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David Dickinsons life off-screen – jail sentence, iconic tan and Rooney link

Aug 16, 2022

British icon David Dickinson MBE has been entertaining the nation with his antiques expertise since he first appeared on TV in 1998 – but viewers may not know he's had a life almost as colourful as his iconic tan.

Between the years 2000 and 2004, David presented BBC One daytime show Bargain Hunt, before he was succeeded by Tim Wonnacott.

After leaving the BBC in 2005, he took on the role of hosting the ITV daytime show Dickinson's Real Deal.

READ MORE: David Dickinson to be honoured at National Reality TV Awards as nominations revealed

But before his shiny career, many may be surprised to know that the TV host spent a few years in prison.

Some may also be unaware of his family life and the secret behind his famous tan.

Daily Star has taken a closer look at his life.


Before he came across fame and fortune, David, 81, spent three years of his life behind bars.

At the age of 19, the Real Deal presenter served three years of a four-year prison sentence for mail-order fraud.

The illegal scheme involved buying goods on credit, selling them and once sold recycling the money back into the business to gain a better credit rating.

David spent the majority of his sentence in Strangeways prison located in Manchester.

Speaking about his experience in 2005, David told The Mirror: "I hated every moment but I knew I had to get through. I vowed I would never do anything to put myself back in this position. I had brought shame on my family, I’d been a cocky young thing."

Describing the moment he was arrested, he said: "I will never forget the moment. It all happened so fast, the handcuffs, being read my rights. The fear was horrendous.

"All I could think was, 'what have I done?'"

Starting again

Following his time in prison, David began to slowly rebuild his life.

The TV legend decided to set up his own business however the shop later closed in 1991.

He then began working with antiques, selling 18th and 19th century furniture to customers in his local area.

In 2000 he got his big break by presenting BBC's popular daytime show Bargain Hunt.

Speaking openly about his career, he explained: "Coming from a working-class background has helped keep me down-to-earth.

"I remember well not having any money, but now I’m older and I’ve got a foot in both camps. I’ve been very lucky all my life, always making money… Maybe I’ve got natural trading ability within my DNA."


During the 1960s David met his current wife Lorné Lesley while at a nightclub.

Striking up an undeniable bond quickly, David began managing Lorné's career as a cabaret dancer. The couple later married in 1968.

After their marriage, David adopted Lorné's two children from a previous marriage, Robert and Katrina, and the couple are now also proud grandparents to three grandchildren.

The duo don't usually give interviews together, however they did share an insight into their family life during a 2017 interview with The Mirror.

David revealed: "Lorné lets me think I'm the master of my own home.

"Any girls who know what they're doing lets their man think they're in charge, but we know we're not really."

Living next door to Rooneys

In 2018 David bought a lavish £1.5million penthouse next to door to former Everton footballer Wayne Rooney and his wife Coleen and their children.

Talking to the Mirror at the time about his new home, David said: "When we walked in, it really had the wow factor.

"The security is marvellous. When I go away with work, it's good to know (wife) Lorne feels safe."

Despite the closeness, the Dickinsons and the Rooneys weren't neighbours for very long, as Wayne and Coleen moved to a new £20m property recently.

Tan secret

David has become well known for his cheeky grin and excessive tan but fans may be shocked to know that his tanned complexion is natural.

Although his looks have raised eyebrows over the years, David's tan derives from his Armenian descent and frequently jetting away to sunnier regions.

In a previous interview he explained: "I've got olive skin from my Armenian heritage, and my real secret is getting as many holidays in as I can.

"I don't go on sun beds, and I've never used a spray tan – I just go on holiday.

"I work hard so when I have time off, I treat myself and my wife to a wonderful hotel."


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