BBC warns Antiques Roadshow to be mindful when discussing colonial history

BBC warns Antiques Roadshow to be aware of ‘reputational risk’ when discussing colonial history

  • The budget for Antiques Roadshow is £5.1million over the next two years, according to a brief
  • The BBC said the show faces scrutiny over how it handles areas like colonial history
  • The long-running series previously failed to acknowledge some artifacts that arrived in the UK due to the British Empire

Antiques Roadshow must consider “reputational risk” when dealing with the issue of colonial history, the BBC has said.

The popular program is subject to “high-level public scrutiny” and should therefore be careful when dealing with “sensitive areas”, the Society added.

The comments are contained in a document aimed at potential producers as part of a bidding process to do the show in the future.

Fiona Bruce, 58, has presented the Sunday show since 2008

Antiques Roadshow has already sparked debate about how it has treated objects related to the British Empire.

Last year, Oxford University scholar Dan Hicks, a professor of contemporary archaeology, suggested the curriculum had tried to avoid talking about an object’s colonial history.

He accused the show of glossing over Britain’s colonial past when discussing a Mughal ring that ended up in a charity shop.

The Mughal Empire controlled South Asia in the 16th and 19th centuries and was the largest economy in the world at the time until there was an Anglo-Mughal War from 1686 to 1690.

A briefing document seen by The Times tells potential producers of the Sunday night show: ‘The high-profile nature of Antiques Roadshow means it is often the subject of intense public scrutiny as to how it deals with sensitive areas such as colonial history.

“We are looking for experience in managing compliance issues and reputational risks.”

In the current show, each antique is presented with relevant social history and personal stories that reveal the origin of each object.

Over the next two years, the budget for the popular show, directed by Fiona Bruce, is said to be around £5.1million.

The Sunday staple has been around since 1979 and is now in its 44th series

The Sunday staple has been around since 1979 and is now in its 44th series

According to the report, this covers 36 normal episodes costing up to £127,000. Four other specials are expected to cost up to £135,000 to produce.

It is currently produced by the company’s commercial arm, BBC Studios, but an external company could win the tender instead. The successful company will also be responsible for improving the show’s social media presence.

The document says there is a “commitment to the show’s lead talent”, Miss Bruce, 58, as presenter. But it suggested there was potentially room to ‘improve’ the current team of experts.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Where we have relevant details of the objects, Antiques Roadshow experts have always explored their provenance, including the history of the British Empire, among a range of other Questions.” This RFP defines our existing approach to potential bidders.

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