The appeal of The Great British Bake-Off isn’t hard to understand: contestants who like each other, judges with quirks, hosts with quintessentially British humor and a low-stakes competition where the prize is, well, nothing. The show was a runaway hit in the U.S., mostly because it was so nice.
Good news, friends: There’s another British competition show for you to binge. It’s called The Great Pottery Throw Down, and it’s exactly like GBBO but with ceramics. Here’s everything to know about the new (well, new to the U.S.) series, plus why it’s a must-watch.
What is The Great Pottery Throw Down?
First airing on the BBC in 2015, The Great Pottery Throw Down is now streaming on HBO MAX in its entirety. That means three seasons of 24 one-hour episodes, or one full day of television if you’re seriously dedicated.
The format is exactly like Bake-Off: a supportive and funny host; two judges, each with a distinct personality; a room full of contestants who miraculously get along with each other; and three challenges per episode to showcase their pottery skills. Each episode includes one large challenge, with two smaller challenges sprinkled in-between (both to keep things interesting and allow for drying and firing time for the larger projects). A contestant is eliminated each episode until Britain’s best home potter is chosen. The prize? The satisfaction of winning, nothing more and nothing less.
Why should you watch it?
If you like Bake-Off, you’ll love Throw Down. If you’ve never seen Bake-Off, you’ll still love it. And no, you don’t have to know anything about pottery to enjoy this show.
The judges do an excellent job of explaining the ins and outs of what makes a particular technique difficult, or what characteristics define a top-notch pot (or vase, plate or pitcher). There’s Kate Malone, a studio potter who is slightly intimidating and a real stickler for detail, and Keith Brymer Jones, a one-time punk musician turned renowned ceramicist who seems tough on the outside but is actually a real softy (he has a tendency to cry tears of joy at least once an episode).
The overall vibe is good-hearted, but there’s no lack of suspense. Instead of the risk of an over-proofed loaf of bread, there’s the chance that a contestant’s work could explode in the firing kiln. Friendly kiln-keeper Rich is responsible for firing all the pieces, and you’ll hold your breath each episode as he gently breaks the news that a hand-coiled water feature has been blasted to smithereens in a 1,000-degree oven. (Rest easy, though, because when this does happen, there are plenty of supportive hugs to go around.)
Let’s not forget the ASMR factor. If you’ve ever gotten sucked into watching hours of pottery videos on your Instagram explore page, you’ll understand the soothing, mesmerizing nature of the craft. They make it look easy, but we know it’s not.
Oh, and as far as we’re concerned, there’s no better time than right now to binge-watch a series where the stakes are extremely low and everyone gets along. It’s escapism at its finest.
Where can you watch it?
As of September 17, all three seasons of The Great Pottery Throw Down are available to stream on HBO MAX. And while the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately halted production, there is a fourth season in the works.
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