The Great British Sew Off – is sewing the new baking?

The makers of The Great British Bake Off have cooked up new BBC2 show The Great British Sewing Bee

Is sewing the new baking? BBC2 certainly thinks so. It’s asked the team behind The Great British Bake Off to make a copycat show but this time the objective is to find Britain’s best amateur sewing enthusiast.


“The series will represent a version of the already successful series The Great British Bake Off,” promises the show’s Facebook page, “and it will be broadcast in March-April 2013.”

Filmed in October, The Great British Sewing Bee sees eight sewing fanatics battle it out for the (presumably hand-stitched) crown over four weeks. The sartorial challenges in store are being kept under wraps but applicants were asked to detail their experience in clothing, tailored items, accessories, home projects, embroidery/appliqué, quilting and customising.

A Facebook post by one of the contestants also hints at the knotty tasks the untrained tailors face – “We were filmed at Rotherwick village hall [in Hampshire] recreating a wartime make do and mend WVS session.”

Stepping into Mary Berry’s shoes will be Women’s Institute grande dame May Martin, while Savile Row designer Patrick Grant – who’s clothed the Duke of Edinburgh, George W Bush and the King of Spain – is to be the new Paul Hollywood.

Also on hand with encouragement and advice (and, if she’s anything like Bake Off presenters Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, gags and cheesy puns galore) will be host Claudia Winkleman. 

“It might not be the next craze and nobody might watch it but I’m proud to be involved in it,” Winkleman said recently, revealing that needlework is already a hit in her household. 

”Before ‘Bake Off’ I went to Tesco and bought cakes but now I can make my own – now I feel the same way about my kids’ clothes and me. I made little navy roundneck cut-off tops that look amazing and you would trawl Bond Street for and spend a fortune on – and they fit so beautifully.”

A BBC source said: “We had such success with The Great British Bake Off that we wanted to see just how creative Britain could be. We feel that sewing could become the new national pastime.”


The Great British Bake Off was a surprise success for the corporation and each series proved more popular than the last – the most recent regularly attracted over five million viewers. It’s credited with reviving interest in baking and will return for a fourth instalment in autumn.