When the call came to say that Cash in the Attic would be renewed, Jules Hudson was thrilled.
The Escape to the Country star had been on the original roll call of presenters when the much-loved auction series, which turns hidden treasures into cash and viewers’ dreams into reality, had its original run on the BBC.
Now a decade on and the daytime staple – which has been off air for the past 10 years – has a fresh new look for 2022, and a new home on Channel 5. To which the 52-year-old is more than happy to follow.
“I was absolutely chuffed to bits and very flattered to be asked,” he says of the offer to reinstate his position, this time alongside new co-host Chris Kamara.
“I’m an old archaeologist, so I’ve always been fascinated by the story of stuff, the social history that is contained within so many items that we all have in our homes. It’s fascinating,” he quips.
“So it was never going to be difficult to get me on board, to go in search of interesting items in the company of interesting people, and then see when they make at auction. It’s all good.”
“Cash in the Attic was an iconic show that had iconic presenters, so I thought I’d lower the tone,” teases football pundit, Kamara. “It’s been a real joy meeting so many people and learning about auctions too – I’ve even got myself a new catchphrase in ‘Let’s get Ready to Rummage’.”
The long-running format (40 episodes, to be precise) will appeal to both fans of the original show and a new generation of antique-hunters, online auction bidders and fans of vintage, promises the broadcaster.
“Overall the premise is pretty much the same,” Hudson says reassuringly. “And of course, we’ve got our expert valuer appraisers on board, who accompany us on all of our rummages – rummages is a term we give to our day when we’re looking through our sellers’ collections in their own homes.”
But can its participants move past the memories to turn their memorabilia into money?
They certainly give it their best shot, believes Hudson, who recalls one couple this series “whose grandson’s life was saved by Cornwall Air Ambulance, and so they decided that whatever they could raise from having a good old clear out, they would donate to that very worthy cause”.
“For others, it’s about investing in their grandchildren, treating themselves to a new kitchen. It varies. But for most of them, it’s actually the opportunity to have a good old sort out.
“Lockdown has made most of us look twice at what we’re surrounded by and think, ‘Do we really need all this stuff? And actually, yeah, we could take it to the charity shop, or whatever, but maybe we could actually turn it into something that we could use ourselves’,” he ponders.
“And so we’re there to help that process, but it is always good-natured fun, with a real purpose behind it.”
“It’ll get everyone giving all that forgotten stuff in their attic a good look to see if they might have something worth taking to auction,” Kamara, 64, reckons.
“Then there is all the thrills and spills at auction – we never know what is going to fly and what’s going to flop – sometimes it pains me more than our sellers.
“But ultimately, this show is about seeing people’s dreams come true so it is going to leave viewers with a smile on their face… and we could all do with a bit of that right now.”
And from family heirlooms to rare collectibles, there are plenty of treasures just waiting to be unearthed, says Kamara.
“We’ve had a couple of gems I wish I’d been able to buy myself,” he recalls, admitting he previously thought auctions were only “for antiques, paintings and stuff like jewellery”.
“I was genuinely gutted to see the hammer come down on a Swiss 1950s Bakerlite phone and there was an autograph from my hero Sir Elton John that didn’t actually go to auction, but I was begging to take home with me.”
As for the quirkier finds, “Where do I begin?” he says chuckling. “Let’s just say I never expected to be taking a campervan or Beanie Babies or a vintage tennis racquet to auction.
“One of our contributors was formerly in the merchant navy so some of his stuff was really brilliant – sextants and boat lights that took me right back to my time in the Royal Navy when I was 16.”
Hudson lists gold, mid-century furniture (“it’s become much more popular amongst a certain generation”), antique clothing and toys as doing really well.
Perhaps the biggest change since the original show, he notes, is the auction process.
“In the old days, we would be filming at auction, and you’d be hard pressed to see the auctioneer because they’d be such a crowd of people in front of you. These days, everything has gone online. Partly because of Covid, but also partly because tech has increased over the last 10 years.
“What it does is, on the one hand, is the auction room looks a lot emptier, but of course you’ve actually got far more people bidding on things from across the world. So the audience, the prospective buyers, have increased in number by thousands. So tech has given auction houses a far broader customer base.”
“The auctions have been a lot of fun – we’ve had some real adrenaline rollercoaster rides – and our amazing expert appraisers know everything about everything so it’s fascinating filming with them,” Kamara concludes.
“After all, what do I know about antiques? Nothing! But the best thing for me has been meeting the people who’ve welcomed us into their homes to go treasure hunting. I’ve had an absolute blast on every show and it’s been a real honour to go on the journey with them.”
Has it left him eager to sort through his own ‘collections?’
“My wife loves a good clear out and there are lots of things I’m regretting letting go of now,” he says.
“But I do have a collection of what would be called vintage vinyl nowadays and lots of football memorabilia that’s priceless to me.”
“My wife will tell you that I’m a terrible hoarder – I’m not as bad as some – but my mum was a hoarder and loved antiques, and that’s been handed down to me as well,” Hudson confesses.
“But one of my great escapes is my workshop; I love recycling and upcycling items, and fixing things and making new things, and building and renovation.
His attic is empty, however, he quips: “When we moved to our home about 10 years ago, we decided not to fill the attic with stuff, because we knew it was a one-way trip for so many things, so we’ve got an empty attic.
“But we’re all guilty of keeping things we don’t need, let’s face it.”
Cash in the Attic premieres on Channel 5 on Tuesday, 6pm