Monday, January 13, 2020

Third series of The Great Pottery Throw Down on Channel 4

Last week there must have been a lot of people who were very pleased to find out that Series 3 of The Great Pottery Throw Down has started - this time on Channel 4.

I'm not intending to write about it - apart from this post - but will be watching.

Below is a short intro to the new series - highlighting the changes and where to find out more.

Middleport Pottery in Stoke on Trent is the venue for the Great Pottery Showdown

I've no idea why BBC shut the series down. It struck me as rather successful. However the great thing about having independent production companies produce such shows is that they can try and pitch elsewhere if the BBC won't recommission.

The channel of choice seems to be Channel 4 (which of course, like the BBC, is publicly owned) - probably because the company which makes (Love Productions) also makes The Great British Bake Off which also transferred to Channel 4.

Which makes me ponder whether the axing of Pottery Throw Down was more to do with who made it than whether or not it was popular......


The format seems to be virtually identical with a few changes
  • there are now 12 potters instead of 10 - which explains why the studio looks a tad more crowded
  • the presenter has changed. It's now Melanie Sykes rather than Sara Cox. She's a good host who seems to strike the right sort of tone.
  • the sexual innuendo remains intact (!) This episode it was pulling the clay to make handles....
  • one of the Judges has changed
Did you know we are not allowed to meet the potters before we start filming? ......The reason for not being able to meet the potters is very real and very credible: conflict of interest. If we were to meet them and felt more akin to some more than others we might favour their work more before even seeing it. The underlying and fundamental theme of the show is ‘the clay’ and what they do with it. It’s that simple! Keith Brymer Jones


The Studio where they work - with the Drying Room at the back

The Potters


It appears that the bulk of the potters are amateurs with a noted bias towards the younger end of the age range (i.e. two-thirds are under 35.


The Potters

Yet again we have a television company which provides members of the public who are participating  with first names - but no surnames - so YET ANOTHER TV PROGRAMME WHICH FAILS TO GIVE CREDIT TO THE ARTISTS/CRAFTS PEOPLE THEY NEED TO MAKE IT!  

Others who produce painting programmes have finally got the message but apparently not Love Productions!

The Potters have varying amounts of experience and skills and I expect that we'll find out - as we did in previous series - that being really good at one aspect of potting is no guarantee of being good at everything. Personally I found this one of the aspects which maintained my interest throughout the first two series.

That said I think I can already spot people who have the potential to go all the way.

Thank you to whoever did this table on Wikipedia!  They are - in alphabetical order.....

PotterAgeOccupationHometown
Claire29Warehouse operativeCounty Antrim, Northern Ireland
Flea33Full-time motherLondon
Jacob23Studio potterLiverpool
Kit19Home potterCornwall
Leonard70Retired company directorCornwall
Matt30Professional cycling managerGreater Manchester
Rainna27Full-time carerKent
Ronaldo31Art college technician and part time tutorLondon
Rosa43Full-time mother and former fashion designerBuckinghamshire
Rosalind59Retired antique shop ownerEssex
Sampada26Craft assistant and illustratorLondon
Tom39Composer and music teacherSheffield
Only the Aberdeen Evening Express and Belfast Telegraph provide a run down on who the potters are.  Apparently Love Productions see no reason to include this information on their website - except for a photo and incredibly brief details on the show's Instagram account.


The Potters - minus 1


The Challenge


The Challenges of both skills and creativity comprise
  • The Main Make 
  • The Throw Down
In the First Episode the main make was a six-piece breakfast set of a cafetiere, two coffee cups and saucers (NOT mugs) and a toast rack. Criteria for assessment were:
  • functional - bottom line they work as intended! (They poured coffee from the cafetiere at the end!) 
  • a creative and coherent design which relates well all six items
  • time management was critical to getting pieces made in the time available - which initially was 4 hours
They stuck to the breakfast theme for the throw down - where potters had to see how many egg cups they could throw "off the hump" in 15 minutes.
Throwing egg cups off the hump to be precise. In keeping with the Breakfast Set theme, we thought throwing egg cups would be the perfect challenge. This really showed me for the first time who is really competent on the wheel, and who likewise struggle with throwing. Throwing off the hump is a particular skill as you have to quantify/visualise how much clay you need to make the desired piece, in this case an egg cup. If you start taking too much from the top of the hump of clay, your egg cup may look more like a wine goblet and if you take too little, your egg cup could be too small to hold an egg. Not only this, but we asked our Potters to make as many as possible in the time they had. So precision and a good sense of size were the key to this throwdown!
What I like about this programme is there is
  • a serious discussion by the Judges of the type of criteria they will use to judge the main make BEFORE assessment got underway. 
  • we see a sketch of the design the potters intend to make before we see them making the parts.
  • Plus the quickie challenge is demonstrated properly to all of the potters in advance of the challenge so background skills are less important.  I love the bit where he throws those that don't measure up in a bucket!

The results


There were two or three excellent sets - one of which was outstanding. It was amazing how many had not thought through how big the handle needed to be relative to the weight of a full cafetiere!

There were also people who had problems with cracks, breaks and failing to size objects properly and had not got a good finish.




Discussion of the Results - who's in front and who's at risk of the chop


......and the winner is


My guess as to who would be the winner of this week's challenge proved to be correct.

Claire was a bit more thoughtful about her approach plus was the only one who seemed to have serious knowledge of and skills in glazing.  I thought her breakfast set looked like it was already on the shelves in John Lewis!


This was her design

This looked very professional at design stage which made me think she stood a very good chance of winning

I was also very impressed by Jacob's design which featured the Liverpool skyline. However his design let him down in certain respects.

......and finally


Where you can follow The Great Pottery Throw Down


Follow the show on:
Plus you can find out about the earlier series on:
and my blog posts
Plus try doing what I did after watching the second series on the BBC - Visit The Ceramics Gallery at the V&A which is HUGE!

You can also find out about Middleport Pottery
Plus review the Ceramics Groups on Facebook

Next Week


The show is on Channel 4 on Wednesdays at 9pm

It rather looks like they're building chess sets by hand next week
The potters are tasked with hand-building an elaborate chess set and throwing miniature vases.


No comments:

Post a Comment

COMMENTS HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED - due to very silly ignorant people who leave spam comments without realising they have no benefit for them. Currently commenting is suspended for everybody but me which allows past comments to still be seen.

Please feel free comment on my Facebook Page where my blog posts are posted there (but please note I block and report spammers on Facebook)

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.