Great British Sewing Bee host Joe Lycett says ‘soothing’ show is perfect for pandemic


Bee or not Bee? There is no question for the millions of people who make an appointment to watch one of the most unlikely successes of television.

When The Great British Sewing Bee debuted in 2013, no one could have predicted that this search for the country’s best homeworker would prove such compulsive viewing.

Yet from year to year its popularity has increased, and now the coronavirus has caused many more to discover the pleasure of sewing.

“We were blown away by the audiences,” said host Joe Lycett, 32, of the latest series which drew over 6 million viewers.

“Switching to BBC1 was a great honor and that obviously helps, but so does the pandemic. Sewing Bee really captures what people need. It can be calming and inspiring, and people fall in love with the applicants.

The Great British Sewing Bee is back after its popularity surges amid the lockdown. Host Joe Lycett (above, with Esme Young and Patrick Grant) said he was “blown away” by the ratings of series six

Even so, it’s a truly extraordinary number of people to watch the sewing. “It really is,” agrees judge Patrick Grant, 48. “But the show has always been very warm, very inclusive and very positive. We provide an hour of escape into an incredibly happy world.

Research shows sewing decreases stress and increases happiness, and sewing machines and sewing accessories sold across the UK last year as people were inspired to try.

“It’s really good for your mental health,” said Judge Esme Young, 72. “And you feel such satisfaction when you’ve done something.” Maybe GPs should prescribe the stitching. ‘Absolutely,’ she nods. “We should move to the NHS. “

And now there is new inspiration to be had with the return of Sewing Bee. The seventh series features a dozen hopefuls aged between 21 and 62, including a teacher, a former lady of the table and a beautician.

Each episode sees amateurs facing three tasks. First, they make a garment from a pattern. Then the transformative challenge sees them transforming one item into something new. Finally, they must achieve a perfect fit on a real model in the challenge of tailor-made.

The challenge of transformation always makes viewing fascinating. Abandoned festival tents have been turned into dog coats, sleeping bags into disguises, and plastic laundry bags into avant-garde items.

“We are doing one of this series with wetsuits, which are quite difficult to work with,” laughs Patrick. “And one of my favorites was denim. “

There were restrictions, of course. The set has been moved to a more spacious warehouse at Trinity Buoy Wharf in London (you may recognize it as the spot where Pierce Brosnan’s speedboat crashes into a restaurant in the Bond movie The World Is Not Enough) . There were regular tests and the candidates lived in a bubble.

Last year's winner, respiratory medicine consultant Clare (pictured), and fellow candidate Ali, a paramedic, worked on the Covid frontline

Last year’s winner, respiratory medicine consultant Clare (pictured), and fellow candidate Ali, a paramedic, worked on the Covid frontline

“They were in the same hotel, so there was a strong connection,” says Joe. “But there are strong bonds every year. I’m in WhatsApp groups for each of the three series I’ve hosted – they still create a community – and they still go there every day. But this year it was like a real family affair.

Last year’s winner, Clare, a respiratory medicine consultant, and her colleague Ali, a paramedic, have been on the front lines of Covid. Did their friends show solidarity?

“A lot,” says Joe. ‘I love them all. They are such good eggs. Clare has helped me a lot. I had Covid during the first lockdown and recovered well, then had issues in the summer. I mainly used him as a professional pulmonologist.

“I had fluid in my lungs. I have asthma and I was a little short of breath so they did all these scans and the doctor said, ‘If Covid didn’t exist I wouldn’t know how to diagnose this because your symptoms don’t match. really to everything that existed. before. “He does such weird things to bodies. But I’m fine. I’ve been healthier for a long time.

Long considered the George Clooney of the sewing room, Patrick drew a host of new social media admirers last year.

“No one asked me out,” Joe said. “It was always, ‘Can you send me Patrick’s number? I am like a conduit to join Patrick. I am his love life agent. If you want a date with Patrick, come through me.

Clothes make the man, as they say, and as the Creative Director of Tailors at Savile Row Norton & Sons, Patrick is always impeccably dressed.

“Except on a sketch of this series”, fun Patrick. “Joe turned into me and I turned into him – sparkly shoes, everything. It’s a feast for the eyes of the BBC. Be careful!’

The Great British Sewing Bee, Wednesday, 9 p.m., BBC1.


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