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Our journey through the annals of Roadshow history are about to end.
Just time for one last edition as we dig out some golden nuggets from the vaults.
Just as well - we've left some of our most memorable moments for last.
If you ask our experts which are their most special finds
in 30 years on the Roadshow,
for many it's been when they've touched objects
associated with great moments in history.
In this episode, Paul Atterbury and Simon Bull recall some extraordinary encounters.
'Sometimes an item comes in that really sends shivers down your spine.'
You get this feeling that here is history, real history.
A fantastic feeling, that is.
One of our experts is transported back to his first job working as a porter in an auction house...
Good morning, Knowles, we're expecting a lot of people today, a very big sale...
-So I want you to be on your very best, attentive behaviour.
And what is the magic of the Roadshow?
One is incredibly lucky, because The Antiques Roadshow acts as a magnet.
And things that you really wouldn't believe existed
just come out of the woodwork to the programme, it's amazing.
For some, the love affair starts young.
Collecting can be an infectious disease caught in your youth.
High time, we thought, to remember some of our youngest visitors to one of Britain's oldest shows.
Our experts have hosted a total of 14 children's specials over the years, and it never gets any easier.
The old phrase "never work with children and animals"
was what sort of went through my mind.
'I have to say that my experiences of working with children are absolutely delightful.'
-I like that one.
-You like it, too?
You'd better do up your shoe down there, yes.
Working with children, you know there is going to be that moment
when you are going to be completely upstaged,
and you just have to lay back and enjoy it.
The history of Meccano goes back actually quite a lot further than 19...
And also, they don't take you seriously.
If you're wrong, they will tell you.
It's a risk. Children are a definite risk.
I've got a slight problem here today, I'm having great difficulty deciding who's who. So who are you?
Doing a children's roadshow can be -
you can really get your comeuppance there.
I remember two wonderful boys, who brought in an early pocket watch.
And in order to demonstrate how it worked, I actually needed to take the movement out.
I'm gonna take this one a little bit to pieces.
Do you know how to do this safely?
Yes, I hope so. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?!"
The Children's Roadshow really happened through something Hugh Scully and I did.
We just the two of us appeared on a children's programme, and there was such an enormous
response from the kids that it made everybody sit up and take notice,
and the decision was then to make a special children's programme.
THEME TUNE PLAYS
Dozens of youngsters have brought their treasures along to
Children's Roadshows since they started in 1992.
And the memories have left a deep and lasting impression on some of our experts.
I can almost hear the children now, as I remember the Bristol Roadshow.
There were several children who clearly were already on the road to obsession in their collection.
Some of them were absolutely charming.
One of the most impressive young people who came to the show was the girl, she was six years old,
and she brought in a collection of fossils.
-You've got a little animals' graveyard here.
Can you just quickly take me through what they are?
Er, a dinosaur bone,
an ammonite, a crinoid,
petrified wood, some coral, a trilobite,
-shark teeth and echinoids.
-Gosh, you could start a whole new planet with all of these.
She could pin to each bone and tooth the correct polysyllabic word -
not bad for a six-year-old. And for anybody listening, polysyllabic means long word.
Do you have any favourites here?
Erm, this one's one of my favourites, because I dug this one up by myself.
-And when did they live?
-Erm, round the Cretaceous period.
And then at the end, I said, "Is there any fossil you
"would like Father Christmas to bring you?"
No, Santa doesn't get fossils.
But if he did, I saw this skull,
a bit of a skull of a baby mammoth, and it was a real lot of money so we couldn't have it.
It's not every six-year-old who wants a baby mammoth for Christmas.
And at Gateshead in 2008, Christmas came early for Bill Harriman.
This is a Waterloo medal, and it really is one of the
greatest battles in British history, where the menace of Napoleon
was dealt with once and for all.
It's one of those medals that every collector dreams of. Tell me how you got it.
It is actually my great, great, great, great grandfather's.
It was passed down the family.
I think it was an exciting object, because
it was a direct link with the owner's family, and he could say
that he could hold in his hand an object which his ancestor had held.
He was called William McNull.
He was born in 1795, and at the age of 15, he joined the Army, in Leeds.
And so by the age of 20, that's when he went to the Battle of Waterloo.
I just think that that's a launch into your family's history.
And he could also tell you that on 18th June 1815, exactly,
what his ancestor was doing, and that was banging two sticks on a drum.
This is really rare, because you don't often find medals that are inscribed
Waterloo medals, they cost anything between sort of £1,500-£2,000.
But I want you to promise me that you'll look after that
for your family, because it's really important.
-I also think you don't own it,
you just look after it for the next generation.
I really wish that I owned that, something with my family name on it,
that was at that great event in Europe.
Going back to 1992, an unsuspecting Hilary was about to fight another battle.
This is an enormous box. It says Meccano on the top, is it full?
Yes, it's the number six set
-which was around 76 years ago, in 1916.
That memorable recording of the young boy with the Meccano set was sort of all my nightmares put together.
'I had this really young child to interview,
'who I thought would know nothing, but of course he knew everything!'
So every fact I came out with, he sort of countered with a backhand slice.
The history of Meccano goes back actually quite a lot further than 19...
That's right. That's when he started producing Meccano.
And this tennis match went on, and it was always my ball that ended up in the net. It was completely priceless.
Watching the clip again, it does seem to have
a quite quaint sense of comedy to it, it's almost like
a bit of a pastiche of the Antiques Roadshow, because I seem to come out
with a lot of facts and dates and so on, which I probably wouldn't
have known two days before, and almost certainly wouldn't have remembered two days afterwards.
I don't know if this is something that you wanted to know how much it's worth...
-No, more than that...
He actually came out with a valuation figure before I could even get mine out.
I mean, I suppose I should be thankful that he was wrong, otherwise actually what was I doing there?
I only have the vaguest memory of meeting Hilary Kay.
Erm, I remember walking past Andy Peters in the gents' toilets.
He was a big children's television presenter at the time!
There's nothing like getting a taste for antiques when you're young.
And that's certainly true for many of our experts,
who learned their trade by starting right at the bottom of the ladder, as porters in auction houses.
So we took one of our best-loved specialists, Eric Knowles,
back to his roots and let him loose on the saleroom floor for a day to see how he got on.
It's years since Eric has been out from behind his desk at a
major London auction house, but there's no time for slacking in a Yorkshire saleroom.
You really do have to start at the bottom of the ladder,
when you start in the antiques world, certainly for an auction house.
More often than not, you start off as a porter.
You're on a learning curve, and I can tell you know, that learning curve was so steep.
Certainly the first three years, and after that it levels off a little bit. But it never flattens out.
And that's what makes this business so fascinating.
Being a potter, it sounds quite lowly, doesn't it?
But in all fairness, it was the perfect introduction for me.
It's quite menial, there's a lot of sweeping up,
there's a lot of humping and lumping tea chests from A to B.
But it is the way to learn.
-So what are you looking for in particular today?
A bit thin on the ground in Wensleydale, you know.
The team have had to inspect, catalogue and display all 800 items in today's sale.
The great thing about working in an auction house is that you would see in a year
quite often what a dealer might handle in five years.
And that was all part and parcel of absorbing this information, almost by osmosis.
Who better to put Eric through his paces then the man who helped him get his first porter's job
32 years ago - old friend Rodney Tennant.
-Good morning, Knowles.
-How are you this morning?
I'm fine, thank you, I'm just checking the contents.
We're gonna be very, busy, we're expecting a lot of people, a very big sale, I want you to be on your
very best, attentive behaviour, which includes, please do your tie up a little bit more.
-Oh, I'm very sorry.
-There's no point having clean boots and a tie that's askew.
One weak link in the chain breaks the whole thing.
-All right, I won't let you down, Mr Tennant.
-Thank you very.
I've word that Rodney goes to bed at 9 o'clock the night before.
-I've heard that one as well?
-Yes, I've had the same rumour!
-He's probably got an electric blanket as well, I'm gonna ask him eventually.
Oh, there he is.
His ears are burning.
Just concentrate, we're about to start the sale, please.
-He's looking at me, he wants me to do a bit of work.
That Rodney Tennant, his eyes and ears are everywhere.
40, 50, 60, 70.
-Lot 19, a teapot in the form of a cat...
-Oh, showing there, well done.
Hold them up, Mr Knowles, there we are.
I think the primary reason I wanted to get
into the world of auctioneering was that I actually went to a house sale.
In the doorway now. 260, 280...
I saw the auctioneer, and you know, the porters in their brown coats and everything, it was just pure theatre.
Bells started ringing, because I just knew that this was the place I wanted to be. 460.
You can put them down now, sir, thank you very much.
It must have been the way you held those up.
It's not enough really in this business to be just interested.
The people that I communicate with are passionate.
-Begins with me at 80...
-A left-handed jug.
-Very rare, being a left-handed jug, apparently.
When it comes to learning about antiques, it's a case of sort of
look, listen and, in the case of ceramics, feel free to fondle.
-Lot 103, the seven Royal Doulton... Is that 103, sir?
-103, yes, sir.
Right, it must be a bull, I've got another part of that, I haven't got it all on my...
-It's definitely a bull, sir.
-103, well done.
Well, if you can't tell from where you are, nobody can tell. There we are.
With any auction, the adrenalin's pumping, and even when you attend it,
and you're doing the bidding, you can feel it inside. This man is Formula One.
And I think I might be on the old push bike level.
Right, we've got to 200, so I will now hand over to my trainee,
he's had a session at portering, and he's going to be selling the next 10 lots to see how he gets on.
I'm hoping it's a bit like riding a bike. I don't mind admitting, I'm as nervous as hell!
It's the first time he's ever sold in Yorkshire. He's a Lancastrian, so please handle him with care.
-Thank you, Rodney.
-And report to me after the sale.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Yes, for the first time in life my life, I'm wishing I was born in Yorkshire.
Lot 201, which is the Galle style cat, there it is, please,
who'd like to start the bidding at £100 for this lot? Looking for 100?
What you've got to do is to have a successful sale, obviously, it goes without saying,
and for people to go away wanting to come back.
It does bring out the thespian in me.
No bid of £80, start me at 50.
At 50... We are in Yorkshire and not in Holland are we not, Rodney?
Yes, OK. Right at 50, any offer of 50? LAUGHTER
With my former employer I was carpeted on more than one occasion
and told this is a fine art auction house, this is not theatre.
I don't mind admitting, ladies and gentlemen, I hate cats. I'm sorry.
Oh, I know I've lost a few friends but it's all to do with where were you in '62 and in 1962 I was running
down my front street chasing a cat that had my guinea pig in its mouth.
So... You'll understand, won't you, the bias, sorry.
Anyway, any offer of 50 then bid me... Oh...
£50 is offered there on my right.
60, 70 if you like, sir. 70, 80 with me. And 90...
At £100, on the book at £100.
Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, it may be a day out for you but it's a career for me.
Thank you so much indeed. Thank you very much, Rodney, it's all yours.
He'll go far that Eric Knowles.
Our final compilation of Roadshow moments marks some encounters which
have left a lasting impression on two of our veteran specialists, Paul Atterbury and Simon Bull.
They love finding precious pieces which take us directly back to important moments in history.
I think objects have a huge resonance.
They're inanimate, they're lumps of metal, whatever.
But an object which has been somewhere where something
important has happened, long after the people have gone,
that object carries that forward into the future.
What's the key?
The key to my heart. This is actually very interesting cos, going
back to where it started really, my fascination with Marie Antoinette.
This opens a corner cabinet on one of her barges,
which is nice cos she might well have touched it.
-This is the magic, I'm holding it, Marie Antoinette may have held it.
-It's like a relic really, isn't it?
-It is, you cannot get closer to the event than that.
-'Objects are magic.'
When I hold something, which has had some famous connection, it's sort of vibrating through me.
You can feel all that history there in that object.
The key to a great moment in naval history was put before clocks expert, Simon Bull.
Sometimes an item comes in that really sends shivers down your spine,
for various reasons. In this case I remember a marine chronometer...
Do you know the history because usually they're just
spoils of war but nobody knows where they came from?
Yes, we know quite a lot about it's late history
which is that it was the chronometer of a U-boat, a U-110.
It was caught by three Royal Navy vessels under
the command of my grandfather and depth charged to the surface.
My grandfather sent a boarding party on board who retrieved as much
stuff as they could from the U-boat,
including an Enigma machine and all the code books that went with that.
I believe that was the first time that we actually
had in the Second World War the naval codes and the machine.
Fortunately, the Germans were unaware that we'd captured this U-boat and its contents,
so that was kept a very closely guarded secret.
It meant that we could decode...
So from then on in those codes could be broken and, you think, this
instrument is a turning point
in a world war. You get the feeling that here is history. Real history.
A fantastic feeling, that is.
Sometimes we're lucky enough to see one small item that has had far reaching consequences for mankind.
The story of penicillin, a real story that actually changed the 20th century.
My father went to work, directly from school, at the tender age of 14
in the inoculation department of St Mary's Hospital where Fleming
was working as a bacteriological researcher.
-Fleming was a very untidy man.
And he used to experiment on what we call petri dishes
and he went off on holiday one day leaving a large quantity of these lying around unwashed and when he
came back he happened to look at them and he found that several of them, the bacteria had been cleared.
-So it was pure chance?
I do have an original mould here.
Hang on a minute, so this is the culture.
That is what the mould looks like.
Somehow it made me understand the story so much better,
but the thought that only an accident made all that happen.
The mould that produced penicillin, Alexander Fleming 1951.
So this must be a very rare thing.
-One was sold at auction for £20,000.
-I think all we can say is this is a very valuable, very rare item.
If you were concerned with medical history
-a piece of the original culture, endorsed by Fleming, it must be the gold bar.
There is nothing like it.
Thinking, "I'm actually holding this piece of history" was very, very important.
And some items are reminders of the darker chapters in our history.
-The Palace of Justice in Nuremberg, Germany...
once the holy city of Nazism, becomes the setting of an epic event.
The 20 most important surviving members of the Hitler gang go on trial.
We all know you as Lord Oaksey,
but what is your connection with this material?
My connection is through my father.
He was one of the two British judges on the International Military Tribunal
which was set up to try the Nazi war criminals.
-The Nuremberg trials.
So here we've got your father on duty, as you might say, and these
are the various passes issued that he wore, IMT and he was number one,
so he was top of the list, wasn't he?
To suddenly see these images and these documents, and talk to somebody who WAS there,
you really are drawn into that experience.
The Nuremberg trials, that was the trial that established the precedent
that when you say as a defence, "I was only following orders"
that doesn't hold water. Is that right?
-That's absolutely right.
-Britain's Lord Justice Lawrence addresses the defendant.
The defendant is to plead guilty or not guilty to the charges against him.
That will be entered as a plea of "not guilty."
So you have direct memories of the trial and all that it represented?
-So you saw all these people?
-Absolutely, with my headsets on.
-And you saw their responses?
Very much so.
Here we have the dock and there's Goering.
-Gosh, doesn't he look thin.
-Well, that's the amazing thing.
He had lost four stone in weight and had come off main line heroin and so
it was an incredible achievement that he became the outstanding figure in the dock.
He was the one who defended himself and his colleagues.
-Never said, "sorry" at all.
To me this is just an incredible vision into this...
vital moment in our history.
It was a very important item to me because I thought
this is from the eyes and voice of someone who was there.
He could talk about it in a very direct sense and it was about making history live.
It's looking at pieces like that which remind me
just what a privilege it is to work on the Roadshow when such special objects are brought in for scrutiny.
If you think you've a piece you'd like our experts to look at
we'd love to see you as the programme continues
recording for our next series.
That's just about it from this look back through the archives.
I hope you agree it's been stacked with priceless moments.
My thanks to our team of experts for bringing back such great memories and we've one final question.
After getting on for 500 Roadshows what is it they love about the show?
And, keeps you all watching.
I think one of the great things about the Roadshow is that, despite the fact that's it's been
on the air for over 30 years, broadly speaking it has been
unchanging in the sense that the format has remained exactly the same.
But it retains its freshness because every single programme is different,
I mean the people you meet, the things they bring with them, the places you go to.
Every week when you turn on the Antiques Roadshow you have no idea,
as the experts didn't on the recording day, you have no idea what you are going to see.
THEME TUNE PLAYS
It kind of was a weekly occurrence that you looked forward to.
That music heralded the start of an adventure, a sense of discovery.
It's a very special passport to experiencing very special things.
To experience it with some of the people on the Roadshow is just beyond description.
I think most of us would agree the best moment of the Roadshow day is 9.25am.
There's huge queues, there's people clutching
ill-defined parcels and packets and you simply don't know what's going to happen.
One is incredibly lucky because the Antiques Roadshow acts as a magnet and things that you really
wouldn't believe existed just come out of the woodwork to the programme, it's amazing.
There's a slight feeling of Christmas every day,
because there are funny little parcels and boxes
and open them up and sometimes
the Christmas present isn't quite as magnetic and fascinating as you want it to be,
but then the next one or the one after that contains the Faberge brooch
or the Charles II memorial ring or something absolutely pulse making.
That's when the heart starts fluttering.
That's when the excitement comes.
-That's when the adrenalin starts to flow.
-It's a dream come true.
It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, that's what we look forward to.
That's what I look forward to.
The other thing which I really get a kick out of is the characters as well.
Certain people they...
are extensions of what they're bringing in and the whole thing then becomes a
-Thank you very much.
One thing that always amazes me,
I think it sums up the British character
is how nice and how pleasant people are when they've queued for five hours.
I'd be an homicidal lunatic standing there for that time.
It is the remarkable thing about the Roadshow is that it brings out
the very best in people in all sorts of ways. It never ceases to amaze me.
We can go from the top of the country to the bottom of the country.
We can go to America, Australia, whatever, and we can find the most remarkable things.
One of the things that has always been key to the programme is,
in a sense, the "Oh, my gosh" shock effect.
Here you are, bought for £2, worth £5,000 and bizarrely, this happens all the time.
Every show there is one of those sort of discoveries.
-This piece of furniture would be in excess of £100,000.
That's what we want, it's an entertainment programme
so when you get a really good reaction it makes the programme.
Fantastic, I had no idea.
The Roadshow, to me, represents a chunk of my life which was almost entirely pleasure and excitement and
to have started something so late in my career
it was an extraordinary bit of luck because I'd met such amazing
people and seen such astonishing things, travelled to lovely places and they've actually paid me as well.
It's been a great bonus.
We had no idea when we did the first series of the Antiques Roadshow
that it would ever run more than the first eight
and when the second one came along we were amazed.
Then a third, and I'm still amazed, frankly.
The Times said some years ago, I remember, "there are two programmes that could potentially go on forever.
"One is Desert Island Discs and the other is the Antiques Roadshow."
Well, if we live as long as Desert Island Disc we'll be doing very well.
Would I have been surprised the programme was going still 30-odd years later?
I think all of us would be.
Not just me, but it was a nice, comfortable, happy, nice little programme
that no-one envisaged would go on forever, almost like The Archers, I mean, it's quite incredible.
Here it is, still after all these years, still surviving.
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