Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Claudia: Sewing is the new baking

Claudia Winkleman presents The Great British Sewing Bee

Claudia Winkleman has admitted she said yes to her latest TV show without even knowing what it was about.

The bubbly presenter revealed she was very excited when she was offered The Great British Sewing Bee, from the makers of The Great British Bake Off, because she is a massive fan of the baking show - even appearing in the celebrity version for Comic Relief. "I was obsessed by Bake Off, when it was on I'd lick the telly," said the 41-year-old.

"When they said they were making another show I didn't even ask what it was. If they'd said, 'We're making an eight-part series on what squirrels do, it isn't being shown on telly and you have to pay us for it', I would still have been like, 'Absolutely yeah!'."

In a similar vein to Bake Off, in Sewing Bee, two judges - this time Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant and sewing teacher extraordinaire May Martin - set three challenges per episode for eight budding creatives battling it out to be crowned series winner. Except this time they're not baking but sewing.

The decision to base the series on sewing fits with the current craft craze sweeping the UK and beyond. But there's more to it than just that, according to Claudia. "I think a part of it is the recession, people don't want to spend another £60 on school clothes. They want to alter uniforms from their other kids. They also don't want to just buy stuff - enough with the stuff!"

But are eight people sitting in a church with a needle and thread really going to grip the nation? As Claudia pointed out, who knew that a tent of contestants making scones would catch on?

"I think it's exciting to see people making something from nothing," she said. "At one point they're asked to make a tailored jacket. I assumed they were made by wizards or dolphins, you can't be a human and just make a jacket, that's ridiculous, but they did it right in front of our eyes."

Of course there are, inevitably, a few sewing disasters and some of the challenges are intense.

"They [the contestants] would hate me because I'd go in and say, 'How's it going?' And they'd be like, 'Get out of my way'," Claudia recalled. "I think the answer to everything is sugar, so I'd get them chocolate."

:: The Great British Sewing Bee stars on BBC Two on Tuesday, April 2.

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