Dickinson still a bobby dazzler

EMMA OUTTEN Emma Outten spoke to David Dickinson ahead of tonight’s Inside Out Art Auction at the Assembly House in Norwich.


Tell David Dickinson he is thought of as one of the silliest celebrities going and he doesn't seem to mind. Just last month the erstwhile presenter of BBC Bargain Hunt was number 10 on a list of top 20 silliest celebrities, according to a Readers Digest survey of 2,000 people.

“That wouldn't surprise me,” said David, who will be at the Assembly House in Norwich tonight, hosting an art auction.

And when Terry's Chocolate Orange published a list of orange-hued celebrities, a couple of years ago, David came in at number four. Was I tapping into a raw nerve, by mentioning that list? “I'm surprised I wasn't nearer the top,” was the reply.

After all, here is the man who Terry Wogan jokes has been dipped in tea, and who the Dead Ringers comedy team have referred to as “Peter Stringfellow's love child crossed with a mahogany hat stand”.

Even age, it seems, shall not wither him. David, who turned 65 last month, was delighted to see on his bank statement, “only last week”, that he has received his first pension payment.

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He has led a rather colourful life. David grew up in a working class district of Manchester, and discovered, at age 12, that he was adopted. There was his early foray into wheeling and dealing in the garment industry in Manchester, as well as a stint in Strangeways.

Then David was introduced to showbiz, when he travelled the world as the manager of his international cabaret star wife, Lorne Lesley.

Finally, after building himself a reputation as an antiques dealer to the rich and famous with an eye for treasures, a chance meeting with a TV exec at a barbecue began David's journey from daytime to primetime TV on Bargain Hunt.

He became a cult figure amongst students, with his catchphrases “cheap as chips” and “what a bobby dazzler”. But he said: “I've moved on from that.”

The Duke, as he is also known, then appeared in the first series of Strictly Come Dancing, as well as the last series of I'm A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! He thought the former was going to be a “nod and a wink and a bit of a waltz around the floor” but it turned out to be an “assault course with sequins”.

As well as being more prepared the latter, David was also more realistic. “I didn't think a bloke my age was going to win,” he said.

Although he enjoyed the experience, he added: “We were starving. I lost something like 16 pounds in 12 days.”

And, if that wasn't enough, it looks as though David is going to be ubiquitous on the TV schedules this autumn. He has already recorded an edition of Celebrity Family Fortunes, hosted by Vernon Kay, and will be seen tracing his family tree in an instalment of Who Do You Think You Are? And he has been out and about nationwide filming his brand new series for ITV entitled Dickinson's Real Deal, including in Norfolk, as EDP readers will know only too well, having read his choice phrases about the county in Norma Nelson's column last Saturday…

This week he sounded in more reticent mood. “It is not an easy place to get to,” was just about all he said on the subject.

One episode of Dickinson's Real Deal was filmed at the Assembly House, where the first ever Inside Out art auction will take place tonight. The Inside Art Competition was open to anyone who has psoriasis, their families, friends and carers, and the auction aims to raise funds for the Psoriasis Association.

The dazzling David Dickinson knows that people either love or loathe him, but said: “I'm hoping local people will come out in their droves.”

t The Inside Out Art Auction will be held in the Music Room at the Assembly House in Norwich tonight, September 7, from 6pm to 8pm.