The Great Garden Revolution
At a stately home on Mars, some time in the 22nd century, in the warm ember glow of its two moons, a polite crowd will gather with armfuls of domestic treasures for another edition of Antiques Roadshow (BBC1).
Some of the valuation experts will be triple-headed extraterrestrials from Alpha Centauri, but they’ll all be wearing tweed waistcoats and spotted bow ties — so it really won’t look that alien.
Inevitably, one of the items for inspection will be a face mask from the Millennium’s early Twenties.
‘Ah yes,’ the specialist will burble, ‘these were once very common, but they’re priceless museum pieces now. Your great-granny bought a whole packet of them in 2021, you believe? What a shame she didn’t keep them all.’
One of the items for inspection will be a face mask from the Millennium’s early Twenties. ‘Ah yes,’ the specialist will burble, ‘these were once very common, but they’re priceless museum pieces now’
One of the marvels of the Roadshow is how it reminds us that commonplace objects can become tomorrow’s heirlooms, invested with a sentimental value or a mystique that didn’t exist when they were first made.
This time the show was in Coventry, marking the recent 80th anniversary of the Blitz attacks that reduced the city’s medieval cathedral to rubble.
Rather than dwell too long on the destruction, most of the episode was a celebration of how the nation rose from the ashes of war — with strong parallels to the rebuilding task Britain currently faces.
Fiona Bruce was taken with a blue woollen pinstripe demob suit, the sort issued to ex-servicemen as they returned to civilian life.
Those suits were once seen as a bit of an embarrassment, rather than the uniform of our returning heroes. Today, they look remarkably stylish.
A poster from the time promised: ‘You are entitled to one suit, one tie, one raincoat, one hat, one shirt, one pair of shoes, two collars, two pairs of socks.’
One of the marvels of the Roadshow is how it reminds us that commonplace objects can become tomorrow’s heirlooms, invested with a sentimental value or a mystique that didn’t exist when they were first made
It’s a pity the Roadshow couldn’t find a whole outfit — but like today’s masks, they weren’t regarded as worth preserving.
As before with these salutes to wartime Britain, no price was put on any of the exhibits. Some were displayed for the first time, others were culled from previous programmes, but in neither case was there any mention of money.
That left more airtime for some unique tales: the red Wedgwood teacup found unbroken in the ruins of Dresden, the baton used by the musical director of Gunner Spike Milligan’s jazz band, the TV set purchased on Tottenham Court Road in 1946 for £200 (about £8,500 today).
As ever, the Roadshow was doing what no other series can do so well — using ordinary lives to create a sense of history.
Several stories were presented as a collection of photos pinned to a noticeboard, each picture coming alive in turn. The Great Garden Revolution (C4) was using the same device.
No doubt it’s done with a clever new bit of software. It looks snazzy now, but it’ll go out of fashion faster than a demob suit.
Despite the grand title, this Revolution was just a budget version of Alan Titchmarsh’s Love Your Garden or Charlie Dimmock’s Garden Rescue.
A family in Harrow started with an overgrown mess, and ended up with a pagoda and a pond made from a barrel. Designer Poppy Okotcha didn’t even bother removing a dead tree — it was good for insects, she said.
Strictly’s Shirley Ballas gave us a tour of her back yard, describing herself as ‘a beginner gardener’. ‘I’ve got some California fescue,’ she said proudly. ‘This grows wild and free. It’s like Boris Johnson’s hair.’
And indeed it was, though not quite as messy. Perhaps the Prime Minister has been using Baby Bio for hair gel.
Job swap of the weekend: Ousted presenter Sam is blatantly after the top spot on This Time With Alan Partridge (BBC1). I can’t help hoping he gets it. I find actor Simon Farnaby much funnier than the show’s star, Steve Coogan.