My mum, a dress-making teacher by trade, warned me off The Great British Sewing Bee, back for a third series. She thinks they rush through the explanations of skills and techniques. I think she’s missing the point. You don’t watch this to learn how to be the Next Big Thing. You watch it for the characters, the potential drama in the haberdashery and the innuendo – I mean, however much people like to protest, it’s Bake Off with added needles and thread.
And those involved doth protest too much. Savile Row suave-pot judge Patrick Grant insisted to the Radio Times that the two - made by the same production company - are “very different”. He said: "We all eat cakes and bread so we have an understanding of how these things should taste, but a lot of people don’t know how clothes should fit.” Well actually, Patrick, I beg to differ, most of us wear clothes, last time I checked.
In possession of the facts, the shows are very similar: Grant’s Mary-esque side-kick is no-nonsense (and sadly no jazzy blazer) WI sewing instructor May Martin. Contestants complete three challenges an episode, watched over by Claudia Winkleman, who’s loud enough to make up for both Bake Off’s Mel and Sue and whose sporadic barking would definitely make me cock up my concealed zip.
There’s a rousing score and build-up sufficient to make you feel that matching up the design on a flower-patterned frock is akin to cracking the Enigma Code. Disappointingly, there wasn’t much innuendo - this lot struggled to even mention the difficult “crotch area”.
After an hour, Neil, one of four blokes in the mix, won the day with his natty pink spotty dress. As my mum predicted, I was none the wiser about knocking up a pair of trousers, but the drama was looking promising. “I can see myself dying under layers and layers of pink tulle,” said experimental dressmaker Alex during a particularly taxing bit of the denim shirt alteration task. Don’t say I didn’t warn you about Netting-gate, sewing fans.Reuse content