Laughter, tears, sweat, hijinks…And heaps and heaps of clay. Viewers can expect all of this and more on The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down, premiering February 8 on CBC Gem.
This uplifting, artful competition series brings together 10 amateur potters from across Canada looking to prove their pottery prowess. Over the course of 8 hour-long episodes, they take on intense challenges, craft beautiful clay creations, and reveal more of their personal stories and passion for pottery.
While based on the British series The Great Pottery Throw Down, currently in its 7th season, this series has its own Canadian flare and of course, plenty of homegrown talent.
At the helm of the show is none other than Seth Rogen, a passionate potter himself, taking the reins as an executive producer and a special guest judge. Jennifer Robertson, known for her roles in Schitt’s Creek and Ginny & Georgia, brings her lovable charm and a lifelong love of pottery as the series’ host.
“I don’t do pottery, but I appreciate its beauty,” Robertson says. “When they said it was going to be a positive competition show in the spirit of The Great British Baking Show and The Great Pottery Throw Down, I wanted to be on board.”
Toronto-based ceramic artist and educator Natalie Waddell is featured on the show as a judge, alongside visual artist Brendan Tang. Waddell was thrilled to bring awareness to the art of ceramics on a national level while also showcasing some of Canada’s most talented potters.
“I was surprised at what a high level of craftsmanship and artistry everybody was bringing to the show,” Wadell says.
From table lamps, to fountains, to dinnerware for a nine-course tasting menu, the potters take on ambitious tasks throughout the series, using a variety of techniques and materials. “I did not know what to expect,” she says. “It was just blowing me away.”
The series was filmed at the former Emily Carr School of Art & Design on Granville Island, Vancouver. Robertson notes that it was special to have a group of “rockstar potters” gathered in one place, especially when pottery is often a solo endeavor. With a diverse range of ages, backgrounds, and expertise, and hailing from all corners of the country, the potters each bring something unique to the table…and the kiln.
“Community is so central to ceramic practice,” Waddell says. “Being able to bridge across the country and bring those people together adds to everybody’s experience…it’s a cool sharing of techniques and traditions where every place has their own tweak on it.”
While the series is positive and upbeat at its core— Waddell says there were “constant jokes and hijinks going on”, the demanding challenges and tight time limits made for an undoubtedly intense experience.
“As an instructor, I’m often faced with the reality of people watching videos online and thinking that pottery is this relaxing, calm endeavor,” Waddell says. “I think the show is really gonna help demystify that! It is fun, but it is not relaxing.”
“I’ve heard that too, people think it’s relaxing,” Robertson adds. “They’re picking up like, 15 pounds of clay and slamming it down!”
A new episode of The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down will be released every Thursday leading up to the finale, where one talented potter will be crowned the winner and take home the trophy.
Robertson says to “be prepared for the unexpected” as you watch the potters hard at work.
“It’s not snoozy. Not a dull moment. Week after week these potters came in and we gave them these wild challenges and they still did it all with so much love for their craft,” Robertson says. “And they still laughed at my bad puns!”
The first episode of The Great Canadian Pottery Throw Down is available to stream on CBC Gem.