Dickinson's Real Deal



David Dickinson


Voiceover: Claire Harman (2007-)


RDF Television West for ITV1, 6 November 2006 to present


Christ on a bike, if there was an award for Most Cobbled Together Format of the Year, this is it.

Punters arrive at your local town hall, à la the Antiques Roadshow. The objects are quite cheap with personal stories attached, and these are discussed with the values, à la Flog It!. The antique dealer makes an offer and the seller has to work out whether to take the money or go to auction, à la Take Your Pick if you like. The result comes up on a graphic marked "DEAL" or "NO DEAL", à la… yup, Deal or No Deal.

The list of missed opportunities to inject some fun into the format is really quite staggering:

  1. Many of the objects are well under £100, so the losses and gains are not very big.
  2. The dealers have to tell the truth to the sellers, so there's no chance of the dealers trying to bluff the contestants in any way.
  3. If the dealers do try to offer a low price, Dickinson comes over and sticks his oar in, thus undermining any decision-making process the 'contestants' have to make.
  4. The dealers hardly ever offer too much, so it's rare for people to 'lose out' by going to auction. After all, dealers are buying at wholesale prices.
  5. If the item is sold to the dealer, it's not put through an auction or a shop anyway so we never know whether they got a good deal or not. Only a brief occasional snatch of Dickinson's voiceover (from series 2, Claire Harman's) gives us any indication of whether the price was fair.
  6. If they do decide to go to auction, they can put a reserve price on it so it's virtually impossible for there to be a big loss.
  7. After the end of the auction, RDF are so stingy they won't even pay for the punters' auction fees + VAT, so David has to take that off manually later which complicates the calculations and makes the game harder to understand (as well as make RDF look like cheapskates).

Also, the on-screen graphics are often wrong and have clearly been added in a rush in the edit.

Thanks to David Dickinson's highly watchable on-screen persona and consummate professionalism, the show is not an out-and-out disaster. But it clearly needs to develop its own personality… fast.

Addendum: Fair play to the producers for straightening out a number of the above flaws in series 2. More valuable stuff is used, independent valuations appear on-screen, and there's a round-up of what happened to the dealer-bought artifacts at the end of the show. And, in the celebrity programmes at least, the auctioneers donate their pound of flesh to a nominated charity. RDF, please send your consultancy fee to the usual address.


Curiously, several ITV trailers advertised this in the plural: "Dickinson's Real Deals". Whether this is due to ITV's staff being incompetent or the lawyers of Mr. Endemol (owner of a daytime show with some rather similar elements) breathing down their neck is not known.

Jeremy Beadle made his last TV appearance on the show in 2008.

Some four years after it first aired, the programme got the primetime nod from 16 April 2010, airing 30 minute episodes in the not entirely plum Friday 8pm slot opposite EastEnders.

Six consecutive episodes, broadcast from 30 March to 4 April 2014, were sampled for an episode of Dave Gorman's Modern Life is Goodish.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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