Derbyshire's Izzie Balmer is new presenter for BBC1's Street Auction
PUBLISHED: 00:00 01 November 2017 | UPDATED: 13:02 02 November 2017
Derbyshire's Izzie Balmer appears on our screens as a new presenter for BBC1's Street Auction
Sometimes the biggest opportunities come in moments of crisis, as Izzie Balmer knows only too well. Unforeseen circumstances led to a very big door opening for her – a door which paved the way to her gaining a presenter’s role on a BBC1 series coming to our screens this autumn.
Izzie, or Isabel – she doesn’t mind which – a hardworking, smart and sassy young woman from Quarndon, is the new co-presenter of Street Auction. It’s a feel-good show which sees neighbours donate unwanted items to sell to benefit a member of their community. And Izzie is on hand to help them sift through their attics.
‘I’m the co-presenter with Danny Sebastian and Paul Martin is the main presenter,’ said Izzie, who has the perfect credentials for the role. Her boss is none other than Charles Hanson, the Derbyshire auctioneer and TV celebrity who has been on television himself for 16 years in programmes such as Bargain Hunt, Flog It! and Antiques Road Trip. Izzie – a straight A student from Ecclesbourne School in Duffield and a graduate of Durham University – is head of jewellery at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, a qualified diamonds and gemmology expert, valuer and auctioneer. Her chance to appear on television came when Charles was suddenly called away.
As the chatty and cheerful 28-year-old put it: ‘Charles Hanson’s misfortune turned into a stroke of luck for me. I hope that doesn’t sound bad. I don’t mean it to.’
Last summer, Charles had to race to hospital in Birmingham to be with his wife during her pregnancy. However, he should have been on the rostrum at his Etwall saleroom being filmed for BBC TV’s Bargain Hunt. Izzie remembers the moment of crisis only too well: ‘I suddenly got a phone call from Charles – five minutes before the auction was due to start at 10am. He was en route to Birmingham and wanted to offer me a few pearls of wisdom to help things go well. It was his way of telling me I was going on TV.
‘There were no other auctioneers available – it had to be me. I had to auction the Bargain Hunt lots in front of the cameras. I wasn’t accustomed to TV, I wasn’t dressed for TV – and I hadn’t got any lipstick! I had to have a microphone pack on but I was only wearing a strappy summer dress, so it had to be attached to my bra. Half way through, the Bargain Hunt crew member fixing it on said, “By the way, my name’s Jim”. I hadn’t had a chance to see the items coming up for auction or think about how to describe them. I was completely unprepared.’ But she did it.
Izzie – who lives in Quarndon with her parents Sheila and Toby and has a brother Hugh, 26 – is a former viola player with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and admits that it was definitely a case of having to ‘play it by ear’.
Then a few weeks later another opportunity came along. ‘TV’s Flog it! came to Hansons and Charles wasn’t there when filming started. I found myself being set up with a mic again but this time I was prepared – I was wearing a smart silk shirt, just in case!’
Izzie’s efforts didn’t go unnoticed. Six months later in January 2017 she got a call. ‘The executive producer of Flog It!, Bargain Hunt and Street Auction is the same man, Paul Tucker, and he had noticed me. The show’s producer came to Etwall and I did a screen test at the Seven Wells pub, next door to Hansons. I was called for another screen test in Bristol and then, after lots of people at the BBC, right up to the head of daytime TV, approved my appointment I was given the co-presenter role on Street Auction.
‘I was thrilled – but a bit nervous. It’s the second series of Street Auction, which got around two million viewers for the first series in 2016. We started filming in April and on the first day I was awful. I didn’t know what I was doing and it was so cold a runner kept having to give me his coat. Also, I was really intimidated by Danny Sebastian at first because he’s such a big character – but we ended up getting on brilliantly. Now we just tease each other.
‘I loved it right from the start. We filmed in 10 places including Northern Ireland, Plymouth and Cardiff. It was a fantastic experience.’
Izzie pulled in filming on top of her full-time job at Hansons and diamond examinations. She loves the vibrancy of the antiques world, though it is a million miles away from her original career choice: ‘I planned to be a professional musician but didn’t enjoy music college. It wasn’t for me.’
Whether it was by choice or accident, enjoying the dazzling world of diamonds and jewellery, taking centre stage on the auctioneer’s rostrum and now enjoying a TV career suit Izzie well. Derbyshire has a new but modest star in the making.
Street Auction is due to be screened on BBC1 in a daytime slot in September. To have jewellery valued and consigned to auction, see Izzie or fellow jewellery valuer David Byrne on Tuesdays at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall. TV celebrity Kate Bliss will carry out jewellery valuations at Hansons’ saleroom on 29th November, 10am-4pm. Hansons’ next Jewellery and Watches Auction is on 28th September. The Derbyshire auction house can organise free valuation days to aid charities. To find out more, call 01283 733988 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.