Interior design guru Celia Sawyer is one of the regular dealers on Four Rooms, the Channel 4 series in which members of the public offer their weird, wonderful and potentially valuable objects for sale and attempt to negotiate the highest possible price from professional buyers.
As Four Rooms returns for a new series in a new daytime slot, we talked to Celia about the strange objects that come through her door – and the wily fellow dealers she’s up against…
What sort of items are you on the look out for?
Because I’m in the interior design business I’m looking to pick up things for my clients, some of whom are collectors – I have one who collects First World War memorabilia, another who collects pop memorabilia. I also collect a bit myself. I love art and it doesn’t really matter what the subject matter is, it’s just whether it takes my fancy. Sometimes I see something and I just think “I really want that” and it could be something really obscure.
What I always advise people is, if you’re going to go into this business, really like what you’re buying because if you haven’t got a buyer for it right there and then you’re going to have it around for a bit. Plus, if you love it yourself you can do a better job selling it – people believe me when I say I love something because I’m telling the truth.
Talk us through some of the notoriously weird items viewers can expect to see on the show
This series features an ampular [flask] supposedly filled with Thomas Becket’s blood. And some “road-kill couture” – this lady picks up, and gets donated, all the animals that die on the roads and she makes them into things that you can use as sculpture or wear. It’s all found, it’s already dead, so it’s like ethical fur. The buyers all loved them, we all thought they were amazing but I’ve got those and I’m going to hang on to them for a bit.
Last time we had Hitler’s toilet and the Holocaust teeth – gold teeth made into a piece of art. That was a bit nasty – I don’t think anything can shock you much after you’ve seen stuff like that, to be honest. I’m getting hardened to it!
Is there anything in particular you’d really love to see come through the door?
I’d quite like to see the Aston Martin from the first James Bond film – that kind of thing really does it for me. I’d have to really scrabble around to get the money for that, I think. Someone’s going to come in and just know that they can ask what they like, but that would be fantastic and very cool.
Are there any “ones that got away”?
[Fellow buyer] Gordon managed to pinch something from under my nose this series – a pair of beautiful antlers. But I won’t say any more – there’s a bit more to it than that. He deliberately bought them because he knew I wanted them – he admitted it. He’s got that in him – you have to watch Gordon…
How would you sum up your fellow buyers?
Gordon Watson: I love Gordon to pieces but he’s a bit sly and he does tend to slip in and try and pinch things from under your nose – I think he gets a bit of a kick out of it if he thinks you’re interested.
Johnny Elichaoff: Johnny’s just a bit of a boy – “Alright, mate? He’s one of those a basic sort of geezers I suppose.
Alex Proud: Alex is very knowledgeable but can be quite pompous and likes to hear the sound of his own voice a bit too much.
I think I’m quite gentle with people. I’m not hardcore. I don’t think aggression gets you anywhere. I work on trying to win the seller over first so I can squeeze the best price out of them…
Four Rooms is on Channel 4 weekdays at 1:45pm