Joe Lycett reveals why he’s now tailor made for The Great British Sewing Bee, when it returns tonight on BBC1...
When we met comedian Joe Lycett ahead of his debut as the new host of The Great British Sewing Bee last year, he happily admitted he wasn’t tailor-made for the role.
Not only was he taking over from Strictly’s Claudia Winkleman, he’d also discovered it was his mum Helen’s favourite TV show!
Happily, following the success of the fifth series – and with no complaints from his mother – Joe, 31, couldn’t wait to be reunited with the show’s judges, Savile Row tailor Patrick Grant and fashion legend Esme Young, to do it all again….
The competition returns to our screens tonight, moving from BBC2 to a new home on BBC1.
Here we catch up with Sewing Bee star Joe – for behind-the-seams secrets…
What can viewers expect from series six of Sewing Bee?
Joe Lycett: "Myself, Patrick and Esme start gently and build up. We’ve got a couple of new themes this year, including a movie week, where the sewers have to make pieces inspired by particular films. We’re also having another ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ challenge, using lots of old bits of knitwear."
Last year you wore some incredible outfits, will you be just as eye-catching this time?
JL: "Oh yes, I’m good at throwing fabric on myself! There are some wild things, and a couple of suits – which I don’t normally wear. There’s one thing that had glitter all over it and everyone hated it because it moulted very badly. Every one of the sewers’ garments that week were covered in glitter! But my favourite outfit from this series is a really cool shirt with some mad fabric that my sister made for me. One of my favourite things about this job is choosing what I’m going to wear!"
Tell us about this year’s 12 amateur stitchers…
JL: "We’ve got a real mixed bag. There are some teachers, a paramedic, a doctor, someone who designs jewellery, a student who’s also a ballroom dancer, a youth hostel manager, a bank manager, and one who watches television for a living – which is how he saw Sewing Bee! There’s also a lung surgeon – who I consulted after I inhaled all of that glitter!"
How emotional do you find the weekly eliminations?
JL: "I hate saying goodbye to them. Particularly this year, because I love them as a gang. Watching everyone blossom and sharing this experience is really magical. There’s a lot of love in Sewing Bee."
Have your own sewing skills improved at all?
JL: "Yes, they’re so good… Actually, no, my sewing skills are terrible! I had a few masterclasses this series but I learned nothing. I enjoy watching from afar and not getting involved – it’s so complicated, isn’t it?"
While the competitors are busy working on the three challenges for each episode – working from a pattern, transforming a garment and making a piece of clothing to fit a model – how do you pass the time?
JL: "There are a lot of snacks! I’ve also taken to doing my exercise balance ball. I’ve got a dodgy knee and it strengthens the muscles. I’ve got fantastic knees now!"
Very important question: is your mum happy you’re hosting again?
JL: "Yes, the verdict from Helen is very positive! She was thrilled with it last year and has been on quite a few visits to the set. When I began presenting it, Mum was concerned I was going to turn it into a smut-fest with lots of euphemisms – but I’d say Patrick is worse than me for euphemisms! My dad, David, is now a fan of the show as well. He loves coming onto the set and has loads of opinions about the outfits!"
Have you found you’re reaching a new fan base now?
JL: "Yes, it’s a very different audience in terms of what I am used to. I’m getting stopped in the street by so many older women that I’m starting to feel like Barry Manilow! Although they usually just say, ‘That Patrick’s nice!’"
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