An Antiques Roadshow guest was completely stunned to learn the value of a helmet once worn by late Beatles legend John Lennon.
The BBC One series returned to screens on Sunday night with new coronavirus safety protocols in place. One guest brought in a police helmet which belonged to her father but was worn by Lennon when he and his Beatles bandmates, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, visited the Birmingham Hippodrome in 1963 for a performance.
The woman’s father, Ivor Gordon Russell, was one of the officers escorting the Beatles in. She explained: ‘They had to get them through the screaming girls and they didn’t know quite how they were going to do it. The sergeant had the wonderful idea of, why don’t you put helmets on them and make them look like policemen and we’ll get them through the girls. ‘John Lennon wore my father’s helmet. The paparazzi were out and took pictures… they took them into the theatre without any problems.’ Presenter Marc Allum weighed in: ‘It’s a story that’s gone down in pop legend really and we’re talking about the height of Beatlemania here.’
The officer’s daughter then revealed: ‘What was wonderful was that the Beatles were so easygoing at that time when it was so much fun it seems because my father told us they were great company and the inspector who was in charge of them invited them round for tea.’ As well as the hat, the owner brought in a book which had been signed with the band’s autographs. Unfortunately, Russell died at the beginning of 2020 and his daughter had hoped to bring him on the programme to tell his own story.
Marc said: ‘This is an object with a great deal of provenance… here we have John Lennon in the middle doing the policeman salute. This is the actual helmet in that photograph on John Lennon’s head.’ He then joked: ‘I can’t help feeling this helmet has a bit of John Lennon DNA on it and that’s what makes it so special. ‘It’s a really difficult one, collecting Beatles memorabilia is still a really hot area.’
Revealing the helmet’s value, Marc said: ‘I know you’re unlikely to sell it but I’m going to have a go at putting a good value on it because I think if this came up at a pop and rock memorabilia auction, it would go for between £5,000-8,000.’ Russell’s daughter was completely stunned and said: ‘Wow, that’s lovely.’