thomas, is that a Kenrick mortar? Or earlier? You think that's early?
I think that's early, yeah.
-You think that's 17th century?
-Oh, look at him, he's going, "No, it's not!"
- I like the ribbing to it. - It looks like it's been in the sea for 200 years!
A bit of pressed glass and some urin...uranium?
If you put a Geiger counter near them, they'll go tick-tock
because they're made out of uranium, obviously.
-Tom, this is your bag. What's going on here?
-This is very us.
-I love that.
-Little Noddy car touring England.
I'll have to do this to show you. There it is.
-I love that, Tom.
-It's great, isn't it?
And what's inside that?
Is it a Fiat? Is there a Fiat in there? A little red Fiat?
-That is a riot!
-It's fun, isn't it?
-I love it.
More fun when the cars don't break down all the time! So what do you really think? Fancy a drink?
I feel pretty good. I feel pretty confident, actually.
-We're in the hands of the auctioneer now, all right?
-And the market.
And we're in the hands of the market. The punch bowl is beautiful, beautiful.
For me, it's the yoke and the board game.
-Love them. Hats off.
So who do you think is going to win?
-I don't know.
-It's tough, isn't it?
-I really don't know.
If you could swap any items, what would you have?
I still think that cocktail shaker is a good one.
Is there anything they've got you'd swap for anything we've got?
I'm going to be really, really vicious.
-Our six foot...
Their six foot... Car boot sale.
Ooh! Come on, girls, let's get on the road to auction.
Our lucky celebrities now have their own, fully functioning MG Midget.
Even the windscreen wipers work... for the moment.
Another car, another day.
-Some more weather.
-We have been extraordinarily lucky with the weather!
So this two-car road trip makes its merry way to the final destination...
..heading 21 miles due north from Bridgnorth to Shropshire's very own Newport.
I still think that your mortar is thousands of years old.
-Thousands of years old.
-It's from Atlantis.
-When mammoths were...
-A collector is going to turn up and pay £30,000 for it.
Medieval Newport built its fortune on trade in leather, wool and fish,
but not a drop of cider, you'll be pleased to hear.
-Are you feeling lucky?
-Am I feeling lucky, punk?
-It's so close, Laidlaw.
-It's so close.
-How very dare you! How very dare you!
Awaiting our rain-swept travellers is Brettells Auctioneers.
Both celebrity swag bags have arrived safely and auctioneer David Brettell has peeked within
-to give his honest opinion.
-I like the spinning wheel. It's clean and tidy.
I like the WMF, good quality, and the Asprey cocktail shaker.
Interesting thing, the oxen yoke. It has got those little pieces that drop down.
I'm not sure whether those aren't perhaps a later addition on display.
It will be finding the right customer for that one.
Heavy mortar pot, interesting thing, and it's hugely old,
but it's got huge character.
Neil and Paul, in my opinion, will walk it.
That's lucky. They've been walking for the last two days!
Our celebrity teams began with £400 apiece.
Neil and Paul spent a thoroughly healthy £225 on five auction lots,
whilst Penny and Thomas went a modicum crazier,
spending £227 also on five lots.
-Is it really?
-Yeah. We need another...
-Brettells Auctioneers are ready to sell.
But we seem to be missing... something.
Where are they?
That's actually a good point. For a ten o'clock auction at...
-And I go... Ready?
Disaster has struck again.
These are the moments that I shall cherish.
Neil and Penny are having... How can I put this?
-Do you reckon they've deserted, had second thoughts after that reveal?
-They've done a runner.
It's awful, but the auction waits for no man...or woman!
-Seriously, he's going to start. He's starting. Do you think it was something I said?
First up, lonesome Paul is pinning Neil's hopes on the Wemyss vases.
-Good luck. This is it.
-Nice Wemyss vases.
£50, the Wemyss? 30 bid.
At £30 I have. At £30. 40. 50.
60 sat down left. £60 here on my left. At £60.
Keep going. Way too cheap.
-At £60. Going to be sold then at £60...
-More, more, more!
- 100. £100 bid. - Well done. Well done.
You're in profit.
£100, I'm selling then. Quickly round at 100...
Neil missed it, but that's an excellent start
to what could be a fine sale.
-But he missed it!
Soldier on, lads. Thomas can keep the home fires burning
with Penny's brass fruit bowl, selling with the pewter vase.
-£20 bid. At 20.
-That's a good start.
£20. Anybody going for 5? At £20 bid.
25. 30. 5.
-It's still going, still going.
At £40. Anybody else? Quickly round. All done, sold away at 40...
Oh, dear, not so great for Team Smith.
Still, onwards and, um... Well, honestly now, where are they?
I don't think you did badly there, to be honest with you.
Hopefully, Neil's cocktail shaker can shake things up in his absence.
Mine's a Harvey Wallbanger!
£20 and off we go. 20. 5. 30. Sat down.
£30 bid. Now at £30. £30. 5.
40. £40 bid. Don't stop now.
We need a bit more than that.
At £40 sat down, all done? Going to be sold on my left.
-Quickly round, the Asprey, £40, sold away at 40...
Oh, another loss! Maybe it's best that Neil and Penny aren't here.
-We're going backwards. I'm in reverse.
-Same with me.
Now a chance to improve Penny's fortunes -
the Art Deco vase selling with the uranium vases. Cross your fingers!
Where are we going to be? 20?
- Tumbleweed! - 5. Big help, but it's a start. £5.
£5 on my left. At £5. 8. At £8. Don't stop now.
- Don't stop! - Don't you dare stop now! 10. 12.
- £12 now... - No way!
£12. 15. 18...? 15.
At £15 in front of me now. Anybody else? At £15. It will be sold.
- David, you are out. - No!
At 15. Sold away at 15...
Is that 15?
-Call ourselves experts?
-Best not to answer that one, Paul.
Chin upwards and onwards with Neil's beloved spinning wheel of fortune.
I can't believe he'll miss this.
-Spinning wheel, good size.
-This is nice.
Put me in for that. Where are we going to be? £50?
-Got to be 50 for a start.
-And it works.
-It does work. 50?
£30 bid. £30. £30.
At £30. £30 for a spinning wheel. 5. 40.
5. 50. 5.
-55 down there through the gap.
-OK, it's washing its face.
It's washing its face.
-- £55. - 55. It's washed its face.
Oh, dear! A profit, but not a great big one for Neil's star buy.
Oh, hello, look out! Nice of you to join us.
Here they come. I can see the green car. Shall I go and get them?
-I'm getting them in.
No rush then, Neil. You just stroll, mate.
-Oh, man, man, man!
-It's not been good news.
-Two of our lots?
-Our lots, three of theirs.
Let's not dwell on it. At least Penny can witness her yoke selling,
possibly making a profit.
- Who'll start me there? £50? - What did the Wemyss get?
- It's all very quiet. - It's like tumbleweed.
Any interest? £30, kick me off?
You're buying history.
To hang coats on!
20 to start me? Thank you, Georgina.
£20 bid. £20, Georgina, at the very back. £20 bid. £20.
We'd better go 5. 30.
5. 40. £40 bid, Georgina at the very back.
At £40 bid. At £40 I'm selling...
-- Is this your yoke?
-- Nobody else?
The losses keep coming for Penny and Thomas.
The yoke is on you!
That'll lift our spirits(!)
Can Neil's Victorian decanters keep us buoyant?
£20, off we go. £20 for the pair. 20 bid. £20 bid. £20 sat down.
At £20 bid. 25. 30.
5. 35 bid.
35 bid. Nice pair of Victorian decanters. 35 in front of me now.
-£40, top right. £40.
£40. Nobody else? Left of me at £40.
£40 right down at the bottom of the saleroom. Sold away at 40...
Rather nice to see a small profit, ain't it?
-Doubled your money, man.
-That's all right. I'll take that.
Now Penny and Thomas really need to up their game.
Clean and tidy. Good condition. There we are, put me in for that.
- Who'll start me there at 25 or 30? - Go on!
£10 bid. At £10. Simon's bid.
15. 20. £20.
-A fiver anywhere? At £20...
-Is that the first one we haven't lost on?
Even the road trip game can't save today's road trip auction!
That'll be a loss after costs.
Paul's looking so smug. He's saying, "Yeah, yeah, well done."
-He's got no reason to look smug.
-Yeah, there's no shame in that.
So with no profits to Penny and Thomas's name, this auction is Neil and Paul's for the taking
as their pewter basket awaits the bidders.
£20, start me now. Thank you, £20, we're off.
- 25. Here we go. 30. - Here we go.
35. 40. 50.
-- £50 bid. £50 bid. - Come on, come on.
Anybody else at £50? Quickly round? Anybody else in the room at 50...?
Neil and Paul's small profits have kept this sale alive
and keep them on top.
Penny's intriguing mortar may be 17th century.
The last lot today and their last hope!
£30? Who's in? 20?
- £20? 20, thank you, sat down. - Do they just know...?
£20. Sat down at £20. Have a look what I'm doing...
- There's no point. - A fiver anywhere?
- At £20... - Go on!
At £20 bid. At £20. I've got a maiden bid of £20.
- In the room, last chance... - There we are.
Last chance for you all. Anybody else at 20?
An appalling loss and a devastating end
to Penny and Thomas's fortunes.
Wonderful. That's exactly what I wanted to see(!)
-That's a hefty loss.
-That is a hefty loss.
Don't make it any worse than it is.
Reluctantly, we turn our eyes to the full horror.
So, both teams began with £400.
Penny and Thomas took a pretty big hit
and after auction costs, actually made a loss of £116.30.
Doesn't sound much if you say it quickly!
Ending their road trip with a mildly tragic £283.70.
Neil and Paul did a bit better, but not much.
They end their road trip in the lead with £408.70.
By the rules of the road trip, all profits go to Children In Need,
however small those profits may be, and today, they're titchy!
-Come on. Well done, you two.
-Yes, well done.
- Thank you very much. - Well done.
-Enjoyed the journey.
-Well, I didn't.
I enjoyed the journey buying. We had great fun.
-We had a lovely time.
-I didn't enjoy the auction so much.
No. I'm sort of rather glad that we missed half of it!
I'm going to miss you guys now.
Oh, shucks! We'll miss you too, Neil. And you, Penny.
# The sun ain't gonna shine any more... #
Charles II's lover Nell Gwyn is from Herefordshire.
-Is that actually true?
-Do you know something?
The thing is, what we have gained in our brains, you can't just give to somebody immediately.
Give me five minutes. I could write it down.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
TV entertainers Neil Stuke and Penny Smith hit the road with £400 to invest in antiques. They go shopping in Herefordshire with help from antiques experts Paul Laidlaw and Thomas Plant and take some wayward diversions to a cider museum and puppetry archive. They end up at auction in Newport, Shropshire - but who will walk away with a profit?