You Can’t Take it With You

Tuesday, October 3, 2000 by

After the fun of Keith Chegwin’s genitals and locking people in a prison, comes one of Channel 5′s less well-publicised pieces of home-grown tat. And a rum one it is too. You Can’t Take It With You is C5′s answer to Antique’s Roadshow, but with a fraction of the time spent on it.

But it’s not all cheap rip-off: there’s a genuine star in the shape of cuddly Eric Knowles, antiques man extraordinaire. More importantly, there’s a subtle twist to this show – rather than showing old codgers trying to find out how much their stuff is worth so they can flog it, the old codgers here are concerned with which members of their inheritance-grabbing family are going to benefit from them after their death.

So, every week Knowles pops round for a look at some old dear’s things, telling them how much the stuff is worth, and then he helps them decide who should inherit what.

This week’s debut episode featured Connie, recently widowed and with three older daughters. The fun involved the fact that one of the daughters, Charlotte, was 20 years her sisters’ junior. So, there was resentment towards her from Maureen and Vivian, the older two. “She’s my parent’s daughter, not my sister.”, said one in what had to be the most callous moment of television I’ve seen in quite a while. Clearly this show was going to be fun. The younger daughter, Charlotte, talked her corner well, pointing out that she visited her mother regularly, unlike the other two who clearly couldn’t give a toss (beyond an interest in what she was worth). Charlotte clearly was after cash too, and the fun was obviously going to be in seeing what they got and what they thought of it.

So after some short snippets of Knowles looking at plates and jugs, sofas and suchlike – and some sound bites from Connie stating that she thought her daughters believed they would inherit thousands from the sale of the house (which she clearly believed was untrue) – everything was in place for the final confrontation. Knowles had sat down with a notepad, cup of tea and slice of cake, and helped poor Connie, who looked more and more uncomfortable in facing up to the inevitability of her own death, divide up the spoils. This, however, is where it got disappointing. All ready for a big showdown, Connie dished out a few trinkets, told them she’d decide about the rest later, and then announced the sale of the house would pay for her to enjoy a world cruise. Her daughters moaned a little ungraciously and generally looked unhappy with their spoils, but the expected fireworks never really ignited. All were too wary of upsetting their mother, and Connie was clearly uncomfortable about the whole episode once it reached the “dirty” part.

You Can’t Take It With You could well be fun for all the wrong reasons (squabbling families arguing over heirlooms) but everyone was rather too polite about the whole thing. Knowles only picked out a few little things, as was shown in long shots when you saw rooms full of trinkets and collectables. Connie and her husband were described as avid collectors, but still only half a dozen items at best were shared out.

Alongside C5′s equally prickly House Doctor, You Can’t Take It With You certainly merits repeated viewing, but it does depend heavily on the families featured – too nice and it’s all too friendly. If C5 can dig deep enough and turn up a bit of family feuding, then this will deserve a long, repeated run.


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