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Of all the skill-based competition shows, the one that hits the perfect sweet spot for me is The Great Pottery Throwdown. Though it (like The American Meat in a Flaming Pit thing that I’ve gone on about before) models itself almost to the letter on The Great British Baking Show, it has a slight advantage because the viewer can see the results in a way that they cannot taste the results of the baking contest. In a way, The Great Pottery Throwdown allows me to be a judge in a way that The Great British Baking Show does not (FYI, the Netflix glassblowing series Blown Away does this too, and I recommend that as well).

And it’s super-duper heavy on the technical aspects of all aspects of pottery-making: throwing, handbuilding, slip-casting, drying, firing, glazing. I mean: I’m practically a millimeter (sorry, millimetre) away from being able to make a tea set for twenty in my oven.

It’s been a bit of a trick in the past to hunt the show down; I caught up with it in bits and pieces via YouTube in the early days of the pandemic, not having access to any of the five hundred British-specific streaming services now available to U.S.-based viewers (Britbox! Acorn! Tally Ho! I Say! Bumbershoot! I can’t keep up). 

But here’s some exciting news! All four of its seasons (including the brand new one, filmed during the pandemic) are now available on HBO Max. And I’m delighted to tell you that I think the new season is the best yet; there’s been some host and judge and kilnmaster (or whatever it’s called) shuffling, but I think they’ve got the chemistry of all that just right now.

If you’re familiar with the show already, don’t worry—Keith the judge still cries every five seconds and you still get the Perilous Raku Challenge and the Try Not to Make a Leaky Fountain Challenge and the No One’s Fingers Fit Through Those Teacup Handles Challenge, just like in past seasons.

I did notice the absence of the usual weird Make a Toilet challenge (seriously, that’s a thing and be prepared because the judges sit on it), but we do get a delightful episode where two different contestants make a life-size bust of Dame Shirley Bassey, so that just about evens things out in the unusual department, I’d say.

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About The Author

DG Strong took up knitting in 2014. He lives in Nashville with his sister, her rat terrier and a hound dog named Opal. He has a blog of drawings and faintly ridiculous rambling called The Psychopedia—there are worse ways to spend your afternoon.

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  • Totally agree. Fabulous fun. Diverse contestants as nice to each other as on GBBS

  • 100% agree. Love the Glow make up artists series too.

    • Would love to watch this but don’t have any form of HBO. Maybe one day. Many thanks for the preview!

  • Ok, I’m convinced! I’ve been waffling on this one but I’m moving it to the top of my list. Sounds perfect for a rainy day like today.

  • Amen to Acorn and Britbox! The art and history and archaeology and dramas and comedies and mysteries … well, yes, we love British shows, period. Time Team!

  • I love this show too! The creativity just blows me away, especially given their time constraints. Perfect to knit to as well.

  • Nearly through season 2. When the second dose of vax takes hold, I’m signing up for throwing classes.

  • Couldn’t agree more. Beautifully edited. It’s the perfect combination of instruction, cooperation, and creativity to soothe and inspire. The new combination of hosts is spot on. Like others, I love Keith! I now want to visit Stoke-on-Kent when we can finally travel.
    Barbecue show–I’ve been a veg for over 40 years and yet, same. Informative enough that it’s enjoyable.
    I like Blown Away, but only watch for the creativity. I don’t think the hosts contribute much & I often disagree with their decisions. Regardless, worth watching for the incredible artwork.
    Thanks for your wonderful recommendations!

  • I’m a potter and knitter. I love this series. I’m watching the third season now. I love how everyone helps each other and the programm covers all the technique’s I learned at college. So fun.

  • Kate Malone was a judge in the early seasons. I think she’s the one in the orange overalls. I have been in her studio many times and she’s truly a love. I will look for the series now!

  • Thanks so much for your reviews. I don’t even really care what you’re reviewing–your writing is marvelous. Bumbershoot! 🙂

  • Hi from Britain. We also have the Great British Sewing Bee which is similar format to the Pottery Throwdown. New series for us starts on Wednesday but you may be able to find the previous 6 series online. Think you would enjoy it.

  • I love the Great Pottery Throwdown! I don’t enjoy most reality shows, but I make an exception for things like this and GBBO because it’s so nice to see creative folks challenging themselves, but not getting torn down by each other or judges. But bring back the elaborate clay toilet challenge for sure! Sinks are just not the same level of bonkers delight:)

    The only downside is, the show has made me want to get back into pottery myself…but there’s no clay studio near me, argh.

  • A recent Netflix find for me is the Final Plate. Yes, yet another cooking show, but the ‘flavor’ is more international. Very, very high quality cooking since all contestants are experienced chefs, some with Michelin stars. The main judges are the top chefs in the individual countries that are featured on each episode.

  • Help! I have HBO Max on Hulu but can’t find the series. Please share any tips or tricks!

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