The Great Pottery Throw Down

I've just finished watching the third episode of BBC 2's newest 'Bake Off' variation, The Great Pottery Throw Down, and I actually bloody love it! 

I will admit that when I saw the adverts, along with the 'making is the new baking' slogan I was as sceptical as everyone else. I have loved the Bake Off (as has the rest of the country) since the beginning, but I haven't really warmed to any of the various other programmes that have been cast in the same mould; The Great British Sewing Bee is ok, but I think it tries a little hard to be as twee and 'innuendo-y' as the Bake Off naturally is, and the allotment one was a bit of a disaster.

The Great British Pottery throw down feels different though. Yes, they still have three challenges, there is a 'Star-Baker' equivalent in the weekly 'Top-Potter' award, and the innuendoes are plenty, but it feels more genuine somehow. The passion the contestants have feels sincere, and they're really really skilled at what they're doing already. Each show so far has felt varied too, because the 'main make', 'throw down' and 'skill' challenges are so different each week. The potters have so far had to make a nest of bowls, a basin and a set of five vases as their weekly 'main make', and had various smaller challenges, such as throwing a pot blindfolded, adding handles to mugs or throwing as many pieces as they can within a time limit.

It's great to see a programme about proper makers and craftspeople on prime time TV. All the contestants are, unashamedly, so emotionally involved in the things they're making, and I think anyone who has ever worked with materials like this can relate to that feeling. There is something about making a physical representation of an idea or feeling that can communicate it to a viewer better than words ever could, and making something with your hands imparts the object with your feeling and emotion and can therefore hold a great deal of significance (which makes the tears when the whole things explodes in the kiln much easier to understand!)

Mostly, I love how emotional the judges Kate Malone and Keith Brymer-Jones (particularly Keith actually, who has cried each week so far!) get about the contestants work. The feeling of a piece of art moving you to tears because you have such a visceral reaction to it and there aren't enough words in your head to explain it is one I love and often go searching for. It's why the tattoo on my foot reads "It Feels Like This", because sometimes things make you feel a way you can't describe, and you have to cry or shout, or usually in my case jump about and clench my fists and teeth to try and convey what I mean. 

I love it. I love that the arts make people feel this way. I love that a little bit of it is on the BBC. Despite the critics who think it's just another rip off, I love it and it's just what I need right now! 

(image via twitter)

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