Hidden Treasures


Lars Tharp


BBC Radio 4, 9 April 1998 to 18 October 2000 (30 episodes in 4 series)


Quiz about antiques and collectables, recorded in a different stately home or other historic building each week.

The game's played by two pairs of players, who introduce each other like they're vintage antiques.

The opening round gives the show its title, Lars Tharp hides an object from the mansion under a cloth, then gives a brief description. The teams buzz in with guesses to say what it is, when it's from, what it's used for, and any anecdotes they can tell about the old thing.

Then there's a round where Lars describes items that aren't there, and asks the teams to guess what it is (etc) from the description alone.

Just for variety, another round sees Lars pass actual items from the house to the teams, with the traditional challenge to work out use / age / provenance from appearance. By a curious coincidence, many of the objects happen to align with the experts' specialities.

A pre-recorded literary reading comes next, which allows the teams to talk about another vintage item. The show ends with some of the panel talking about an item they've brought in from home, these are little talks they've prepared and doubtless delivered many times before.

Points are awarded at Lars' sole discretion. Our chairman is fair, and the points reflect the edited show.

The show is basically an excuse for antiques experts to talk about their passion, and it makes for diverting radio - they're all accomplished communicators, able to provide context for this Georgian sun screen, or First World War sterilising kit, or whatever the thingummy is.

It's a lot of upper-class voices chirruping about antiques; that is a very narrow field, and not for everyone. The experts try to broaden the talk into more general history or society, and sometimes succeed.

Introduced in 1998 as part of James Boyle's lunchtime panel game slot, Hidden Treasures was recommissioned throughout his tenure. The next controller of Radio 4, Helen Boaden, wasn't as enamoured of panel games, and ended Hidden Treasures.


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