Take a slice of Cash In The Attic, add a dash of Antiques Roadshow, shake thoroughly with Deal or no Deal, garnish with a sprig of Dragon’s Den and you get Four Rooms, an antiques programme with a difference. It quite literally blows the cobwebs out of a genre that’s been limited to daytime TV and Sunday nights for too long.
The premise is similar to that of other antiques shows, with members of the public bringing in their treasures in the hope of selling them on for healthy profits to one of four dealers. The difference with Channel 4’s new programme is that each dealer is in a separate room, with prospective sellers having to meet each in turn to flog their wares. However, when a room is left, the offer is made null and the seller can’t go back, meaning that they have to choose carefully which order they visit the dealers in and what decision they make when money is on the table.
It’s only valuable or unique items that take the fancy of the four shark-eyed dealers, which makes for great viewing as an array of weird, wonderful and grotesque items are brought out of people’s attics. There’s a torn Francis Bacon picture, Princess Di’s Christmas cards, a cigar that Churchill dropped, and a bust of Hitler’s head from a concentration camp. Why do we never see these items on any other antique shows? David Dickinson must be getting very red-faced with embarrassment – not that you’d notice with that tan of his.
There are moments of comedy too, as dealer Jeff Salmon, who has an air of campness about him as he struts around in a silk scarf, asks a seller if he has the “bollocks to roll a dice” to decide whether or not he sells his booty for 10 or 25 grand. Apparently, Jeff “never loses” such gambles, and he doesn’t in this case either. Calling himself a “maverick, who’s totally unpredictable”, he could be the star of the show alongside fellow judges Andrew Lamerty, Gordon Watson, and Emma Hawkins, a “female in a man’s world”, who loves to buy objects that have an air of distaste about them.
Channel 4 has certainly gone to town on effects for the show, with the décor and style very similar to Dragon’s Den. The whole concept of Four Rooms makes for pretty compelling viewing, and it should be a hit with viewers.