(born David Gulessarian
, 16 August, 1941 in
Stockport, Cheshire (now in Greater Manchester)) is an English antiques
expert and television presenter of Armenian ancestry.
Dickinson was born in Macclesfield to an unmarried mother, Eugenie
Gulessarian. Eugenie was a member of Armenian textile trading family, whose
father had moved from Istanbul to Manchester, England in 1904. Eugenie is
also noted as being a gypsy who collected many antiques which sparked
David's love for the industry. 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 grandmother. 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 four years 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, a cabaret singer. While she was working,
Dickinson spent time visiting antique shops and learning from the trade - he
believed this was due to 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
opened 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 due to 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" (and
conversely, poor items as "a load of tat") and refer to anything he
considers a bargain as being "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. A weekly evening slot, added later, brought him to the attention of a
After the evening version of Bargain Hunt was axed, and having
been replaced by Tim Wonnacott on the daytime slot, he went on to present a
new show, Dealing With Dickinson, which first aired on BBC1 on 17
July 2005 although it was cancelled after only one season.
Dickinson now has a new series on the ITV Network, called Dickinson's
Real Deal which broadcasts on weekdays at 2pm. The programme asks people
to come in and either sell their items to a dealer or take a gamble and go
In 2002 David Dickinson appeared as a guest on Shooting Stars joining
Team B led by Ulrika Johnson and Johnny Vegas.
In 2003 he made a cameo in teen movie Eurotrip.
In 2004 he was one of several celebrities to have their portraits painted
in the BBC 1 television series Star Portraits with Rolf Harris .
In 2005 Dickinson appeared on the ITV reality show I'm a Celebrity... Get
Me Out of Here!, where he first announced that he had used heroin in his
younger years. He also presented information slots for viewers on how to bid
on satellite shopping channel Bid TV.
Dickinson explored his family background in an episode of the third
series of the BBC genealogical documentary series Who Do You Think You
Are? broadcast in the UK on
4 October, 2006. He was able to trace relatives in both the UK and Istanbul.
On one radio episode of Dead Ringers, The Doctor (voiced by Jon Culshaw)
phoned up Dickinson to ask him how much he could get for a Magnetic Core
Extractor that was believed to be owned by the Doctor when he was Jon
Pertwee. Dickinson described it as "a bit of a bobby dazzler".
Dickinson met his wife-to-be in a nightclub in the 1960s - the
international cabaret artist Lorne Lesley, and they've now been married for
over 30 years. As a wedding gift Lorne gave David an antique regency
mourning ring, set with a rose cut diamond. Lorne is half African and half
Welsh and one-sixteenth Scottish; she hails from Tiger Bay, Cardiff. The
couple live in the village of Bollington, Cheshire and have two grown-up
children, and also grand children.
Dickinson's nickname is "The Duke", a play on the fact that he is a big
John Wayne ("The Duke") fan and a reference to his smart but slightly
eccentric dress sense. David has used the same tailor for forty years, Chris
Nicolaou, who appeared as a guest for David's This Is Your Life programme.
He drives a bright blue Bentley Continental GT.
- ^ http://www.david-dickinson.net
- ^ "BBC ONE Autumn 2006", BBC, 2006-07-18.