BBC Antiques Roadshow's Michael Aspel felt forced out when replaced by Fiona Bruce

Michael Aspel says he “fell on his sword” when he realised BBC bosses thought he was getting too old to front Antiques Roadshow.

The television icon, 91, was the host of the popular series for eight years until 2008 but says he then felt forced out, being replaced by Fiona Bruce, 60. He said: “I fell on my sword, because I knew they wanted me to go. It’s ironic being eased out of an antiques show because of your age.”

And he claims he potentially saw the BBC’s financial cutbacks beginning over his tenure, as the quality of accommodation declined over the years. Recalling his time on Antiques Roadshow with warmth, he said: “I’d arrive at a venue and think, ‘I’d like to live here’ and then think exactly the same at the next place. Although, the hotels got worse and worse, and we were only allowed to have two courses for dinner.

bbc antiques roadshow's michael aspel felt forced out when replaced by fiona bruce

Michael Aspel

“Since I left, people bring along items from the 1970s, which for me seems like only a few days ago. Sometimes they have autographs of people I met during my career – The Beatles, film stars like Elizabeth Taylor and David Niven.” When he first joined the series some of the experts were unimpressed at his appointment, given his past presenting included hosting Miss World.

“As far as they were concerned, I was a vulgar interloper,” Michael told Radio Times. “They also complained that he knew nothing about antiques. But I didn’t have to. They were the ones with the knowledge.”

bbc antiques roadshow's michael aspel felt forced out when replaced by fiona bruce

Michael Aspel surprises Phil Collins for the TV show

This Sunday viewers can watch roadshows from the past when BBC4 airs archive editions — including the first from 1979, and episodes with hosts Angela Rippon, Michael, Fiona and the late Arthur Negus and Hugh Scully. No longer on telly Michael was a beloved prime-time host. Once a newsreader and radio host he is best known for fronting This Is Your Life from 1987 until 2003. He surprised stars such as Phil Collins and Coronation Street’s Liz Dawn with its famous red book.

Married three times, he lives with Irene Clarke, his partner of almost 30 years who was a production assistant on This is Your Life. In 1994 he left his third wife, actress Elizabeth Power and their two sons for Irene amidst a blaze of headlines. He also has another son from his first marriage to Dian Sessions, and twins, Edward and Jane, from his second marriage to Ann Reed.

In an interview with the Telegraph last year Michael said: “I’m full of regrets. When I look back at my life, it is mostly with disappointment. Not about my working life, but my regret is that I left three wives. I can’t find excuses. I just felt this awful need to wriggle out of my marriages. To have done it three times must be a flaw in my personality.” The BBC declined to comment.

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