These life stories may contain descriptions of childhood trauma and abuse, as well as images, voices and names of people now deceased. If you need help, you can find contact details for some relevant support services on our support page.

British television presenter and antiques expert, Ronnie Archer-Morgan (b. 1950), was in a children’s home and foster care. 

Ronnie Archer-Morgan was born in London. His mother was from Sierra Leone and his father died in a car crash before he was born. Ronnie’s mother struggled with mental health issues after the accident.  

At the age of three, Ronnie was placed in a children’s home in Southport, Merseyside. At the time, it was a National Children’s Home, which is now Action for Children.  

Archer-Morgan loved living in the children’s home. He considers himself “lucky” to have been placed in care. 

My home situation was so dire, I think almost certainly without them, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t be here today (The Herald). 

Archer-Morgan fondly remembers making daisy chains and planting apple pips. Sister Ida, his principal carer, was a positive influence. The care workers were all kind and played with the children. He recalls being swept up in a tablecloth and swung around.  

Then, at the age of six, Ronnie Archer-Morgan was reunited with his mother in London. His mother continued to struggle with mental health issues. She was physically abusive and incapable of looking after children. 

I was often severely punished and I went to school with cuts and bruises (Danby). 

At the age of eleven, Ronnie Archer-Morgan was once again placed in care. This time, his sister was also removed. He remained in care until becoming independent at age sixteen.  

In 2017, Archer-Morgan revealed his childhood care history during an episode of Antiques Roadshow. A prop maker’s daughter brought in the original Sooty and Sweep hand puppets from the 1950s. Archer-Morgan shared fond memories of when a puppeteer named Harry Corbett (1918-1989) had visited his children’s home in 1955. He was the creator of Sooty and Sweep, and brought his puppets to home which Ronnie was allowed to play with. It was one of the happiest moments of his childhood. 

Following the episode, a letter came from a foster family who had cared for Archer-Morgan on weekends. The letter included a photograph of him with a long lost friend, Anna, when the two were around four or five years old. 

Anna, who had since moved to New Zealand, came to England later that year for an “extraordinary” reunion. The two children had been inseparable in the children’s home, but one day Ronnie was removed and the children had no way of staying in contact. 

Ronnie Archer-Morgan’s love of art and collecting began in childhood. His interest in antiques emerged from regular visits to the British Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum while living with his mother in London. But he was also exposed to the arts in his children’s home. 

… we would all sit around doing crafts, sewing, making things out of paper and card, stitching, and I was good at it and I loved art. 

I used to be fascinated by a reproduction of a famous painting by William Holman Hunt in the hall of the children’s home, called The Light of the World, and I used to want to copy prints and pictures and draw them. I just liked creating things, and that was really nurtured by life in the children’s home (Herald Magazine).  

After exiting care, Archer-Morgan studied at London’s prestigious Hornsey School of Art. Early in his career, he was employed as a DJ, photographic technician, draughtsman, and model maker.  

Archer-Morgan worked as a hairdresser in the 1970s for Vidal Sassoon, who was also in care as a child. During his lunch break he would duck out to purchase items from local antique shops and bring them back to the salon. He often made a profit on-selling the items to his many celebrity clients. 

Archer-Morgan then set up an antiques stall in London and was approached by Sotheby’s to “consult on a sale of wrist watches”.

They had seen a gap in the market, and despite the fact I had no formal education, they asked me to organise it (Radio Times).

Archer-Morgan soon became a prominent collector known for selling rare and unusual items. His work was in such high demand that he opened his own Knightsbridge antique gallery.   

But Archer-Morgan was not immediately welcomed into the antique community. At first, he was viewed with skepticism by some who doubted his talent.  

Most of the dealers at that time hadn’t ever seen a black person in the industry before. I was a new kid on the block in a leather jacket and a baseball cap (Young). 

Archer-Morgan made his first appearance on the BBC Antiques Roadshow in 2011. These days, he is renowned for his talent as a treasure hunter. Some of his specialties include vintage watches, wallets, cigar cases, and luggage. 

I suppose it’s because I just collect what I like. I put on exhibitions of things and then they sell like hot cakes and a trend is started! (Radio Times). 

Ronnie Archer-Morgan now uses his public platform to campaign for children’s charities. In 2019 he did publicity for the UK charity Action for Children’s Give Kids a Cracking Christmas campaign, which raised more than £20,000. 

In 2022, Archer-Morgan teamed up with Action for Children again to promote their ‘Star in Every Child’ campaign. The aim of the campaign is to demonstrate the positive impact that support and opportunities can have on vulnerable children.   

I was honoured to be asked and I feel very passionately about it. The whole campaign just means everything to me, because care saved my life really. My home situation was so dire, I think almost certainly without them, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t be here today (Herald Magazine). 

Archer-Morgan’s memoir, Would It Surprise You To Know…? was published by Penguin Books in 2022. He still regularly haunts London’s flea markets and the Masterpiece London Art Fair in search of treasure. 


“Antiques Roadshow: meet the experts.” RadioTimes, 18 August 2013. 

“Antiques Roadshow presenter Ronnie Archer-Morgan reveals he met childhood friend after 63 years.” The World News, 1 January 2019. 

Danby, Poppy. “Antiques Roadshow star backs children’s charity push as says kids’ homes gave him ‘perfect’ start in life.” The Mirror, 9 Dec 2019. 

Wellbeing: Antiques Roadshow’s Ronnie Archer-Morgan: Growing up in care saved my life.” Herald Magazine, 15 May 2022. 

Young, Richard. “Antiques Roadshow expert Ronnie Archer Morgan’s incredible life story.” Great British Life, 8 July 2022. 

Image available here.