I applied to go on the show back in May, when my husband, Robin, was just retiring after 12 years as an MSP in the Scottish Parliament. We both love watching antique programmes (it fits in with his love both of history and recycling!) and I thought this would be fun. It was!
First we had to pass an audition – where we met the lovely Rachel and Guy from the BH team – then we found ourselves catapulted into a day of filming at Ingliston Antique Fair near Edinburgh. With expert Nick Hall to help us, we set off to spend our £300 on three items, in one hour. Time flew past. We found a pair of 'Waterford' claret jugs (actually moulded glass with a silver plate top and handle) that I liked very much, followed by a beautiful pair of Chinese bronze vases – and hey presto, we had spent £210 already! A lovely 14-carat gold pendant with a topaz stone (maybe?) followed. The clock for the permitted hour is set strictly and although we found our items in good time, I can imagine the pressure for those who find themselves with just a few minutes to go and items still to buy.
After each purchase, the clock is stopped and there are more takes, from different angles, of what you have just done. Who was holding the vase then? In which hand? Did you pass it to Nick or to Robin? The BH team are well practiced at all this but we found it fascinating. Even though Robin had appeared many times on television as a politician, this kind of filming was new to him too.
We didn't get any make-up (I was hoping the wrinkles would disappear, but alas, no), but we got a great lunch! The best part was meeting all the other contestants – who we saw two weeks later, at the auction in Glasgow – and meeting Anita Manning, the lovely Glaswegian auctioneer who contributes so much fun and knowledge to many of the antique programmes you can see on TV.
If you've never been to an auction, do go. It's such a fun experience – though when you are trying to squeeze a profit, it's a bit nerve-wracking too. The auction of our three items passed in a flash and although it was all very tight, we were extremely fortunate to make a small sum on every purchase, thereby qualifying us for the rare Order of the Golden Gavel (actually a small stick pin). Nick had spent £12 on a piece of 60s glass with the balance of the cash we gave him. Robin had loved it at the Fair so of course we chose to auction it – and that made a respectable profit too.
To get on Bargain Hunt, just go to the BBC website, find Bargain Hunt and fill in the online form. It was a great day out – two great days, actually – and may provide you with a starting point for a whole novel, some fantastic characters, background insight, or some hitherto undreamed-of motivations. Who knows?