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Comedian Jenny Eclair hosts a new C4 art show where contestants dare to bare!

Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off.
Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Comedian and author, Jenny Eclair tells us there will be paints, posing and plenty of creative talent on display when five amateur artists test their skills against the clock and also dare to bare!

Jenny is hosting the new weekday afternoon show in which five amateurs have an hour to create life drawings for a cash prize.

"The twist in the tail is that each of the artists takes it in turn to be the life model for the others, which means stripping off and getting into a suitably glorious pose with some strategically placed props," explains Jenny.

Assisting in the studio will be artist and curator, Diana Ali, who is on hand to offer tips and advice to the contestants.

At the end of each week the artists make a secret vote on which portrait they like best and the winner walks away with £1000.

Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off

A drawing in action. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Here Jenny Eclair tells us more about Drawers Off.

What do you like about the show?

"The spinning of the easels, when I turn around the easels and we see the four finished portraits all lined up. For me the most telling moment is watching the life model react to how the others have depicted them. On the very first day they have no idea of everyone’s styles, or levels of ability so it can be very emotional. 

"There are some, ‘Oh, I hope I don’t look like that,’ moments and there have also been some tears. There was a touching moment when one of our male artists burst into tears because someone had captured on paper something that he’d never seen of himself before but that he recognised."

Are you hoping Drawers Off will inspire people to have a go themselves?

"Definitely. I think the art I do myself is basically a plea to people who think they can’t paint, to try and to encourage the amateurs. Even if you can’t do life-drawing at home, there’s always something  lying around you can paint. You can do fabulous still life pictures of pretty much anything in your fridge! And if you’ve got an IPad you can learn how to do all sorts of creative stuff on that."

Have you found art something therapeutic to do in lockdown?

"I’m a painter in the very loosest sense of the word, but yes, I do use it as a therapy and to stop my brain spinning off into very dark places. I do lessons online at the Norfolk Painting School where you can do some classes for £2.50. It takes you away from the current situation and you become part of a community out there, doing the same thing."

Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off

Who can do the best sketch? (Image credit: Channel 4)

You’ve worked as a life-model yourself in the past haven’t you?

"Yes, when I was about 19 and 20 and a drama student in Manchester and then also when I came to Camberwell, (South London), in 1982. It coincided with my stand-up days when I was actually a punk poet. I would perform poetry at night and do life —modelling by day. I liked the modelling because I was very lazy and usually made sure I was sitting down."

Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off

Eye for detail. (Image credit: Channel 4)

You have no qualms about stripping off yourself then?

"No, I was in play in the 90s in the West End where I had to strip off and that was full nudity and in my poster for my last stand up tour, How To Be A Middle Aged Woman — the poster was me in my bra and pants.  I think I was about 56 when that was taken and the only outrage about that was the fact that my and pants didn’t match. People got very upset about that!"

Jenny Eclair hosts new Channel 4 art competition show Drawers Off

'There’s a lot of careful draping, no-one is doing any exposing,' says Jenny. (Image credit: Channel 4)

Did you have to coax on encourage contestants in the show to dare to bare?

"No, before you sign up for a show like this it’s all explained down to the last degree what’s expected of you because the last thing anyone wants is any discomfort during filming. This is an afternoon TV show so there’s a lot of careful draping, no-one is doing any exposing! I think women, particularly in their 50s and 60s can feel self conscious, so a big part of the show is making sure everyone feels rather glorious in their pose."

Drawers Off starts Monday March 1 at 5.30pm on Channel 4.