Antiques Uncovered Review: Under Aspel

ANTIQUES UNCOVERED: Wednesday 9th May, BBC Two, 8pm

As Karl Marx famously never said, “Antiques programmes are the opium of the peopleâ€?. Their hypnotic effect has entire households enthralled; mother truly believing that the chances of discovering ‘gold in that there attic’ is directly proportional to the amount of programmes consumed. So the second leg of Lucy Worsley and Mark Hill’s journey into the “social and historical contextâ€? of antiques should provide another golden opportunity to learn and maybe even earn. It does – if, boys and girls, you make it past the first five minutes.

Bursting onto screens with all the crazed enthusiasm of two escaped puppies, the history-hungry pair return to explain the back stories of a number of artefacts and hold scripted conversations with each other in expensive country houses. If Enid Blyton could have been involved in writing a scripted-reality antique documentary series, Antiques Uncovered would be it.

This week the Aryan duo is investigating travel-themed antiquities. Flitting seamlessly between a Victorian carriage clock – used for travel, that makes sense – and rather more tenuously-linked Wedgwood pottery which depicts exotic destinations, the travel theme appears rather a burden to our excitable pair. Zooming from one era to the next takes its toll on this weary viewer, but such trivialities do not stop them from plunging headfirst into the spirit of it all; Worsley bounces about in the back of a carriage while Hill watches a potter make pottery to “uncoverâ€? more about the antique.

No surprises there, the modern presenter is no longer permitted to glide about – Aspel style – making knowledgeable remarks to camera (more’s the pity). Given this pair’s seemingly bottomless enthusiasm and knowledge of their subject, it is a shame that their sing-song exchanges take centre stage. “What’s the attwaction of these little knick knacks?â€?, Worsley asks of a wide-eyed Hill who is twiddling with a tiny Japanese figurine. As if she doesn’t know. As if we do, so tell us and not her, Mr Hill, and end this tiresome charade.

If you are able to forgive the wide-eyed gallivanting, there are actually some useful antique-hunting titbits of info on offer here. The identifying features of neo-classic design make a handy checklist for any budding bargain-hunter, but the presenting team’s attempts to make the antiques discussed “accessibleâ€? will no doubt have already put off many viewers over 15. Fittingly, Worsley and Hill end the show taking daft photos of each other at Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

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