Following what was a very entertaining live version of the show at UKTV Live, I went backstage to speak Sean Kelly who launches a third series of Storage Hunters UK.
So, three series in under a year...
Yeah, and we’re actually filming the fourth now. In fact, right after your interview I’m heading out to Birmingham to film episode 7 of series 4.
Did you ever expect the series to do so well in the UK?
Well I’m a very optimistic person, so I did kind of hope that it would. But you never know, because you don’t know until you get somewhere, but I was hoping that it would and was pleasantly surprised that it did.
Years ago when I was doing storage auctions, one day there was a fight at my auction, and it hit me, this would make great TV. It’s like Antiques Roadshow meets WWF so I took that idea to LA and that’s what became Storage Hunters, so it’s so cool to see the US version in 44 countries, and I was just told today that Storage Hunters UK has now been sold to Africa, all of Asia, Europe and the Middle East, and in North America! It’s airing in the US now, the British version is now airing in the US, isn’t that crazy?! It’s insane.
What’s been the biggest different you’ve found between British and American bidders?
OK, so for example, when I do the auctions back home in America, the bidders when I’m doing the calling, actually pay attention to what I’m doing and saying, because a lot of money is on the line.
But in the UK they start fighting with each other, and sometimes I think they lose track of what they’re doing, and they end up overspending. Which is not a problem for me! (Laughs).
Also, there’s a knowledge base here in the UK that we don’t have in the US. We don’t have a lot of antiques, or old stuff. There are some things here that you guys take for granted. It’s fun, because every time I go to an auction in the UK, I learn something new.
Do you have any say into who the bidders are?
Me personally, I have no say at all. The thing is, I never really wanted to be involved in who's coming. I let them get vetted by UKTV, because obviously if they're going to be on television, they have to check them out a little bit, but I am very pleased with the people they have found.
What the production company does, is that they actually go to auctions around the UK, looking for people who are passionate and knowledgeable, but are also big characters.
Any new bidders this series?
Yes, in series three there are two new bidders coming on, Scotty and Ioni and they're awesome. They're very knowledgeable, and very intense, which I like.
They don't let the regulars push them around, they just got straight in there and down for business, and it makes for good TV.
Why do you think the series has been such a hit over here?
I think the same reasons that I saw when I initially thought of it, and that's Antiques Roadshow meets WWF. I think it's that dynamic, because if you like Antiques Roadshow it's very high brow, very posh, whereas Storage Hunters UK is more everyman, common person. Something people like me, I'm just an average guy, can enjoy.
Any big arguments this series?
Yeah, we had a couple where we had to break them up. At one point we actually had to kick them off the sereies because they just kept instigating too much trouble.
Can you shed any light as to who that is?
Nope. No. I'm not supposed to say, you've got to watch to find out. But I will tell you that it's one guy who's one of the main bidders, and basically he's very passionate. He's good at what he does, he's a great guy.
What's the status of the US series at the moment? Any plans to do more?
Well the American series as of right now has been on hiatus for the last two years. What I do have plans to do is try and make as many UK ones as they're willing to make, because I have a blast doing it.
I'm currently talking to the Germans about going to Germany and filming it in German, because I speak fluent German. I grew up there as a kid. Both the UK and the US series are really popular in the US right now, so to have the auctioneer come and do it in German is exciting for the network.
You're also returning to stand-up is that right?
Yes, this fall, September 23rd to October 29th I'm doing a stand up tour around the UK. Twenty theatres around the UK and if ticket sales go well then I'll add more dates.
Are you able to pick a favourite between Storage Hunters UK and Stand-Up?
No, I love them both. It's so cool. I feel very lucky because I've created a life where I love what I do, so it doesn't even feel like work. I'm excited to go to work every day.
How often do you get stopped in the street now? Because whether it's the UK series or the US series, it's always on telly...
I get stopped in the UK all day long, every day, and people want selfies. The truth of the matter is this, I love it, it's great meeting the fans.
It's crazy to think that I was stood in San Diego back in 2009 and it hit me that this would make a great TV show, and six years later I'm walking the streets in the UK and random strangers are coming up asking for pictures.
It's been an amazing journey, and the fans are always really excited to meet me, and I think it's because I'm just an average guy. I think people feel like they know me, and it's cool.