Behind the Scenes at ANTIQUES ROADSHOW

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Have you ever wondered what it looks like behind the scenes when they are filming a television show—especially one as popular and complex as ANTIQUES ROADSHOW? How do they manage to make all the pieces fit so the final programs are so appealing and well done when they are finally aired?

I had a terrific opportunity last spring to experience first hand the impressively skillful organization that goes into creating the 17-time Emmy® Award nominated show. The ROADSHOW crew came to Phoenix and took over the Desert Botanical Garden for the day as part of the show’s 2019 Production Tour. The fabulous Garden in spring provided a wonderful backdrop for this unique event—and I was there. 

The SHOW’s goal for the day was to complete a screening that would ultimately provide enough segments for the three Phoenix episodes that would air in 2020 during Season 24. Filling the Garden’s walkways, an untold number of people with their antiques met with appraisers brought in by the show. People and their offerings were everywhere, but it was an orderly, well-contained process. Out of those crowds, a smaller group was chosen to be interviewed in depth on camera. The final processing and selections would take place back at its WGBH home in the Boston area. 

The special day at the Garden began for me when copy editor Nancy Williams and I were met at the entrance by ROADSHOW and local PBS staffers who gave us press VIP treatment as they escorted us through the maze of people and activity. Being treated as VIPs was definitely an advantage. Not only did we bypass long lines, we had knowledgeable escorts who were able to answer all our questions or find others who could. 

We were able to visit any and all interview areas. These were categorized by types of antiques or collectibles with appraisers from around the country examining the treasures brought to them. Some people carried their items while others had carts and wagons—the variety of items was amazing! If something was being considered for filming, its owner was interviewed more extensively before being taken into a private area to be filmed. We were on hand when a man who had brought a unique item over from California was in an interview with producer Marsha Bemko. It was a fascinating back and forth discussion.  

ANTIQUES ROADSHOW appraiser Stephen Porterfield and Barb Stillman 

I had been encouraged to bring an antique or collectible to have evaluated and I chose a baby quilt that had belonged to my father-in-law when he was a child. Because of his age, I knew that it had been made in the mid 1920s.We made our way to the textile area and met Stephen Porterfield, owner of The Cat’s Meow in Midland, Texas, who specializes in Textiles appraisals. Stephen told me the quilt pattern was known by a few names—Overall Sam, Farmer Sam and Farmer Jack and that its monetary value was about $40 but that it would have greater sentimental value to our family. Because the quilt had been lovingly used over the years, it is not in perfect condition and he suggested that I could have it repaired or even framed to display in our home. Stephen also suggested having each quilt block individually framed for grandchildren to share as a part of their grandfather’s history.

It was fascinating to watch the many aspects play out during our time spent at the ROADSHOW tour. The level of planning and organization required before, during and after a local filming event is absolutely incredible! It’s no wonder that ANTIQUES ROADSHOW is a top rated loved program that continues to endure.

You will be able to see the Phoenix segments on your local PBS station on Mondays, March 23, March 30 and April 13. I am definitely going to watch and hope you will, too!

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