Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker is back

Wednesday: Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker - (Channel 4, 8pm)

The educational benefits of television have been well known for years.

Anyone of a certain age will remember the thrill of watching the telly being wheeled out in the classroom, knowing half an hour of Something Interesting was about to follow.

It’s a tradition that has continued down the decades, reaching arguably its finest iteration with programmes showcasing the skills behind tailoring, pottery making, baking and, in this show, woodworking.

Judge Tom Dyckhoff, host Mel Giedroyc and judge Sophie Sellu

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Some may think it odd in the digital, technology-heavy age that millions of viewers aren’t just entertained and educated by these programmes, they’re comforted.

Not so long ago, the public was up in arms about changes to GBBO as it made the leap to Channel 4. Its successful transplantation – who isn’t already hooked to series 13? – directly paved the way for this glorious creation.

According to Plimsoll Productions, which is behind Handmade: Britain’s Best Woodworker, the first run attracted the highest audience for a prime-time Channel 4 launch in over four years. Even more astonishingly, a third series was commissioned at the same time as series two – a rare move, according to those in the know.

If you’re a newcomer this time around, the programme is set in a woodshed crammed to the brim with tools so fine Harrison Ford would never have thought twice about becoming an actor.

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Into this sedate, rural atmosphere come 10 of the country’s top enthusiasts, who will battle it out for the coveted title of Britain’s Best Woodworker. To stay in the running, they must impress the judges taking over from series one’s Helen Welch and Alex De Rijke: entrepreneur and woodworking expert Sophie Sellu, and design academic Tom Dyckhoff.

Luckily, the participants also have the calming, gently comic presence of former GBBO co-host Mel Giedroyc in their corner, pulling double duty as presenter and resident consoler-in-chief.

She says: “Watching people work with wood, which is natural and earthy, will speak to people. There’s something very addictive about the method and the simplicity of it, it’s amazing. They are proper artists.”

She will oversee proceedings as the competition proper kicks off and the 10 hopefuls have just two days to saw, turn and sand their way to a dining table inspired by a country of their choice.

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The pressure is on to create something that is not only both strong and beautiful, but will impress the judges enough to keep them safe from elimination.

The woodworkers also have the chance of another lifeline: the winner of the skills challenge is guaranteed survival if their veneer panelling cuts the mustard.

As for the chances of Mel lending a helping hand? Maybe it’s as well if she doesn’t… “I’m quite handy at holding a ladder up for someone else to ascend,” she says.

“Quite a lot of time in my youth was spent moving scenery in theatres. But when it comes to constructing anything, I’m not so good.

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“I’m a good helper, I’m always happy to help, to hold something and be there in a trusty pair of dungarees.”

Maybe she needs some lessons?