Friday, 30 October 2015

The Great British Pottery Throw Down

Now it’s the turn of pottery for a reality TV showdown

Written by Ben Felsenburg
Ben-Felsenburg-colour-176In recent years we’ve gorged ourselves on baking shows, celebrity dancers and the antics of Lord Sugar’s wannabe business partners – now potters are to enter the gladiatorial arena of TV reality competition. The Great British Pottery Throw Down (Tuesday, BBC Two, 9pm) replicates the familiar format: a colourfully disparate group of competitors, Radio 2 DJ Sara Cox taking the place of Mel and Sue, and instead of Mary and Paul we have ceramic artist Kate Malone and Keith Brymer-Jones, a Bernard Bresslaw lookalike and master potter.

But with the potters at their work, the atmosphere is very different from the hysteria of the baking tent, and there’s a sense of ancient tradition as we watch them ‘wedging’ – repeatedly folding the clay to remove air bubbles – and we learn that ‘throwing’ here is used in the Old English sense of to twist or turn.

The contestants are practical with their hands but deeply eccentric and very, very English. Ex-army major Tom cuts the sort of larger-than-life figure you’d expect of a military man, but he’s a dab hand at the wheel and when it all goes wrong exclaims nothing worse than, ‘Oh… flip!’

My personal favourite is farmer’s daughter Jane, who’s so impassioned and nervous in everything she does that Keith is moved to tears of relief and empathy by the work that she eventually produces. Who could ever imagine Paul Hollywood weeping over a cake? I’m hooked.



The Hunt Sunday, BBC1, 9pm
Leopards and crocodiles are among the predators doing their worst in a brilliant new natural history series (above).

Dominic Sandbrook: Let Us Entertain You Wednesday, BBC2, 9pm
The story behind Agatha Christie and The Beatles is revealed in an engrossing history of post-war British culture.

Joanna Lumley: Elvis And Me Wednesday, ITV, 9pm
Elvis fan Lumley takes a pilgrimage to Graceland to learn about the King from ex-wife Priscilla (above), who shares her memories of the private life of Presley.

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