David Dickinson (born David Gulessarian on 16 August 1941) is an English antiques expert, television presenter and entrepreneur.
David Dickinson was born in Cheadle Heath, Stockport, Cheshire, to Eugenie Gulessarian. Eugenie was a member of an Armenian textile trading family, whose father had moved from Istanbul to Manchester, England in 1904. Dickinson had corresponded with his biological mother in her later life in Jersey, but they never met. Dickinson's biological father is unknown.
David was adopted by the Dickinsons, a local couple. Mr. Dickinson died when David was 12, and as his adoptive mother worked hard to keep the family together, David was in part brought up by his French adoptive grandmother Sarah Dickenson. Dickinson began an apprenticeship at an aircraft factory when he was 14, but quickly left to work in the cloth trade in central Manchester. At 19 Dickinson served three years of a four-year sentence in prison, the majority spent at Strangeways in Manchester, for fraud.
He began working as an antiques dealer 30 years ago, when he worked full time as agent to his wife, the singer Lorne Lesley, who had 10 UK Single Record releases from 1959–1966, but no chart hits. While she was working, Dickinson spent time visiting antique shops and learning from the trade – he believed this was as a result of his approach, in "chatting up and generally charming" the dealers. Eventually he opened his own shop with old school friend Chris Haworth in Disley. The pair sold the first shop in 1980, and ran another in Wilmslow for three years – but it was not a success, and they dissolved the partnership.
Dickinson set up again in Manchester with the assistance of an old customer as silent partner, and the business ran until 1991 when, in light of forthcoming recession, the shop was closed. Dickinson decided to concentrate on selling antiques at prestigious fairs, taking stands at Olympia and other major antiques fairs three or four times a year, dealing in 18th and 19th century furniture and works of art.
In 1998, a chance meeting with a TV producer at a barbecue led to Dickinson's TV appearance, a two-part documentary for the BBC made about him and his preparation for a show at Olympia. His dark complexion (often implied to be a fake tan, but he claims that it's because of his Armenian ancestry) and numerous catchphrases quickly caught the viewers' attention. He will often ask female contestants "Do you mind if I call you girls?", describe particularly excellent items as "real bobby-dazzlers", poor items as "a load of tat," and bargains as being "as cheap as chips"
Dickinson came to public attention as an antiques expert on This Morning (owing in part to his facial resemblance to the fictional antiques dealer Lovejoy, as portrayed on television by Ian McShane), but his fame came from presenting the game show Bargain Hunt on the BBC, which earned a cult status amongst students. A weekly evening slot, added later, brought him to the attention of a wider public.
Full article ▸