Celebrity editions of a show always have the same problem, which is that you don’t recognise any of the celebrities. Well, maybe a couple if you’re lucky. And one that you half-know: “Isn’t he that actor who was in that thing? You know, the one we watched that time?”
Often, though, it doesn’t really matter, because you quickly warm to people. I’d never heard of half of this year’s Strictly contestants including Rose Ayling-Ellis (who is on EastEnders, a show that hasn’t held my attention since the year Arthur Fowler stole the Christmas Club money) but now I’m rooting for her every week.
I could name three of the six contestants on Landscape Artist of the Year: Celebrity Special (Sky Arts), although that may be because I watch TV for a living. There was Caryn Franklin from The Clothes Show (now there’s a blast from the past), Jim Moir aka Vic Reeves, weatherman Tomasz Schafernaker, Rose Matafeo from BBC Three’s sweet romcom Starstruck, actor and rapper Jordan Stephens, and former Harry Potter actress Jessie Cave. All are keen amateur painters. Some were a good deal more talented than others but the lovely thing about this show is how encouraging it is. The judges are super-nice and lavish everyone with praise.
To be honest, they did struggle to compliment Moir’s submission piece, but that’s because it depicted – in his words – a “macho hillbilly moose battle over a bubbling stream of lava in Patagonia” and featured a shirtless man on a mobility scooter. Eventually the judges settled on “peculiar”. His competition entry was more sober – a gathering storm, watched over by the last of mankind from a little green tent.
The challenge was to reproduce a view of the Whitstable coastline but with a theme of climate change and environmental crisis. Very topical. The view itself wasn’t particularly inspiring, consisting of a grey sky and a grey sea. Actually, the greatest sight in this programme was Joan Bakewell, the co-presenter, who is 88 and looks absolutely terrific.
As with all these sorts of shows, it’s a pleasant hour watching people engrossed in a creative task and trying to do their very best. Stephens cheerfully admitted to being a novice who didn’t know “arty terms” but was clearly enjoying himself. Schafernaker was crowned the winner. With all due respect to him and his perfectly pleasant Turner-esque seascape, Jim Moir was robbed.
Original posted at www.telegraph.co.uk