I had something nasty, so stayed indoors and caught up on daytime TV. It’s designed to control us, of course, to distract the infirm from their pain and keep the unemployed from rising up. And it’s surprisingly class-conscious.
Cash in the Attic is very much the downmarket version of Antiques Roadshow, while BBC One’s Bargain Hunt is the middle-class Flog It! You get the feeling that when someone sells a chipped plate on Flog It! for £6.50, it’s a matter of life or death.
Bargain Hunt, by contrast, is for those posh amateurs who trawl boot fairs hoping to find a “real bargain”. In this episode, Caroline and her daughter Natalie bought a brooch, a suitcase and a bathroom tile from a boot fair in Lincoln and, a few days later, sold them at auction with the goal of turning a tidy profit. The stakes were so low that Natalie didn’t even bother to turn up to the auction – perhaps she figured out that the entire lot was going to make a profit of just £35.
On Bargain Hunt, however, it’s the taking part that counts; they might as well be gambling with milk bottle tops. Another team – lawyer Lucy and her history teacher dad, John – made a net loss of £50 for their lot, which included a hideous 1960s vase which if found in the house of a recently deceased loved one would ordinarily go straight in the bin. What happens to all these useless items once bought? My theory: they get sold at boot fairs, bought by amateurs hoping for a “real bargain” and then sold again at auction.
But I’m now addicted to this rubbish because everyone involved is so irresistible. Presenter Paul Laidlaw is a fun Scot who looks like he knows his way around an Iron Age fort, and he engages in the kind of frank, funny banter you can only actually get away with at 12.15 on a Tuesday afternoon. He said to John the historian: “You would’ve been my ideal dad … a dad that could drive me around castles would be my first choice. Lucy, do you feel the same about your dad?”
“Not quite,” she replied.
How to continue reading…
This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week
The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection