A chat with Fiona Bruce
What has been your highlight from working on the show?
‘I feel lucky to have presented Antiques Roadshow for nearly 10 years. I love doing it and have had so many highlights over the years. My personal favourite is when a man of the cloth arrived with a painting, which he thought might be a Van Dyck. I was making a programme about Van Dyck at the time and thought it looked like the genuine article. My hunch was correct and it’s now being exhibited as a Van Dyck.’
Why do you think the show is still so popular?
‘Probably the reason I love it. We all hope that we could have something gathering dust on the mantelpiece or in the attic which turns out to be very valuable or has an amazing story.’
What’s your earliest memory of Antiques Roadshow?
‘Watching it with my parents in our 1970s living room. I dipped out of it for a while when I started going out, but began watching it again later on. I was thrilled when asked to present it. It’s not often that you’re asked to work on a programme you’ve watched for so long yourself.’
Has the experts’ knowledge rubbed off on you?
‘I’ve certainly learnt more about antiques and have my own collections of paintings. I collect things called “samplers” which are Victorian pieces of needlework usually done by children in a workhouse to show that they had a skill which could be used in service.’
What is the most surprising item someone has brought along to a valuation day?
‘Perhaps the man who turned up with an attaché case full of loo chains, just a small sample of his collection, or the lady who brought a potty which had a picture of Hitler on the bottom. When you did a little “tinkle” into it, it played a tune. Being rare, I think it was worth over £1,000!’
Do people go on and obtain second opinions of their object?
‘Occasionally people are a bit disappointed with our valuations on the show. One person was furious when an expert confirmed that their book containing autographs of Hollywood stars wasn’t genuine. So they went to a local antiques shop and returned telling us that the shop owner didn’t agree with our opinion, even though our expert was Britain’s premier specialist. It happens rarely, though.’
Will you ever leave the show?
‘Who knows. I love doing it and will continue doing it for as long as I can.’
The highest audience figure for a Roadshow was 15 million in the 1990s. Today, a loyal six million watch the show.