TV team explore the treasures of SFX

Fr Denis Blackledge SJ & Debbie Reynolds with Drew Pritchard (left) in SFX
Fr Denis Blackledge SJ & Debbie Reynolds with Drew Pritchard (left) in SFX

St Francis Xavier’s Church in Liverpool (SFX) has played host to a team of antique dealers for a recording of a television programme which searches the length and breadth of the UK in search of weird and wonderful artifacts.

Salvage Hunters is broadcast on Quest, operated by Discovery Networks Northern Europe, which provides factual, lifestyle and entertainment programmes, as well as other imported material. The programme is hosted by Drew Pritchard who is described as a modern day treasure hunter. Now in its tenth series, Salvage Hunters this week visited SFX, where the team were welcomed by parish priest, Fr Denis Blackledge SJ and parish administrator, Debbie Reynolds.

“Today we welcomed the filming of Salvage Hunters,” Debbie posted on Facebook, “and lots of money was paid for a number of the unused church items as well as receiving expert advice... It was such a fun day and we are hoping to raise the money to go towards providing a Garden of Remembrance (below)." Fr Denis agreed, saying the day with the Salvage Hunters team was "fantastic ... They said it was one of the best days they'd ever had filming, partly because of Debbie co-presenting. Salvage hunting tends to be a male preserve."

Rare and beautiful itemsThe planned site of the Garden of Remembrance

Drew Pritchard’s previous clients have included royalty and Hollywood stars, as he has discovered forgotten antiques and unusual items ranging from fireplaces to doors, garden ornaments to motor vehicles, and paintings to jewellery. He says he is building on a childhood love of visiting car scrapyards to unearth rare and beautiful items and, after 20 years, it has now turned into his lifelong passion.

SFX is no stranger to film and TV crews. Last year, the church was used for the filming of Broken, a six-part BBC One drama starring Sean Bean, which is due to be broadcast this spring. Bean plays the part of Fr Michael Kerrigan, parish priest in an urban parish, and Fr Denis was invited to be the religious adviser for the series. “For me as a priest who has worked in parishes up and down Britain, from Edinburgh to Bournemouth, working on Broken has given me fresh hope and encouragement, for it portrays the priest as a fully-earthed human being,” he says. “His awareness of his own vulnerability and heartfelt struggles enables him to bring deep compassion to those whose lives he is privileged to reach out to and touch each day.”

Fr Denis adds that during the filming of Broken, the church of St Francis Xavier became a star in its own right, with actors, extras and directors alike saying it “had the ‘Wow!’ factor". The visit of the Salvage Hunters team will be a further opportunity for TV viewers to explore the 19th century building and to investigate some of its hidden treasures. Salvage Hunters is broadcast on Wednesdays at 9pm on Quest.