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'Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker' host Mel Giedroyc - "The show's vibe is so strong"

Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker
Mel Giedroyc wants to find out who's good with wood (Image credit: Channel 4)

Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker will see Mel Giedroyc dusting off her drill and sharpening her saw in a new show billed as the artisans answer to The Great British Bake Off!

The six-part series will see nine wood enthusiasts carving, whittling and building their way through a series of rounds, in a bid to impress esteemed carpentry judges Helen Welch and Alex Di Rijke, before one is crowned Britain’s Best Woodworker.

Each episode will centre around a ‘Big Build’ with the contestants given two days to create a bed in this week’s first episode, yet they will also be asked to complete a smaller ‘Skills Test’, which will secure the winner immunity from being sent home. After shaking the sawdust out of her hair, Mel, 53, told us all about it… 

Mel on why she wanted to host 'Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker'... 

"I just loved the whole idea of it and said yes straight away! I love the idea of bringing a craft to telly that maybe hasn't really ever been seen in this way before and the show just felt very different. Yes, it’s a competition show - and there are a few of them about - but this just had the vibe, the vibe was strong!" 

Mel on making 'Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker'

"It was so much fun. We made it in 2020 after the first lockdown and were obviously all quarantined together, there was 60 of us in this big bubble. We were based in Wales as the whole rest of the country was locking down around us, which felt surreal. 

"We also filmed in this gorgeous woodland and I don't want to be pretentious about it, but the natural surroundings that we were amazing. This beautiful old woodland, this river running through it. It was extraordinary. Who knows if we'll get to make another series and under what circumstances, but I don't think it'll ever be quite like that."

Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker

The contestants face a 'Big Build' and a 'Skills Test' every week (Image credit: Channel 4)

Mel on the contestants...

"I thought the woodworkers would be a real classic bunch and they blooming well were! They were all just really cool and down to Earth. Maybe it’s something to do with working with a natural thing like wood? I don't know. But they were pleasantly un-bedazzled by the whole TV thing.

"I think they were more excited about the tools in the workshop, all the incredible timber and meeting a community of woodworkers. I don’t think any of the contestants have a complete skill set, but they all have something to bring to the table and there’s always a dark horse on shows like this!"

Mel on the challenges the woodworkers will be facing... 

"I think one of my favourites was the animal sculpture challenge! A lot of chainsaws suddenly appeared and the scale was very dramatic. But then there's a miniature house week as well, which was amazing. They went from building very large projects to tiny intricate ones at the drop of a hat and I was really impressed by what they managed to do in that short space of time. 

"With Bake Off, everyone knows roughly how long it takes to make a cake, but with this we were going into a world of the unknown. We filmed all the episodes back to back as well, so by the end the three finalists were knackered!"

Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker

In the first episode the woodworkers have two days to build a double bed (Image credit: Channel 4)

Mel on the 'Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker' final...

"We had three, three finalists and I'm just gonna say that their skills were taken to the absolute brink. It was a big, big challenge, but it really full on. With Bake Off, we'd film over the weekend and the bakers would have the week to decompress, but due to lockdown time constraints we had to film all the episodes back-to-back, so by the final they were knackered. The guys that make it through are the ones with real stamina, real stamina, physical stamina and mental stamina. Oh, man, I couldn't do it!" 

Mel on the show's judges, Helen Welch and Alex Di Rijke...

"They're both brilliant! Helen runs the London School of Furniture Making. She's obsessed with technique and how things fit together and she's remarkable, actually, Helen, wonderful, wonderful person. And then Alex comes from the architecture side. He’s obsessed with wood. He says wood has a soul and now I kind of know what he means." 

Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker

Helen Welch and Alex Di Rijke will be judging the carpenter's efforts (Image credit: Channel 4)

Mel on stealing the woodworkers' creations...

"I could have taken so many of their creations home, I'm awful like that and it was the same on Bake Off. Sue and I were constantly grabbing stuff at the end of each episode, like awful jumble sale women. But I learned on Bake Off that you have to respect the creator and the creation, so I resisted that urge." 

"They made double beds in this week’s first episode and I would happily sleep in Joe’s bed - although I don’t mean that in the way it sounds! It had this sort of 1960s, cable car, futuristic vibe." 

Mel on Sue Perkins' starring role on The Masked Dancer...

"I got the shock of my life when I found out she was on The Masked Singer earlier this year, but I was so proud that she did it, because she’s always had an amazing voice! She had to sign so many NDA agreements, so even I had no idea she was going to be on there and I wasn't watching when she revealed herself. I felt like an idiot!"