Celebrities hunt for antiques across the UK. Nicholas Parsons and Gyles Brandreth scour Surrey for collectibles, aided by experts Paul Laidlaw and David Harper.
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The nation's favourite celebrities...
Got some proper bling here.
..paired up with an expert...
..and a classic car.
-Put your hands up!
Their mission? To scour Britain for antiques.
All breakages must be paid for.
This is a good find, is it not?
To make the biggest profit at auction.
But it is no easy ride.
Who will find a hidden gem?
Who will take the biggest risks?
I've got my antiques head on.
Will anybody follow expert advice?
I think it's horrible!
There will be worthy winners...
This is better than Christmas!
..and valiant losers.
Time to put your pedal to the metal.
This is Celebrity Antiques Road Trip.
Two lovely celebrities have hit the road in this
classic 1985 Mercedes SL.
Just a minute - ha!
It's only Nicholas Parsons and Gyles Brandreth!
This is the Antiques Road Trip, but the good news is,
we are not the antiques.
Er, well, Gyles, you're very modest. You're much younger than I am.
They are masters of the articulate argument...and indicating left, by the look of things.
I am reaching the antique age, I think.
-But one keeps going.
I mean, like good antiques, you keep them polished and they look great.
Oh, yes. Patination.
At 92 years of age, Nicholas is a national treasure.
He's been a West End actor, the legendary host of game show
Sale Of The Century and for nearly 50 years, the chair of the
radio and occasional TV panel show, Just A Minute.
The players will try to speak for just a minute on a subject
that I give them and they must try and do that without hesitation,
repetition or deviation.
Appearing regularly on the show since 1982
has been his old friend, Gyles Brandreth.
-Page by page... Oh, no!
Gyles is a polymath, a Renaissance Man.
He's been an author, a journalist, a presenter on The One Show
and even a politician.
And who can forget his taste for natty jumpers?
Mock not the jumpers!
-The Victoria and Albert Museum were in touch recently...
..wanting one of my jumpers for their costume collection.
I love that sort of story.
Representing the height of 1980s fashion. A Gyles Brandreth jumper.
Representing the height of Road Trip fashion today
and driving a 1965 MK2 Jag are our experts.
This car is low-key for us.
Militaria expert, Paul Laidlaw...
-I noticed your trousers. Red leather is a good look!
-You like them?
..and dealer, David Harper.
I see you've got the khaki circa 1944 World War II pants on.
Now, now, gentleman!
Let's focus on the trip, shall we?
Well, I can't believe that we're with two iconic characters today,
-Nicholas Parsons and Gyles Brandreth.
Who're we going to go with though? How're we going to pair off?
-If you don't mind, I'm a bit of fan boy for Just A Minute.
I love it. But could you imagine doing it? Could you do that?
-Could you do it?
-I've hesitated already. I'm out!
I think Gyles is brilliant. I love him on The One Show. He's fantastic.
-He's always beaming and smiling...
..so I think he'd be a laugh a minute, so that'll be good. OK, good deal.
And hopefully, the first of many to come.
Both our teams start this trip with £400 to spend.
Today, they begin their buying in beautiful Berkhamsted,
before heading into the busy streets of London
and then back out to Hertfordshire for our auction in Bushey.
But first, time to pick up our celebrities.
Oh, here they are. Ooh! Nice car.
Nicholas Parsons driving a Mercedes SL! Coming to see us with Gyles Brandreth! Unbelievable!
Yes, good morning!
-I'm wanting the one in the red trousers.
-Oh, I say!
-I can't believe Gyles Brandreth has said that to ME!
-Lovely to meet you.
-It's exciting. I'm a big, big fan of yours.
-Where are we going?
-Somewhere nearby. Shall we take the German vehicle?
-Just to mix it up a little.
-This is the Mercedes, you mean?
-So what do we get?
-You get the British.
-A Jaguar! Look at that!
-Shall I drive?
-I'm happy to... Do you want to toss for it? You drive.
-OK, I'll drive.
All right, OK.
With teams decided, it's time to get acquainted.
So, have you been with Just A Minute from the first episode?
I did the original pilot and I'm still doing it after over 900 performances.
It's one of those romantic stories of show business.
-But the pilot was a disaster.
-Oh, they didn't want it.
They had a very clever young producer then, called David Hatch.
He came to me one day and said, "Unfortunately, the only thing they
"liked about the pilot was your chairmanship."
And I said, "But, David, I was awful!"
He said, "I know, but so was everybody else."
And the rest, as they say, is history.
The first "shop-off" of our trip today is Berkhamsted
in the charming Chilterns.
A popular town, steeped in history
and complete with its own medieval high street.
John Cleese called it home, for a while.
And today, we're visiting Heritage Antiques. Lovely.
So is this your first foray into an antique shop in a while
-or are you a regular frequenter?
-Oh, no, I'm not a regular frequenter.
-I'm interested in antiques...
..and I have one or two at home, but I don't get the time to browse.
Here to help them out is the very affable John.
-John. John, good to see you.
-This of course is Nicholas.
-Are you the owner, John?
-I am, yes.
-Right. Gosh, what a collection.
Are you in this to win it?
Or are you in it to spend money?
-Are you just going to follow your heart and...
-I'm in it to have fun.
That's the spirit!
What about the serious stuff?
-Are you comfortable haggling?
-Oh, God, yes.
-Are you ruthless or are you genteel in this...
-Oh, God, no!
Mustn't be ruthless.
You've got to do it with charm.
You can be ruthlessly charming.
"Ruthlessly charming", eh? He sounds like one to watch.
-Now, this may leave you cold...
I've got one like that.
Do you have a reproduction or a real one, from the 1920s?
I've got a real one, I've got a real one, 1920s, and it actually works.
Genuine 1920s candlestick phones are made from lacquered brass and Vulcanite
and can often be adapted to work on a modern phone line.
When they're cleaned up.
For me, that's the dream.
When an antique's not just an object or an ornament,
-you can use it!
-Well, how much do they want for this?
-Well, this is £65.
60... Oh, no, no, no.
I like the way you think! Which is, "That price is rubbish!"
I know how much I paid for mine.
I was only going to offer them not a penny more than 40.
You're more generous than me, Nicholas.
-What are you going to offer them, 30?
-£25? Let's try and get it for £25.
Let's see what we can do, shall we?
Let's see this ruthless Parsons' charm in action!
-John... Is John about?
-Here I am.
-This period telephone.
-Lovely, isn't it?
He is ruthless.
-I can't go down that much.
-No, 30. 30.
30 and we will take it.
Seeing as you've given me hours of entertainment...
Oh, that's a good excuse, isn't it? 30, all done.
-You don't beat about the bush, Nicholas, do you?
May I say, I love your work, Sir!
Shake the man's hand!
There we go.
Nicholas and Paul are not done in here yet.
But let's see how the opposition are getting on.
This is very exciting, isn't it? And this...is a perfect English day.
-Aren't we blessed?
-We are totally blessed.
And here I am, I've got the best of all the experts...
-Don't be putting the pressure on me.
-I've got the world authority on everything.
We are going to turn our £400 into something that is record-breaking.
Nothing like aiming high, eh?
Their first shop is Berkhamsted's Home & Colonial.
We are going to be charmingly ruthless.
Hey, that phrase sounds very familiar.
Let's pump it up!
And here to help them are Louise and Ali.
Don't look quite so scared, girls.
Now, we've got to be disciplined because we have got, we hope,
to find an item or two here that we want to buy.
-I have a target in mind and I have a rule.
-Yeah, you do, you do.
Because with my wife we go and what we normally do, is start at the top and work down.
And my wife says to me, "This has been the story of your life, hasn't it, Gyles?
"Starting at the top and working your way down."
-So we can do that here as well.
-Welcome to the Antiques Road Trip.
You'd better get up those stairs then, hadn't you?
-I'm after big and colourful.
-Love big and colourful.
Because I am with you and you epitomise big and colourful.
I'd take that as a compliment, if I were you, David.
-What have you seen?
-Well, I've seen that.
-Antlers. We like that, or...
-Do people like that?
-Old school desk?
-No, tricky, tricky.
Here's one celeb who came to shop.
The search continues.
It's the story of my life, you know.
Remember, I used to be a Member of Parliament.
-I was actually in the government.
And now I'm trawling about second-hand shops with you.
-In a pair of red trousers.
-Yeah. It's come to this.
-What has life come to?
-It's not that bad, they could be those green ones.
I think this is quite charming.
It's a watercolour, it's a castle on an island
with boats in the foreground.
-It's clearly late 19th century.
-It looks it.
-They're trying to sell it here for £25.
-We're going to get it for 15.
Nothing like setting yourself a challenge, Gyles.
We like the look of this. And we'd love to buy something from you.
-Is this yours?
-This is not mine.
It's lovely, though.
It is, it's charming, isn't it? And we see that it is £25.
What do you think is the very best that whoever owns this might
-be able to give us?
-That's a bargain for that, it's beautiful.
-20... 18, did you say?
-Oh, I like a strong woman. Why don't we blow 20 quid?
-You know, Gyles, I think we should.
-Why don't we blow 20 quid on this?
Their bargaining shows potential.
But they're not exactly splashing the cash, are they?
How are Paul and Nicholas getting on?
Now, see, that looks, at first glance, like a half-decent specimen.
It is a very decent specimen.
He's spied a Victorian monocular brass microscope in a walnut case.
-Condition looks good, doesn't it?
As far as I can see. I'm not an expert on these sort of things.
-What's the price? Good triple lens...
-Oh, 48, no.
£48. Actually, it doesn't look too bad at all.
Do you like?
-I like it enough to make an offer.
-What sort of offer?
Given you are uncannily good at this,
-what would be your offer on this?
Oh, I love your work.
We've kicked in at 15. You're going to come back with...
-Oh, no, John. I know...
-Can you help us?
I know you've got to make a living, but so have we.
It's quite a reasonable offer actually. I mean, 48 to 40...
15 is slightly out of my pocket.
-We said that in jest, didn't we?
-I'm willing to go to 25.
-Make it 35.
-30 and you've got a deal.
Very good! Very good.
This Parsons-Laidlaw combo is now in full flow.
Anything else take your fancy, chaps?
John... John, what is that fascinating thing there?
That is a match dispenser.
-A match dispenser?
-Every home should have one. Surely you should have got one of those already?
So how does that work?
So there's your little...
You turn it round...
You just lift that up, do you?
-Down to pick up a match and then up...
A voila, match...
This match dispenser is a good example of treen,
small household items made of largely turned wood.
-It's an uncommon object, is it not?
What are we asking for that?
Well, I defer to your maths here. Where are we starting with this?
Because we love it, 15.
-No, no. 16.
-16... I hate odd numbers...in this instance.
-Make it 18, then.
I see what you did there. Can't it be 16?
-We've bought the two things.
Absolutely great. I'm loving our work here.
Nicholas is proving to be a shrewd haggler, parting with £76 in the
first shop, for the phone, the microscope and the match dispenser.
And that marks the end of that round.
Gyles and David already have a watercolour,
-but what else can they pick up?
-A little cloisonne.
-I mean, that's good. You know about cloisonne?
-Don't drop it.
-It's been dropped before!
-It has been dropped before.
I mean, look at that. That is a metal vase, inlaid with enamel.
I mean, the production time that has gone into creating that is ridiculous.
It's Chinese, it's late 19th century, it's touristware, really.
-Cloisonne? Is how we...?
-Cloisonne? We say "cloisonne"?
Why is it called cloisonne? Do you know why? The origin of cloisonne?
-I have no idea.
-No, I have no idea either.
-IN FRENCH ACCENT:
-I thought you would, because you are French.
Let me enlighten you, mes amis.
This 19th-century Japanese vase is made with wire,
separating each part of the enamel design.
The French word for these partitions is cloison, hence cloisonne.
The ticket price is £30.
Don't you know.
-IN FRENCH ACCENT:
-It is a vase and what would we pay for this, £10?
Let me do... Because you don't speak French.
What he's saying there is, it's a vase
and what would we pay for it, would £10 buy it?
Er, well, I have reduced it, but...
-15 would buy it.
-HE SUCKS HIS TEETH
-IN FRENCH ACCENT:
-I don't know that we want to pay £15 for this bit of cloisonne.
We'd love to buy something from you.
I'd love to buy this from you for ten quid... What's your name again? Nicky?
-I'm Gyles. Come on, give me the price.
-I'll do it for £10.
-Sorry, what has just happened?
-I've bought this for £10.
-What's that in French?
-C'est une bargain.
Gyles's unique bargaining style has worked so far.
-That's £25 saved in their first shop. Tres bon.
Paul and Nicholas are travelling 13 miles south to Rickmansworth.
-This is it.
-This is it.
If we can find one more thing here, our work is done for the day,
-Here to help is Dave.
-This is your empire?
-It certainly is.
With time running out, does anything in Dave's empire take their fancy?
Now, what do we have here? This is sitting on your counter.
Now, we see lots of these.
Not all of them are solid silver but
this cantle here bears Assay marks.
-Assay marks. That's solid silver.
Going to date to 1930, give or take, without looking it up.
A rather pleasing example. What could that be? No price on that.
-That will be £70.
-Dave, will you accept 50 for it?
-I'm sorry, I can't, no. It's got to be 70.
-As an item, it's worth well over £70.
-You're so right.
-You're right, you're right.
-Can I be advised by you?
-Shall we go for 70?
-Um... Do you know what? It's not a rash gamble.
You'd be unlucky to lose much on it,
and if there's any justice in the world, you make a little.
How about having another go at a deal, then, Nicholas?
One last go, Dave. Will you accept anything less than 70?
Before we go, you know I love clocks,
and this one caught my eye cos it's a very unusual case,
it's beautiful engraved wood there.
This mid-Victorian rosewood
and marquetry clock with enamel dial has a ticket price of £200.
-I've looked at the back. The movement's excellent.
And Dave's put it out at an excellent price.
-And how much will he take off it?
Can I make you an offer on that? And I know it's a hard offer.
(Back me here).
-£120 gives me some security.
-I can't do it for that. I can't.
I would go... Lowest I'd do on it... If you say 140,
I'll do it 135 for you. That's the bottom line on it - 135.
-Do you like it? I know you like.
-135? Yes, I like it.
-We've bought the clock, haven't we?
-And I'll come and bid at the auction.
-No, you will not.
You'll be sitting next to me with your hands on your lap.
Nicholas' tenacity has paid off at £65 off the original asking price.
You could even say that that is the "Sale Of The Century".
£200 gets him the clock and the purse.
-Cracking bit of shopping from Parsons and Laidlaw there.
David and Gyles have motored 35 miles south from genteel
Hertfordshire to the refined streets of Kensington in London.
They've come to a place Gyles knows well to take a step back in time.
Here to show them round is Daniel.
-Hello, welcome to 18 Stafford Terrace.
-David Harper, lovely to meet you.
-Lovely to meet you.
-Exciting to meet you.
-Come in out of the sun.
-Out of the sun and into the 19th century.
-Is that where we're going?
18 Stafford Terrace in Kensington was the home
and workplace of artist
and illustrator Edward Linley Sambourne, a man who revolutionised
the art of cartoons through the new technology of photography.
His house has remained practically untouched since his death in 1910.
-Those biscuits have lasted well. Ha.
-It's a time capsule.
This is why I love it. This is the home of high Victorian England.
-And the man who owned this house knew everybody,
-and those he didn't know, he drew.
-Is that right?
-That's right, yup.
He was a very distinguished cartoonist and illustrator.
-Oh, my gosh!
-Isn't this just amazing?
It's delicious beyond belief, isn't it?
It's effectively full of treasures, isn't it?
But Sambourne's roots were somewhat more modest.
Give us Edward Linley Sambourne in a nutshell. Who was he?
Well, he was the only son of a not altogether successful
dealer in furs.
And, as a young man, he was apprentice to
a Greenwich-based engineering firm, took up draughtsmanship with them.
And then he had a friend whose father was
a friend of the editor of Punch.
So, as a young man, his sketches and cartoons were shown to the
editor of Punch who thought that there was some merit in them.
Punch was the leading satirical
and cultural magazine in Britain at the time
and Sambourne went from occasional freelancer to chief cartoonist -
a highly regarded job in Victorian society.
But despite his prestigious job and an inheritance from an aunt
and a wealthy wife, he still struggled to live within his means.
There's a wonderful thing in here, in fact,
in the drawing room where, rather than take down everything
and paper the entire room in this expensive paper,
they simply papered round these islands of paintings
and mirrors so that you only see the expensive paper but it's visible.
-They left the occasional gap.
-That is the giveaway.
So it's an illusion, isn't it?
So it's really making an illusion or making an impression without
really the resources to do it.
In order to keep up with Victorian appearances,
Sambourne took on other illustration work,
most famously on Charles Kingsley's children's classic The Water-Babies.
But as time went on, he became more fascinated with
photography, as is evident all around the house.
What did he do in here?
Well, this is really where he produced his cartoons
and it was where he would come up to work every day.
Sambourne realised he needed to work quicker.
Photography and some unlikely models would enable him to do that.
He would press gang family and servants into posing for him,
dressing up and posing for him in the back yard
so he could take the photograph and then, effectively, trace it.
And so he's cut out the idea of having to make preliminary
studies and so on and can cut straight to the image itself.
And so that really... I think he had a great theatrical streak.
He loved posing, himself, in the back yard
and dressing up as all kinds of things.
He got his mother to be the Pope and Queen Victoria on the same day!
So everyone had a turn.
He was even known to ask famous people for their photographs
to make drawing them easier.
Some, like Oscar Wilde, were only too happy to oblige.
What are these rather candid photographs
as well as these drawings?
This gives us a very good illustration of Sambourne's process.
So these blue prints are called cyanotypes. So, as you can see, he
would pose...very carefully pose the model in exactly the attitude
that he needed and take the photograph,
develop the photographs, have lunch and then start work on the cartoons.
And this is his work easel?
This is his easel as it was up here in the studio.
That little easel producing all that artwork.
Ironically, the production line nature of cartoon drawing had
led Sambourne to find a whole new outlet for his creativity.
He dressed sets and posed people for the photographs that created
Although he was never taken seriously as an artist at the time,
his pioneering method of making cartoons from images of real
people is still used today in Hollywood's animated blockbusters.
Daniel, it's been an absolute delight. Thank you very much.
-Thank you very much for coming here.
-Oh, it's wonderful!
OK, you can go off with him now. I'm going to settle...
-Are you getting changed?
We'll come back next week. We'll come and see you.
So that's day one done and dusted.
It's time for a well-earned rest before shopping up a storm tomorrow.
Welcome to day two of the road trip
and it's a gorgeous morning in the streets of old London.
-David, what was it like yesterday, shopping with Gyles?
Well, talk about energy. That man's energy level is off the radar.
I mean, it's amazing. "I want to buy something with colour." Oh, OK.
"Right, there's something with colour." He'll go and get it.
A decision-maker, my gosh. He doesn't muck about.
I've had a brilliant time. What about you?
-Well, I'd say more sedate, more leisurely.
-Maybe even measured.
-Comes out of shell when it comes to negotiating.
-I kid you not.
"What can this be?" "£65." "No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
"How about how about I'll give you 25?" It's wonderful.
Ah, sounds like it's all going swimmingly.
Yesterday, Paul and Nicholas splashed the cash
and spent £276 on five items -
the phone, the microscope, the match dispenser, the purse and the clock.
-That means they only have £124 for the day ahead.
-I'm pumped up.
David and Gyles have been somewhat tighter
and only £30 on two items, the painting and the vase,
leaving them with a well-stuffed wallet of £370 to spend today.
How are our celebrities feeling on day two?
I didn't have a very good night because I thought I've not...
You know, I want to do well at this cos I'm quite competitive.
Gyles, I know you very well and I'm very fond of you
but you're one of the most competitive people I know.
But you do it with such charm that we all accept it.
-You're quite competitive yourself.
-I am naturally competitive
but I haven't got that final oomph that you've got.
Ooh, I don't know about that, Nicholas. Anyway, look sharp.
-Here come your experts.
-Talk about having an easy life.
-Voices? I think I recognise them.
-Well, I never. This is dreadful.
-Good morning. Good to see you.
-Good morning, Gyles.
-Good morning, Paul. Nice to see you.
-Don't let the pressure get to you.
-We need to be pumped up, Gyles.
We are pumped up. I am pumped up and ready.
-Do you mind if we just get going?
-Would you mind?
-Good, thank you.
-We're pumped up, you two...
-You two, carry on regardless.
We've got some shopping to do. We've got a lot of catching up to do.
So, with those two off, Paul and Nicholas can relax.
-I think we bargained quite well, didn't we?
-YOU bargained quite well.
I am in awe. I doff my cap to your bargaining approach.
Well, it's so easy.
Whilst those two reflect on yesterday,
David and Gyles are starting their day in the London suburb of Clapham.
-I have to tell you, I've seen Nicholas Parsons.
He is over the moon with joy. He's bubbling with excitement.
-He has spent, spent, spent.
He has bought, bought, bought,
and here we are trailing. We have spent 30 quid.
We've got £370 to go. We are going to go big. We're going to go bold.
-Where are we going?
-We're going in there.
-In there? "Houses cleared". This is the place.
Whoever she is, she's bought the stuff for nothing.
"She" is Helen, late of Troy and now of Eccles Road Antiques.
-May we come in?
-Can I bring my young friend?
-Good morning, Helen.
-He's David, I'm Gyles.
-Hello, David. Hello, Gyles.
-It's lovely to see you.
-Lovely to meet you.
-Thanks. Come in.
-This is great.
Oh, this is enchanting. I'm just drawn to this.
-I would say these could be 1950s.
-Yeah, I think so.
-Even a little earlier.
-I think they're earlier probably.
-They could be '20s or '30s.
-Yeah, they could be.
-Meant to happen, meant to happen.
Every breakage you have to pay for, apparently.
-And that'll be £500, Helen, I assume?
No, but actually it fell apart. It's already broken in the shop.
Flat pack. It's what they did.
Well, these are the kind of things that children would have played with
-in the '20s and '30s and '40s.
Where did they come from, Helen? What's the story? What's the provenance?
Well, the provenance is that actually they've come from my house
-because I collected them over years, when my children were small.
Then, got put away in a bag in the cellar,
and the cellar flooded last week, and so I fished them out
and they've been drying out here, hence no prices on them.
There's no ticket, so how much does Helen want for them?
I would hope to get £20 for the ones you've sorted.
Bless her heart. Well, I was thinking a fiver.
He'd probably give you a tenner.
Could you do it for a tenner, the whole lot? Go on, go for it.
Go on, why not? Since I can't remember...
-I bought them years ago.
-Have we done the deal?
-I've done the deal.
-OK, sorry, that all happened...
-Who do I shake hands with?
-You shake hands with me. I've done the deal now.
Who have I bought them...? I'm completely confused.
-Are you happy?
-You've got some colour.
-I did the deal.
The Brandreth bluster has closed another deal. £10 for the toys.
You don't happen to have a beautiful tin box?
A wonderful old 1920s, 1930s box of some kind that you can just throw in
cos clearly I've paid a bit over the top.
You could throw in, we could put some tissue paper in it,
put these in it so it becomes a kind of magic box.
Give me a moment.
-We'll go and look at some other things.
-I will hunt in my basement.
What can Helen rustle up?
What have you got, Helen?
-How about this for putting them in?
-That's rather nice.
-The very generous Helen has come up trumps.
-Oh, that's charming,
can I say, that's charming.
A complimentary wicker hamper for the boys.
I'm going to show you something really interesting,
-and I think you are going to be interested.
I'm going to show you this, which is a pretty standard
ladies' silver pocket watch, circa 1900, 1910.
-An Edwardian ladies' pocket watch.
But it seems to have a little wristband?
-It does, and that's the interesting feature.
Because this dates to about, the wristband,
the First World War-ish,
because it was around the First World War that the introduction
-of the wristwatch becomes popular.
The ticket price on the timepiece is £58.
What would be the best price you can give us?
-It'll be cheap, Gyles, I wouldn't worry.
-I know that.
It'll be so phenomenally cheap, it'll be ridiculous. Helen?
-I mean, I think 20 would be very good, personally.
-That's how I would feel. How do you feel, Helen?
-I feel that...
-Can we split the difference?
-Oh, she was going there.
-No, she wasn't.
-I'm on my way. Yeah, £20, go on.
-A-ha! Marvellous. Well done.
Whose hand do I shake? Oh, I shake yours as well. Marvellous.
£20. That's marvellous. We will let you know how we get on.
Tick-tock. I think these two both took a bit of a shine to Helen.
So, in addition to the toys and the complimentary hamper for £10,
they got the watch for 20. Still not spending big.
After some hard haggling yesterday,
Nicholas is taking it easy this morning,
but Paul is continuing the Road Trip
to Clerkenwell, East London.
Here in St John's Close, he'll learn about the dramatic and violent past
relating to one of our most peaceful and cherished charities,
the St John's Ambulance.
And here to show him around is Tom.
Tom, I'll confess, if you say to me "St John's Ambulance Brigade",
I'm thinking of guys at football matches and concerts,
not medieval crypts, so tell me why we're here.
Well, this is the original medieval home of the Order of St John,
which is the foundation of St John Ambulance.
So, that eight-pointed cross that you see
on a guy at a football match, or a gal,
is a symbol that goes right back to 11th-century Jerusalem.
Around the turn of the 11th century,
many Christians made religious pilgrimages to the holy lands,
a hazardous and dangerous journey.
An Italian order of monks opened a hospital in Jerusalem
to care for the sick and needy pilgrims.
They took vows of poverty, chastity, obedience, and the Hospitallers,
as the knights of the Order of St John were also known,
took another vow, which was to honour our Lords, the sick,
and this was the idea of treating their patients as if they were Christ himself.
So they would be given individual beds,
they would be given a very good, solid diet,
and they'd be fed from silver plate.
And silver has naturally antiseptic qualities.
And while they didn't know that,
their rate of success in the hospitals was quite exemplary.
However, this was all set to change.
The Catholic Church ordered a religious crusade across the region.
Given their own papal charter to defend the Holy Lands,
the Hospitalliers soon swapped bandages for blades,
and became a formidable fighting order.
I'm picturing the transition from chaps in robes,
to men in armour.
To go from the caring religious order
to the crusading, fighting man...
Is that fair? Is that how it evolves or not?
Well, the thing is, it's a very different time,
and to us it may seem a bit of a conflict of interests,
but if you're going back 800 years, it wasn't.
You weren't just going out to have a fight for fun,
-it was for your faith. You were fighting for the faith.
Over time, the crusaders were pushed back,
and in 1309 the Order of St John settled in Rhodes.
This beautiful book, printed in the 16th century,
details the rules by which they lived.
It has these wonderful woodcuts in it, which give stories.
So, here you can see, here are members of the Order.
-There is their eight-pointed cross.
The eight-pointed cross is thought to have originally represented
the eight faith-based obligations
that the knights were duty-bound to live by.
-And this was printed in 1496.
So, incredibly rare to have a printed book of this date
and there, if you see,
on the original clasp you've got the eight-pointed cross.
I'll not look at the cross again and take it so lightly.
The Order of the Knights of St John
became increasingly fragmented through time.
However, here in the UK in 1877, the organisation reformed
closer to its original Hospitallier role.
The St John Ambulance Association first was founded
as an organisation to provide a standardised training in first aid.
And then ten years after that, the St John Ambulance Brigade was formed
as a uniformed body to provide first aid at public events.
One of the first that it provided first aid for
was the Lord Mayor's Show,
and then for Queen Victoria's Jubilee.
The thing that always comes back to me is that that eight-pointed cross
has been a symbol of first-aid care for 900 years,
so when you see that on the side of an ambulance today,
that's the same symbol that was used back in 11th-century Jerusalem,
providing the same thing, meeting the medical need of that community.
Tom, I'm indebted to you. I've thoroughly enjoyed that,
and I'll not look at that eight-pointed star
-the same way again.
-Good, I'm glad. I've done my job then.
David and Gyles have now moved along the road in Clapham
to Northcote Antiques.
-Let's go for it. Come on!
-OK, pump up!
-And let's buy some antiques!
-Our last chance saloon, Gyles.
-Hello. Good afternoon.
-I'm a Gyles.
-Mark. Lovely to meet you, Mark.
Lovely to meet you, Mark.
We hope to make our mark with you this afternoon.
Well, you've come to the right place. We have two floors.
Please, start searching, have a good rummage,
and give me a shout if you need any help.
-Our rule is to start at the top.
-I forgot about that.
-We're going upstairs. Follow me. Follow me.
-OK, stick to the rules.
While Gyles and David are in a rush to get their final item,
Nicholas and Paul are back together again
and also heading for Northcote Antiques.
There could be trouble ahead.
Well, there's no pressure, but I'll tell you what,
I'm still going to be looking like my life depended on it.
Helping them out today is Anne.
-You've got some lovely things here.
-Yes, we have.
-Is there anything in particular you're looking at?
-No, we're just looking for a bargain.
-Excellent. We've got lots of those, I'm sure.
-And you don't mind if we beat you down a bit?
-Well, you can try.
That's it, Anne, don't let his charm fool you.
We're in this to not end up with auction egg on our faces.
-But if we have fun, what does it matter?
-Gyles wants to win, so let him win.
-Well, that's fair enough with me.
Speaking of Gyles, at the top of the shop, things have come to a stop.
OK, a good stopper... You put the stopper in and it will fall out.
A good stopper fits into the neck and will turn one and a half times,
or thereabouts, and not fall out. So, once...
All breakages must be paid for.
-Oh, dear, David!
-Does this come out of our £400?
This is proof, viewers, this is a programme unrehearsed,
unprepared, we've never been here before.
-We certainly shan't be coming here again.
-We are now currently banned.
This is why my wife doesn't really like to go shopping with me,
because I just get, you know...
Because you have a terrible effect on others.
-So I will share the blame for that.
-OK, that's very sweet of you.
You did it. I don't know... Why did you do it?
I was trying to teach you...
That's very generous of you, Gyles. We will of course reimburse the shop.
Let's hope they're being a bit more careful downstairs.
Paul, I don't often go into antique shops
but I've never been one where I've seen so much glassware.
You've seen all this glass.
I can tell you, there'll be as much silver in here.
If we could find an item of small silver, ideally a lady's item,
that will sit with our silver purse a joy, a dream.
So, while Team Parsons look for silver downstairs,
what are Team Brandreth up to upstairs? Having a smashing time?
This looks rather interesting.
-What on earth is it, apart from the obvious?
-It's clearly a loom.
-It's a loom.
-But for what reason? It's a tiny loom.
What kind of carpet are they going to be making? Is this a sampler?
Well, that will look lovely when it's finished, you know.
Finish this, and you might find it is a magic carpet.
What do magic carpets do?
This could fly away.
You might need it for a quick getaway
if David starts breaking anything else.
Shall we find Mark and see what we can do?
Well, let's have one quick whisk around,
in case we see something really huge.
Just don't touch anything which has a stopper.
-OK. OK, no stoppers.
-Just keep your hands to yourself.
Good advice there. Ha!
Elsewhere in this antiques wilderness, Nicholas and Paul
are on the hunt for an item to go with their silver purse.
I've seen a little snuff box here. Have you seen something?
Show me your little box. This little snuff thing there.
-They always sell well.
-A little vesta case, a little matchbox.
The antidote to our treen example.
I have spied another silver vesta case
that I think works even better with the purse.
I like the expert. I follow you.
Have a look. Let's have a look. The Art Nouveau one.
-Oh, my goodness me.
-"Oh, my goodness me," is a good reaction.
I prefer the other one.
Well, here's another possibility.
I'll wager you're a gentleman that will appreciate this object.
We've got hers, the evening bag, how's about...
-his accessory for the evening?
-A malacca cane.
-I've got one of those.
Mine's black, but this one is gorgeous.
-Gorgeous, I like.
-It's seen some life as well.
-Look at the top of it.
-It has, yes.
-A real malacca cane.
There are now three possibles
to mate up with the bag.
The matchbox Nicholas spotted with a ticket price of £60,
the Art Nouveau vesta Paul liked, which has a ticket price of £48,
and the malacca cane, which is ticketed at 65.
Lots to think about. And Team Brandreth?
Can we show you what we're looking at? It's in a little corner.
-Oh, for goodness' sake!
-I didn't even touch it, Gyles.
I know. You just need to WALK by and the whole place begins to collapse.
LAUGHING: These two are like an old married couple.
Are you buying the whole shop, Gyles?
-It's not me, it's this man.
-Keep on moving. Keep on moving.
Paul, would you like to join me? I'm trying to get rid of this.
Every part of the shop we go to, there are breakages.
Gyles, it's like the playground.
Last person to have touched David owns him. He's yours, I'm afraid.
TIM LAUGHS Bad luck.
While David has been smashing up the shop,
Anne has spoken to the owners of each of the three items
Nicholas and Paul were interested in, so stand by.
OK, the vesta case that we have here,
that one would be £50.
This cane would be £55,
and this small vesta case here would be £40.
Are these final prices or is there perhaps a little more movement
-in any of them?
-We're going to have movement anyway.
I like the way you think, Nicholas.
-They're final prices.
-No, no... We...
I mean, you're here to do business...
I want to know, which do you think is going to sell best at auction,
and then I'll do a little bit of bargaining with Anne.
For my money, in my opinion,
the Art Nouveau vesta case in sterling silver.
-And what was the price you offered on that, Anne?
-That was 40.
-Oh, no, no. 30?
-I can't do that.
If it was mine, I would probably say yes, but it's not.
Would you, I beg you, on behalf of me and my comrade,
see if there's any way on Earth that it could be £35?
And if it can be £35, will we buy it?
-What do you think? It's only another fiver.
Yeah, I think that would probably be possible.
Have you made an executive decision or do you want to make a call?
-I have. No, I've made an executive decision on that.
-Right, OK. £35.
I love you to bits, Anne.
Brilliant. The boys have done the deal,
securing the Art Nouveau vesta for £35.
But what about Gyles and David?
-This is a very interesting, curious piece.
-What do you know about it?
-Yeah, tell us everything you know.
-Well, it was bought in France.
I would think that it's probably French colonies,
-French Algeria, French Morocco.
It was probably a shop display item,
a carpet maker showing the excellence of not only his product,
but how it was made.
The ticket price is £98 but Mark will take...
Can we go to the auction with four items?
-He is ruthless.
-I mean, sorry, 70 is ridiculous.
Just for a moment... It's a nice, interesting item.
We've got to make money at auction. What's your best price? What's your death on this?
Absolute death on that would be...
-Mark, is there no way you could make a corporate decision...?
50 or 60 on the spit of a coin, Mark, it would be done.
-Mark, you could...
-My job depends on it I'm afraid, gentleman,
and my job is far more important.
You see, this is a proper negotiator. Congratulations.
-Thank you very much.
Well done, Mark, for standing your ground.
For £60, Gyles and David have got a magic little carpet,
or is it a little magic carpet?
So, with the shopping all done, it's time for these rivals
to reveal their wares.
Well, this is the big excitement.
Nicholas is looking incredibly confident.
He's got this superb man in Paul Laidlaw. I wanted him, obviously.
I've been lumbered with you.
No, you've been fine in your own way,
apart from your inability to negotiate.
-Well, and breakages.
-And breakages. You have been fine.
Paul has been invaluable to me.
He knows it from an auction point of view.
I think I have an eye for something which is attractive and interesting.
-You clearly do. I've met your wife.
Well, this is the moment. I think you should go first.
-There we go.
-A lot of wood.
-That's right, it is a lot of wood.
-Yeah, there's a lot of wood there.
-Is that it?
-Yeah, that's it.
I recognise one of these items.
I've been to Nicholas' home. He brought this from his house.
Nice-looking clock. Edwardian revival?
-Georgian revival, Edwardian, I assume?
-This caught my eye as I went in and I couldn't resist it.
-I like clocks.
-You're a bit of a clock enthusiast, aren't you?
-I'm a clock enthusiast, yes.
Actually, it's a beautiful piece. Again, lovely wood.
-Rosewood, engraved and so forth. 135 it was.
I got him down from 200.
OK. This is the big spenders' table.
Welcome to our world, OK? Ready?
-My goodness me.
-Quite eclectic, I think you might agree.
Gyles, we went traditional here, didn't we?
-We don't want to yell about that.
For 20 quid. OK. But I think the star lot for us,
-the most unusual, quirky thing, is the loom.
We don't know what on Earth it's worth,
where it really originated from. We assume North Africa.
I'm saying it's a magic carpet.
-And I think we could get quite a lot of money for this.
-I think we might.
We've got more conventional things here.
Yours are quirky and interesting. It will be a fascinating auction.
Unusual and quirky. We were inspired by you. I thought about you at all points.
-Unusual, quirky, don't know the value of it.
-This is my friend talking!
Brilliant. Well, I don't think anyone could say this is not
-a very interesting collection of real antiques, actually.
-Some real antiques.
-So, we'll see you at the auction.
-At the auction.
Now they're out of each other's earshot, what did they really think?
Nicholas, they've spent no money. Do you like what they've spent it on?
I think they've been very inventive and very creative.
I like their items. Traditional, conventional.
They paid far too much money.
As they didn't spend very much money,
they have every opportunity of beating us.
-I think we may be slightly ahead on value for money.
-I think so.
-We're ahead on quirkiness.
But if it is a traditional Home Counties audience,
-the conventionality of what they've got may paid dividends.
So it's anybody's auction.
After beginning their journey in Berkhamsted,
our teams travelled through leafy Hertfordshire,
into the streets of London,
before heading back out to auction at Bushey.
I want us to behave at the auction today. I've seen the programme.
What do you mean, you want us to behave?
Because there are sometimes people who get hysterical
and try to encourage the crowd.
-Oh, I'm sorry.
-And I think that puts the crowd off.
I can't imagine you ever doing anything like that, Gyles,
certainly not in the beautiful surroundings
of Bushey Golf and Country Club,
where the people from Bushey Auctions hold their monthly auction.
David Porter is the man wielding the gavel today.
What does he think about our teams' purchases?
My favourite lot is probably the lunacy of the match holder.
It's late-Victorian, it's made out of mahogany, it's treen,
it's turned, and it's a novelty match holder.
It's just a very strange, fun thing.
The vase, I have the most trouble with because it's cloisonne,
This one has a slight dent in it.
It's a nice piece but once they have a bit of damage...
I have more worries about that than any of the other lots.
Here's a rundown of what they bought.
Nicholas and Paul parted with £311 for five lots.
David and Gyles also picked up five lots, for only £120.
-Thank you very much indeed. Lovely.
The bidders are ready and our phone and internet bidders are poised.
Let's get this auction started!
-Here we go. The moment...
-Oh, that looks very...
It's first on the floor today for David and Gyles.
I've got 20 there. 5 there.
30 I've got. £30, 35.
£35 against you. Any more? 40 if you want it.
I know we're not supposed to...
I know we're not supposed to do this but this is a most unusual item.
It's a lovely piece. Who's going to pay £40?
There is a carpet, a real Turkish carpet halfway on...
It is a magic carpet.
Gyles, it's not part of the game to heckle the auctioneer.
I thought Gyles said he didn't like people
trying to influence the crowd.
Who's going to pay 40 for that wonderful speech?
-I would have paid 40.
-If that hasn't sold it, nothing will.
I'm looking for a £40. There's nobody there at 35.
Will we go back? Shall we go down? 30.
-What? You've devalued it!
I've got 35.
35. I'm going to sell this. £35.
-It's your bid. Selling to you. Sold!
Despite Gyles' best efforts, the magic carpet just didn't fly.
That's a tough start for him and David.
Oh, it is shaming. We paid £60. He paid £60.
Next is another of David and Gyles' lots - the Scottish watercolour.
-What shall we say?
Shocking, I know. £10, anybody, for an original work of art?
Thank you, sir.
15, go on.
30. Thank you.
No? You surprise me.
£30 so far. £30. He's going to buy it at £30.
Last chance for the rest of you. And to you, on the internet.
The bid's here. At £30 and selling to you, sir.
Thank you, gentlemen. It's a nice piece.
That's better. The first profit for David and Gyles.
Now it's the 1920s phone, just like the one in Nicholas' home.
I'm a poet and I know it.
I've got to start the bidding at £10.
-It's getting exciting.
Come on, don't give up now. Are you sure?
I have £40. It's your bid, sir, at £40.
It does work. £40.
At £40 I'm going to sell. £40 the bid.
GAVEL BANGS Straight in with a profit.
Well done, chaps.
-Well done, guys.
-A very good start.
-It's a small step.
It's another Parsons-Laidlaw item next - the Victorian microscope.
And I'm going to start the bidding here are £10 for a microscope.
£20 so far, ladies and gentlemen.
Stand up and help.
-Yes, heckle them, Gyles.
-GYLES: Don't be silly.
Oh, they're going to...
I think so. One more?
35. I'm going to sell for £35. Last chance to you all.
GAVEL BANGS It's a profit. Just.
-Another wee profit.
You're now up £15. We are still down £15 thanks to the...
The loom man.
Next, it's the treen match dispenser that our auctioneer
thought would do well.
Will this give Nicholas and Paul a hat-trick of profits?
I'm going to start at £10.
10, 15, 20, 25.
-25 so far.
-Oh, you're doing... It's good.
-Straight into profit!
It's a gem. A gem.
£45. Shall we make 50? It's a nice figure, don't you think?
Go 50. Yes! £50.
He looks disappointed. £50.
It is yours.
I'm selling...at 55.
You're bidding against yourself now? I'll accept it. I'm not fussy.
£55. Selling to you at £55.
GAVEL BANGS Three in a row, fellas.
A great bit of business on the treen.
-Well done, well done.
-Literally game, set and match.
-No, well done, well done.
-You've won the whole thing.
-No, I haven't.
-You've won the whole kit and caboodle.
-Not yet, not yet.
-Can I say...?
-Yes, please do.
-I know what's going on. You know nothing.
The show's not over yet, you know.
But David and Gyles really need a profit on these toys
to stay in the game.
Let's start the bidding at £10.
Come on. £10 for a basket full of fun and joy.
-I think you're going to get £10, Gyles.
-Who's going to pay £10.
Come on. £10, 15.
I've got 15. You're not going the big 20?
Anybody prepared to pay £20? I've got 15 here.
-Have you offended that man?
Surely the basket's worth that?
I'm selling it. Bargain time. £15 then.
-I've got you. 20 there.
5, go on. 25. And...?
25. Still yours, sir. Bid's at £25.
I'm going to sell this at 25
unless you want it on the internet. I'm selling then.
That modest profit should help them catch up a tad.
Well done, well done.
-That could have been worse for us.
Next up, it's David and Gyles' vase.
David, the auctioneer, thought this might struggle.
Shocked me. £10. The bid's here at 10.
£10. It's a maiden bid of 10.
Now don't go mad. 15 is the next bid. 15.
Come on. Have pity on an auctioneer.
25, madam? 25?
-You might regret it.
-30 on the internet.
-That's 200% profit so far.
-Oh, look, Gyles, you're doing well.
-The internet are joining in the fun.
£30 is the bid. Would you like...?
Thank you, madam. 35 now.
It goes to you, on the net. Bid's in the room at £35.
If it weren't for the loom, we'd be way ahead by now.
-He's still on about the loom.
-£35. I will sell at 35.
GAVEL BANGS That did rather well after all.
Another profit for David and Gyles and it's nearly neck and neck.
I just ought to explain to the viewers who may have tuned in late
cos they've been having tea, that we had a very bad start
because David bought something paying rather over the odds.
-But on the items that I was able to buy without any guidance,
-we made 50% profit and 100% profit, and then 200% profit.
So, I think we're doing quite well, the amateurs.
The gifted amateurs are doing quite well.
Experts... Not such a good day.
Thanks for the update, Gyles.
Moving on, it's the rose wood clock that Nicholas liked so much.
I've got £65. Would anybody like to get...?
Yes, 70. 75,
At £100. There's a bid right at the back of the room with £100.
Am I going to sell for 100? It is your bid.
110, I've got a new bidder. 120 now.
I think it's worthwhile keeping going, don't you?
Yes, sir? 130 if you want.
No? At £120, you're holding the bid, sir.
-No, keep it going, keep it going.
-£120. I'm going to sell.
Last chance on the internet. At £120 to you.
That's the first loss of the day for Paul and Nicholas.
-Oh, I'm sorry, Nicholas.
You seem to have dropped £15 there.
Now it's time for David and Gyles' timepiece - the ladies' silver watch.
We start at £10.
I see a forest of hands at £10.
I've got 10 on the internet, funnily enough.
15 with you, sir.
20 on the internet.
-25? I've got 25. New bidder.
-We've made 100% profit.
I've got 40 suddenly from nowhere. On the internet at £40.
-I'm on 45.
-This is where you're lucky.
-£45. I'm going to sell at 45.
-Oh, no, no, no.
-Last chance. £45.
Another nice little earner for David and Gyles.
Nicholas and Paul have one last chance to catch up.
-Ooh! Could've been better.
-That's a bargain.
-It's all right.
-It's all right.
Our final lot today is the combined one,
the Art Nouveau vesta case and the 1930s ladies' mesh purse.
£10 the bid so far. Solid silver for £10. Two pieces in the lot.
10 is bid at the back. 15 now.
I've seen you. 35.
35 now if you'd like, madam. £35 is here in the fourth row back.
40 is bid now.
55. I've got a new bidder.
Now, sir? 65 standing.
-It's nothing on you yet.
-Stop it, Gyles.
Gyles, stand up and give it a description and devalue it, please.
For old time's sake? No? Are you sure?
75. One more? Take pity on me.
It's hard up here. £80. At £80.
It is your bid at £80 and selling at £80.
GAVEL BANGS Uh-oh.
They had big hopes for that lot,
but has it sunk any chance of winning?
-Don't forget that loom.
-It was a belter.
-We may just be ahead.
-Very, very close.
-It was very, very close.
-It's good fun.
Both teams started with £400.
Paul and Nicholas spent nearly all of it,
but after paying auction costs,
sadly made a loss of £40.40,
leaving them with £359.60.
David and Gyles played a canny game.
They spent small and made a small profit after auction costs of £19.40.
But that was enough to give them a total of £419.40
and a big victory over the rivals.
All profits go to Children in Need.
Gyles, what a team! In the end, what a team.
-Think, if we hadn't bought that loom...
-Just think where we'd be.
We would be actually on the M1 towards the champagne supper.
-With about one million quid.
-With a lot of money.
But as it is, a nice fish finger sandwich for you.
-Will you drive me home now?
-I'll drive you home.
As long as you promise not to talk about the loom on the way.
Well, without hesitation, repetition or deviation,
-these two old chums now have to go home.
-I'd forgotten about the loom!
What's your abiding memory of our trip?
-I think we've had a wonderful few days.
It's been good, hasn't it? And the sun is shining.
See you next time. Tatty-bye.
TV and radio presenter Nicholas Parsons takes on writer and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth. With the help of experts Paul Laidlaw and David Harper, they scour Surrey for antiques before heading to an auction in Watford, Hertfordshire.