Back in December I wrote in this column a piece lamenting the quality of TV programmes on the subject of fashion.
Well wouldn’t you know it, another has hit the screens. By now you will have seen, I can only assume, the first two episodes of the Great British Sewing Bee (GBSB). You’ll have seen car fabric-loving Jane disappear due to a mystery illness, mother-of-one Michelle booted off in a shroud of slippy silk, jolly Stuart have a minor nervous breakdown, the relative sewing newcomer Tilly eliminated for a bodged blouse, the world’s most unlikely sewer and HGV driver Mark make a horlicks of a trouser fly and matriarchal Ann appear methodical, if a bit of a teacher’s pet.
For those who haven’t seen it, GBSB is essentially The Great British Bake Off with clothes rather than cakes. Made by the same people, the format is identical - three challenges are tackled each week: follow a pattern, alteration, and the more creative made-to-measure. Eight contestants battle over four episodes as two are eliminated each week until the winner is crowned. Judge Mary Berry has been swapped for May Martin from the Women’s Institute while presenter Claudia Winkleman is a poor substitute for the excellent Mel and Sue.
And the man charged with stepping into the shoes of hotcake heartthrob Paul Hollywood? None other than the dashing Patrick Grant. It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the E Tautz and Norton & Sons owner as Grant has also just revived the Hammond & Co brand for his new Designers at Debenhams line. Exciting times for the Savile Row man, and his tailoring experience comes in handy on GBSB as his eye for detail has some contestants reeling.
It’s a familiar format yet an unusual show all in all - I just hope the ‘thrills and spills’ at the overlocker get people
into sewing as much as The Bake Off has promoted baking, saving a nation’s stitching skills in the process.