Why is Johnny Vegas a judge on The Great Pottery Throw Down?

Wondering why the Benidorm comedian is the show’s new ceramic critic? Well, he’s actually a promising potter

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Johnny Vegas is a guest judge on this week’s The Great Pottery Throw Down. Johnny Vegas from Benidorm? Really?

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Yes, as unlikely as it might seem, Vegas makes an appearance on tonight’s show. The angry stand-up from BBC3’s Ideal will be considering the ceramics put forward in this week’s semi-final alongside regular experts Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones. Because, unknown to most, Vegas has plenty of pottery practice.

Vegas ­– real name Michael Joseph Pennington – developed an interest in ceramics at school and went on to study pottery at Middlesex University where he was taught by Malone. However, he only left with a third class degree.

“I was constantly saying ‘you’re really clever but you’re not doing anything,’” Malone said. “He ended up getting a low grade, and has been trying to get his own back on me ever since.”

However, despite disappointing at university, Vegas managed to incorporate his potter’s wheel into a furious stand-up routine, substituting water for beer.

One of his on-stage works even made it to London’s V&A: a teapot he made during a performance at the 1999 Ceramic Millennium conference in Amsterdam can be found on display in the museum. And the most impressive part? It’s one he assembled in under 60-seconds.

Don’t believe it? Well, fortunately it’s a feat Vegas repeated in 2015 for the launch of the BBC’s Get Creative campaign.

But it’s not just for show: Vegas also has a spinning pottery table at home. “Pottery is a little bit of me time,” he told the BBC. “It’s something where I can express another part of me possibly that isn’t as commercial, but I find it very therapeutic and beneficial. It’s just wonderful to be able to build something, to take a bag of clay, mould it into something else and fire it. It’s the perfect little reminder of an idea.”

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So, what will Vegas be doing on tonight’s show? Demonstrating his one-minute teapot trick before inviting the contestants to do the same. Well, actually he’ll be forcing the Throw Down semi-finalists to make FIVE in as many minutes.

We’ll have to see if any will be brave enough to try Vegas’ tried and tested method of swapping water with Guinness. 

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The Great Pottery Throw Down is on 8pm Thursday, BBC2