Bargain hunters out in force as TV crew films at Shrewsbury flea market

Bargain hunters have been out in force at the West Mid Showground this weekend - and the television cameras were there to capture the action.

Mark Stacey with Barghain Hunt ontestants Ulka and Rati Choudhary from Market Drayton
Mark Stacey with Barghain Hunt ontestants Ulka and Rati Choudhary from Market Drayton

The BBC are filming two episodes of their popular daytime show Bargain Hunt this weekend at the Gravel Hill lane venue, but that was in doubt with the flooding a few weeks ago until 30 volunteers recently launched a clean-up operation.

It meant the planned Flea Antiques and Collectors fair could go ahead, with television antiques experts such as Mark Stacey, Thomas Forester and presenter Caroline Hawley proving star attractions.

Many people watched the filming of the show - where teams of two are given a budget to spend on antiques or items that they think might make a profit at auction - with the camera crew, experts and teams mingling easily with the public and shoppers.

Emma Jones from JOS Events has been running similar shows at the showground for eight years and said they love having the television crews there.

She said: "We run a similar event at Oswestry as well but this is a little bit more quirky and the TV producers seem to like it here as they have been back a few times. We don't really have to do much in terms of logistics to get them here, they set up a green room and pretty much look after themselves, it also attracts a few more people when they are filming so that is obviously good for us, the showground and the stalls.

"We have been lucky with the weather today it has been great - it wasn't looking so good a few weeks ago but we are grateful to all who turned out recently to get it ready after the flooding.

Adam Phillips, a trader who works at Vintage Dolly in Kidderminster selling jewellery and bangles, said he enjoys getting out and about in the county and that the Shrewsbury shows always prove popular.

He said: "I am happy with business so far this weekend, I always do ok here. I have been on Bargain Hunt a couple of times - they filmed six episodes in a weekend just after lock down and I was on there selling the teams items - I enjoy being on the television, seeing the crew and the atmosphere it brings with them.

Market Drayton mother and daughter Ulka Choudhary had come to the showground to be one of the featured couples on the show and were due to spend Saturday and Sunday filming before going to the auction with what they had bought at a later date.

Ulka said; "I like antiques and I love the programme so I just wanted to take part and see how I get on and whether I can make any profit on the items I buy.

"I applied at the end of November and got an e-mail pretty quickly to ask me to come for an audition and soon after that we were told we had been successful.

"We don't spend all weekend at antiques fairs we also love gardening and walking but we do like auctions so that is probably what is behind this partly.

Rati said they were keen on antiques fairs and although this was a new experience and being on the television, she was really enjoying the filming . She said: "You kind of forget the camera is there because you are concentrating on the items but there are lots of funny moments with the crew and other contestants - it has been a lot of fun."

Bargain Hunt antiques expert Mark Stacey is an antiques dealer and valuer who has been a resident expert on the programme for over 20 years after answering an advert in a newspaper.

Welsh-born Mark said: "Being in the trade you get to travel round a lot but I love the show first and foremost and helping the contestants as well is wonderful - their passion and enthusiasm delights me.

"Of course there is a big tradition of antiques in Shropshire with shows at Oswestry I have been too many times, Ludlow and Coalbrookdale are big areas for the shops as well - it's a lovely county and I love coming here to meet people whether on the show or the general public,"

Jenny Martinez and her husband Angel met in Spain and have been married for over 30 years. They run Shrewsbury-based Grinshill Animal Rescue which looks after and re-homes dogs and cats and they travel to fairs selling antiques and tabelware as a means of raising extra money for the centre.

Jenny said: "We probably lost around £28,000 during lockdown, not being able to fund raise or through a lack of donations. We also didn't get any government help being a charity and the shelter is always run on a very tight budget with just one full time and one part time member of staff.

"Vets bills and other costs such as heating and lighting are very big but we never turn any of the animals away.

"But we are trying to get out there, sell a few items and raise awareness of the rescue centre as quite a few people don't know we exist so to be out in public and handing out leaflets can't do any harm. Plus we really enjoy meeting people, including people's dogs and it is a great atmosphere here."

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