• Monday, August 15, 2022


BBC tells Antiques Roadshow to be mindful of ‘reputational risk’ when discussing ‘colonial history’

The Sunday night show running since 1979 is centred around the appraisal of antiques.

Fiona Bruce of the Antiques Roadshow team (image credit: @BBC_ARoadshow/Twitter)

By: Chandrashekar Bhat

The BBC has urged potential producers of its long-running Antiques Roadshow to be careful about handling “sensitive” historical subjects as the corporation is outsourcing the antiques appraisal show.

The content must be able to address “colonial history” to stay clear of a “reputational risk”, according to the BBC’s online documents reported by The Telegraph.

“The high-profile nature of Antiques Roadshow means that it is often under a great deal of public scrutiny as to how it handles sensitive areas such as colonial history. We are looking for experience in managing compliance issues and reputational risk,” the documents said.

The Sunday night show running since 1979 is centred around the appraisal of antiques brought in by people but it has often faced the criticism that critical assessment has hardly been made about the origins of such objects.

In one such instance, jewellery historian John Benjamin appeared to gloss over how a Mughal-era ring valued at £2,000 was brought to the UK from India.

He said on the show last year that the ring had “somehow found its way from somewhere near the Taj Mahal over to a charity shop here 200 years later”.

Information on the origins of the object appeared to ignore British control and plundering of India, and was branded a “euphemistic dodging” of a painful historical period by colonialism expert Prof Dan Hicks, an archaeology expert from the University of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, the newspaper said.

However, the BBC said in a statement: “Where we have relevant details about items Antiques Roadshow experts have always explored their provenance including the history of the British Empire, among a range of other issues. This tender sets out our existing approach for potential bidders.”

According to The Telegraph, the corporation intends to change the team of on-air experts to reflect the diversity of British society but noted presenter Fiona Bruce is expected to stay on.

The BBC documents have outlined a £5.1 million budget for the programme over the next two years, with each episode worth around £127,000, and about £135,000 allocated for four specials, it said.

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