The Great Antiques Hunt



Jilly Goolden


BBC1, 14 August 1994 to 10 September 2000 (57 episodes in 5 series + 2 specials)


Superior and popular antiques show which has controversially dispensed with both mention of "going" from the title and E. Knowles Esq. as resident punter.

Mad but fun

Mad wine buff Jilly Goolden leads two pairs of contestants around an auction hall, pausing for the occasional rudimentary dating (no, not as in romantic dating) and pricing game en route. The interesting part comes when contestants spend a fixed budget on antiques that they think are bargains, and then attempt to auction what they have bought for as much as they can extort, earning points according to the number of quids their "bargains" went for. It may be hard to believe now, but at the time this was a strikingly original game mechanic and added a definite "wow" factor to what could easily have been a rather pedestrian show. Of course nowadays, everyone's at it.

Jilly with some children, contestants from one of the Christmas specials

The top table

The higher scoring team progress to the whimsical but fascinating end game, where they are led to a table with five antiques worth £200-£300, and one worth around £1,000.

They have thirty seconds to decide which one they want. Do they pick one which they think will be valuable, or one that they would actually like to own? Can they identify a classic from a clunker in half a minute?

A neat yet quirky presentation involving a lazy bloodhound made this definitely the best of breed for 90s antiques shows.

Key moments

Very occasionally contestants confound all expectations by getting five times the predicted value for the item that they're auctioning. How Jilly is surprised!


Mark Edwards writes:

I was the prop master on this show and it showed in the programme how original it was for the time. It helped that we were all enjoying ourselves whilst working at quite a pace to get around the different locations and set ups. As you say all the shows now took our lead. At least we can say we were first.

Web links

BBC programme page


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