So that’s a wrap! My episode for Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas has been aired and by now you may have seen me beavering away at Christmas HQ, trying to look calm and serene in front of the camera, whilst under the bright lights and watchful eye of the production team. Oh! And not forgetting the need to string a reasonably decent sentence or two together to the ‘Queen of Craft’ herself, Kirstie Allsop! Yikes.
So, this is what happened on the competition film day. All of the contestants were instructed to meet a production team runner at 7.30am, in the hotel reception. I’d had a reasonably good sleep the night before - apart from waking up with a start at 1.30am thinking I’d over slept and missed the whole thing! This was the first time I’d met the other contestants. There was Sally, a talented macramé artist, Linda, who made the most gorgeous upcycled copper assemblages and Joy, an amazing paper crafter.
We were taken to the secret filming location, an impressive private residence, set in the heart of the Devonshire countryside. We were met by more production team staff who helped us unload our crafting kit, got us ‘miked up’ and prepared us for the day ahead. We were taken downstairs, through a maze of corridors, to the dining room, which would be our competition space for the next 6 hours. The house was full of quirky and eclectic treasures that the owners had presumably collected over many years, but unfortunately and understandably, photos were not allowed, in order to respect their privacy.
We set out our tables, with all the materials, resources and tools that we needed to create our competition entry. There were production team and camera crew everywhere, this had now become very real and the nerves really had started to kick in!
Once we were all set up, we waited for the star of the show, Kirstie, to start us off. She entered with another set of team and camera crew, looking amazing in a tailored back and purple shirt dress and faultless make up. She was just as I expected her to be – enthusiastic, cheerful and glamourous. She did a little piece to camera and then we heard ‘ok ladies, you have 6 hours’ and the competition started. Eeeeek!
Kirstie then filmed a little piece with each of us and asked questions about what we were planning to make, how long we had been doing our craft and what inspired us. I was trying to be cool as a cucumber and relaxed, as if chatting to a TV celebrity was just a normal, everyday occurrence for me, but underneath the cool exterior was a very loud nervous voice screaming inside my head saying ‘oh my god. What are you doing? You sound like a jibbering idiot talking about vintage plates to KIRSTIE ALLSOP!’ I’m not sure if that came across or not but I was a very star struck!
After Kirstie had chatted to us all, she left us to it (she had two other competitions to film that day) and we could crack on with our designs, but we were still being filmed at regular intervals, especially when we looked like we were doing something interesting. We had no time for breaks, we needed to plough on through and get our creation made, but the lovely production team made sure we were fed and watered. I distinctly remember tucking into a vegetable pasty whilst wearing my safety goggles and thinking ‘I hope they edit this bit out, ‘cos I look a prize pellock’. I’m pleased and relieved to say they obviously felt it was not necessary to include me eating the pasty but there is a clip with me wearing the goggles looking like some mad scientist!
About half way through our allotted time, Kirstie came back in to our room to have a go at all of our craft. By this stage, I’d completed all the sticking part of my mosaic and was ready to start on the grouting. So, to ensure I had something for Kirstie to do, I prepared a mosaic Christmas tree beforehand, for her to contribute to.
Again, I felt so nervous showing this crafty queen how to do my speciality craft! I wished I’d been more encouraging and explained things differently, I felt I hadn’t really sold myself as an art teacher very well on national telly! (It was a bit like when you have an argument and you play it back over in your head and wished you’d said different things to get your point across – hey ho)
After Kirstie had tried all our crafts, we had about one and a half hours left to complete our entry. We were all now up against the clock, as we raced to the finish line, to ensure our pieces were the very best they could be. I had the horrible task of grouting my mosaic with a black grout – my least favourite job and not helped when I was filmed doing the entire thing! I was a little bit anxious that I wouldn’t get it done, to allow time to do a final polish and add the ribbon trim, but it all worked out perfectly in the end. In fact, I had enough time left to finish off the Christmas tree mosaic that Kirstie had contributed to.
And then it was over. Our time was up. There was nothing more we could do. We were instructed to leave our creations on our table and leave the room. We had a bit of fresh air, then made our way back up the maze of corridors to the makeshift green room, which was actually the library, with an amazing collection of books in huge book cases but also a menagerie of taxidermy specimens, including a life-sized walrus hanging on the wall!
Now, while we sat and nervously waited, the judging was taking place and our fate lay in the hands of Larry Walshe, a talented florist. We seemed to sit there forever while he deliberated over our designs, but after an hour or so, we were summoned back to the dining room to film the announcement of the winner of the Christmas Wreath Competition 2018.
And the winner is……….
Apologies if you’ve not had chance to watch it yet but here’s a spoiler alert…….. sadly, my mosaic wreath did not win, but a huge well done to Linda Lovatt who won the coveted golden statue – a very worthy winner indeed. Her wreath was absolutely charming, made from intricate and delicate copper details, plus pieces of vintage porcelain.
I was up against some very tough competition and the other contestants were extremely talented - it was an honour just to be in the same room as them all. I am so pleased I applied to take part in the show, it was a completely amazing experience and one that I will remember for a long time.
PS: I’m sure if you missed it, you can watch it on catch-up on More4. My episode was number 14!