The talent show used to be just about singing. From the early days of New Faces through the re-launch of the genre in the form of Pop Idol and now with The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing and 8000 others filling up the listings, we just can’t move without hitting another one somewhere.
After The Great British Bake Off brought the talent contest to the unlikely surrounds of the cake stand and got in more viewers than it could have even thought of in its wildest, icing coated dreams, the BBC’s back with yet another unlikely area of competition. Sewing.
Have you ever thought that the thing that sewing needs is some competition and a pair of judges passing judgement on a bunch of embroidery hobbyists? Neither did I, which make the fact that this is much like the Great British Bake Off in that it’s far more compelling and entertaining than it has even the slightest right to be.
The Great British Sewing Bee shares more than just the first part of its name with last year’s dessert based goliath, as we see eight amateur sewers from all walks of life try and impress the rather sharply dressed Saville Row tailor Patrick Grant and the head of all things sewing over at the Women’s Institute May Martin. All the while Claudia Winkleman and her fringe will try and make sense of all the embroidery for us at home and gee-up the contestants.
While the UK production of The Voice still manages to leave me utterly cold and I couldn’t give two hoots as to which celebrity can do the best ice skating routine, finding out whether our stitching biker can impress the bow-tie judge with his needlework makes for surprisingly absorbing television.
It may not be the instant hit that Bake Off was, with neither of the judges jumping of the screen quite like Paul Hollywood did and Claudia Winkleman not quite able to quite as top-notch a job as Mel and Sue single-handed, but Sewing Bee manages to make something that should cure insomnia and makes it interesting. Far too many talent contests manage to do the exact opposite.
While this could have once again shown that the talent show really has jumped the shark and gone past the point of mockery, The Great British Sewing Bee never rips its seams and manages to prove that maybe going down the more bizarre avenues might be the way for the genre to go.
While we have no idea what other seemingly humdrum aspects of life can next make for oddly enthralling television, we would be surprised at all to see ‘The Great British Llama Trainer’ within the next 12 months.
Tagged in Claudia Winkleman