Antiques Roadshow veteran David Battie has admitted that there are fewer “stonkingly good” treasures on the TV show – and that he once wrote its host Fiona Bruce a love poem.
The BBC show is currently enjoying its 40th anniversary and Battie, 74, appeared on its very first episode.
Highlights he has valued over the years have included a Chinese jade bowl dating from 1750, carved with flowers, which its owner used as a dog’s water bowl.
Battie told Radio Times magazine that it was more difficult to unearth extremely rare objects today, although they are still out there.
“There are definitely fewer really stonkingly good objects on the Roadshow, which is inevitable, given we’ve been going for 40 years, sucking them in like a vacuum cleaner,” he said.
“That said, we’re lucky in that in this country we have more antiques per square foot than anywhere in the world, so I think we have a way to go yet.”
Having seen different presenters on the series, he told the magazine that he has a soft spot for the show’s current presenter, newsreader Bruce.
“I think Fiona is wonderful,” he said. “Early in her tenure I wrote her a love poem (doggerel) in the style of the poets I liked, from Edward Lear to Dylan Thomas. She was probably horrified.”
Several years ago, Battie spent seven months in hospital after slipping on some grass.
He caught a hospital bacterial infection, resistant to all antibiotics, and, faced with losing his leg, had plastic surgery.
“It had a less than 30% chance, but thankfully it worked,” he said.
“Apart from getting very old, I’ve learned that rain and a grass slope are a combination to be avoided.”
Battie said he had been left a coffee can and saucer, dating from around 1800, by the owner of the full service, who appeared on the BBC One show.
“She’d left it to me in her will, saying that, because I was so kind and enthusiastic, she’d like me to have a piece when she died. It sits on a shelf in my bedroom and is one of my very favourite things,” he said.