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Throw Down: so warming, calming and charming


The Great Pottery Throw Down, Channel 4, Sundays, 7.45pm.

By Wynne Lang

I am old enough to remember a time when television was in black and white and there were only two channels. Every so often there would be a break in the programmes for something they called an interlude and the most popular of these was without a doubt ‘the potter’s wheel’. Ask anyone of a certain age and they will remember the few minutes of uninterrupted calm before normal service was resumed.

I mention this because watching The Great Pottery Throw Down has a similar soothing effect as the contestants try to outshine each other with increasingly difficult tasks.

We are now into the second series and the programme has grown in confidence. It has a new presenter in the form of, warm but sharp-witted Siobhan McSweeney; a new judge who clearly knows his stuff called Rich Miller, but as ever the star of the show is Keith Brymer Jones. A man not afraid to show emotion is always a joy to see, and Brymer Jones is someone who is more than happy to shed a tear when he likes what he sees (they are pictured above).

So far we have had a cheese set with matching pickle jars, a step too far for a cheese service in my household. We've had some spectacular miniature buildings that, when lit from the inside, were a joy to behold. Recently they went with ceramic fruit. These choices are made to blend high levels of skill with the wonder of the finished objects.

As a format it is not new: difficult tasks judged by experts with a comedian thrown in. Where this programme outshines the others is the level of tension and peril involved, for when those objects go into the kiln it’s like Schrodinger’s cat; both a thing of beauty and a hundred shards of baked clay. Like the contestants, you hold your breath waiting for fate to take over.

The Great Pottery Throw Down streams on All 4. I prefer to watch it on catch up with a nice cuppa and a biscuit to dunk.