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What are Jarvis Cocker and Happy Mondays' Bez doing on Bargain Hunt?

"It was a step too far for Jarvis to wear a Bargain Hunt fleece," reflects producer Paul Tucker on a very special episode of the BBC antiques show

Published: Friday, 28th September 2018 at 8:00 am

Antiques enthusiasts visiting a fair this summer would have been forgiven for doing a double take at the sight of Jarvis Cocker among the crockery.


The Pulp frontman, more accustomed to playing a main stage than checking out antiques stalls in a Kent field, was part of a special episode of Bargain Hunt to celebrate BBC Music Day.

Joining him were no ordinary reds and blues. Cocker and Pulp’s keyboard player Candida Doyle were flanked by expert Mark Stacey, while Mark 'Bez' Berry and Rowetta from 90s band Happy Mondays were aided by Catherine Southon.

Bargain Hunt’s executive producer Paul Tucker describes the episode’s eclectic mash-up at the Kent County Showground this July as “total opposites coming together in one field”.

Presenter Charlie Ross adds, “There were one or two people staring in disbelief at who was there.”

“I was expecting Jarvis to be difficult because I didn’t think Bargain Hunt would be his sort of thing,” continues Ross. “But he was absolutely delightful. He really entered into the spirit of things and I thought he was a really nice bloke.”

Jarvis did draw the line, however, at donning the infamous Bargain Hunt attire. “He’s got such a fashion reputation that he didn’t want to ruin it,” says producer Tucker. “But he played ball, because he wore a blue suit as he knew he was going to be the blue team. But I think it was a step too far for him to wear a Bargain Hunt fleece.”

Shunning the Bargain Hunt garb certainly didn’t dampen Jarvis’s enthusiasm for antique hunting, and he was responsible for one of the more memorable items purchased on the day.

In the programme, the singer becomes somewhat enamoured with a unique Russian painting. “I think it’s awesome,” he enthuses as he approaches the seller’s stall. “It’s fantastic. If it didn’t sell, I’d buy it.”

His teammate Candida optimistically offers up the fact that paintings can make a lot of money. “They can,” retorts Mark, “if they’re not this one.”

Tucker laughs at the memory. “I thought maybe we’d missed something – maybe Jarvis was going to show the whole art world something.”

“He spent over £100 on it and it was never, ever going to make a profit,” reflects Ross, adding that he couldn’t see any of the celebrities having much of a future in antique dealing.

Ultimately this proved to be a very unusual edition, with the episode’s climax featuring an outbreak of anarchy never seen before on the BBC daytime favourite.

“Suffice to say I had to refer to the Bargain Hunt rulebook,” laughs Ross. “I think it’s the first time in history that we’ve had to look at it.”

Tucker says that although they’ve had “various things go wrong” on the show over the years, what happened this time resulted in the episode’s finale having to be re-shot.

“We had to deliver this show quite quickly after we filmed it, and of course we weren’t expecting to have to do the ending again,” says Tucker. “Although it wasn’t expected, it certainly added an interesting twist and another layer to the show. I guess it’s what you might expect from a bunch of rock ’n’ rollers.”


Bargain Hunt airs Friday 28th September at 12.15pm on BBC1


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