From the production team behind The Great British Bake Off comes reality TV’s latest obsession, The Great Pottery Throw Down. The competition to determine top potter is both soothing and surprisingly sensual -- and has an unexpected connection to Prince Harry.
While fans of its baking predecessor will have no problem settling into the weekly competition to watch amateur potters vying to make it to the end, royal fans may be interested in one contestant named Flea.
Appearing in season 3, the model turned mom was once romantically linked to Prince Harry in 2011 and was even dubbed by Tatler magazine as “the one that got away.” Now, Flea, whose full name is Florence Brudenell-Bruce, is married to Henry Edward Hugh St George and turned to ceramics after reportedly experiencing postpartum depression.
While we won’t spoil how far she makes it in her season, we will say that some of the challenges she faced on the series are among the show's recurring favorites and have notoriously made head judge Keith Brymer Jones cry.
Each season, 10 to 12 contestants vie for the unofficial title of top potter and a custom ceramic trophy via weekly competitions designed to eliminate the weakest skilled or least creative of the bunch.
Some of the recurring challenges include working with porcelain, sculpting a free-standing creation, from working fountains to ornate toilets, and facing the fiery Japanese style of pottery known as Raku. In between main makes, the potters also have to compete in blind showdowns (where the judges do not know who makes what) and wheel-based speed throws, with clay often going flying in unexpected directions.
While it’s often soothing to watch the contestants focus on building their ceramic creations, especially on the wheel, the show also embraces its sensual -- or suggestive -- side, which is sometimes hard to escape when describing the skills and techniques that go into each competition.
No, Patrick Swayze does not appear in ghost form to guide Demi Moore along, but the contestants do have to do things like “pulling” in order to make long suggestive forms of clay, deliver perfect rim jobs or “slap” their many balls (of clay) until ready for hand molding. And at one point, they are faced with their most tantalizing and giggle-filled challenge yet -- hand sculpting figurines based on nude models.
The Host and Judges
As previously mentioned, esteemed British potter and ceramic designer Keith is the head judge of the competition. He is known for his tears like Paul Hollywood is known for his handshakes. Unlike Paul’s physical affirmation, which he used to rarely hand out to contestants on episodes of TGBBO, Keith is a bit more susceptible to crying, whether it’s a contestant overcoming the odds or others failing to live up to their potential.
Judging alongside him is ceramic artist Kate Malone, whose work has appeared in various renown museums and art exhibitions, in seasons 1 and 2. She offers a nice, steady emotional balance to Keith. However, she’s replaced in season 3 by homeware designer Sue Pryke, who echoes Prue Leith on the more recent seasons of TGBBO.
The competition, meanwhile, is hosted by English broadcaster Sara Cox in seasons 1 and 2 and then by media personality Melanie Sykes in season 3.
All of them bring a set of unexpected skills in all things pottery, from mastering the wheel to intricate illustrations to the ability to sculpt lifelike figures. Though, who falls fast and who survives until the end is always a surprise in each season.