Like the other shows, it has the mandatory list of fifty, although in this instance they haven’t been voted for, but ‘carefully selected by a team of experts from the millions of items’ in the British Museum’s Portable Antiquities Scheme.
I don’t believe that the experts really sifted through millions of exhibits (it changed to thousands in the second episode) but all the items have been found lying around town and countryside by ordinary member of the public.
That’s not strictly true. They have generally been unearthed by people-whose-idea-of-a-good-time-is-wandering-around-muddy-fields-waving-army-surplus-mine-detectors-about.
But back to the programme which is actually quite good. The items span thousands of years, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Like the Beddingham Nose pictured above.
It was found in a field by one Ray Wilson who likes to believe that it once belonged to a smuggler who dropped it during a pursuit by the excise men.
In fact it is a rare example of a medieval cosmetic false nose that would more likely have been worn by someone whose face had been ravaged by syphilis.
Apparently there was an explosion of personal grooming among both men and women in the late Iron Age and the expert (celebrity hairdresser Nicky Clarke) felt it was more likely to have been decorative rather than practical.
If I have a criticism of the programme it’s that it is too short to do the pieces justice. Thirty minutes doesn’t give the celebrity experts very long to elaborate on the history of each item.
On the plus side, the items included aren’t ‘as voted by you the public’ so someone, somewhere has made an objective decision as to what will make for good television.
As we saw later in the evening on BBC Three when Richard Bacon* presented an unvoted for fifty Olympics’ Most Amazing Moments.
My own favourite was the Sydney games when gymnast after gymnast came a cropper on the vault until someone decided that something wasn’t quite right, got out his tape measure and found that the horse had been set 5cm too low.
But back to the title of this post, with this proliferation of list programmes, I wonder how long it will be before we’re asked to vote for Your 50 Favourite Favourite 50 Things Shows Show.
* With apologies to Yorkshire Pudding – it was only on Monday that I said I had no intention of blogging Richard Bacon’s name.