Thursday, 06 August 2020

I love c**p, says TV’s Esther

TV PRESENTER Esther Rantzen has given two antiques shops a boost in business after visiting them for a

TV PRESENTER Esther Rantzen has given two antiques shops a boost in business after visiting them for a TV show.

The former That’s Life presenter and her daughter Rebecca Wilcox were competing in a TV antiques challenge.

And instead of trying to identify rip-offs, the veteran consumer champion joked about her lack of taste.

Wilcox, who is also a television presenter, visited Tudor House in Duke Street, Henley, while her mother went to Barbara’s, off the Wheel Orchard car park in Goring.

They were being filmed for an episode of the BBC’s Celebrity Antiques Road Trip, which was shown on Tuesday last week.

In the BBC 2 show two celebrities drive around the UK in a classic car while trying to buy antiques as cheaply as possible.

They are each helped by an expert and then try to resell their purchases at auction and whoever makes the biggest profit is declared the winner.

In the programme, which was filmed in July, Rantzen drove to Goring in a blue 1985 Mercedes coupé accompanied by expert David Harper.

She greeted Barbara’s owners Maddie Bateman, 75, and her daughter Nikki Sharman, 49, of Elvendon Road, Goring, before browsing their stock.

Her eye was immediately drawn to a white china teapot marked “A present from Morecambe”, which was selling for £2.50. Rantzen joked: “I am irresistibly drawn to c**p.”

She and Mr Harper then settled on a set of four watercolour paintings from the Thirties depicting humorous scenes from a children’s nursery. They were priced at £75 but Mrs Bateman agreed to sell them for £45. Meanwhile, on the same morning, Wilcox pulled up in Henley in a 1969 red Mini with expert Will Axon.

During their three-hour visit, she turned her nose up at a hand-crafted Japanese lacquer box from the Twenties and a type of 19th-century coal scuttle called a purdonium.

Instead, she opted for an American “flexible flyer” wooden sledge from the Thirties or earlier, which was going for £48 but which owner David Potter agreed to let go for £33 after Wilcox haggled.

The celebrities visited several other locations, including Reading and Wallingford, before attending the auction near Woking, where Rantzen emerged victorious. She made a profit on all items except the watercolours, which lost her £10.

Conversely, her daughter made mostly losses but sold the sledge for £75, making it either woman’s most profitable purchase.

Mr Potter, whose shop celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, has appeared on Antiques Road Trip and its celebrity spin-off seven times. He has previously welcomed Coronation Street stars Anne Reid and Thelma Barlow and CBBC presenter Angellica Bell.

Mr Potter, 65, from Harpsden, said: “It’s funny because they spend hours doing the filming but you’re only in the final episode for a couple of minutes. The day after it aired, I had six calls enquiring about that Japanese lacquer box but of course it had long since been sold.

“Rebecca and David chose quite wisely considering the large profit they made on the sledge. It was nice having her here — she was very friendly and chatty. It’s a lot easier for the celebrities to haggle because the proceeds go to charity. You know it’s for a good cause so you don’t mind knocking the price down a bit.

“The show is great for business as people come in and say they’ve seen it. The first time I appeared, a couple of Australian tourists walked in and said they’d seen the programme in Sydney a few days before.”

Mrs Sharman, whose mother took over Barbara’s 35 years ago, said: “They phoned a couple of days beforehand so we didn’t have much notice but they said they wanted the shop to look like it usually would.

“They say these things are staged but what you saw on the episode is exactly what happened.

“Esther was very funny and very stubborn — she could have chosen lots of things that were worth more but she insisted on buying something with children on it.

“She loved the shop and even bought some pearls which she was wearing the next day at the auction. The show’s make-up artist and cameraman also bought a few items when they had finished filming.

“After the show went out, at least three people came and visited because they’d seen it. It was great publicity for us.”

All proceeds go to a charity of the stars’ choice, which in this case was was for the Children In Need appeal.

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