Contest to find Britain’s Best Woodworker

Thursday: Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker; (C4, 8pm)

Wednesday, 20th October 2021, 5:00 pm

Is there no end to the number of craft or trade-based contests on our screens?

Not that we’re complaining because, let’s face it, the likes of The Great Bake Off, The Great British Sewing Bee, The Great Pottery Throw Down, Portrait Artist of the Year and All That Glitters: Britain’s Next Jewellery Star are all fabulous TV. But what else is there to cover?

Woodworking and carpentry, of course. Sky dabbled with the idea last year with the Lee Mack and Greg Edwards-hosted The Chop which, coincidentally, got the chop from the broadcaster after the first episode due to one competitor’s controversial tattoos. In recent weeks, Jay’s Yorkshire Workshop on BBC Two has sated any appetite for seeing folk working with saws, planes and chisels, but it’s been more about self development and fulfilment than competition.

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Mel Giedroyc with Helen Welch and Alex de Rijke

So there’s clearly a gap in the market which is about to be filled with this new series, which is hosted by Mel Giedroyc, five years after she declined the opportunity to move to Channel 4 with the aforementioned Bake Off.

“In the words of Ian Faith, the manager of Spinal Tap, ‘… in the topsy-turvy world of heavy rock, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is often useful’,” grins the comedian, actor and presenter. “I would add to that by saying that in the topsy-turvy world of 2021 in general, having a good solid piece of wood in your hand is pretty much essential.

“So, if you go down to the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Britain’s Best Woodworker is going to be something we can all lean on.”

Each episode takes place in a picturesque rural setting at Wales’ Glanusk Estate, where the competitors begin by tackling a ‘big build’, which involves creating a large and imaginative wooden structure or object, followed by a surprise challenge that pushes their skills to their limits.

Casting their expert eyes over each project will be RIBA Stirling prize-winning architect Alex De Rijke, who’s been dubbed King Of Wood, and Helen Welch, founder of The London School of Furniture-Making. But what will they think of the massive bed and hand carving efforts of the nine brave souls who begin the competition? We’ll have to wait and see.

“In a throwaway world, more and more people are turning to woodwork to connect them to nature and their creativity,” claims Karen Plumb from production company Plimsoll Productions. “We’re delighted to be making this escapist and ambitious competition for Channel 4.”

Daniel Fromm, commissioning editor, Channel 4 Popular Factual, adds: “Joyous, insightful and entertaining, this series is feel-good entertainment and an antidote to our times as it celebrates the extraordinary craftsmanship and artistry of the country’s finest woodworkers.”

The only question left to ask is: what will TV programme-makers come up with next? Competitive welding perhaps, or The Great British Felting Challenge? Whatever it is, no doubt those of us who love seeing creativity in action will lap it up.

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