The Great Pottery Throw Down is a British reality series about contestants who throw pottery. It requires something of me: an apology. For all the times I made fun of reality shows and laughed because people were interested in chefs, or bakers, or singers, or bachelors – I apologize. I’m now hooked on an HBO Max reality series about pottery.
I realized from watching The Great Pottery Throw Down that reality shows weren’t my problem. I simply don’t care about chefs or bakers or singers or bachelors. But I do care about throwing pots. (You should see my house.)
This series puts 10 ordinary potters together in Stoke-on-Trent, the home of pottery, in a tough competition for Top Potter. There have been 3 series of the show, but I’m only reporting on series 1 in this review.
Two master potters, Keith Brymer Jones and Kate Olivia Malone were the judges in series 1. Sara Cox did the hosting duties.
The contestants were given tasks such as making 10 pots exactly alike, making huge garden installations, bathroom basins, plates, nesting bowls, and making bone china chandeliers. Many of the things they were tasked to do were things they’d never done before. They could rely on their knowledge of clay and glaze, but they had to really stretch and be creative.
I hung on every word about kneading the clay, mixing the glaze, measuring during the throwing process. I loved the episode on raku firing. I ate it up and rooted for my favorite contestants with all the fervor I had seen others devote to picking the best chef or the perfect wife for the bachelor.
Experts in various aspects of pottery making gave brief interviews explaining bits of pottery info such as how oxides work, the history of kilns, and kinds of clay. We also saw each of the 10 potters in their home studio a bit, and saw some of their normal work.
I loved the way the judge Keith Brymer Jones teared up when someone did something really impressive. I’ve been a teacher/educator all my life, and I understand the emotion of seeing a brilliant flash in someone. I can also get all touchy-feely over a well made pot.
Have a look at the trailer.
Have you seen any of these pottery throw downs? I’d love to hear what other pottery buffs thought about this series.