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When it debuted on 18 February 1979, few would have predicted that Antiques Roadshow would draw bigger audiences in some regions than Coronation Street – but it did.
The BBCs Sunday teatime show in which silver-haired Arthur Negus – already famous from Going For A Song – was the main expert looking at ordinary people’s treasures was a slow but steady hit, and Arthur became a favourite uncle until he retired from the show in 1983.
Negus once dropped someone’s treasured clock. The 500-strong audience and crew froze in shock as it shattered on the floor. The owner forgave Arthur instantly: “Never mind Mr Negus. It’ll give me something to do in the evenings putting it together”. Arthur Negus finished hosting the show in 1983 and passed away in April 1985.
There have been spectacular finds, including a Ming Dynasty temple bell worth £30,000 and a Victorian painting dumped in a garden shed but valued at £100,000 (and bought by the British Museum).
In 1988 an old teapot brought on the show by a Merseyside grandmother ended up fetching £14,300 at auction and buying its owner a council house. But all the experts were stumped by one wooden object which was finally identified as a wooden leg made for a bull!
There has been one unfortunate mistake. In 1987 resident expert David Mason told a Cambridge couple that their painting was by Swedish artist Bruno Liljefors and worth £50,000. Sotheby’s confirmed it but then realised that the genuine article was in a collection in Sweden and this was a fake.
American public broadcaster PBS created a US version of the show in 1997, hosted by Chris Jurrel (for four seasons) and then Dan Elias.
The American version is produced by WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts. Local versions have also been produced in Canada, Sweden, Australia and the Netherlands.
Michael Aspel announced his retirement from the programme in 2007, with newsreader Fiona Bruce replacing him from 2008.