EVEN within the dark gloom of The Dome’s main sports hall, there was no mistaking that clipped velvet voice, the sharp suit and the glint of expensive jewellery.
For television antiques expert David Dickinson was in town - dapper as ever and ready to do some dealing with the good people of Doncaster and beyond for his hit ITV show Dickinson’s Real Deal.
But despite looking immaculate as ever in his chalk-stripe suit, The Duke, was suffering - constantly snuffling into his handkerchief and struggling manfully on through Saturday’s eight hour filming schedule with a bout of tonsilitis.
“I’m not feeling too well,” he croaked as a queue of would-be sellers snaked around the leisure centre, their arms laden down with boxes and bags of trinkets, collectibles and dust-gathering paintings, each no doubt hoping they were cradling a windfall for the flamboyant star and his team to drool over.
But each and every time the cameras rolled, the 70-year-old was the consumate professional, snapping back into his famed larger than life “bobby dazzler” mode and charming the ladies with a roguish smile as punter after punter stepped up with their treasured possessions in a bid to turn them into cash.
Queues formed from early morning and among those hoping to catch the eye of the raft of antiques expert was Lisa Chare of Wadworth, giving a helping hand to her mum with a bagful of porcelain which included Dresden and Spode items.
She said: “We’ve no idea what they are worth, we are just interested to see what they think of them and whether they are worth a few quid. To be quite honest, I am more interested in seeing David Dickinson and seeing if he as brown in real life as he is on the telly!”
Indeed, The Duke’s tanned tones - which he puts down to his Armenian ancestry - were one of the main talking points among those waiting patiently with their wares as he flitted from podium to podium, chipping into negotations as punters bartered with dealers to get the best prices for items which ranged from pictures to pottery, guitars to glassware and everything else inbetween.
Sally Williams of Edenthorpe said: “He is just as he looks on TV. Although he is a bit taller than I thought he’d be. He is very smartly dressed too - I think he looks wonderful - it is great to see him in the flesh.”
Also happy to come face to face with the one-time Bargain Hunt host was Dawn Stevens of Goole who walked away £210 richer after nailing a deal to sell a 1900s print of six dancing Dutch girls, the work of acclaimed British artist Cecil Aldin.
In among the cables, cameras and lights cluttering the sports hall floor, a delighted Dawn said: “I wanted £150 - £200 for it so was happy to get a little bit more, thanks to David’s help. It has been in my husband’s family for a long time but it has just been sitting in the cupboard for seven years so it was nice to make some money from it.
“I think the only reason I ended up in front of the cameras was because while I was queuing, the painting slipped down onto the floor and made such a noise that all the TV people came rushing over to see what had happened.
The housewife and mother of two, admitted she wasn’t nervous about her starring role and added: “I will do anything for a bit of a laugh really. I think I will be putting the cash towards a holiday.”
And the last word went to Dickinson himself who said: “It has been a terrific day.
“We’ve had some truly wonderful items and lots of surprises. Northern, working class towns always seem to produce the best items - I love coming to these sort of places because you never know what you’re going to get. We’ve had some fantastic characters and some extraordinary items.”
The programme will form part of a new series of the daytime hit show which is expected to be screened in the New Year.