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Battle of the bargains – Pulp and the Happy Mondays head on the antiques trail

5 August 2018

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

Surprising news from the BBC’s normally sedate antiques show Bargain Hunt, which is to play host to the biggest battle of the bands since the Britpop standoff between Blur and Oasis back in 1995. In September, a special episode of the programme will see Bez and Rowetta Idah of the Happy Mondays compete against Jarvis Cocker and Candida Doyle of Pulp to buy and sell antiques for the greatest possible profit.

Rakewell is not a betting man, but if he were, he’d say the smart money was on the Sheffield team. In terms of aesthetic appreciation, Pulp win hands down: in 1998, they commissioned the artist John Currin to design the cover of their album This is Hardcore; moonlighting as a TV presenter, the St Martin’s-trained Cocker made a series on Outsider Art, subsequently co-curating an exhibition themed around the artists he spoke to. And only this year, Cocker was spotted browsing the stands at TEFAF New York.

And if the song ‘Live Bed Show’ is anything to go by, Pulp also know how to drive a hard bargain: the lyrics, recounting a failed relationship from the perspective of the bed on which it was consummated, make a point of noting that ‘it only cost ten pounds’.

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