Alan Titchmarsh is known as a gardener, writer, broadcaster and novelist who began his career as a horticultural apprentice on leaving school at the age of fifteen. He went on the become a teacher of horticultural skills at Kew Gardens, a book and magazine editor, a broadcaster on radio and television and a writer not only of more than fifty books on gardening and the countryside but also of novels - nine to date, all of which have reached the Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller List. He has presented such varied television programmes as Ground Force and The Last Night of the Proms, Gardeners' World and Songs of Praise, How to be a Gardener and All The Queen's Horses, Love Your Garden and The Alan Titchmarsh Show - his own afternoon chat show on ITV.
Alan is Chancellor of Winchester University and holds the Royal Horticultural Society’s highest award: The Victoria Medal of Honour - bestowed on no more than 63 recipients at any one time - one for each year of Queen Victoria's reign. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire and in 2008-9 was High Sheriff of The Isle of Wight. He was appointed MBE in the Millennium New Year Honours List. In his spare time he reads avidly, loves theatre, ballet, opera and gardening and collects books. He splits his time between Hampshire and the Isle of Wight and also between a wife, two daughters, four grandchildren and seven chickens. He thought up the idea for Masterpiece while travelling in a car to see them (the grandchildren, not the chickens).
Rachel Houston-Holland is Regional Head of Fine Art at Wright Marshall Auctioneers in Cheshire valuing all aspects of fine art and antiques.
After graduating with a degree in fine art Rachel went on to specialise in fine art conservation before transferring to the antiques trade in 2006. Having worked at Bonhams Auctioneers for 7 years, she now runs salerooms in Cheshire where she further specialises in Asian art, with a keen interest and extensive knowledge of Chinese and Japanese porcelain.
One of Rachel’s most memorable moments is when on a routine home visit she discovered a collection of Asian art which later sold for over £500,000. "Most local auction houses hold valuation days where you can come along with something from home and see what it might sell for. Who knows, one of the treasures we reveal on the show could be sitting forgotten in a cupboard somewhere!"