Sewing supremo Esme's a joy: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews TV
Sewing supremo Esme’s a joy but she’s the toughest judge on TV: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV
The Great British Sewing Bee
Two questions: why doesn’t Esme Young have a damehood yet, and how does tailor Patrick Grant keep up with her?
The designer and movie costumier, who created Grace Jones’s infamous padlock dress and Bridget Jones’s pyjamas, is the dynamo of The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC1). All co-presenter Patrick has to do is step back and allow her to star.
Seizing a roll of fabric with a piratical print, she announced her fondness for skulls. ‘I collect them,’ she said, adding that she had ‘a bull’s head, a goat’s head and a sheep’s head’ at home.
Two questions: why doesn’t Esme Young (pictured) have a damehood yet, and how does tailor Patrick Grant keep up with her?
The designer and movie costumier, who created Grace Jones’s infamous padlock dress and Bridget Jones’s pyjamas, is the dynamo of The Great British Sewing Bee (BBC1) . All co-presenter Patrick (right) has to do is step back and allow her to star
For all the fun, Esme and Patrick are the most stringent judges of any skills competition on TV
‘Mostly people’s skulls,’ murmured Patrick under his breath.
She was enthusiastically teaching host Sara Pascoe to do the twist, as the 12 new contestants tackled blouses with a twisted waist for the first challenge of the new series.
And when one amateur designer fashioned a dress with a peephole cutaway across the chest, Esme was intrigued. ‘We could have a nipple,’ she predicted. Patrick looked pained, like a vicar who has spotted the organist taking a crafty nip from a flask before launching into the next hymn.
In the event, the cutout wasn’t quite that revealing. Esme was hopeful, though. ‘If you were disco dancing,’ she told the model, ‘we know what would happen, don’t we?’
The director was having fun with the cutaways contest too, picking tunes including Abba’s Hole In Your Soul and Hole In The Head by Sugababes, as the finished dresses were displayed on the catwalk.
For all the fun, Esme and Patrick are the most stringent judges of any skills competition on TV. Contestants on Interior Design Masters and Bake Off might get away with slip-ups, especially in early rounds, but there’s no leniency on Sewing Bee.
Every stray thread, every crooked seam is noticed and criticised. Such high standards encourage camaraderie among the rivals. When computer games designer Catherine suffered an elastic catastrophe, and crumpled to the floor in tears, the others gathered round her to help repair the dress.
‘It was a team effort,’ she admitted to the judges, and received a hug from Patrick as her reward.
Moments like that make this show a delight, even if you haven’t the foggiest what a French seam is.
Great Coastal Railway Journeys
Esme would approve of Michael Portillo’s facemask, worn as he recorded his Great Coastal Railway Journeys (BBC2) at the tail end of the pandemic. Skulls featured prominently on the pattern, which appeared to celebrate the Mexican day of the dead.
The third of his daily excursions saw Michael at Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, beside the ‘clear blue water’, though it was looking somewhat muddy as he mooched along the shore in his galoshes.
Mud was good, the skipper of a local shrimp-fishing boat assured him. When strong currents stirred up the seabed, that’s when the catch was best — and the fisherman, Ray, had a bucket of fresh prawns to prove it.
The third of his daily excursions saw Michael (pictured) at Morecambe Bay, Lancashire, beside the ‘clear blue water’, though it was looking somewhat muddy as he mooched along the shore in his galoshes
Michael asked if he could visit the seafood shop Ray runs with his wife of 42 years, Pat. ‘I’d be chuffed as owt,’ Ray replied.
Donning an apron, our bold seaside explorer had a go at shelling the crustaceans before tasting a few, potted in butter and herbs according to Ray’s secret recipe.
A consummate foodie, Michael could barely speak for a few moments. He rolled his eyes in a blissed-out silence.
Ray supplied the commentary: ‘Flippin’ lovely, rich but good.’
It’s a pity he wasn’t doing the shellfish on This Morning earlier this week, for stand-in presenters Dermot O’Leary and Alison Hammond.
They sampled a prawn and pasta stew that was so overspiced, Alison also lost the power of speech — and there was nothing blissful about it.
Vamp-phibian of the night: With its pinsharp CGI animation and incredibly lifelike dinosaurs, Prehistoric Planet (Apple TV+) continues to amaze.
How incredible to realise that beelzebufo, the ‘devil toad’ with serrated teeth, was a real creature 66 million years ago.
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