Antiques Roadshow expert Marc Allum talks to Amie Mulderrig about his Walthamstow past

Marc Allum from the Antiques Roadshow

Antiques Roadshow presenter Fiona Bruce

First published in Interviews East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Photograph of the Author by , Features Writer

For the past 37 years, the Antiques Roadshow has captivated viewers. Its appeal has little to do with antiques, rather, it’s about the people featured, and how one man’s rubbish can become another man’s riches. 

It’s the ultimate reality television. Why? Because it exposes greed, recklessness, surprise and differing family histories – all performed in a polite, yet exciting fashion – which we can observe safely from the comfort of our armchairs. 

All that is set to change however, when the Antiques Roadshow comes to Walthamstow at the end of the month.

You could become part of the drama of the show, by taking along items to be valued by the show’s experts. 

Marc Allum, one of the experts, is particularly excited about the programme coming to Walthamstow. 

“I actually bought my first flat there,” he gushes, “a fixer-upper, in Greenleaf Road. 

“But what I loved about Walthamstow, apart from the fact that at the time it was one of the few places I could afford to live, was that I had a great deal of fun there. 

“It’s got a great history with the William Morris connection and it has a great ethnic-based community, which makes it a wonderful place to live.  

“Plus, there used to be a fabulous car boot fair at the town hall and I used to buy all sorts of fabulous things there.”

Indeed he did make some discoveries at the town hall. A notable find was a car mascot, which he bought for 50p and managed to make a considerable profit on. 

“I sold it for £1,500!” he laughs, “I think it was fate. I was really late getting to the boot sale that day and everyone else had passed it by, so it was as if it had my name on it. It’s funny how these things happen.

“I was desperate to get to Sotheby’s on Monday morning, because I knew exactly what it was I was holding in my hands. It was number three of 100 that had been made, I knew I had something good, but in those days we didn’t have the internet to just look it up, so I had to wait to go to Sotheby’s. 

“At this point in my life I feel guilty, but when I was younger I didn’t. As you can imagine, when you’re young and struggling, it was quite a nice find, it enabled me to buy my first actual car, a Renault Fuego, which I thought was a stylish vehicle!”

For the show, Marc, 49, will be valuing furniture, although his expertise covers a number of areas. People who have written into the show requesting their furniture be valued will be visited by Marc prior to broadcast, for his expert opinion. He won’t reveal details about their objects however – that’s saved for broadcast day – which he says is a tricky part of his job, because he loves telling people about their things. 

“It’s almost impossible,” he says. “Especially when people are umming and ahhing about whether they want to send their objects in and you know it’s worth £20,000 or £30,000. You can’t help but think, oh crumbs! I want this in the show! But that’s part of the fun of it.”

Another difficult aspect of his job is telling members of the public their items aren’t worth as much as they hoped. 

“We’ve learnt to be social workers as well as antiques experts,” says Marc. 

“People can be queing for hours, only to discover that their items are worth a few pounds. So we have to let them down gently and make them feel they haven’t wasted time waiting to see us. 

“It’s important for us to talk to all the visitors, even if it’s just about the weather, so that they know we value their time too.”

Marc, who sharpened his valuation skills on the job as a London-based auctioneer (he’s keen to stress valuing is an innate ability, not something that can be learnt), has been part of the Antiques Roadshow for the past 17 years, after he was spotted by producers on Going For A Song.  

He holds the record for the most expensive item ever sold on the show – a Leica Luxus II camera, which made about £400,000. 

He says he’s can’t wait to see what the residents of Walthamstow have to show him. 

“You have expectations depending on the area, say if you’re in Staffordshire you’d expect a plethora of pottery, but that’s not always the case,” says Marc, who now lives in Chippenham with his wife, fellow Antiques Roadshow expert Lisa Lloyd.

“We might be thinking we’re going to find some William Morris stuff, because we’re in Walthamstow, but the chances are slim. You can’t predict what you’re going to find, we’re at the mercy of the gods.”
 

The Antiques Roadshow at Walthamstow Town Hall on August 31, from 9.30am until 4.30pm. Anyone who has large, heavy or delicate furniture they can't carry to the show can contact the team for a visit at: antiques.roadshow@bbc.co.uk or 0117 974 2395, by Friday, August 22, and they could be featured in the furniture round. 

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