A FAMILY sold their daughter's 25-year-old pushchair on eBay - and were shocked to discover it had been snapped up to feature in a new crime drama starring Martin Clunes which is due to start airing this month.

The Fretwell family from Portland were clearing out their house and selling what they could online in a bid to raise some money for an unexpected bill.

They were surprised to find out who had bid to purchase the old pushchair, which had been left untouched in their underfloor storage area for more than 20 years.

Dad, Stuart Fretwell, said the pushchair, which was purchased in 1995 for his daughter Sophie, sold for double the price of what it originally cost after a bidding war on the online auction website.

Mr Fretwell said: "Back in October 2020, I was selling everything that wasn't nailed down, on Ebay, to pay a huge and unexpected car repair bill. In an underfloor storage area, I found a Maclaren pushchair that had been down there since we moved to our Portland home in 1999. It had a cute 'Teddies of All Nations' design that I thought might appeal to teddy bear collectors, so I took some snaps and got it listed on eBay.

Dorset Echo: The 25-year-old pushchair . Picture: Stuart FretwellThe 25-year-old pushchair . Picture: Stuart Fretwell

"I fairly quickly had an offer to sell at a fixed price, higher than my starting price. I was about to say 'yes' to that when someone else came in with a bid and a bit of a bidding war ensued over the following days.

"The winning bidder turned out to be the art director for the Martin Clunes Manhunt II production company and I had to get the buggy over to them, in Bristol, for the next day! I joked that Martin Clunes only lived up the road in Beaminster and that if I took it to his farm, he could take it down to Bristol with him, when he went."

Manhunt’s first series, which aired back in 2019, proved to be one of ITV’s most successful dramas of the year. It centres around the murder of French student Amelie Delagrange which was subsequently linked to the deaths of Marsha McDonnell - whose dad Phil grew up in Weymouth - and Milly Dowler. Killer Levi Levi Bellfield is currently serving two whole life sentences meaning he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

Series two, Manhunt II: The Night Stalker, will see Colin Sutton investigate the real life story of notorious serial rapist Delroy Grant who terrorised south east London, with writer Ed Whitmore adapting the series from Colin Sutton’s diaries. The second series begins on September 20 and will be airing on ITV 1 at 9pm.

The Fretwell family said they will be eagerly watching to catch sight of their daughter Sophie's 25-year-old pushchair.

Mr Fretwell said: "The new TV show, The Night Stalker, involved a criminal who was active in the period 1992 to 2009 and our buggy, purchased for our daughter Sophie in 1995, was therefore 'period appropriate'. We don't remember exactly what we paid for the buggy, back in 1995, but we reckon that our eBay sale brought in at least twice what it originally cost us.. even after we'd had our use out of it, with daughter Sophie.

"Such are the vagaries of TV production, that it might not appear in the show at all . . . but we will certainly be keeping our eyes peeled, looking for that distinctive 'Teddy' design."

Filming was said to have been interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic and has taken longer than expected for it all to be completed and brought to air.

The Doc Martin actor and his wife have lived near Beaminster for the past two decades. The couple bought their own farm in 2007, which is home to many animals including horses, Shetland ponies, dogs, Dexter cattle, sheep and hens.