To say that Antiques Roadshow is popular is a bit of an understatement. Since the debut of the American version on PBS in 1997, the program has consistently been one of the top programs on the network. The series concept is deceptively simple: ask the public to bring antiques to a location and record the appraisal of the items. It’s reality TV, public broadcasting style.
The program is produced by WGBH-TV in Boston, with enormous amounts of volunteer efforts from the stations in the cities where the program travels to. Twice the program has visited Georgia: Savannah, in 2004, and Atlanta, in 2011. I’ve heard amazing stories about the Savannah trip, but I was not at GPB then. I was, however, at the Atlanta taping held at the Georgia International Convention Center in College Park. The program was recorded on August 6, 2011, and aired in January 2012 over several episodes.
If you weren’t able to get tickets for taping, you were in good company. From what I understand, there were more than 26,000 ticket requests. Only about 1 in 3 ticket requests could be fulfilled. For those lucky ones who got tickets, it was a long day of long lines as you entered the center ring you see on television where the appraisers sit. But every one that has a ticket does get to enter the ring and does get to see an appraiser. Should your item catch the attention of an appraiser, they signal a producer and television crew to come over a record the discussion. Even then, it might not wind up in the television show (remember, 10,000 people!).
One thing I always wondered about was how to they handle people who bring enormous pieces of furniture. I know I’d be a little aggravated if I hauled a giant Empire wardrobe all the way to Atlanta only to learn that it was a cheap reproduction. I was relieved to discover for that people with giant pieces are able to send a photo of the item in advance. Even then it’s no guarantee that the ones who bring the items actually have something valuable, but perhaps there will be a good story behind it.
For the taping, I was assigned the job with a few others of taking photos of people after the appraisal in front of a GPB/Antiques Roadshow backdrop (the backdrop is called a Step-And-Repeat for those in the know, which I didn’t until that day). Almost with exception, the people I met that day were in a great mood. Keep in mind that most of them had stood in line since early that morning, and the vast majority of them found out that their items are probably of more sentimental than monetary value. Even so, everyone talked about how much fun they had that day, and as you see in the photos, they were all smiles:
Unfortunately, due to rights issues we can’t put the Atlanta episodes online, but the Atlanta ones still re-air from time to time. But we do have lots more about the Atlanta taping: