Wednesday, January 12, 2022

'Watercolour Challenge' returns - on Channel 5

The much loved Watercolour Challenge - a daytime 'feelgood' cult classic - returns to our screens in the UK at 4pm next Monday, 17th January 2022 - and will run for 20 episodes.  

It'll probably run for a lot long longer on the 'on demand' channels if the Channel 4 version which ran for four series between 1998 and 2001 is anything to go by. I was a big fan - but often disagreed with the Judges!

Watercolour Challenge's first episode - on the front at Scarborough

The Changes 

The major changes are that 
  • There are four amateur painters EACH WEEK - all painting the same view at five different locations (so NOT new painters for each episode - with a paint off on Fridays!). I guess this will make it much fairer given that sometimes good painters didn't win their episode because they got a subject they didn't like
  • it's going to be on Channel 5 - instead of Channel 4 
  • Fern Britton is the host - in the role long vacated by the much loved Hannah Gordon. There's a nice article with her about the new programme Fern Britton returns to TV to present Watercolour Challenge
  • the programme is being made by TwoFour - which is part of ITV Studios.

Key Features

The aim is to
blend the artists’ skills with tips for the amateur art lover, glorious views and a daily dose of competition.
  • There are 20 episodes spread over 4 weeks - 5 episodes each week 
  • Broadcast at 4pm each day - making it an ideal programme for this very dim time of year either - to watch either live or on demand.
  • Episodes are filmed at scenic locations around the country - and the views are often very challenging.The locations are:
    • Yorkshire
    • South Wales
    • Devon
    • Cornwall
  • The four painters compete against the clock to capture some of Britain's finest views. They are allowed just three hours for each painting. 
"On some days," she said, "they spend three hours in the rain, cold and wind but we do give them 15-minute breaks every now and then." In the first episode looking over the seafront of Scarborough in North Yorkshire, several of the artists simply ripped up their first efforts.

"That takes courage I think. Everything is going on around them. Some didn't do that in the first episode but by the second location they gained confidence and they would just start all over again immediately." Fern Britton
  • There's a new professional artist each week - who provides mentor support and then judges the paintings at the end of each episode. Army veteran and professional painter Ady Wright acts as mentor and Judge for the Yorkshire week. I found out about the new programme from Lisa Takahashi (Facebook) who was the mentor and judge for the Devon based locations.
You can see Fern below in a short video about the new programme - plus learn about the first three locations

The locations for the first three episodes are detailed below - which gives you a sense of what's to come over the remaining 17 episodes. 

EPISODE 1: Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast

The four artists set up their easels on the promenade in South Bay and take in the sweep of the shoreline from the Victorian-built Grand Hotel to the 12th-century castle on the hill, all the way over to the historic harbour. It’s a vista packed with pitfalls for any artist, let alone four amateur painters.

EPISODE 2: Goathland railway station on the North York Moors

Goathland station on the North York Moors is a heritage station on one of the oldest railway tracks in the world. But it’s perhaps more famous as the Hogwarts Express station from the Harry Potter movies. Not only do the artists have to contend with painting the station, but there’s a surprise guest in steam loco Peggy! 


First Week Contestants with Fern Britton at Goathland Station
(the station for the Hogwarts Express!)

EPISODE 3: Castle Howard, Yorkshire

Castle Howard, in the north of the county, is a 300-year-old architectural masterpiece designed by John Vanbrugh. It sits in nearly 9,000 acres of spectacular grounds, is still occupied by the Howard family that commissioned it centuries ago, but is perhaps most famous as being the location for Brideshead Revisited. The artists’ view today is of the formal gardens sweeping towards the Atlas Fountain with the fantastic house behind. It’s a challenging view, with potential composition and perspective pitfalls that could fox even the most professional eye!
View of Castle Howard

A Footnote for the Programme Makers

I do very much hope that the programme makers will NOT commit the cardinal sin of many programmes which feature ordinary members of the public by neglecting to mention the artists' names on screen / in the credits. 

After all - as with ALL of the art competitions (and other challenge programmes) - there is absolutely no programme without the participants. So let's make sure they are properly recognised.

Otherwise I'll be highlighting this fact on this blog as I've done on other arts and crafts programmes in the past - who then saw the error of their ways....... ;) 

I'm not about to let the progress which has been made slip away..... :) 

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