Gogglebox's Steph and Dom Parker and Union J compete in tonight's Storage Hunters UK filmed in Ipswich
Storage Hunters UK Celebrity Special arrives in Ipswich tonight - home to some of the best bargains in the world according to the show's creator.
The show currently airs in scores of countries around the world but fast-talking auctioneer and comedian Sean Kelly can’t get enough of the bargains on offer in Ipswich and neighbouring Woodbridge.
He is no stranger to Suffolk, having filmed several episodes of Dave’s award-winning Storage Hunters UK in the county town. He loves it here so much, he and his wife recently spent a long weekend here visiting the surrounding areas.
“The people are so nice. It was great and I’m always on the hunt... There’s a a cute little town right outside of Ipswich, over on the water. A real iconic what they call old market town, do you know the one I’m thinking of?”
“That’s it. I went there and spent a good amount of time hunting around some of those little shops because down by the station they’ve got some antiques and stuff. When I’m out bargain hunting I’ll wear a knit hat on my head, I zip my jacket up, I make it difficult for people to spot who I am.
“Sometimes I‘ll pop in this antique shop and they’ll know who I am. If you’re out trying to get a bargain or if you’re at a car boot sale, if they know who you are they want to haggle with you.”
Kelly also gets his catchphrases ‘sold your way’ or ‘all in, fair warned’ shouted at him too.
“Or people try to call out a bid or shout the wrong TV show at me, they’ll go ‘Storage Wars’ which is hilarious. The people I meet on the street are always awesome. On the show I just try to be myself, I joke around, have fun, try to be down to earth and approachable, that’s who I am. When Heavy D (a Storage Hunters UK regular) goes out on the street... People shout ‘BOOM’ and sometimes people get angry with that guy, it’s hilarious.”
Based on his hit US shows, the award-winning UK version is a UKTV original for Dave and is now in its fifth series. It’s a far cry from when he juggled stand-up by night and auctions by day, looking for a surefire TV idea.
“We’ve seven-and-a-half billion people on the planet and everyone’s walking around thinking they’ve got a great idea for reality TV right. Then it hit me, I was doing a storage auction one day and a fight breaks out. I was like ‘hold on, this is Antiques Roadshow meets the WWF. This is the show and I’m the Jerry Springer ringmaster of the whole thing. Why am I even trying to come up with ideas’.”
Kelly recruited a friend who shot wedding videos to film his auction but couldn’t get past the front door of the production companies and studios. Instead he bought up the domain name, posted the video online and then bought Google ad words which he targeted at the areas where those same firms were based. Three weeks later a company called saying it thought his idea would make a good TV show.
“I met with them and that’s what became Storage Hunters which is in countries around the world now. Did I ever think it was going to be a huge success? Did I ever think when I was shooting the original footage it might turn into a TV show? I hoped.”
The one-off celebrity Christmas special was Dave’s most-watched programme of 2015, leading to a full series which sees 42 celebrities bid blind on a series of bins to raise money for their chosen charity.
Episode four airs on Tuesday, with Charlotte Hawkins, Dave Gorman, Katy Brand, Ricky Grover, Shappi Khorsandi, Steph and Dom Parker and Union J sharing Kelly’s love for Ipswich.
“What was so cool about this one... I’d done the regular Storage Hunters UK at that location in the past and it was a long, gruelling day. This was the same, still a 14-hour day but we had so much fun and laughed so much it just flew by,” says Kelly, whose career has including stints as a forklift driver, a shoes salesman, undercover store detective, German linguist for US Army intelligence and general manager of the San Diego Reader, the fifth largest weekly newspaper in the US.
“The celebrities were spectacular and I’m not just saying that... I’m so used for years of doing auctions for people who are just all about the profit and they get angry and blah blah whereas these guys all came on with the agreement any profit was going to their favourite charity.
“Of course they wanted the biggest profit but at the end of the day everyone was there to have a great time. Even though they were competitive... I’ve made 137 episodes over the years and these five one-hour episodes are the most fun I’ve ever had making this show it was just amazing.”