Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker
All Creatures Great And Small
The trouble with taking the moral high ground is the long climb back down.
When Bake Off defected to Channel 4 in 2017, in a £25 million-a-year transfer, presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins elected to stay with the BBC.
‘We’re not going with the dough,’ they declared. The Beeb delivered a backhanded reward for their loyalty with a reboot of The Generation Game.
It was so bad, most critics agreed even Jim Davidson’s version was better.
Mel and Sue star in a kooky sitcom on Sky, Hitmen, but their double act has faltered.
Mel Giedroyc suffers the indignity of hosting a Bake Off clone on the very channel she shunned four years ago — Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker (C4). On her lonesome
While her pal does travelogues, Mel has been appearing on panel games such as Taskmaster and her own Unforgivable.
Now she suffers the indignity of hosting a Bake Off clone on the very channel she shunned four years ago — Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker (C4). On her lonesome.
‘I really did miss Perks,’ she said this week. ‘I was in touch with her. She was like a woodland nymph leaping around in the canopy of trees, whispering in my ear.’
From which we can assume Sue wasn’t asked, wasn’t free or didn’t fancy it. To her credit, Mel makes a gung-ho job of her solo stint, giving energy and sizzle to a format that could easily turn into an instructional video on joinery.
Nine amateur carpenters are challenged to build a show-piece each week, breaking off in the middle of the job to tackle a technical task.
That reflects real life — I’ve never employed a builder who didn’t disappear halfway through, on the pretext of ‘going to the yard’ or just ‘nipping out for a sandwich’.
For an opener, the contestants had to make a bed. Mel pottered among them, scattering innuendoes about getting wood, just as she used to do with soggy bottoms and magnificent rises.
She could do this in her sleep. During the judging, she practically did, leaping into each of the beds to test them.
That ease and professionalism lets her get away with anything, even when she leant on one bedframe and snapped it.
She can be wickedly rude — chatting to a novice called Misti, she mused, ‘Misti with an ‘i’… because Misty with a ‘y’ is a bit like the neighbour’s cat.’
Every bit as good as the 1970s original, this serial has become better and more assured by the week. The writing, the cast and the sets are all exceptional
The din of hammering and power tools makes conversation difficult. That might be why we haven’t seen a carpentry competition on our screens before — though another reason is that when Lee Mack tried it last year for Sky, producers failed to notice that one of the artisans had Nazi-themed tattoos on his face.
The whole series had to be scrapped. Aptly, it was called The Chop. One show certain to avoid the chop is the glorious revival of All Creatures Great And Small (C5), starring Sam West as the irascible Siegfried Farnon.
Every bit as good as the 1970s original, this serial has become better and more assured by the week. The writing, the cast and the sets are all exceptional.
As much as we love the landscapes of the Dales and the animals, it’s the characters that make the stories timeless — most of all, the love story between James and Helen (Nicholas Ralph and Rachel Shenton).
Siegfried has been urging his protégé to ‘carpe some diem’ and marry the girl. During a heated conversation in the car, James did accidentally propose.
That leaves things nicely poised for a joyous Christmas special. A third season is already commissioned and the writers say they hope it could run for years. ‘Marvellous!’ as Siegfried often roars.
Masterclass of the night: An entire novel flickered across the face of Mark Bonnar, as slimy lawyer Max in Guilt (BBC2), when a friend revealed she was the daughter of a gangland boss. ‘Panic, fear, it’s what I hoped I’d see,’ she said. Bonnar conveyed all that in his eyes, silently. He’s a heck of an actor.