Don’t miss, The Repair Shop Jubilee Special
Wednesday: The Repair Shop Jubilee Special - (BBC One, 8pm)
It’s been another amazing few months for the Repair Shop team.
A few weeks ago, the show returned for a new series in its prime time Wednesday evening slot for a run that metalwork expert Dominic Chinea describes as “the best yet”.
It was also lampooned during Comic Relief by French and Saunders – a mark of its success and popularity if ever there was one – in a sketch that also featured Judi Dench and her daughter Finty Williams.
Host Jay Blades, meanwhile, learned to read during a special TV documentary. His efforts to tell his daughter a story moved many and inspired others to overcome their own fears about literacy.
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He’s fronted The Repair Shop since it began in 2017, and claims he never expected it to become “so big”. However, he knew there was something special about it because it combines so many skilled craftspeople under one roof. During the past five years, he’s seen many damaged or broken objects pass through their hands, lovingly restored to their former glory.
However, he can’t pick the one that’s moved him the most because that would be “like picking your favourite child”.
He adds: “All of them are really special, all the individuals that bring an item in, all the items are dear to them and all the memories are so unique that you could never pick one.”
Blades is a skilled furniture restorer in his own right, and his efforts to promote handicrafts led to him being awarded an MBE earlier this year.
“It’s all about sustainability, it’s all about teaching the next generation as to what they should be doing and what they can do, because some people think craft isn’t accessible to them,” he says of the discipline.
“I want craft to be accessible to everybody, from the poor side of town to the rich side of town, so everybody can access it.”
It’s a topic he apparently discussed with Prince Charles when he received his award; the heir to the throne is well known for his passion for the subject, which is why he’s set to feature in The Prince’s Master Crafters: The Next Generation, a Sky Arts competition hosted by Jim Moir in which young enthusiasts vie for the chance to present the Prince of Wales with an object they’ve made.
There’s a distinctly royal flavour to the latest episode of The Repair Shop too. As ever, the experts tackle four items, but this time they’re all linked to the monarchy or the Queen’s forebears in some way.
First into the barn is a woman whose late father was a Pearly King. At the time of his death, he was working on a suit for her son, but didn’t get a chance to finish it. She’s hoping the Bear Ladies – Julie Tatchell and Amanda Middleditch – can complete it instead.
Then, a lantern steeped in tradition – it’s still in use every day at the Tower of London – arrives in need of some TLC. After that it’s the turn of a hand-painted plate made to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee in 1887. Last but not least, a tandem made by welding two ordinary bikes together in 1977, the year of the current monarch’s silver jubilee, requires attention.