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AMIABLE but relentlessly downmarket is the view from this sneery corner. Checking out the David Dickinson website prior to viewing this video, sustained by more than one extremely large glass of red wine, and reading some of the enervating ‘Ten Things You Didn’t Know About David Dickinson’, one finds he is described as “like some check-clothed thing out of The Wind in the Willows”. Glancing through some of David’s little homilies on the site: ”Pottery… it’s all Greek to me,” and, “Sorry ladies – may I call you girls? – you won’t catch Mr Dickinson wearing a frilly apron round the house because he’s not big on household chores,” I felt suddenly strangely fatigued.

The video is described as a real “bobby dazzler” by “the hottest property in TV antiques” (at two million viewers daily, Bargain Hunt has the highest viewing figures for BBC daytime television, and has picked up six million viewers on an evening slot), we’re told to “Follow David, aka the Duke, as he travels all around the country visiting the top antique dealers, gallery owners, auctioneers (including Sotheby’s) and antiques fairs.”

So, over to Sotheby’s Olympia with chairman Tim Wonnacott telling us that the level of expertise there is generally higher than in provincial salerooms; cue picture of David with catalogue, torch and tape measure.

After explaining telephone bids, he adds: “It could be a big shot; it could be the Sultan of Brunei.” We hurl up to Tennants auctioneers in Yorkshire where David started buying some 30 years ago and here he goes into Dodgy Dave mode: while he’s checking out bargains, he keeps giving theatrical and furtive glances over his shoulder. We blast along to some dealers; Notting Hill’s the Coach House, and on to talk to Oriental art dealer Kevin Page: “Is it the mystic world of the Orient?”, then a quick chat to a nervous Ian Butchoff about 19th century furniture, and then it’s crashing around Reg Smith of Harrogate’s Smith the Rink antiques furniture warehouse for a little stool priced at £3950.

DD says he’s often asked how to haggle with a dealer: “Approach dealers in a friendly way,” he says, – so he asks: “Would you do something a little better?” “For you, David, £3500”. Whatever is the point of that?

We meet an unnamed runner, set in dark profile like a crack dealer, and called wearyingly the Road Runner, and we are given a minute explanation of what a runner actually does. Although then, there is much on his scoop, a c.10th century Syrian chess piece bought at a provincial auction for £530 and sold at Christie’s for £750,000; cue David rummaging in a box of glass somewhere and murmuring “Now where is that chess piece?”

Then it’s Olympia and Simon Carter of art dealers McConnal Mason and the “buy what you like” mantra; Ian Harris, jewellery dealer – “investment in pleasure”; and finally to David’s own highly embellished stand, the main centrepiece of which is a Gillows bookcase in Elizabethan-Revival style. On its price, David sucks in his cheeks and gives us: “What I’m going to tell you is this: it’s the price of a semi-detached house,” before the final pay-off line as someone comes to look at a rather beautiful telescope: “I think I’ve got a live one.”
He may have but I’m out of it.

David Dickinson is likeable, and he certainly has passion and that’s always attractive, but this dumbed-down ‘world of antiques’ video is aimed at people who know nothing about antiques, or much else, so the programme-makers think, so idiotic is some of the content. And that is how it will remain: at the very lowest level of the trade. Incidentally, the video sleeve claims: “…revealing all the secret tricks of the trade…”. Where were they?