Actors Lesley Joseph and Christopher Biggins battle in a competition for antique glory around Essex and Buckinghamshire. Lesley comes face to face with a unique artefact.
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'The nation's favourite celebrities...'
-We're special, then, are we?
-'..paired up with an expert...'
-That deserves a high-five.
-'..and a classic car.
-'Their mission - to scour Britain for antiques...'
-I have no idea what it is.
-Oh, I love it.
-'..the aim, to make the biggest profit at auction...'
-'..but it's no easy ride.'
-There's no accounting for taste.
'Who will find a hidden gem? Who will take the biggest risks?
-'Will anybody follow expert advice?'
-Do you like them?
-'There will be worthy winners and valiant losers.'
-Are you happy?
-'Time to put your pedal to the metal.
'This is Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
'Who'd drive in a car like this?'
-Come along, Christopher.
-I love it!
-It's a Triumph Herald.
-This is a bit of a triumph for us!
Yes. Today's nicely-turned-out celebrities and friends
are Lesley Joseph and Christopher Biggins.
Here we go.
I have one complaint. It's not pink.
Lesley is known to the nation as Dorien,
the Chigwell jezebel from TV's Birds Of A Feather...
This is Essex.
Yes. My sort of adopted county. I is like an Essex girl now.
..while Christopher's range includes everything from playing
Emperor Nero in I, Claudius to cult classic Rentaghost.
Not famous for his driving roles, however.
-There is such a backlog of traffic behind us.
It's hysterical. It's going back for miles.
Both have form, though,
when it comes the serious business of celebrity competition.
Especially King of the Jungle Christopher.
I don't mind as long as I beat you.
They're big in panto, too, which has not escaped the notice
of today's experts, auctioneers Mark Stacey and James Braxton.
You and Biggy are going to get on like a house on fire.
-What, like a pair of pantomime dames?
This could be the big break!
With £400 apiece, celebrities and experts are making their way
through the Essex countryside in a 1980s Ford Capri
and a 1960s Triumph Vitesse...
And we're hoping that because they maybe might like us just
-a little bit, they might give us a really good price.
-On the other hand, they might not.
-They might hate us!
Yep, fame can cut both ways. Best behaviour, now.
Our trip starts in Sawbridgeworth,
just over the Hertfordshire border
and then takes an anticlockwise meander around the north
of the capital before returning for a West London auction at Chiswick.
I wonder who is going to go with who?
I don't know why but I just look at you and I think you
and Lesley would be birds of a feather.
'Oh, I don't think he gets it, Mark.'
-Oh, oh, James, look out behind us.
-Well, good morning, gentleman!
-Good morning! How are you?
-Very good. How are you?
-We've had a very good journey.
-So, what are we going to do?
What are we going to do? Who would like to go with who?
-Well, I think we have paired up.
-I think this is it.
I think we have actually naturally paired up, so shall we stay like this?
-Are we the perfect pairing?
-We're the perfect pairing.
-Especially on height. Let's go.
'So, an extremely short walk to the first shop.'
-OK. Where shall we go? Straight on?
-Let's go straight on.
-Let's get rid of them.
-Let's go down here, then.
-'Plenty of room.
'There shouldn't be too much stepping on each other's toes.'
This is my idea of heaven!
'Time for each expert to discover exactly what his celebrity
'wants to get out of here.'
-I like china.
-I love little silver things.
I think we want to go for cabinets.
You see, you've got a good variety here.
Very pretty little silver purse with swags and bows.
But £195 is much too much.
-'Lesley has definitely done this before.'
-Do you like...?
No, I don't.
(I quite like this. He won't like it, though.)
-You don't mind me being blunt?
-No, I don't mind you being blunt at all.
-(I do.) Now, I like that. I think it's quite fun.
-Come on, find something nice!
-I'm trying to.
-I don't think you're trying hard enough.
Honestly, I could have got a really good person to be on this show with.
'Now, now! Remember, best behaviour.'
-I quite like that!
-'At last! Now, what about Lesley and James?'
-Small things. Attractive things.
-I think small but beautiful.
Small but old. Small and blingy. Small and bright.
-'That's their mantra, then.'
-See, £300 for that...
And there's a jug and six tumblers but...
-It's a lot and not a particularly fine one, either.
-No, it isn't.
'She shows definite promise, you know.
'Meanwhile, peace has broken out elsewhere.'
-This is rather interesting.
-I love the colour.
-I do too.
-That iridescent green.
-What exactly is it?
-Well, it is a figure of two deer, I think.
Not two old dears.
Will it be expensive? Will it be dear?
-Let's get those in early.
-Is it possible we can open this one here?
-We want to have a look at the two deer here.
-Is it china?
-It is. It's porcelain.
-That's interesting, isn't it?
It's a lovely colour.
-It's quite unusual.
-But I'm not sure about that base.
Because they are making modern versions of these now.
These were made in the Art Deco period.
-I think it might be a more modern one.
-Oh, I see.
But it is something we might consider.
-Shall we just keep it in...
-..the back of our head?
-You don't know how much we could get that for?
Actually, this lady is away on holiday
-so we'll make a decision for her.
-Possibly a little bit more than that.
-'Any more of that and you may be asked to leave.'
-What are you doing?
-It will be something rude.
-'How could he possibly guess?'
-There's nothing really exciting here.
-No, it's not, is there?
-Apart from us, of course!
-That goes without saying.
-'In a quieter corner, James has unearthed something.'
-Is that stamps?
'It's not remotely blingy, though.'
-Is that real stamps or is that all printed?
-Nick! We want you!
-You have caught me eating biscuits.
We have found a very unusual coffee table. Classic. What is that?
'70s, '80s coffee table
but somebody has put underneath the coffee table load of stamps.
'Just as well he used to be a porter.'
-That is actually really rather good.
-Isn't it fun?
-We can do better than that.
-We can do a lot better than that.
Can we just check that it's quite... I mean,
it needs to be solid.
But it's a working coffee table.
There is no such thing as an old coffee table.
-It's actually really fun, isn't it?
-Just to warn you - two screws missing
-and an odd screw there on this side.
-I don't think that's a problem.
-That is a deal-breaker.
It would be a deal softener.
I just want to... just in case I make an absolute
-fool of myself, I do want to reassure myself...
-Or a fool of me.
-'More to the point!'
-They are actual stamps.
-I think they definitely are.
-They absolutely 100% are.
-I've never seen something like that.
-'So, Mr Nick...'
-I shall do some phone calls.
-Will you do some phone calls and let us know?
We're looking about 20, Nick. For heavily damaged...
'Slight exaggeration, James.'
-We don't like all of the stamps.
-'Frank, Lesley, eh?
-'I think she's joking.'
-It's good fun. It's somebody using their noddle.
Give me high-five.
-'Nick has news.'
Would that be...? Are we getting there?
Do you think there is even more movement, then, Nick? Hesitation.
-What about 20?
-See if you can get it for 20?
-'Time for Nick to make one more plea, then.'
-For you, yes.
Lovely! I'm celebrating with a cup of tea!
'Cheers, you two!'
Quietly. Because there are eyes around us, Nick. Quietly.
-Thank you very much indeed.
-Thank you very much indeed. Thank you.
-Thank you for looking after us.
-'First buy to Lesley and James for £20.
-'Ah, now, that is familiar!'
-I just love the colour.
I love the flowers which are halfway up.
I love the orange down below the yellow. I love everything.
It is very, very 1930s, isn't it?
I would have thought that was quite commercial, too.
-It is quite commercial.
-It's a lemonade set, I think.
-It's a lot of money.
-'Yes, the ticket price is £300.
'Far too much for their rivals.'
We have got a combination of techniques, haven't we?
We've got hand-painting and transfer printing.
This is transfer printed, I think.
But it's very much in the style of that very famous designer,
-Vibrant, isn't it? Very vibrant.
-Very vibrant and this is very much her shape.
'But it's clearly not the real thing, Mark.
-'Even if your celebrity is smitten.'
-Christopher is really sold on this.
Is he? So you need me to really, really get a good price?
-You know, this is...
-OK, I will see what I can do.
Thank you very much.
Would you accept 150 if she came down?
-Oh, yes, I think we'd accept £150.
'That would be quite a reduction. Anything a bit cheaper, you two?'
-So it is that one over there.
-What was it you wanted to see?
-The bronze boar.
-I'm working with one, so I thought I would see a bronze of one.
Now, is that bronze? It's not terribly heavy, is it?
-No, but what else would it be?
-I think it is.
-I think it's got a lovely face.
-I think it's got a lovely face, I really like it.
-What price is it?
-What price is it?
-The dealer's got 85 on it.
He's not very good on trade, but we can try and beat him down for you.
Oh-h. Not good on trade.
-That means that he doesn't like giving big discounts.
Are you sure you're all right carrying that,
-because I am here to help.
'Sounds like anything better than about 10% off is down to Polly and the team.'
The boar - I can only go down to 75.
-That is so boring.
-What would you pay for it?
-In a perfect world, I'd want to pay 50 quid.
-Were you laughing?
-No, no, I went "Oooh!"
I'll confess, I did laugh.
Yes, I did. Nick is going to try again for you.
-He's not trying very hard, is he?
-Thank you, appreciate it!
-Yay! You got another five.
You're not happy, are you?
NICK: I got it down to 70.
'That's the best but Nick's still not managed to speak to the
'dealer who owns the lemonade set yet.'
Just rings and rings.
-They could ring us back.
-Yes, or could we ring you?
-Would you mind trying?
-Because we'd love to get it.
-Could you try on the hour every hour?
-We'll carry on ringing all day.
-Nick, you are marvellous.
So what are we going to do about this little boar?
-I think we should go for it.
-I think we should.
-Cos you love it.
-I do. I do like it.
I can always say that at the auction when it doesn't make a profit.
'One £70 boar in the bag.
'We'll have to wait and see about the lemonade set, though.
'Meanwhile, who's got the Ford?'
'Yes, that one.
'Lesley and James are heading west,
'motoring from Sawbridgeworth to the countryside near Ware.'
Would Dorien have loved that antiques centre or not?
Erm, not really, no.
-Let's put it this way...
-It was second-hand, wasn't it?
It was second-hand, nothing leopard skin about it
and there were no gorgeous young hunks. Dorien's a fickle character.
'Not so Lesley.
'Welcome to the Curious Collectables Emporium, an internet only
'establishment welcoming some rare personal callers.'
-I'm Lesley, how are you? Are you Alan?
-Yes, I am. Nice to meet you.
-Lovely to meet you.
-Hi, James, nice to meet you.
-Well, come in.
-Feel free to have a look around.
-Look at this!
-I'll let you guys carry on and have a look.
Thanks very much.
'The place to themselves.
'But not a cabinet in sight.
'I think the bling thing might have to take a back seat, don't you?'
It's not quite as crowded as I'd like.
'There must be something, Lesley. Let's grasp the nettle, shall we?'
Aggh! Look at this.
That is cool. I had a Meccano set.
-'Something tells me Lesley didn't.'
-It's a proper tool. Nuts and bolts.
-I think it's definitely a shop fitting.
-Yes, without question.
-It looks like it has all the Meccano spares.
-We must ask the price for that?
-Do they sell well?
-That would sell well.
-Yeah, it's very unusual. People prize the unusual.
-I've never seen one.
'But with the public not usually allowed in here, there is
-I think the absence of price tags is lovely.
'James has spotted something else.
'It's difficult to miss, though, enough to make you croak.'
-This is a fountain.
-No, is it?
-Do you like that?
People love gardens.
Pollution can come in many things,
but noise pollution is one of the worst.
If you had a little garden in London and you splash and it's your noise,
-rather than your neighbours.
-'Is it bronze, though?'
This rather points that this is verdigris, copper oxide.
But if you really wanted to test it, what you do is take an area,
here where it's got rubbed, I don't even need to do it with a knife.
But if I went like that, it comes up yellow rather than silver.
Is a leaping frog fountain on the top of everybody's to-buy list?
'Oh, dear. Anything you'd choose, Lesley?'
I love this. I love little chairs.
Yeah. It's got a little crack here.
-It's been there for sometime, hasn't it?
-Do you think it's old?
-Definitely. Yeah. It's 19th century.
-It's lovely and worn.
-It's just quite a nice honest chair that.
-Shall we get a price on that?
-'From an unpromising start we suddenly have quite a short list.
'Time to talk to Alan. Hi, Alan.'
-It's a very attractive Meccano.
-Yes, I've tried to find a value on it.
I've searched the internet, I can't find anything like it.
'So it is unusual?'
I don't have a price in mind as yet.
There's not a huge amount in it.
No, interestingly it's for the parts.
Maybe it is a shop display
because I see everything is quite packaged.
-There are bits inside that haven't even been opened yet.
I don't know, it's just rather interesting.
It doesn't float my boat.
'She doesn't hide her feelings, does she?'
-What about this little chair, I love chairs.
Yes, I've had that for a while actually.
Definitely 19th century.
Windsor chairs were made in Buckinghamshire,
you know, not far away for ever and ever.
-I have that advertised at 70.
It's something we would like to buy at 30 or 40, isn't it?
-There is a frog in the corner.
-Your bronze frog, how much?
To be honest, it was more for decoration. But it is for sale.
I think I've got him up for £100, I believe.
'I think they had a lot less in mind.
'But Lesley has also found another aquatic, cheaper surely?'
-I quite like this.
Definitely a hardwood of some sort.
-How much is that?
-It's got a charm, hasn't it?
It looks as though it's smiling!
It sort of has and I quite like that it is nice and sharp.
You're not thinking of doing anything hazardous, are you?
'Give her daggers, eh?'
I just might do.
'So then there were four.'
-We thought we'd put a package to you.
-Our offer is £200 for the lot.
I can't really sell the Meccano at the moment.
The guy that lets me store the stuff here,
he showed me it yesterday.
I said to him I would research it before I got a price for him.
-That was just a rather nasty draw, wasn't it?
Then you could always phone him now and talk to him.
Very foolish laying bait.
You never know when it's going to be gobbled up, do you?
'So, time for a cup of tea out in the farmyard
'while Alan calls a cabinet meeting.'
At this stage, he doesn't really want to sell it.
-He doesn't want to be bounced into it.
That leaves us with a frog, a chair and a thing.
I don't think I particularly want to pay £100 for those.
What if we offered you 80 for the three?
-No, not 100.
-I reckon we could go to 85 and that would be it.
-I'll agree to that.
-Lovely, shake hands on it. High five. Yeah!
-Well done, Alan. Thank you.
-"Pay him" as well.
-Pay the man.
-'Like the lady said, James!
'Meanwhile, back in the Vitesse.
-'Christopher and Mark are heading to the theatre.'
-I'm a pantomime queen...
-I'd say veteran.
I'm with the Hof this year in Southend.
It'll be like Baywatch for few months. Pamela Anderson, the Hof.
My favourite pantomime role as the dame is, without doubt, Mother Goose.
She's like the Hamlet of the Dame world.
'But with a "quackier" ending.
'Our trip now manoeuvres into Greater London
'and the borough of Ilford, where Christopher and Mark have come to
'meet one of our greatest authorities
'on the art of pantomime.'
-Hello, Nigel! How nice to see you. Mwah! Mwah!
-This is my friend Mark.
-Lovely to meet you.
He wants to do pantomime this year, what can we do for him?
'Dread to think.
'Nigel Ellacott is the costume designer and life-long panto
'buff, who like Christopher, has played the dame countless times.'
-Where is all the pantomime stuff?
'Nigel may be based at the theatre
'named after the-stiff-upper lip hero of loads of war movies
'like Reach For The Sky,
'but his true passion is for our uniquely British form of slapstick.'
This is the oldest thing I've got in the collection.
-This is a playbill of Joseph Grimaldi and dates from 1822.
-Good Lord! Wow!
It is, to me anyway, the very beginning of pantomime.
Joseph Grimaldi, even today if you go to a circus,
every single clown is known as a Joey and that's because of him.
Here you've got the white face and the make-up.
These harlequinades were the origin of pantomime.
We don't have a clown any more in panto, but if you look at his
face, and you've got the make-up and the silly hair,
-he sort of became the dame.
I'm just looking to see if Christopher is on the bill.
Ha-ha-ha, here I am, small print!
'Nigel's collection, most of which can be found online, demonstrates
'how older European theatrical forms with stock characters
'and familiar plots evolved into what we would recognise today as panto.'
We British, we said, "We like the Italian and French entertainment,
-"but let's put a little something different in."
-The British spin.
And they created slapstick, Harlequin's stick was slapstick.
It was two pieces of wood that made a slapping sound.
-Oh, I see.
-Hence slapstick. Yes.
'But it was under the influence of theatre manager Sir Augustus Harris
'in the late 19th century that the modern pantomime was born.'
He brings in stars to pantomime for the very first time.
He got them from music hall.
All those popular stars like Marie Lloyd, Little Tich,
Dan Leno, he made them huge pantomime stars.
That way he didn't just get the middle classes, he got the
working classes in there and now his theatres are full and packed...
-Do you know the expression "bring the house down"?
-I don't know why.
It's the old-time music hall days when they were open all day.
Acts would go on all day from early morning until late at night.
But mainly you went there to eat and drink in the bars at the back.
Then somebody like Marie Lloyd would come on
and she'd bring the house down from the back.
-They would go and sit to watch her.
That's when you got that expression when this was the top bill.
-I think it's lovely.
-I never knew.
'Paris's leading male star was Dan Leno,
'known as the funniest man on earth.
'Leno, who started out as Little George the Infant Wonder,
'became in the course of a short but brilliant career, the dame's dame.'
When he started with Augustus Harris, he was earning £28 a week.
-That was a heck of a lot of money then.
-That's in about 1880.
But by the time he died in 1903, he was earning £245 a week.
-In pantomime alone.
-He was the highest-paid comic in the world.
'But panto's other great cross-dressing role is
'the principal boy.
'Nigel's collection includes this doll modelled on Cora Goffin,
'the actress who at the height of her fame had her legs
'insured for £20,000 when 20,000 was 20,000.'
This is probably a very early form of pantomime off-sale.
This doll was sold in the theatre.
On her foot there it says, "Emile Littler's Jack & Jill".
-So that was the pantomime at Birmingham.
Cora Goffin was the most famous principal boy of her time.
When she did radio panto,
she got so much fan mail from that one radio broadcast that the
BBC were forced to bring in a secretary to handle the fan mail.
It was the first time that had ever happened.
'Of course one of the reasons that panto is still so well loved
'is the comfort of unchanging conventions like audience participation.
'Oh, yes, it is!
'Villains entering from stage left
'and the good fairy from stage right.'
-We are sort of fraternity, aren't we?
-And I think we should have new members.
-I couldn't agree more.
-Shall we try this on our new member?
-I think we ought to give it a go.
Why not, why not? Let's see how it goes. You're the new member, darling.
-Oh, I'm the new member?!
-Yes, you're the new member.
-So you come in the middle.
-If it fits, it's like Cinderella.
-You will go to the panto!
-I will go. Oooh!
-Let me have a look. Oh, you look...!
-But not quite ready yet.
-Oh, dear, what's next?
-Put your arm through there.
-Oh, my God.
-Thank you. Another one.
-I'm like Dame Shirley Bassey here.
In your dreams!
You look lovely. Give us a twirl.
Marvellous. A dame is born.
-That's your Christmas season sorted.
-I think Cleethorpes, don't you?
'Ah, well, antiques' loss is Vaudeville's gain.
'Now, back to our original double act.'
-Off we go, Christopher.
BOTH: # Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye
-Here I go... #
THEY DISSOLVE INTO LAUGHTER
-Look at the road! The road!
'That's showbiz. Nighty night, you two.
'Next morning, Lesley is ready for yet more rummaging.'
I have to say I had the best day, I mean, James is lovely.
-We laughed a lot.
Mark is very dull. He... has no fun whatsoever.
Honestly, it was like being with my grandmother.
'If your granny knew a thing or two about antiques.
-'Despite a few differences of taste...'
-Now, I like that...
'..Christopher and Mark managed to acquire a bronze boar for £70,
'leaving them £330,
'although they were sorely tempted by a lemonade set, as you do...'
-I honestly love it.
-'..but couldn't reach the dealer,
'while Lesley and James set off at boy-racer pace...'
'..splashing out on a frog fountain, a crocodile paper knife,
'a chair and a coffee table.'
Give me high five.
'That nice mix cost a mere £105, leaving almost £300 to spend today.
'Later they'll be wending towards
'west London for an auction
'at Chiswick, but our next stop
is in Buckinghamshire,
'at the village of Waddesdon.'
# There's no business like show business
# Like no business I know... #
'Shall we get on with the show, then?!'
Good morning. Whee!
-I use the term loosely!
-Here we are. Good morning.
-Good morning, Mr James. How are you?
-Lovely to see you.
-Lovely to see you, you're looking resplendent.
-We're all in bloom.
-Did you have a good day yesterday?
-We had a marvellous day.
-We've got a truckload of stuff!
-That's scared me. Not sure about ours.
-Ours are lovely!
-You're not sure?!
-He's told me, Lesley. I'm so sorry.
-Don't listen to him!
-Excuse me, I've got work to do.
-Remember, it is the taking part that counts.
-Don't spend too much money.
-We'll see you later.
-So where are we going?
-Shopping, shopping, shopping.
-It's literally just across the road.
'Hmm! Christopher and Mark have an awful lot of shopping to do
'so they're heading to the high street,
'but first there's that lemonade set they were keen on.
'Before they buy here, they need to make a call.'
-'Antiques centre, good morning.'
-Morning, is that Polly?
Polly, it's Biggins and Mark. How are you?
-'I'm fine, how are you?'
-Very well indeed.
Now what's the news on the lemonade set?
'We've beaten him down just a little bit more for you
'and the price is 225.'
-Oh, dear, Oh, dear.
-'I know. It's the best we can do. I'm sorry.'
-We're so close, aren't we?
-We are. He wouldn't do 175?
-'No, definitely not. That was his final offer.'
-Go on, let's take it.
-Have you made an executive?
Yes, I've made an executive. We're going to take it.
-'You've made an executive.'
-Yes, we're going to take it.
Mark's collapsed on the floor.
'I think he's taken it pretty well considering, Christopher.
'£225 is a huge gamble. On the nose, you might even say.
'Leaving just £105 to spend today.'
-Junk & Disorderly, that's us!
-Do you like pigeons?
-I love pigeons.
I have never seen anything like that.
-'A clock garniture with what looks like a broken clock.'
-What's it made from?
-It looks bronze from a distance.
It's actually made out of smelter.
-Which is a cheaper version. Then it's been bronzed.
It's almost certainly French. Early 20th century. It's so OTT.
-It's gorgeous. It can't be for the three of them £60?
-It must be.
'Even that's more than half of what they've got left.'
-What do you think he'll take?
-Well, I think we can try.
-Or at a push we could say a tenner for each piece.
'Nice start. Anything else out here?'
-I'm going to buy this for you.
-For all your special memories.
Yes, it's empty!
-Don't they go on the side of a horse or something?
-I've no idea.
I'm just making it up as I go along.
'On that note, let's meet the proprietor.'
-Hello, how are you?
-Very well, thank you.
-Chris, nice to see you.
-Nice to see you, Roger.
-This is my friend Mark.
What a lovely shop you've got.
-What a small shop!
-Well, it's a strange little emporium really!
'Well, it's certainly a bit disorderly, Roger,
'although your stock is much nicer than you describe.'
-We quite like your pigeons outside.
They're interesting. The clock is absolutely useless, but you know...
The pigeons are nice.
What's your best offer on that?
-Tenner a piece?
-We've spent a lot of money already.
You always say that.
-We are gentlemen, we only tell you the truth.
-It'd be lovely if we could get it for that.
-Well done, Roger.
-Thank you very much.
-Roger, you're a star.
'Thanks to Roger, those two have finally got something going "cheep"!'
I'm really excited. It's good.
I've got the lemonade jug and the six tumblers which I'm thrilled about.
We've got our bronze
and I'm absolutely thrilled with our three pigeons.
I think it's so camp and over the top that it's wonderful,
and a great price. So I'm really thrilled.
'Now, what about those other birds of a feather,
'nipping up the road to nearby Waddesdon Manor?'
Have you and Christopher, have you ever worked together?
-I'm trying to think. We've never actually done a play together.
But you did your radio show, am I right?
Oh, yes, we did that, on a Sunday morning.
That was sometimes difficult to get through from laughing.
'Lesley's a huge fan of stately homes, so this gorgeous creation by
'Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild should make her very happy.
'Modelled in the French chateau style, Waddesdon was where the
'banking dynasty displayed their magnificent collection of art.'
-Isn't this amazing?
-Come round into the dining room.
Look at the chandelier, James.
'Lesley and James are here to see some highlights from that collection
'in the company of curator Pippa.'
This is the red drawing room.
This room was the principal reception room
here at Waddesdon, erm, and the house was built essentially for
entertaining, so what we're standing in is a very grand holiday cottage.
-It was used...
-Bit like ours, love.
But when you come to rooms like this, you sort of get the kind of
essence of what was called the Rothschild style, which is
this very interesting combination of English 18th century portraits
on the walls here, but French 18th century decorative arts.
And, of course, wonderful, wonderful China,
we've got something on the table.
This object, in a sense, is the one which kicks the whole thing off
for Ferdinand as a collector
because this is the first really significant piece that he acquires.
And what age is it, what is it?
So, it's a Sevres porcelain vase.
It's a pot pourri vase, but it's in the form of a ship.
It was made in 1761.
'Only ten are known to exist,
'and Waddesdon has three of these rare and exquisite confections.'
Am I right in saying this is a sort of bleu celeste?
This is the famous bleu celeste, yes,
which was copied from Chinese porcelain,
which, of course, was the great thing that kicked off this
search in the 18th century for the secret of true porcelain.
And it's quite usual to have, erm,
different scenes on either side because often these pieces
in the 18th century would be set up with a mirror behind them,
so you would be able to see the scenes.
-Oh, gosh, and does the top come off here?
-The top lifts...
I'm not going to try it.
'Wealthy Ferdinand soon collected many other treasures,
'some from English aristocrats fallen on hard times.
'They were a lavish backdrop to his weekend house parties.'
I want to show you now one of the most extraordinary
objects in the collections, which is this chap here.
It's an automaton, and it's a musical automaton,
so it's a very, very elaborate music box.
'This incredible creature, which plays four tunes,
'is the work of a French clockmaker.'
Oh, it's the most beautiful thing.
It is glorious, isn't it? Look, Lesley, isn't that incredible?
It has a very key role, in a sense, in the history of the house.
Ferdinand acquired it when he'd been asked to host a visit from
the Shah of Persia, erm, in 1889.
The Shah was so thrilled by the elephant that he had it wound again
and again and again until, as Ferdinand said,
he had to distract His Excellency for fear that...
He was obviously worried that his new acquisition was going to...
going to break through all the attention.
When the Baron died in 1898, his sister Alice inherited
the manor and continued to develop the collection.
But it was another female member of the Rothschild family who was
responsible for some of the finest lace at Waddesdon.
These were collected by Baroness Edmond from the
French branch of the family, and she was a great collector of
all sorts of different accessories, so fans, lace, buttons.
But she was quite scholarly about it
so she collected from particular centres of production,
and I love this one from the 1750s, and it's got
chinoiserie ornament in it, so you can see the firebirds there.
-Oh, gosh, yes, look at that, James.
-And the little bridges there.
-Oh, my goodness, that is...
-It's so charming, isn't it?
This one is much more baroque, much denser.
And that is from what period?
That's a little bit early, that's from 1700-1720.
And these were produced to be incorporated in dress,
sort of cuffs and collars...?
Yes, yes, and lappets too, which were the long strips
-which hung down from a cap, hung down at the back.
You see them in contemporary portraits very often.
Anyway, we've got someone who knows all about that, and I think
you're actually going to have a go, Lesley.
-I'm going to make lace, James.
Here is Christine.
Good morning, Christine. I'm Lesley, James.
Christine is going to unravel some of the secrets of lace making.
You only need to learn two movements.
What, for the whole of that?
Yes, yes, everything is built up from two movements.
So you start with four threads, and the first movement is a cross,
which means crossing the left of right over the right.
And then you do a twist, which is like that,
-and I'm going to do a couple of extra twists here.
-I can do that.
And I'm going to put the pin in.
And I'll do that again.
So cross, twist, twist, twist and pin.
So I've brought along a much simpler piece, I thought
-you might like to have a go.
-This is Joseph lace.
-You're going to work along here.
-Just look at these.
-Just look and learn, James.
-Yeah, I am, I'm fascinated.
-Look at the first four threads.
-Take that one...
-..over that one.
-Over that one.
-That's the cross.
-And then I do that over there.
-When do you put the pin in, though?
-In a minute.
Patience, James, patience. I'm going to be here for the next three days.
'Not really, although it might well feel like it, James.
'I'm sure he's musing now on how Christopher and Mark are getting on,
'as they head for the hills, the Chiltern Hills, and Wendover.
It's raining on our parade a bit, isn't it?
It certainly is raining, but I think we've done rather well.
-But we've still got some money in our pocket.
-..with our persuasive techniques...
What would you like to find now, Christopher?
I suppose I wouldn't mind finding a little bit of silver.
-Or a painting would be nice.
Well, I would love to buy a painting, I have to say.
Do you wonder what Miss Joseph has been up to?
She's got a very good eye as far as art's concerned.
I don't know quite what her objet d'art eye is like.
Bit wonky, I would think.
'The others will soon be coming, wonky or not.
'But buying something old
'shouldn't be too much of a problem in Wendover.
'After all, Anne Boleyn's family were once landowners round here,
'and the Ridgeway, possibly Britain's most ancient road,
'runs right along the high street.'
-I like that plate.
-Oh, it's lovely, but that'll be over £75.
-I don't know, let's have a look.
-Oh, I think it might be.
-95, maybe he'll do a deal.
-Hello, how are you?
-Nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
-Welcome to Wendover, nice to see you.
-This is lovely, is this yours?
I wish it was. There's 30 dealers here.
'Looks promising too, but thanks to something they bought earlier,
'our pair have severely limited funds.'
-How much have we got left?
-£75 of our £400 budget.
-Oh, that's fine!
-Are you sure?
-You can find...
-For two items?
'Well said, Mike. Does that apply to the paintings you have here too?'
See, that I rather like as well. Study of Holland Park, London.
-That's Holland Park, London?
-Now that's so 1950s.
-Those modern British colours, you know, the slate greys.
Yeah, I think that's very nice, actually.
Slightly Impressionistic, I love it.
-We may be able to get that for a good price.
-You see, I think that...
-It's unsigned, early to mid-20th, I think it's mid.
-And that would go anywhere.
And it's only marked up at 95.
Yes, we might get that at a...
-D'you like it?
-I do, I think it's very nice.
-I think that's a possibility. Shall I pop that down?
Cos that's definitely a possibility.
'And the auction's just down the road
'from Holland Park in Chiswick, remember.
'Ah, look who's here.'
Is this the Last Chance Saloon?
'A couple of gunslingers
'in search of antiques and collectables apparently.'
-Oh, hi, hello, I'm Lesley.
-How are you, nice to meet you.
-Hello, nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you too.
-You've got lots of lovely stuff.
We have some brilliant things.
Where's the best place to start? Upstairs?
Upstairs then come back down, have a wander through,
-it's all the way through the back as well.
'They've still got almost £300 left, of course,
'unlike the competition upstairs.'
-But you see, yes, £115 for the two.
-It's not a lot, is it?
We wouldn't get the two, for 75, would we? No, 115.
But I mean, to be honest, let's have a little look at them,
what have we got?
I mean, they're French in style, aren't they?
What sort of date are they, '20s?
-D'you know, you're probably right, it's probably 1900 or so.
They've put late 19th century, so it's on that cusp.
They're very pretty.
Mike, what's the best, d'you think, on these two little chairs here?
Nice, those. Let's have a little... Oh!
-We wouldn't get them for 75, would we?
-For the two?
It's £40 off, and that is about a 35% discount, which,
-even as welcome as you all are, is too much.
95 is the very best.
Oh, then we can't buy them, cos we've only got 75.
I mean, you've only taken £20 off.
-I mean, for goodness' sake.
-That's true. That is very true.
-I mean, it's not very much.
-Look, even 20% would be £25,
would be £90.
What's really very, very difficult
is I thought we were going to get on.
He's tried his best. I think it's a measly effort but...
-It's not good enough.
-It's really not good enough.
'It is his shop
'but there's always that more affordable painting, chaps.
'What are Lesley and James on the lookout for?'
I think we want precious objects. I feel inspired by Waddesdon.
Inspired by where we've been.
-Oh, there's a lovely Sampson Mordan pencil.
Oh, that's a mighty one. There in the desk hand there.
Does it actually come with the...?
-I don't know, shall we have a quick look?
It's a bit tatty.
It's been actually used, this one.
125 for the desk hand.
It's not exotic enough.
'They're canny, these two, you know?
'Now, what's Mike got to show Christopher and Mark?'
-What's that cameo?
-That one there?
-I think that looks rather sweet.
-It's very pretty.
And that is a cameo, Mike, isn't it?
Yes, it's a carved cameo.
It's quite sweet, isn't it?
I mean, cameos aren't particularly the flavour of the month but...
I think it is pinchbeck.
'An alloy of copper and zinc which looks a lot like gold.
'It's called pinchbeck after its London clockmaker inventor.'
You see it reminds me of my mother in I, Claudius.
Oh, of course.
And it can be yours for £15.
'Well, if that isn't reason enough to buy it, I don't know what is.'
That vintage cameo brooch, 20 quid.
-It's real bling, isn't it?
'Suddenly, they're all the rage
'but I think the others are about to propose a deal on theirs,
'plus the painting, of course.'
-What are you saying?
-I'm waiting for the obvious question.
You know what I'm going to say because we've been absolutely
honest with you. We've got to offer what we've got, haven't we?
-Yes, we have.
-How much have you got?
-And that's it.
We've then spent the entire 400.
I'll tell you what we'll do because this is a fine painting
and I don't really think it justifies being reduced too much.
I'm going to charge you £5 for that
and I'm going to charge you £70 for that to make your £75.
'Oh, really. Here we go again. Save it for your Widow Twankey!'
-Can I just say thank you very much, Mike?
-No, that's a pleasure.
-On behalf of both of us.
-That's a pleasure. Stop it, stop it!
-Oh, right, OK.
-I've never seen so much overacting in my life.
And he's doing the amateur theatricals tonight!
Well, I think you've just done it for him.
'Well, that really did bring the house down.
'Hey, they look a bit fishy.'
Gosh, I love these plates. Look.
-Oh, aren't they fun?
-Aren't they fantastic?
-So fish plates.
They're stunning, look at them.
Carp. They're very restrained, aren't they?
They are absolutely gorgeous.
'Still no bling but they can certainly afford them.'
They're fine, aren't they? I think they seem to be all right.
-There's just one there with a chip.
-'Well, they are fish plates.'
If you cook and have a lot of dinner parties, I think these are divine.
I mean, I was thinking of buying them for myself,
-let's put it that way.
-Another little chip there.
I quite like, you know... It's space, isn't it?
They've just got one image.
-It's quite clever that.
-You can see what you'd do on them.
-Instead of being hectic.
-Shall we see what he'd do on these?
'Don't worry, these two are less given to histrionics.'
-We've found these plates.
Now there's a bit of a problem because two of them
-have got very tiny chips around the rim.
But I think they're actually rather nice and we're wondering...
I'm just wondering what the best on those would be.
What do you think would be a sensible offer?
I don't know, what do you think?
I think sort of 25, 30.
35, come on, chaps.
-Dealer has to make a living.
To be fair to the dealer, 33.
They're unusual, they have a sort of a slightly modern look
but if I was a keen cook, I'd quite like those.
Mm. Shall we go? Shall we do it?
'Blimey, Lesley's determined, isn't she?'
Don't shake my hand, I'm not the man with the money.
-This lady with the money.
-I think they're nice, they're fun.
-I found those.
-Good. Well done.
-I found those.
'Piscatorial platters purchased.
'It's time to take a cold-blooded look at their buys.'
-I like those.
-I like those.
-What is this?
-Ooh, I love the frog.
-Do you like the frog?
Look at the frog.
-Oh, the frog is fabulous!
-Do you like him?
-I love him.
And you put your stamp on that table I notice.
-And look, a little chair for Lesley!
Oh, it's gorgeous.
'How about another Lesley find?'
-I love these. I think these are gorgeous.
-Who were they made by?
-By Marks & Spencer. How interesting.
Lovely, it's their new range.
They're lovely, though, look at the quality,
look through the light, can't see a thing.
-I do think they're very pretty actually.
-Those are great.
-I love the table as well.
-Do you like it?
-That's very on trend.
-On trend. On trend!
-Are we on trend? Are we cool?
'Highly unlikely but we can't rule it out,
'likewise this lot.'
-I love it.
-Oh, my word.
Oh, no, that is fairly outrageous.
This is Birds Of A Feather.
-There's three of you. There's you.
-There's Lesley in the middle.
-I love it.
-Now this, I just love this, I think it's beautiful.
-It is beautiful.
-And we paid quite a lot of money, though, for it.
-What did you pay?
'Straight face, you two.'
It's not signed Clarice Cliff but it's very much Wilkinson factory.
It's like Clarice Cliff but it's not...
-No, it's made by the Wilkinson factory.
-This shape is very Clarice Cliff.
-It's a great shape, isn't it?
-It's a wonderful shape.
-But, also, I think it's joyous.
-I think the colour... JAMES:
The other thing we love is this mid-20th century,
-1950s oil on board...
-That's nice, isn't it?
-..of Holland Park.
-I love that.
-No, that's lovely.
-And how much did you pay for that?
-That is very you.
That would hang in your house.
-And that, I saw the boar.
-Did you see the boar?
-Did you like it?
-I loved it.
-That is bronze.
-It is bronze.
-It is absolutely gorgeous.
I would buy that for me at home.
-I would buy it and also it's got such a lovely face.
-I love the face.
Beautiful. It's beautiful. Well, I have to say...
-I think we've done awfully well, all of us.
-Every last penny.
I wouldn't worry, if that's going to lose money,
that's going to make money in buckets, isn't it?
-I think this will make...
-I love it.
-I reckon that could absolutely fly.
'But what did they really think?'
I loved the frog.
-Oh, the frog is amazing.
-And for 50 quid.
-JAMES: That clock garniture with the pigeons...
..if there's a pigeon racer, a pigeon fancier, they're going to love that.
Yeah, but if there's only one, you're going to need two or three.
-The pigeons were a scene stealer.
-Stole the show.
-They really were.
The lemonade set I think they will definitely lose money on it.
I think it's over-priced.
-I'm very proud we spent the entire £400 budget.
I don't think they've got the edge at all
because I think our things we paid so little for that I think
there's a good chance for a good profit on all of them.
'After starting out in Hertfordshire at Sawbridgeworth,
'our celebrities and experts will now wind up in west London
'for an auction at Chiswick.
'Famously home to the 18th century artist and satirist William Hogarth,
'Chiswick's name originates from the old English for cheese farm.
'I didn't know that.'
-We had a great couple of days.
-Yes, we did.
-And now it's raining.
And my hair will go into a frizz-ball
if we do not get there quite soon.
'Vitesse, eh, Christopher?'
-Hello, how are you?
-Hi, darling, you all right?
-How are you?
'Welcome to High Road Auctions for an evening sale of
'antiques, interiors and collectables.
'Let's hear what auctioneer Ross Mercer makes of their chances.'
The frog fountain, well, a great edition to any garden.
Once plumbed in, I think it's going to bring a lot of fun.
We hope that it's going to make at least £100, £150.
The cameo brooch is a wonderful example of Etruscan revival.
It is wonderful quality.
We should be looking about £80, £120.
Now the lemonade set,
you would've thought that it would've come from the factory
of Clarice Cliff, however, it is a later 20th century copy.
We hope that it's going to make at least £30 to £50.
'Oh, dear, that'll be a bit of a shock.
'Lesley and James bought five auction lots, spending just £137
'while Christopher and Mark spent all £400,
'mostly on one very expensive and risky lot. Gosh.
'So Greek tragedy or a complete farce, what is it to be?'
So what are you on? The running boar.
BOTH: The running boar.
-Is that paraphrased for something or...? Yes, us.
'It's their very first purchase.'
There he is. Wouldn't want to get near him on a dark night, would you?
-Straight in at five at 65.
70, may I say? 70. 75.
80 with you, sir. At £80 I am bid, stood in front at £80.
80, that's good.
-All done and selling.
-Come on. Come on!
It's absolutely lovely by the bedside table.
Well, I'm so very sorry to sell this at £80 only.
You've made a profit.
What a bargain you got.
'Ha! A small profit which certainly gets their snouts in front.'
-Made a tenner.
-That's all right, a tenner.
Yeah, but after commission...
-That dreaded commission.
-Oh, you mean you do profit after commission?
-BOTH: Yes. After commission.
-We've lost a bit of...
Just like you and your agent.
'A salutary lesson.
'Now, for one of Lesley's fine catches - the fish plates.'
-What does that mean?
-One colour. To you and I, black.
He's been looking in his book again.
-Beautifully decorated, a lot of interest. £40 I'm bid.
Five straight in at 45. Bid 50 now, at £50.
-55, 60. Five, new buyer.
That's £65. Exceeding all expectations.
Last chance to get involved, at 65...
sold to you, sir.
-Very good, well done.
-'Quite a haul.
'With gilt-edged profits like that, they could well win.'
That's not too shabby, double money.
It's not terribly chic either but never mind.
'Time for Christopher and Mark's bargain cameo.
'The auctioneer rates it highly.'
-I've got bids here at £20.
-£20 but it seems pretty mean.
Coming in at five at 25, bid 30.
Five with you, madam, at £35 bid.
40 with you, sir, at £40. It seems cheap to me.
-It seems rather expensive to me.
-No further interest now at 40.
-Sold to you, sir, at £40.
'Eight times over. From cameo to star role.
'But what will the more expensive painting they bought with her make?'
-We loved this, didn't we?
-We did love this. You liked it, didn't you?
-I like it.
-I like it.
-We all like it.
'I like it too.
-'We just need some bidders now.'
-How do you value it?
Ought to be £30 to start.
£30 bid. 35 bid, 40.
£40 now left-hand side at 40.
With the lady at £40.
That's terribly cheap.
It is your bid, madam, at 40.
Sold to you at £40.
'Cor, she's got a nice painting for a very small price.
'Take care with Lesley's sharp little crocodile paper knife.'
£5 I'm bid, on the books at five.
-£8 bid, ten.
£10 only, 12 may I say? Come along.
At £14. 16 now.
-£16 I'm bid on my left.
There's only a certain amount of people that need one.
Last chance, I'm going to sell it at £16 and breaking my heart.
TOGETHER: Very good.
'He looks happy enough.'
Well, I can see it was Lesley who found these interesting things.
-Much better than your usual stuff.
Normally, I make a loss so...
-You didn't tell me that when I joined up with you.
'Moving on, we have Christopher and Mark's pigeon clock garniture.'
Any pigeon fanciers out there? Now's your chance.
CHRISTOPHER IMPERSONATES PIGEON
Are we in a loft in here?
-Listen, don't go into animal noises, will you?
-We've had some interest.
At £50 I'm bid. May I say five at 55?
£55 bid, 60.
65 bid, 70.
And five at 75.
At 75 bid, 80. At £80 stood in front.
£80, I'm going to have to sell it now at 80 only.
Sold at £80.
'An amazing profit, chaps. Lofty you might say.
'Will the table that James unearthed earn the stamp of approval, though?'
All it needs is a bit of plate glass cos it's got a rather cheap...
Rather cheap. You heard it here first.
At £10 I'm bid. £10. 15.
At 15 bid, 20 now.
20 bid. 25.
At 25 bid, 30. At £30.
-It's quite steady.
-It's a table.
You have to use your imagination. At 35. At £35 I'm bid, at 35.
All done, I've got to sell it now. At £35.
Internet, last chance.
'Yeah, it's not bad, more profits,
'with Lesley's little chair to follow.'
It was perfect for you, wasn't it? You could sit on it beautifully.
Being a very small person.
What will you bid me? £10?
Which leg would you like for £10? £10 I'm bid. 15.
-15, bid 20, internet.
-20. 20. Go on.
15, I have.
20, a new place, 20 I have.
25. Bid 30. 30 bid. 35.
-£35, shakes his head at 35.
Last chance, I'm going to sell it now. Last chance. £35.
-Sold to you, sir.
-'Well, it's a profit before costs are deducted.
'But this is the big one.
'If Christopher's lemonade set gamble disappoints,
'then I think Lesley may have it.'
-A lot of interest here...
-Ooh, a lot of interest.
Oh, a lot of interest starts at 30.
At 35, bid 40.
It'll go up, Christopher.
60. Five at £65.
At 65, I'm out.
That's not what I'd call a lot of interest, is it?
'This is not looking good.'
70 now. 75. 80.
Don't be put off at 85.
90 now, madam. £90.
-At 95 I have with the gentleman...
Make it 100 to you.
Last chance, otherwise I'm going to take the internet bid.
-£100 now to the internet.
-110. £110 I have.
-It's creeping up.
120. 130, sir? £130.
It should make a lot more than this.
-140. 150, sir?
And if you're all sure, I've got to sell it now at £140.
-This is a bargain.
-It is a bargain, thank you, Christopher.
I'm furious with this room.
At £140, sold to the internet at 140.
'It did a lot better than the auctioneer expected
'but not quite enough for Christopher.'
-Obviously, people in Chiswick don't have lemonade.
'Now, for Lesley and James' frog find. Give us a kiss.'
-You bought this very well, didn't you? You only paid £50 for it?
-We tried cheeky offers, they said no.
It's the massive frog that you've all been walking past.
Yeah. Great frog.
-£80 I'm bid on the books but it seems pretty mean at 80.
I want you to come in at five. At 85.
-90? 90 I have in the room.
-'Leaps and bounds.'
-At £110 I have.
-That's good, isn't it?
-Come on, the internet.
-Internet, we've got...
-120, at £120...
-130 in the room, at 130 now.
-At £130, it is your bid, sir, at 130.
£140, it's leaping away. He's shaking his head at £140.
At £140 with fair warning...
sold to the internet...
-That was all right.
'Cor, he turned out to be a handsome prince after all.'
-Thank you, internet.
-Thank you, internet.
-You have Lesley now thanking the internet.
140, we're happy with that, we're not greedy people, are we?
No, not at all.
'So, thanks to some shrewd buys and not one loss,
'Lesley and James have done very well indeed.'
- We're all very clever. - You are clever.
-What are we?
-We're not clever.
'Christopher and Mark began with £400 and after paying auction costs,
'they made a loss of £88.40, leaving them with £311.60.
'Whilst Lesley and James, who also started out with £400, made,
'after paying auction costs, a profit of £101.62.
'So, they're today's victors with £501.62.
-'All profits, of course, go to Children In Need.'
-What an evening.
Now, I have the news you've all been waiting for.
-Sadly, you've lost.
-No, no, no. I'm afraid, Mark, we lost £90.
-Whereas Lesley and James, you made £100.
- Brilliant, well done, James. - Lesley.
-What can I say?
I'll tell you, though, the whole experience,
it's been wonderful, especially the lunches and the dinners.
-They've been fantastic.
-Yeah, the rest of it was rubbish.
-Come on, bye-bye.
BOTH: # On with the show. #
Thank you, thank you.
Actors Lesley Joseph and Christopher Biggins battle in a competition for antique glory around Essex and Buckinghamshire. Christopher and his expert Mark Stacey stake their antique competition on one high-risk purchase and Lesley is delighted to come face to face with an exquisite and unique artefact.