Antiques Roadshow; The Real Noah’s Ark: Secret History Review – The Actual Queen Is On The Roadshow!
Here’s an interesting-looking old relic someone has brought along to Antiques Roadshow (BBC1, Sunday). A tiny figure, in duck blue with matching hat. Looks very old, but still in reasonable condition. Worth an absolute fortune, round about £330m, the expert says.
Because she’s the Queen, the actual Queen, who just happens to be at Hillsborough castle at the same time as the AR. Well, it is her place in Northern Ireland. She drops by because, says Fiona Bruce, she’s a fan of the programme. Nonsense, I’ve heard from reliable sources that she watches back-to-back Family Guy and nothing else. While Philip is a Game of Thrones man, for the girls. He’s here, but kept safely back, in case of inappropriateness, I imagine.
So what does Her Majesty offer, then? They show her a horse, of course, a little statue of the 1863 Derby winner. “It sounds very incompetent,” she says, on hearing that the race had 32 false starts. And she mentions that Lady so-and-so, who used to own this silver christening cup, was her aunt. And that’s it. Well, she speaks in private to the experts, apparently, but nothing else on camera. That’s a bit disappointing.
So to the riff-raff then. What have they got for us today? Another little lady, almost exactly the same age as the Queen as it happens – an art deco figure called Starlight by Demetre Chiparus. And worth ... between £10,000 and £15,000! Look at her eyes, the eyes of the lady who’s brought it in, beneath the look-like-I’m-pleased smile … Was she hoping for 20? Is there just the teeniest hint of disappointment? Of course there is, there always is. To be honest, I’m disappointed too, after the way expert Will Farmer was bigging it up. I mean, 10 grand is nice, but not exactly life-changing, is it? No loft conversion.
What? It’s about finding out about the artefacts, not about the value? As if …
I’m also disappointed that no one ever admits they’re disappointed. Like this man with his daughter and their painting of a(nother) horse, by Wright Barker. They clearly don’t like it very much, and nor does expert Grant Ford, who can only come up with “colourful” to describe it. Anyway, it was bought by granddad in 1976 for £1,025 and now, says expert Grant Ford, it’s worth … £6-8,000. They’d probably have been better off getting an Isa, wouldn’t they?
I do like the man who found a special lock in a skip. When he discovers it’s worth £800, he tries to flog it to the AR expert. “That’s not our job,” says Ronnie Archer-Morgan, clearly a little affronted.
Hold up, what’s this though? A watch, which was in a terrible state, but has been restored to its former glory. It doesn’t do email, or GPS or measure your heart rate, but it was made by Cartier, not Apple. So it’s worth ... £40-50,000. Ha, there’s your loft conversion. Shame it wasn’t a hundred, though.
There’s a hint of Antiques Roadshow about The Real Noah’s Ark: Secret History (Channel 4, Sunday), but without any of the disappointment. Man brings to the British Museum an ancient clay tablet that’s been sitting in his suburban (and presumably unconverted) loft for years. Babylonian expert and rare Cuneiform reader Irving Finkel immediately recognises that it’s a retelling of the Genesis flood story. Or pretelling, as this predates any Bible version by more than 1,000 years. So the story was possibly adopted by early Hebrews living in Mesopotamia during the Babylonian captivity. Is that how the modern-day country got its name? I’m thinking about God’s anger and the type of vessel, I’m thinking Ire Ark …
That’s just my own personal theory; you’re welcome, Dr Finkel, happy to be of help. Anyway, the tablet doesn’t just tell the story of the ark, it gives instructions on how to make it. So guess what, Dr Finkel only goes and gets three men – Shem, Ham and Japheth (actually Tom, Eric and Alessandro) – to build one for him.
It’s a lovely mishmash of archaeology, mythology, ancient history, religious studies and naval architecture, culminating in the launch of this strange-looking, circular (that’s what the instructions said) vessel. Which immediately begins to take on water and sink. Maybe the bit about how to make it waterproof was on the part of the tablet that was damaged and illegible.
Anyway, the excellently bearded Dr Finkel, looking out from his modern-ancient ark, looks both very happy and very much like Noah.