So, announcing extreme measures to stop herself going grey, and stay on TV too, Fiona Bruce returns with another series of Fake or Fortune. Last Sunday, 16th September, 6.30pm on BBC1. Excellent. It has all the most fundamental human fascinations – beauty, art, snobbery, a natural detective story, with a deal of potential crime in the background, and of course money. It also has the strange potential of chemistry between Bruce and art and Antique’s Roadshow expert Philip Mould. They should watch playing off that too much, as they should know that the public are very literate these days about how TV is made, and how all producers seek the security of ‘double jeopardy’, in deciding what stories to follow. “Lift not the painted veil that men who live call life.” We still think the programme on Winslow Homer’s painting was the most powerful and perhaps authentic too, in series 1, and hope that they follow-up what has happened in past conflicts and moving human tales.
But the first was very well done, imaginative with its journey into ballet, if a bit hokey on James Bond laser guns, and with a great conclusion too, entry into the Degas bible – and time to pop some champagne. Now researcher Bendor comes dancing into the frame too, but Philip Mould is one of the best, in both being of that world, but revealing his deep knowledge and passion for what art, often but not always produced by those struggling beneath social structures and mores, not to mention for survival, really is. Fiona Bruce has warmth and heart and does not seem to be tinged with any Titanium White. Let’s hope age shall not wither them, nor custom stain their infinite variety. But having glanced in this episode on World War II, they might always pick up the story of ALIU, the US Art Looting Investigation Unit. Or indeed why many individuals and museums do not especially want authenticities challenged, for all those pricey reasons. No, that takes too much beauty and fun out of the very entertaining frame.