Make! Craft Britain (BBC4 2016) – A What I’ve Been Watching Review


In the week leading up to one of my scheduled TV reviews I’m on the look-out for new  or one -off programmes  to write about.  I can usually make up my mind quite quickly on what is going to receive my attention but this week has seen my indecision causing a number of watched programmes to languish in my Sky Planner in case they need re-viewing for reviewing (see what I did there?)

I thought I might write about “Paul O Grady’s 100 Years Of Movie Musicals” (More 4) in which there was a valiant attempt to cram a century into a hundred minutes in a format that seemed rushed and ultimately a little unsatisfying. “24 Hours In Police Custody” (Channel 4) continues its run as one of the best programmes on TV because of its jaw-dropping access and story-telling with this week’s unsavoury episode “In Plain Sight” appropriately recalling the book of the same name about Jimmy Savile as it related two disturbing tales of paedophilia in Luton.  There were also two new series worthy of consideration, “Outcast” (Fox) which was incredibly dark (not dark in the sense of the latest series of “Game Of Thrones” as in “Put a bloody light on!” dark but dark in the sense of exorcisms in small-town America starring Brit Philip Glenister) and Anthony Horowitz wrote a very promising opening episode of a fast-paced BBC1 series “New Blood” which was full of likeable performances and much potential.

However, late Thursday night, after a stressful day I viewed the one-off BBC4 showing from 9pm – “Make! Craft Britain” not the snappiest of titles but an hour of surprisingly good television.  Presented by Martha Kearney who told us were are in the midst of a huge growth in crafting and that we are keen to relearn skills that the previous generation had at their fingertips.  To prove this Martha sat with her crafting mother who had made a beautiful quilt for her some years back which was obviously such a cherished possession for them in terms of the item itself and what is said about their relationship.  From colouring books (sales of which have provided the book market as a whole with greater buoyancy) to gadgets used to produce pom-poms we are spending money on craft materials.craftbritain

Martha Kearney

I am not a crafter but my partner is- just a few feet from me as I write this there is a spread out patchwork quilt which seems to be growing alarmingly with new hexagonal pieces being added.  I attend a monthly craft group but really just to make the tea and cake but the ladies have taught me how to knit, initially for a charity item but I’ve gone on to make a bobble hat and am three-quarters of the way making one of BBCTV’s “The Clangers”  I am around craft and it is actually fascinating watching the ladies of the craft group work- the range of skills and the choices made and the satisfaction of seeing something through to completion.

A bobble hat I made earlier     This is what my clanger should look like

In “Make! Craft Britain” we visited two craft sessions with participants with a range of expertise from none at all to seasoned makers.  We alternated between a lampshade embroidery group in Lealholm in Yorkshire and a paper-cutting group on London and it was fascinating stuff.  You could sense the enthusiasm, the concentration, the decision-making and ultimately the thrill of crafting.  This would have beneficial effects on the viewer at home.  This was a one-off programme but  I could see a series here.  There’s always great feedback for the occasional “Slow TV” BBC programmes of sledges going through snow or railway journeys but I could happily watch a mixed group of people wielding a scalpel onto a piece of photocopy paper.  There was none of the frenetic rush to the fabric store and race against time of “Great British Sewing Bee” and no competitive element so no need for presenter or judges.  People just did what they were told, made their own choices and were delighted by the results.  I think we need more television like this.  The BBC needs to see the potential of this little gem of an idea and act upon it.  It would be cheap enough!  It was both relaxing and inspiring.  I slept very well after watching it.


Rightly proud of their paper-cutting!


Make! Craft Britain was shown on BBC4 on Thursday 9th June at 9pm.  It is available for catch-up on the BBC I-Player.

12 thoughts on “Make! Craft Britain (BBC4 2016) – A What I’ve Been Watching Review

  1. Shelagh Ford

    Thank you Phil! I will definitely watch this programme now. Without your review I would have missed it completely. And yes – I’ve just bought a Pom Pom maker! Best wishes, Shelagh


  2. Monika

    Great effort, the beenie hat, I am impressed. You are completely right about the home made craft. My ma is a knitter. The sweaters she made, absolutely out of this world. I tried it once, could not finish it fast enough (a winter scarf). Although I have not enjoyed the process, I was proud of myself, you wouldn’t believe how much.It is all about manual dexterity and patience. I do not possess any of them. Ian is a driver in our house. I am not a violent person, but something is brewing in my stomach. Just another chancer, a taxi driver. You would think, they should drive safely. Basically, tried to pull a fast one on us and drove unnecessarily recklessly, narrowly avoiding another smash on a front passenger side. Experienced one before xmas in 2015. Won’t go into details, enough to say, somebody’s face buried in a phone, what I cannot prove, but paying for it with an extorionate car insurance plus as a result of the other error, suspensions in a car, resembeling to Flinstone’s (non-existent).

    Watched A. Horowitz’s new fast pace series on Thurs night. Disappointed. For me personally watching tv should have been a slightly different experience. After watching this, the first episode, I was exhausted. The accompanying music was awful, some acting worse than Dev (sorry Dev) in Corrie, I can assure you I can roll my eyes better and pulling faces..Shame really, because the plot looks promising, but execution, direction, poor

    Bring on Foyle’s war anytime. I will check the Craft programme you recommended. Sheer pleasure making stuff, not having stop watch ticking seconds away!


    1. I also lack manual dexterity- but I’m getting better with the patience thing! Sorry to hear about the driving near-misses- perhaps crafting might calm you down- Perhaps one of those colouring books which are supposed to make us all calm and relaxed. I did laugh at your comments about Dev, Monika- I really quite enjoyed “New Blood” but I think I was in the mood for some light escapism when I watched it. The craft programme is worth viewing even if just to enjoy someone else’s sense of achievement!


      1. Monika

        Hi Phil,

        funny you should mentioned the colouring books. Just got one in mind, I am subscribed with the book people, reduced books, they advertised one. Just a set of pencils and I am ready.
        Looking forward to reading new reviews.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Monika

    I finally managed to watch the programme on demand. Applying different techniques on the fabrics, in order to create the lampshades was brilliant to watch. I was pleased to see men involved.The paper cutting looked more complicated, anyway (scalpel in my hands, bring on the plasters:)) it required serious thinking, not to end up with a pile of paper cuttings. The idea of the cutting initials was straight-forward and it all ended up in beautiful results. I agree with you, it should progress into at least 3 part series, with different types of stiches. knots…maybe writing into BBC would help to bring it on our screens.


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  6. Kay Carter

    I saw that craft program with the papercut ting and wondered if I could do it without needing stitches to my fingers. Love the bobble hat. I guess you’re not going into production with them though.😉 I used to knit a lot, especially when our kids were young. You’ll need to ask Wayne about the chunky sweater I made him. What put me off was an intricate patterned Aran Cardigan I made my mother, a rather large lady. I haven’t made anything for several years now, but I have a bin liner full of odds and end balls of wool. If I learned to crochet, I could make a blanket. Did you finish the clanger?


    1. Yes I did and it was very fiddly but looked okay (ish). I haven’t actually made anything since, which is not a good idea for me because if I don’t have very good “muscle memory” and if I don’t do something like that for a while I completely forget how to do it. I was going to make a cushion cover, bought the wool, but it is still in the bag from the shop. There’s only so many hours in a day, I s’pose.


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