Great Pottery Throw Down: Dorset engineer stars on Channel 4 show

A DORSET man is moulding his future in a Channel 4 reality show, The Great Pottery Throw Down.

Dan Sandham, from Weymouth, is one of 12 contestants in the seventh series of the contest.

He moved to the seaside town three years ago and quickly immersed himself in local life; joining Weymouth Rowing Club; becoming a flood warden; becoming chair of South Dorset Labour; and volunteering at the Park District Community Centre, where he taught pottery.

The programme is filmed at Gladstone Pottery Museum in Stoke, a big adjustment from the 41-year-old’s usual workspace.

“The first week was a blur,” he said. “From arriving at the hotel to meeting the rest of the potters.

“Walking into the set didn’t feel normal, I was trying to take it all in and appreciate every moment.

“Stoke is such a glorious city with bottle kilns littering the cityscape as we drove into Gladstone each morning.

“It was hard not to think about the thousands of real potters who came before us, and the legacy of industrial decline.

“I make my pots in a garage on Weymouth Harbour, which I share with a very talented local potter named Luiza, she makes fabulous Raku starfish and sells them down on the docks.”

Photo: Channel 4.

Photo: Channel 4.

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A challenge for the systems engineer, who started potting eight years ago, will be working to a brief, something he admitted to being “not very good” at.

“Trying to make a multi-tiered ceramic bird table for my mum was virtually impossible,” he said. “And I’m still not sure she likes it.

“Most of my friends and family have given up trying to order pots, but I did make 150 little espresso cups for my brother’s wedding this year as ‘favours’ – these would probably be my go-to gift.”

Pottery is usually considered a relaxing hobby, but contestants must work under strict time pressure, with the fruits of their labour judged by Keith Brymer Jones and Rich Miller.

He said: “The judges’ feedback was really useful, the negative especially.

“Their attention to detail is intimidating, but I absolutely loved being distracted by Siobhán [McSweeney, presenter], she got me through some difficult moments.”

Dan with members of South Dorset Labour.

Dan with members of South Dorset Labour.

Now, the only critics he’ll face are those at home.

“It’s odd to think about how I’ll come across on camera,” he said.

“Hopefully it will be a nice surprise to see me popping up on TV and I won’t have said too many embarrassing things.”

Since filming Throw Down, Dan has dedicated most of his free time to fulfilling his role as chair of the South Dorset Labour Party.

He said: “We have a fantastic local team and a great selection of candidates for the May elections, ready to fight for the people of South Dorset.”

You can watch Dan and The Great Pottery Throw Down every Sunday at 7.45pm on Channel 4. He plans to restart his pottery classes soon.

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