Big Flower Fight review: Netflix's new show is full of whimsy, magic and it might just steal GBBO's trophy
Netflix's new offering shows the limits of Bake Off, says Helen Daly
The Big Flower Fight's pitch might have sounded a bit odd - Vic Reeves and Natasia Demetriou hosting a show where pairs of floral enthusiasts put together creations for a chance to display their art at Kew Gardens.
But Netflix went for it anyway and The Big Flower Fight does just what it says on the tin - but it also does an awful lot more.
The premise is simple: pairs of contestants team up to produce a floral spectacle. But it's so much more than a simple vase arrangement even I could maybe wrangle with – these guys are producing 6ft wasps, beetles and butterflies... and that's just episode one.
Each week, a team of experts will judge who has produced the most creative sculptures and the one who hasn't is sent home.
When I first approached the new Netflix show, I will admit, I had my reservations. Sure, we all love skill-based competitions like Great British Bake Off and part of their appeal is their simplicity, but would gardening really be able to capture my imagination in the same way?
How wrong I was.
From the off, the atmosphere feels incredibly whimsical, with smoke filling the deliciously magical greenhouse which is filled with just about every flower and plant you can dream of. Gone are the tiny workbenches of GBBO history, replaced by expansive work stations with wire, metal and welding - this is the real McCoy.
And with the contestants in pairs, there's a whole new level of competitiveness that you just don't get in the Bake Off tent. There's no chance of helping each other out on this one - they said it was a flower fight, and they sure meant it. But the rivalry never gets to be too much, and it's always done with a cheeky smile. It's only gardening after all.
Reeves, Demetriou, and judge Kristen Griffith-VanderYacht reveal the week's task before setting the designers off on their merry way. Once the frame work for their creation is complete, the Flower Shop opens and a free-for-all takes place while the contestants battle it out for the entire stock of Wisteria.
Rarely does it seem like any of them have their creation in hand, but somehow, by the miracle of television, their designs explode in vivid colour and texture after 45 minutes.
Like a real art gallery, the end products are displayed in a glorious manner. The lights in the greenhouse are dimmed and the creations take centre stage, in a room filled with ambience, smoke and dramatic camera work. It really is awesome, in the truest sense of the fashion.
I was genuinely taken aback with how much I loved The Big Flower Fight. It's more than just a skill show - you can really lose yourself in this gorgeous world while learning a couple of hints and tricks on how to keep those pesky houseplants you swore you'd look after alive.
It's certainly a feat, and it's helped along no doubt by hosts Reeves and Demetriou, who offer very little in the way of guidance, but plenty in the way of comedy and support. Their whimsical humour makes for the perfect accompaniment to the surreal world of extreme floristry.
In a world filled with GBBO spin-offs, you'd be mistaken for thinking The Big Flower Fight is "just another one of those". It's not - and it might just steal Bake Off's crown (or decorative cake stand) if they don't watch their back. This demonstrates exactly how a competition show can be expansive, ambitious while still keeping its cheeky heart and lovable characters at the centre.
The Big Flower Fight is available to stream on Netflix now. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide.