CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: Hidden among the clutter, a trove of treasure that's worth a fortune

The Travelling Auctioneers

Rating: ****

The White Lotus

Rating: **

What am I bid, ladies and gentlemen, for this wooden coat hook in the shape of a dinosaur, the schoolboy craftsman’s identity disputed, but either by Stevens the Elder or his more gifted son, S. the Younger?

Also, Lot 43 — a Phillips screwdriver from the same workshop, with magical properties: it is said to vanish whenever it is needed.

Last in the catalogue, this splendid international collection, comprising painted ashtrays, embossed bookmarks, keyrings with dolls in national dress, wooden coasters, assorted krona, francs, lire and pesetas, and an unopened bottle of Madeira in the shape of a dolphin.

They rolled up in their mobile Repair Shop and embarked on a Bargain Hunt before it all went Under The Hammer. The elements of this daily show might not be original but they combine neatly

Most of us have drawers of clutter that we can’t bear to throw out. In Shropshire, getting ready to move house, Chris and Sue Dewhirst had the bright idea of selling it all to the highest bidder, on The Travelling Auctioneers (BBC1).

The couple had a compelling reason to raise as much money as possible, rather than just donating a few boxloads to a charity shop.

Nine years ago their teenage son Matthew, a keen rugby player, died suddenly on the pitch from an undiagnosed heart condition. Sue and Chris have since devoted their lives to funding cardiac research for young people. Matthew’s bedroom was full of treasures that have become collectible, including a mountain of Lego and a set of Pokemon trading cards.

But it was the souvenirs and ornaments around the house that gave this show an informative, entertaining twist.

Auctioneer Christina Trevanion ferreted them out and restorer Will Kirk gave them a polish.

They rolled up in their mobile Repair Shop and embarked on a Bargain Hunt before it all went Under The Hammer. The elements of this daily show might not be original but they combine neatly.

Auctioneer Christina Trevanion ferreted them out and restorer Will Kirk (pictured above) gave them a polish

Auctioneer Christina Trevanion ferreted them out and restorer Will Kirk (pictured above) gave them a polish

The prize finds were wooden knickknacks decorated with roughly carved mice. They came from the Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson factory in Yorkshire and apparently people love them. After a coating of linseed oil, the cheeseboard fetched £620, the two candlesticks £800 and the bookends £950. It just goes to show how valuable a little expertise can be, because I’d have happily let them go for a fiver.

It was disappointing to learn, though, that commemorative Royal Wedding chinaware remains stubbornly worthless. We’ve got a porcelain mug from 1986 that celebrates the nuptials of Prince Andrew and Fergie. You’d think that must be worth something.

The super-rich guests at The White Lotus (Sky Atlantic) are bound to bring back tat from their luxury holiday in Sicily . . . those who survive, at any rate. This dark and overblown comedy opened with bodies washing up on the beach among the sunbeds. That’s a promising start, but then the inevitable happened — a caption announced a flashback, with the words One Week Earlier.

This is such a lazy device. It’s a sign of sloppy writing and usually a warning that the main story will take a long while to get going. Sure enough, the first episode often dragged, with too much small talk and inconsequential bickering between unpleasant characters.

Two did their best to inject some melodrama. Jennifer Coolidge plays spoilt heiress Tanya, a tyrant to her personal assistant but desperate for affection from her cynical husband.

And F Murray Abraham as a manipulative grandfather, flirting with the waitresses: ‘Hello darling, you’re a sight for sore eyes.’

Michael Imperioli plays his son, and commits the same basic mistake he always did in The Sopranos — trying to make an obnoxious character likeable. Admit defeat, Mr Imperioli, and just let us hate you.

Nervy moment of the night: In a vintage clip on Made In The 80s (C4), Jools Holland met Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s singer, Holly Johnson — who waved a revolver at him. Jools gulped: ‘Please don’t point that at me!’ Is that what DJs mean by ‘No.1 with a bullet’? 

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