Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker
C4 Thursdays 8.00pm
“I never feel so masculine as when I have my circular saw in my hand.” Ancient Champion told me recently. What, not when you’re playing power chords on the Gretsch Beast? That exchange speaks to the high esteem we hold wooden artisans in, despite our diminished need for them. What do we need bespoke furniture for when something more flat packable will serve a similar purpose?
Of course I love the old stuff, but more often than not, the chest of drawers I recovered from Katherine Road or the sticky bookcase found outside a Mill Hill Broadway fire station are as likely to be any old birch ply as a solid chunk of elm or something. No one is getting Calamander on the street.
Beginning this week, Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker is going to set me straight for sure. In the now classic reality game show style contestants do their thing, and in this show their thing is wood, until everyone but one is chips. We’re excited. There’s significantly more to tell, but here's an old carpenter joke we should get out of the way first… A Carpenter came around the other day… They made an amazing entrance.
Pretty applicable to Britain's Best Woodworker, where super talented people who design in wood are locked in a beautiful barn facing exacting challenges and not allowed out as their numbers are whittled down, until there’s only one left holding the hammer and saw. Presented by Mel Giedroyc, in each episode the woodworkers participate in a ‘Big Build’ creating a large and imaginative wooden structure or object, as expert judges scrutinise their designs, techniques and skills.
The judges are Helen Welch, who has been working with wood and building furniture for over 35 years. In 2013 she founded The London School of Furniture in South Tottenham, running regular courses for amateur furniture makers; And Alex Di Rijke, an architect, timber architecture advocate, educationalist and architectural photographer, who co-founded the architecture practice, dRMM, in 1995.
None of this would matter much if our designer-maker and excellent with wood friend Chantal wasn’t sashaying across the field in a native american, family heirloom poncho during the opening sequence of the Best Woodworker promo movie.
We are always amazed by Chantal’s work. So incredibly talented. Check out our interview with her here, the interview is one of the most popular OUTSIDELEFT features of all time.
Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker is a great show. And how does Chantal fare? Even if we knew we wouldn’t be telling. Tune in on Thursday to find out.
Oh… and what do you call an actor with three wooden heads? Edward Woodward.