CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: The Repair Shop is priceless - just like its beloved treasures 1

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: The Repair Shop is priceless – just like its beloved treasures

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CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: The Repair Shop is priceless – just like its beloved treasures


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The Repair Shop

Rating: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: The Repair Shop is priceless - just like its beloved treasures 2

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Mandy

Rating: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS on TV: The Repair Shop is priceless - just like its beloved treasures 2

Someone at The Repair Shop (BBC1) has made the smart decision never to tell us how much the restored heirlooms might fetch at auction.

That’s an essential element on The Antiques Roadshow, where we’re eager to know what each item is worth, and Fake Or Fortune, when a genuine signature could add millions to the price.

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But for Jay Blades and his team of craftsmen at their Sussex workshop, money isn’t the point. What matters is sentimental value.

A Vox Continental II electric organ, a classic keyboard for 1960s bands, could sell for more than £1,000 in pristine nick — and the model brought in by young dad Jonny was better than new by the time the restorers had finished with it.

Late speedway rider Mike's wife Wendy (front right) and daughter Hayley (front left) brought his boots to be restored by cobbler Dean (back right)

Late speedway rider Mike’s wife Wendy (front right) and daughter Hayley (front left) brought his boots to be restored by cobbler Dean (back right)

But that four-figure sum wasn’t even mentioned. The organ belonged to Jonny’s late father, a psychedelic rocker who played in several bands and loved the instrument so much that, long after the electronics packed up, he couldn’t bear to part with it.

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Jonny was speechless as he brought his wife and baby daughter to see the repaired keyboard. ‘Words can’t describe . . . ‘ he said, and choked up.

Telling us the market value of the Vox now would be crass. It would simply spoil the moment, and it’s better we don’t know.

Any fashion museum would be interested in purchasing the blue-and-white, knee-length boots owned by speedway biker Mike, who died from a brain tumour while they were being restored.

Mike’s wife Wendy and daughter Hayley brought them in, and to watch as the boots were dismantled, revived and reconstructed was fascinating.

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Bone kickers of the night: 

Alice Roberts was Digging For Britain (BBC2), which continues tonight, while Hugh Dennis was excavating back gardens on The Great British Dig (More4). There are so many of these shows, future historians will find them piled up in layers. 

The metal footplate on the left sole was removed and treated for rust. The side zips were unpicked. Acrylic paint for leather was applied, in a colour and design worthy of Ziggy Stardust.

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Cobbler Dean stitched them back together, using a 106-year-old Singer sewing machine with a foot-operated treadle and hand-turned wheel. ‘Proper boots, them,’ he said approvingly.

Wendy dissolved when she saw them, in a mixture of delight and grief. ‘Oh Mike,’ she sobbed, ‘if you could see these now, you’d be absolutely thrilled.’ Moments like those are worth any money.

TV producers are certainly aware of that, a fact satirised by comedian Diane Morgan in a fresh series of her compressed sitcom Mandy (BBC2).

The sulky, workshy chancer, whose own knee-high boots belong in a fashion museum, found herself pretending to be a long-lost cousin to Dragons’ Den’s Deborah Meaden, tracing her family tree on a genealogy show. Mandy will tell any lie and fake any emotion for £20, which made her ‘TV gold’ in the eyes of the director. ‘If you feel like crying at any point . . .’ he wheedled.

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These 15-minute episodes are like extended sketches, a comedy form that is almost never seen now. Morgan, who writes and directs the show as well as being its central character, has done a splendid job of repairing and restoring the format.

The first scenario saw her working as a guide in period costume at a stately home, before being roped in to serve nibbles at a satanic mass.

But the more mundane the jokes, the better they work. Mandy was funniest working as a cleaner in a posh house — ‘Ooh look, a hot tub!’ And her excuses to her benefits officer are worth a series of their own. She left one job because the manager reminded her of Rose West.

Then she didn’t like working from home either because of the commute. It meant getting up and going downstairs. Half the country feels like that this week.

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