I’m the Bargain Hunt ‘strangler’ who squared up to expert… there were sneaky tricks behind scenes & crew broke antique | The Sun

WHEN things haven't gone to plan on Bargain Hunt, few have taken their frustration out on the experts quite like Stevie Turner.

The 58-year-old from Liverpool went down in the BBC show’s history when he hilariously 'strangled' antiques boffin Charles Hanson after an embarrassing loss at auction.

Charles had advised Stevie and his teammate Bill Smith to buy an Edwardian silver Vesta case, embossed with a golfing design – but it made a staggering £115 loss when it went under the hammer.

After making cheeky jokes about the item "not teeing off" and remarking: “We’re in the rough gents," Charles was stunned when an irked Stevie mock-throttled him – the moment later went viral.

Recalling the incident last year, Stevie tells The Sun: “It lost so much money. I thought, ‘That has got to be a record-breaking loss on Bargain Hunt.

“My natural reaction was to throttle him. I hadn’t planned it, and Charles definitely looked shocked and didn’t see it coming.

“I don’t think that had ever happened on the show before. We had a laugh about it after and when I saw it on TV it was hilarious.”

Stevie applied to be on show back in 2018 – and admits now he had zero knowledge about antiques.

He decided to apply with his friend Bill Smith – hoping it might boost his chances as he was a founding member of The Quarrymen – the band that evolved into The Beatles – and a school friend of John Lennon.

“Bill was a bit of a celebrity in his own right and I thought it would be a good selling point for us to get on the show – and it worked," Stevie explains.

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Stevie gives Charles a menacing look while Bill chuckles
Stevie says the show is 'a well-oiled machine' but that doesn't stop amusing gaffesCredit: BBC

“Bill didn’t watch daytime TV, didn’t know Bargain Hunt and didn’t have a clue what I was on about at first, but thought it would be fun, so agreed.”

Within days Stevie receive a call from an "excited" producer who seemed eager to get them in for an audition – but warned it could take a while.

He says: “I was told we might have to wait five years to appear on the show. Five years seemed a long time.

"I said, ‘Well Bill is 78 years of age, so I wouldn’t be leaving it too long,’ and they agreed to talk to a producer about getting us on quicker.”

At their audition in Leeds, Stevie was surprised to see so many hopefuls – few of which he believes made it on screen.

I was told we might have to wait five years to appear on the show… I said, ‘Well Bill is 78 years of age, so I wouldn’t be leaving it too long,’ and they agreed to talk to a producer about getting us on quicker

He recalls: “There were quite a lot of people there – around 20 couples – and you had to do a few screen tests to see if you were good on camera.

“You ended up sitting through everyone’s auditions, so it took a few hours to get through, and once people heard Bill’s backstory they all wanted autographs.

“In one part of the audition you had to go into another room where a stall was set up, talk about an item, make conversation and then do a bit of haggling.

“Some people were going over the top and trying to be dramatic to get on the show but I don’t think they got through. I haven’t seen them on TV yet anyway.”

'Under pressure'

On the day of filming, the crew recorded multiple episodes of the show with several different teams.

Despite being relaxed about the experience and having done no prior research, Stevie admits he “felt under pressure” to find three items when the cameras were rolling.

He said: “Some stalls didn’t want to have anything to do with the TV show so we couldn’t talk to them.

“Then once you find an item, they stop the timer to give the camera team a chance to do all of their filler shots – like close-ups and different angles for the conversations – which adds to the pressure.

“It's also a little bit embarrassing walking around in Bargain Hunt gear. You feel like a bit of a wally but you get on with it.”

Big blunder

Stevie recalls one amusing mistake that landed him in hot water with the production team. 

He told us: “One of the funniest things that happened was I forgot to turn my mobile phone off – it was in my pocket and on silent but kept going off.

“I work as a Beatles tour guide, and on the day we were filming, Paul McCartney was in Liverpool filming Carpool Karaoke with James Corden.

“I was getting lots of calls and then message after message from people telling me they had spotted him and where he was. 

“I could feel my phone buzzing but didn’t know what was going on because I couldn’t look at it while we were filming.

“After around half an hour the sound man came over and said, ‘Oh my God, what’s going on with you this morning? Your phone hasn’t stopped going off!’

“He told me the recording equipment was so good it could hear a person’s heartbeat, so could hear every time my phone buzzed.”

Fortunately for Stevie it didn't ruin any of the takes. 

Sneaky tricks

While it appears contestants are free to roam while looking for antiques, Stevie paints a different picture.

He claims they were “guided” to certain stalls and reckons it was so their expert could show off his expertise. 

Stevie tells us: “We didn’t have much choice or get to wander around on our own.

“I had a sneaking suspicion that Charles had been around the stalls before to scout out some items to talk on camera about.

“He must have done because surely he doesn’t have an encyclopedic knowledge about everything.

While we were filming, the cameraman knocked over an antique and it smashed to smithereens. You didn't see that in the final cut

“Charles also found an item with a connection to Liverpool. I don’t think it was a coincidence that we ended up standing next to that item.”

He adds: “There were a couple of items that Charles took us to but they were really expensive and I didn’t think they would sell.

“I said to Charles, ‘You do have some strange ideas’. I never thought it would make it to the final cut but it did.”

Stevie describes the show as “a well-oiled machine” – but that didn’t stop one member of the crew making an embarrassing blunder.

He recalls: “While we were filming, the cameraman knocked over an antique and it smashed to smithereens. You didn't see that in the final cut.

“I don’t think it was a cheap item either, it certainly cost a few bob, but they had money on them and had to pay up.”

'Devastating loss'

In the end, Stevie and Bill had to go for one of Charles’ suggestions – the Vesta case.

He recalls: “We were up against it time-wise and towards the end had to leg it back to a stall to buy the Vesta case that Charles recommended."

They managed to haggle down the price from £220 to £195 – but at auction it sold for a measly £80.

Stevie recalls: “Charles kept going on and on about that bloody Vesta case and when it lost money it was frustrating.

“I hadn’t planned on strangling him. I wasn’t expecting us to lose by that amount.

“It was a real one-off for Bargain Hunt and I don’t think that’s ever happened on the show before and never will happen again.”

Stevie claims contestants are encouraged to “react animatedly” for the cameras during the auction scene. 

He said: “They know what to do to make it a good TV show and as a contestant, you’re conscious that you want it to be entertaining for viewers.

“You don’t want to come across as boring, so you get a bit more animated and they ask you to react for the camera… I certainly did that when I strangled Charles.”

Despite losing to the Blue Team, who won with a profit of £18, Stevie says he has no regrets about appearing on the show. 

The duo held a fundraiser screening when their episode aired and managed to raise more than £1,300 for Macmillan Cancer Support, which Stevie says was an added bonus of going on the show.

He says: “It was fascinating to watch how it all works behind the scenes.

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“You get to know the presenter and the experts and spend time with them talking, drinking tea and eating biscuits.

“Everyone was really nice and charming. Behind the scenes, it was really friendly and lots of good fun. We had such a good time.”

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