12 TV picks: making stuff

Everyone’s on the make in this week’s TV picks, but all in a good way, fortunately.

We celebrate creativity in all its forms, from the talented amateur to the highly skilled professional, from the purely personal to the public service, from the smallest idea to the grandest design.

In short, all of these programmes are about “making stuff” - and they’re all available to watch now.

The Great Pottery Throw Down - Channel 4

The Great Pottery Throw Down is a fun, emotional, inspirational watch with a big, big heart.

Derry Girls star Siobhán McSweeney took over presenting duties for the new series currently airing on Channel 4 on Sunday nights (and is made by the same company, Love Productions, behind The Great British Bake Off).

New judge Richard Miller runs the rule over the contestants’ magnificent creations alongside the inimitable Keith Brymer Jones, who is liable to well up at any moment and makes the whole show extra special.

What they say: ‘Soothing and restorative … A precious hour of crafty tranquility.’ The Guardian

Simply Raymond Blanc - ITV

In the Michelin-starred chef’s first series for ITV, Raymond Blanc shares simple, rustic recipes that can be achieved with the minimum of fuss (and equipment),

Blanc rustles up his magic in the kitchens of his world renowned restaurant Le Manoir in Oxford, where he also shares some of the secrets of its amazing gardens.

‘These are dishes that bring the best out of their ingredients, simple cooking that everyone will want to try,’ said Blanc of the new 10-part series which started on Saturday lunchtime. ‘And I hope they will!’

What they say: ‘The food is glorious … but even if you’re not much of a cook, you can revel in the beautiful footage of Le Manoir and its grounds.’ Radio Times


The Art of Architecture - Sky Arts

This documentary series looks at some of the world’s most famous buildings and investigates the inspiration of the architects behind them.

Returning to Sky Arts on Tuesday 2nd February, The Art of Architecture travels the globe in search of the most awe-inspiring structures.

The second series begins with a portrait of the late, Iraqi-born architect, Zaha Hadid and how her firm is building on her extraordinary legacy.

What they say: ‘Buildings to drool over include a dune-like company HQ in Sharjah, a cavernous airport in Beijing and an astonishing tower in Macau.’ Radio Times


Grand Designs - Channel 4

Perhaps the grandest of all the designs on show in Channel 4’s Grand Designs is the format itself.

Fabulously (and no doubt deceptively) simple, each episode sees the brilliant Kevin McCloud follows someone attempting to build their dream home from start to finish.

Back for a new series on Wednesday nights after more than 200 episodes on Channel 4, it’s inspirational and invariably edge of the seat, heart in mouth stuff; a vicarious delight.

What they say: ‘Grand Designs returned for its 21st series with a glorious episode. Ambitious eccentricity plus obscene wealth still makes for a winning formula.’ Daily Telegraph

Architecture The Railways Built - Yesterday

Historian Tim Dunn’s guide to some of the most fascinating and fabulous architecture of Britain’s railways is a trip very much worth taking.

Currently into its second series on Yesterday on Tuesday evenings, Architecture The Railways Built travels the length and breadth of the country to tell the story of the rail network’s most memorable structures.

The new series has already visited the Royal Albert Bridge linking Devon and Cornwall, the new £150m station in Wolverhampton, the Connel Bridge in Scotland and - further afield - the stunning waiting hall of Sao Bento station in Portugal.

What they say: ‘Tim Dunn’s enthusiasm is the bubbling spring that makes this such a delight … An escapist treat.’ Radio Times

Junior Bake Off - Channel 4

The Great British Bake Off’s junior sibling (which has just finished its sixth series and is available to watch in its entirety on All4) changes only a few ingredients but has a very different flavour.

Partly that’s because all the contestants are aged nine to 15, obviously, and partly because it has different judges, former Bake Off contestant Liam Charles and (new this year) Ravneet Gill.

But mostly, of course, it’s down to presenter Harry Hill. A winning ingredient in anything he’s in, Hill gives the show a whole new flavour all of his own. Delicious.

What they say: ‘Kindness, camaraderie and cake … Joyously upbeat.’ Daily Telegraph

Landscape Artist of the Year - Sky Arts

The search for Britain’s best landscape painter is back.

The new series of Sky Arts’ Landscape Artist of the Year began last month at Churchill’s former home at Chartwell.

Presented by Joan Bakewell and Stephen Mangan (and his puntastic gags), it’s as entertaining as it is instructive and an inspiration to many to pick up a brush and have a go themselves.

What they say: ‘So much attention was lavished on each painting as it developed that you couldn’t help but be drawn in … Engrossing.’ iNews

Dinner Date - ITV Be

There is a never-ending appetite for this dating show with a home cooking twist because it is simply so good.

Each week a contestant chooses to go on three out of five potential dates based on the dinner menu they’ve promised to cook them.

And it’s such a winning recipe that around 300 episodes have been made since it debuted on ITV a decade ago - as well as spawning a celebrity spin-off - all winningly narrated by Natalie Casey.

What they say: ‘The greatest show on British TV.’ Vice


Wonderful World of Cakes - Channel 5

Or, if you prefer our alternative title, everything you wanted to know about cake … but were too busy eating cake to ask.

Narrated by Glynis Barber, this six-part series looks at the rich history of cakes, sharing the secrets of some of the UK’s favourite brands to celebrating the extraordinary skills of bespoke bakers and their unique creations.

And if you like this, then chances are you’ll also enjoy Channel 5’s Wonderful World of Chocolate. Best enjoyed with a slice of cake. Chocolate, obviously.

What they say: ‘Amazing cakes and bakes.’ TV Guide

Grayson’s Art Club - Channel 4

Grayson’s Art Club was the best performing of Channel 4’s #stayathome ‘Academy’ programmes during the first lockdown with more than one million viewers per episode.

Now the show, in which Turner-prize winning artist Grayson Perry and his wife, author, psychotherapist and broadcaster Philippa Perry, encourage the nation to get creative, is back for a second series.

Each episode sees Grayson creating in his studio, interviewing celebrity guests and showcasing the best art made by viewers (including one memorable effort from the first series, a painting of someone’s wheelie bins).

What they say: ‘Powerfully uplifting, Art Club was a life-affirming testament to creativity and human resilience … You know a TV programme must be powerful when you find yourself weeping about a wheelie bin.’ iNews

The New Air Force One: Flying Fortress - National Geographic

This new hour-long documentary on National Geographic explores what goes into the making of the presidential aircraft and top secret command centre, Air Force One.

The new Air Force One - there are in fact not one but two of the highly customised Boeing 747s - is expected to take flight in 2024.

The documentary includes interviews with Donald Trump and his plans for what the plane will look like, although Joe Biden will presumably have a few things to say about that.

What they say: ‘Very few people whose title doesn't start with "president" ever set foot inside Air Force One. But National Geographic got a first look at the overhaul of the two presidential planes.’ People

Property Brothers: Forever Home - W

This home renovation show is just one of the many series created by Canadian twin brothers and property TV gurus, Jonathan and Drew Scott.

But this is a show which doesn’t involve buying or selling a home or building a new one, but taking homes which families already live in and turning it into their “forever home”.

Now four series in, the brothers help unlock each home’s potential and uncover the hidden gems right beneath their feet.

What they say: ‘Jonathan and Drew Scott are on a new mission to overhaul unremarkable houses into dream homes that the families will never want to leave.’ TV Guide

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