The Great Pottery Throw Down



Sara Cox (2015-17)

Melanie Sykes (2020)

Siobhán McSweeney (2021-)

Ellie Taylor (stand-in for 7 episodes, 2022)


Keith Brymer-Jones (all series)
Kate Malone (2015-17)
Sue Pryke (2020)
Richard Miller (2021-)

Kiln technician:
Richard Miller (2015-20)
Rose Schmits (2021-)


Love Productions for BBC Two, 3 November 2015 to 23 March 2017 (14 episodes in 2 series)

Love Productions for More4, 8 January to 11 March 2020 (10 episodes in 1 series)

Love Productions for Channel 4, 10 January 2021 to present


Following the success of The Great British Bake Off, and shows about baking, sewing, hairdressing, gardening, and many many more, the latest traditional craft to get a competitive series is pottery.

Clay sculptors are tested on various competencies. Across the series there is a balance between "art" pottery and more practical applications. Perhaps the most dreaded challenges are the ones where the finished product has to hold or channel water - all the more so when it's something that has to be plumbed in, such as a washbasin, garden water feature or, in one particularly memorable make, a flushing toilet.

The assembled cast of series 2

Each episode features one main make, and while the potters are waiting for their work to dry there are two other rounds, either or both of which may feature in any given episode (though since changing channels it's been strictly one a week): the throw down which involves making something on the potter's wheel (often several of the same thing within a time limit) and the spot test in which the contestants are given something already made to decorate or otherwise embellish.

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Main series

2015 Matthew Wilcock
2017 Ryan Barrett
2020 Rosa Wiland Holmes
2021 Jodie Neale
2022 AJ Simpson
2023 Loïs Gunn
2024 Donna Bloye

The Festive Pottery Throwdown (celebrity specials)

2022 James Fleet
2023 Hugh Dennis


This is a list of celebrity participants who have taken part in the Christmas specials, which were called The Festive Pottery Throwdown



Key moments

Judge Keith Brymer-Jones getting tearful at a particularly good make. To the extent that it's become this show's equivalent of GBBO's "Hollywood handshake" and over the years a number of contestants have mentioned a specific ambition to make him cry.

Christine's "Strength" sculpture in the 2022 quarter-final, representing her recovery from breast cancer. Keith was definitely not the only person shedding a tear that time.

Brymer-Jones's 'Bucket of Doom', which he regularly brings out after the Throw Down challenge. Whenever the task is to make a number of small items, the great man ruthlessly throws any substandard attempts into said bucket.

Theme music

The original opening theme was "I Can't Explain" by The Who, replaced for series 2 and beyond with "Making Time" by The Creation. Even though the song is literally about working in a clock factory, it surprisingly didn't get a fuller play when the challenge was actually making a clock - so somebody missed a trick there!

The show also has an original score by Bake Off composer Tom Howe (latterly credited as Tom Tideway), which is more prominent since the channel-hop. Previously it had been mostly sidelined in favour of various 60s and 70s rock songs (still used to a lesser extent in the More4/C4 version) and tracks from the album Acid Brass by the Williams-Fairey Brass Band.


During series 2, Johnny Vegas appeared as a guest judge for a "throw down", challenging the contestants to make five teapots in five minutes. Also making a guest appearance in that series was former Dancing on Ice pro skater Sylvain Longchambon, who modelled for the spot test in the final.

After a few years lost in television history, Throw Down followed another of Love Productions' shows, The Great British Bake Off, to Channel 4. Episodes premiered on More4 on Wednesday nights, repeated on Channel 4 the following weekend.

The Great Pottery Throwdown

The fourth series, filmed during the Covid-19 pandemic, housed the contestants and crew together in a biosecure "bubble", but still succumbed to an unplanned suspension of filming during episode 4. As acknowledged on screen, a week separated the judging from the judges' chat and announcement of the results - and as a direct result of this, they decided not to make an elimination that week.

Siobhán McSweeney was absent for part of the fifth series after breaking her leg. The first seven episodes had Ellie Taylor stand in as host, with McSweeney returning halfway through the seventh to co-host with Taylor before resuming her solo posting for the last three.

Web links

BBC programme page

Channel 4 programme page

Channel 4 programme page (Christmas specials)

Wikipedia entry

See also

The Great British Bake Off

The Great British Sewing Bee

The Piano


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