Dickinson was adopted as a baby by a childless couple in Lancashire, England. In spite of the fact that his adoptive father died when he was seven, he still had a happy childhood with his mother and grandmother. After leaving school at 14 he became an apprentice in a factory, but soon left to work in the textile trade. He became a textile commission agent.
In his 20s he traced his birth mother and found that his Armenian grandfather had done the same work, working the same streets as he did.
He married a singer and became her manager, and a few years later opened his first antiques shop. From this he developed into a flamboyant dealer, and in the late 90s he was spotted by a BBC television producer. He now (2002) presents the popular BBC television program Bargain Hunt.
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