Why we HAVE to make the Great British Sewing Bee a success…

I doubt it would have escaped your attention if you live in the UK (and have any interest in sewing), that BBC launched the much anticipated Great British Sewing Bee on Tuesday night. I pictured every single sewing blogger I know hunkered down on the sofa in their pj’s, glued to their screens. Alot of us screaming “I know her!!” when Tilly popped onto our screens! This quote from a Radio Times article is just brilliant..

“If there was anyone cooler, or hotter, on TV this week than Tilly, her bedroom clothes rail stuffed with spankingly cute dresses she’d designed and executed herself, I didn’t see them.”

Go Tilly!

And boy did it make a very respectable dent in the ratings. Debuting at 2.6 million viewers! (That’s more than Bake Off debuted with back in the day!)

Now this is not a post that’s going to blather on about how amazing the show is. In fact if I’m honest, there were elements of the show that didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Let me very quickly balance that by saying there were some great elements too! (Not least the hottie factor that is Patrick Grant!).

The point I would like to make is this. How good this show actually is, is largely irrelevant.  What the BBC are doing here, is tentatively testing the water. Gauging public interest in sewing whilst housing it in a safe, tried and tested formula.  It’s a short series. Only 4 episodes. But what it represents is an opportunity to open the door to more sewing and craft related programming in the future. If this show is a ratings winner, they’ll want to do more; and so will every other major TV channel.

I was talking about GBSB (and some other proposals for similar shows) to one of the exec producers of the TV production company I’ve been working with. It really is as simple as this, and I quote

  “If sewing bee tails off it will be difficult to get anything else away, if it doesn’t there might be a chance” 

So essentially, unless The Great British Sewing Bee can maintain or build on that audience share; the odds of us seeing any more related programming in our schedules, are very much reduced.  In my limited experience of dealing with TV peops, it has been very apparent to me that TV networks are very risk averse. They want something tried and tested. Something that they know already is a ratings winner. (That’s why we keep seeing rehashed versions of the same show formats over and over again. That’s why they’ve housed sewing content in a competition format that’s been used time and time again).

I for one, (as you may recall from this post!) would like to see much more sewing and craft related programming on the TV; and judging from your responses to that post, most of you would too.

So really this is a call to arms, in support of The Great British Sewing Bee.  It’s as simple as this…..WATCH IT!  Watch it several times again on iPlayer, get your friends to watch it, get your family to watch it, and then get them to watch it all over again. Watch every single episode, and preferably at the time that it is on. Blog it, tweet it, facebook it.  If it’s not your PERFECT incarnation of a sewing show, no matter! It’s the first sewing show in YEARS; and if you and I can make it a success…..then hopefully it will be the first of many!

So, Tuesday nights, 8pm….be there! OK? (For non UK residents I THINK you can find it on You Tube)

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  1. Marie April 7, 2013

    Here, here Portia! I agree with every word you’ve said and I’m certainly doing my bit to get it on people’s radar for the very same reasons as you! In fact, I’m actually surprised at how many of my non-sewing colleagues watched it purely because they know I sew!

  2. Done and done!! Already watched it 3 times 🙂 hehe

  3. MrsC (Maryanne) April 7, 2013

    So true, Portia! I m pitching to my producers too that if it is a hit, there will be an overnight demand for extant hows about sewing. Heaven forbid we should get as tired of sewing shows as we are of cooking ones!

  4. alethia April 7, 2013

    Thanks to Diary of a Sewing Fanatic’s Blog I became aware of the show.I love the show, I’ve watched it on You tube 3 times yesterday and I just prepared a cup of coffee and I will be watching it again on you tube. I really hope the show’s ratings continue to improve.

  5. Sew on Trend April 7, 2013

    I’m definitely of the same opinion as you, Portia! I really like the aspect of the show, that they represent home sewers and not just young designers. Ann is such an idol and the cast is great and so diverse. In Germany we had a similar show, which was a copy of Project Runway. But I’d say that none of the designer had the skills and spirit of Ann, Sandra or Tilly.

  6. Jacq C April 7, 2013

    Oh, I wholeheartedly agree. Some people from work watched because they know I sew and my brother just emailed to say he’d watched it on iPlayer – he sent me a list of queries and comments on the format so he was obviously paying attention! I think there are several things that could be improved but it’s sewing and it’s on the telly – that’s a good start 🙂

  7. charlotte April 7, 2013

    wasn’t it wonderful!

  8. Sabs April 7, 2013

    Hear, hear! I’ve blogged about it for the same reasons. Let’s hope this kickstarts a whole host of sewing goodies on the telly!

  9. Stevie April 7, 2013

    Thats exactly how I feel Portia! I kept my blogpost positive to encourage others. I wasn’t 100% happy about the shabby looking workroom but I would love there to be more sewing on TV. Lets make this happen! x

  10. Sewing Princess April 7, 2013

    I am watching it again on youtube! so they see people not in the UK are also interested…and eventaully put it on iplayer for all

  11. Jacq C April 7, 2013

    Hi Portia, just a quick note. I nominated you for The One Lovely Blog Award/Very Inspiring Blogger Award. My apologies if you’ve received it before, but yours is one of my very favourite blogs and I wanted to reflect that on my list. Happy Sunday. Jacq x

  12. didyoumakethat April 7, 2013

    I agree with Jacq – it’s sewing and it’s on the telly, that’s a good start. I could have done without a cold-looking, sterile building but, you know… I think all the contestants are bravely putting themselves out there in an experiment, making themselves open to support but vulnerable to criticism. A totally brave decision. I would have been a mess!

  13. Karin April 7, 2013

    Agree completely. Will watch sewing no matter what. Would prefer it more in depth and don’t see the point in it being a competition.
    Do all digital TVs report back viewing figures? I thought it was only homes with special boxes. Perhaps that is so 1980s!

  14. Jo Ashcroft April 7, 2013

    I’m in NZ but was told about the show by countless friends and family back in the UK. So I have spread the word here and in the US. Hopefully the producers will check the Youtube numbers and not just delete the video ‘due to copyright issues’- we can’t get iplayer out here. I loved the show for all its little niggles and I know my US friends vastly prefered it to project runway! Good ole BBC!

  15. Tilly April 7, 2013

    Portia!!! You have made my day. I’ve been avoiding reading stuff about the show, since as great as the response has been on the whole a few people are getting a bit mean and personal (ouch), but I’m so flattered by that Radio Times piece! Particularly because of the preceding sentence – “We were told that GBSB reflected sewing coming back into fashion, but the participants were full of the sort of fierce self-sufficiency that wouldn’t give a bugger if sewing were still seen as laughably eccentric.” YES! I think that’s so true of the entire sewing blogosphere – we couldn’t care less if sewing is cool or not, we just love making stuff ourselves. 🙂 xx

  16. tialys April 7, 2013

    I was delighted when I saw there was to be a sewing based show on T.V. -introduced without much fanfare – and I wasn’t disappointed. Despite the fact she has seen me sewing for years, my daughter has suddenly been inspired and wants to make a skirt with me. That must be a good thing, right? Hoorah for the B.B.C.

  17. Reana Louise April 8, 2013

    I just watched it on youtube (I’m in Australia) and I love your points! Yes there are some things I would like to do differently, but I still love some sewing on tv!

  18. Mrs.Bao 包 April 8, 2013

    I saw it on Youtube! (watching from Taiwan). I’m really really hoping that the coming episodes will find it’s way to Youtube as well. 🙂

  19. midsummermellie April 8, 2013

    Horrified when I nipped into my local John Lewis to find that the sewing section has been more than halved with all sew/knit/craft now squashed into one area that was once dedicated to sewing – has this happened in other branches? Poor frustrated assistant really peeved she had never been so busy this week and had sold every A line skirt pattern in stock all thanks to GBSB. It looks like another campaign to save our sewing supply shops on the cards as I’m really struggling to find decent fabric and I live in a City. I remember when JL had a whole floor of fabrics and notions yet year by year it drops it range. OK it is bit on the pricey side but they are making a big mistake and yes there is always online but there is nothing better than actually feeling the fabric through your fingers to test for weight and drape. We need to keep sewing and demanding and maybe even the independents might get back on the high street. Well done GBSB.

  20. Claire Cooper April 8, 2013

    i love the sewing bee, more please!

  21. craftmyescape April 8, 2013

    Oh, I loved it and its got me doing my own mini sewing challenge!

  22. Jenny April 8, 2013

    I was so excited when I realized I could watch it on youtube (I’m in Florida) and I thought it was a great show. I love that the cast is so diverse. I think it’s great that sewing is coming back – it’s really a skill that I think at least one person in each household should know.

  23. thesecretlifeofseams April 8, 2013

    Totally agree. I’m hoping those viewing figures convince other commissioning editors etc that there’s an engaged audience. And yay for Tilly and all the other talented contestants putting themselves out there and helping put sewing in the spotlight!

  24. superheidi April 8, 2013

    thank you for mentioning youtube!!!

  25. Sarah April 8, 2013

    I’m so glad they’ve finally decided to feature a sewing program on tv and I too hope it’s a success.
    I work in a craft shop that mainly sells card making supplies, but it’s surprised me how many customers who’ve came in already and started talking about the GBSB!

    Sometimes BBC4 features the odd fashion/clothing programs with sewing titbits in it that can be quite fascinating, the downside is they don’t tend to advertise it so it’s only by chance you’ll find it, lets hope GBSB changes that 🙂

  26. KL April 10, 2013

    Watched it twice on iplayer, watched episode 2 last night, blogged about it, mentioned in on Facebook. I know my aunt and SIL are both watching, and several of my friends too, and *they are non-sewists* Up the ratings, I long to see more sewing on television.

  27. Eddie's Room April 22, 2013

    Thank you Portia for bringing this to my attention. I hadn’t seen it as we are not in the UK anymore. Although in-laws should have mentioned it 😉
    Have to see if I can finder it somewhere on t’internet.
    Also, yes Tilly is amazing.


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