As well as being one half of iconic comedy double act Reeves and Mortimer, the multi-talented Jim Moir is also a gifted artist who, among his many other activities, has published art books, staged his own exhibitions and even created illuminations for York’s historic buildings.
His latest project sees him presiding over new Sky Arts series The Prince’s Master Crafters, in which top amateur craftspeople try their hand at a range of traditional crafting challenges such as blacksmithing, wood and stone carving, stained glass and weaving.
After honing their skills, the contestants will each create a showcase piece to present to Prince Charles, whose Prince’s Foundation aims to preserve heritage crafts that are in danger of dying out.
We caught up with crafty devil Jim to find out more...
Who’s taking part in the competition?
"There are six young ‘students’ who are all experts in their own particular heritage crafts – such as stone carving, wood carving, stain glass painting, plastering, weaving and iron work – and they all try their hand at each craft."
Why is it important to revive interest in heritage crafts?
"More and more we’re turning into a manufactured world, so it’s important to go back to heritage crafts. A lot of them are seriously endangered, and if there’s no one to teach someone else how to do them, they will completely vanish. We think about endangered species, but these are endangered skills!"
Do they have a place in society today?
"All art and the crafts matter, whether they are functional or not. I think everyone would rather have something that is handmade, like handmade crockery. And if you’ve made it yourself, that’s even better!"
You’re a painter. What does creating art mean to you?
"I always feel really good if I’ve created or made something. I see people playing video games and I think: ‘What have you done, at the end of the day?’ I’ve always liked painting so that’s what I do now – it’s my main job!"
Where does your artistic talent come from?
"I was brought up in a very artistic family. My mum was a painter, and she still paints aged 95. My dad was a wood carver and he’d make bowls, pendants, things like that, and my mum would paint them and sell them at craft fairs. So I was always surrounded by amateurs doing crafts."
Did you enjoy watching the crafters and tutors in action?
"I got engrossed in what they were doing. There used to be a TV programme called The Potter’s Wheel, which was essentially a man who sat there making a pot. It’s that kind of thing – watching someone doing something well."
Why isn’t there a winner at the end of the series?
"Everything is a competition nowadays, and I’m really glad that this isn’t. But there was some friendly rivalry, and we did award a special prize every week, which was fun."
You visit some heritage sites during the series. What were the highlights?
"Yes, every week I go off and have a look at something relating to the craft featured in that episode. I went to Westminster Abbey, and there are some good shots of me creeping along the roof like a cat burglar!
"We also did weaving in Edinburgh, where I met one of the last remaining women who hand stitch kilts. I got one made in the Moir tartan, and it weighs a tonne!"
Do we need more shows like Master Crafters?
"Yes! Bake Off is popular because people like to see other people making things. I think we need more arts shows and a wider variety of arts and crafts programming!"
Where can I watch The Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation?
The Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation is on Sky Arts and NOW TV from Wednesday, May 18 at 8pm.
Ian writes about TV and film for TV Times, What’s on TV and TV & Satellite Week magazines. He co-hosts the weekly TV streaming podcast, Bingewatch.
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