Meet Great British Sewing Bee presenter Sara Pascoe
Get to know the Sewing Bee's latest host! We spoke to comedian Sara Pascoe to get all of the behind-the-scenes gossip about our fave show.
We're very excited to get to know Sara Pascoe from the Great British Sewing Bee, who took over as the show's presenter last year.
She had a tough act to follow replacing previous host Joe Lycett, but she quickly found her feet in the sewing room. As a previous contestant on one of the Sewing Bee's celebrity specials, she found it easy to put herself in the contestants' shoes and bond with them.
Read on to learn more about Sara Pascoe and get the latest gossip from the show.
Who is Sara Pascoe?
Comedian and actress Sara is best known for her role as Coco Lomax in the BBC comedies W1A and Twenty Twelve and appearances on 8 Out Of 10 Cats, Live at the Apollo and QI.
She also hosts the panel show Guessable on Comedy Central. She appeared in The Thick Of It, Free Agents and Being Human, wrote and starred in the BBC2 comedy Out of Her Mind and has written two books – Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body and Sex Power Money.
Sara Pascoe was born in Dagenham and grew up in Romford. She went on to study English at the University of Sussex. Before launching her comedy career, she worked as a tour guide in London.
How old is Sara Pascoe?
She's 41 and was born on 22 May 1981.
How tall is Sara Pascoe?
We caught up with Sara to discover how she got on with the newest batch of contestants and find out about her favourite challenges from this year's show…
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Read our interview with 2023's Sewing Bee presenter Sara Pascoe!
What's the standard of the sewers this year?
Very, very high. Even more impressively, lots of sewers started relatively recently. We have what I think of as genius new sewers – unique individuals who started in lockdown, have really practised and are pushing the boundaries. It's really exciting.
After last series, I had lots of people saying, ‘They don't really make stuff that quickly. How could they?’ They do! It's so inspiring when they're also doing things for the very first time.
It must make you think: ‘I really do need to have a go at making things myself now…’ It does. Luckily, because I have a small baby, people are a bit more: ‘OK, when you've got some time on your hands…’ They're more forgiving. But, if there's another lockdown, I’m definitely getting a sewing machine.
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Do you wonder how Patrick and Esme ever decide who to send home? Do you referee disagreements?
Well, they’re both experts, so I find – if I pipe up – I’m ignored and rightly so. I give a little prediction before they say anything and my instincts are always wrong. The person I thought was going home would win Garment of the Week. I was like: ‘OK. I don't understand.’ I just look at the pretty dresses, whereas they're looking at, you know, actual sewing.
Tell us about this year’s sewers…
We have very interesting people. There’s a really good age range (20-73), lots of different hair colours and lots of people with really important jobs. We've got a breast surgeon, a nurse, a police dispatcher and a postman.
Sewing’s a good way for those with high-stress jobs to switch off…
Yes, it's a relaxing thing to do at home if you don't have Patrick and Esme telling you what they think. And you end up with clothes you can wear – which is great if you’re on a budget, going up and down in clothes sizes or want to back away from fast fashion and make ethical clothing. People come to sewing for all those reasons.
How competitive were they?
I always want them to be more competitive. I want it to be a bit juicy, a bit more like Love Island, so I can stir things up. They're always so sweet and helpful to each other.
They want to do well – they’re competitive in that way – but they weren't competitive with each other.
What were your favourite challenges?
The pattern challenge is always exciting because, although they know the theme of the week, it's often a massive surprise. ‘You're making pants!’ or ‘You're making a backpack!’
It's great seeing them go, ‘Oh, no. I've not done this before.’ They made swimming costumes this year, too. That was a really good challenge.
What about those transformations?
In week one, before Patrick and Esme came in, I said: ‘I think they’re the best at transformation you've ever seen…’ Patrick and Esme thought: ‘OK. Sara obviously hasn’t watched the show that closely…’ And then they came in and literally repeated, word for word, what I said.
This year, the sewers have practised and they're really, really good at transformation. We've had several episodes where they've made art. It’s incredible. Actually, there was one where they made paintings into wearable art. That was amazing.
And I could not believe how stylish they managed to make crochet blankets. They’re hard to transform because they're bulky. I walked around the room in the first hour and thought: ‘Oh, no. This is gonna be such a mess.’ Then, I could not believe the catwalk afterwards.
And not only did they turn cleaning materials into an outfit, I got all the leftover scourers. I'll never need to buy one again.
One sewer made a dress from rubber gloves. Did you look at that and other quirky creations and think: ‘I really want to wear that out…’?
No, I'm far too conventional. If I was 20 years younger, maybe I’d think: ‘Yeah, I'd go down [the nightclub] Hollywoods in that…’ Not that women of my age can’t wear what they want, but – personally – at 41, I was thinking: ‘God, everyone's gonna be very chilly. I hope they've got a cardigan!’
They repurposed shower curtains, too…
Oh yes! They really did want the body to be on show. I'd say the prudes might need to switch off for that episode. Anyone channel-hopping will think: ‘What is this programme?’
Are you giving Anna Richardson a run for her money?
Yeah, it’s Naked Attraction in a shower curtain. Luckily, it's only on mannequins. It wasn’t the models having to wear them… otherwise, we’d have to pixelate 90% of the screen.
What new themes did you particularly look forward to…
The 1990s. We went down memory lane. A lot of the sewers were around in the 1990s and it was really great hearing whether they'd been to art school or were working in an office.
And it was great talking to young people who hadn't been around about what they’d gleaned of the 1990s. Back then, I was going down the fair in leggings and a long bright silk shirt. And there were big trainers like the Spice Girls wore.
You have a guest judge for another new addition – West Africa Week…
Yes! Banke [Kuku, the Nigerian fashion designer], our guest judge, was just sunshine. It was great to have someone who knew how those clothes would be worn in context.
The sewers were in new territory – no one had made a Boubou (long-flowing kaftan) before – and had a lot of enthusiasm.
How much fun did you, Esme and Patrick have this year?
Oh, it's always lots of fun. We become very attached to the sewers. We essentially get to go round and have a chat with all our friends, then have a cup of tea and chat with each other. It’s a lovely job. They really make me laugh on-screen and off.
It’s always fun having children to model. Esme likes to talk to them to put them at ease, so we had one little girl telling us about her Savings ISA and another telling us about her cat called Charlie. Esme said: ‘Oh, I like Charlie!’ Everyone was in hysterics and the girl did not understand why. That's when we have our best giggles… when someone doesn't realise quite what they've said. It was very innocent.
Is there lots of music and singing in the green room?
Actually, I'm very quiet. I don't like the music. Esme has the music pumping very loudly and I'm the neighbour who goes round and says: ‘Excuse me, would you mind turning it down? I'm trying to read my book.’
I got to take in my dog, Mouse, for a couple of weeks. That was great… apart from the fact he did a wee on Esme. She didn’t tell me until the end. She didn't dob him in. He had gone into her room and cocked his leg. It was some Alpha move. He owns Esme now, that’s how it works.
Did you manage to socialise together in Leeds in the evenings?
Unfortunately, my baby was five or six months old, so I was the boring person. I never got to go out.
Last year, I was pregnant. This year, I had a baby. Hopefully, one day, I will be able to go out for a glass of wine
What was the public reaction to you taking over as host?
It was lovely. For the first time, I was involved in something where people were really invested.
I met a lot more of my neighbours. People I’d walked past every day with the dog felt like they could say hello or ‘Alright, Sara!’ Then, they’d tell me: ‘Oh, I can't believe so-and-so went home…’ It was clear how much people liked the sewers.
People get sad when their favourite goes home, don't they? Everyone has their opinion.
Last year, pregnancy hormones made you emotional sending sewers home. The judges welled up, too…
I can't blame it on hormones this series… it happened again. We’ve got a bad effect on each other. We’re making each other more emotional. We really liked everyone and saw how hard they were working.
And they were such a tight group. They were so sad to lose each other. You’d see someone welling up and think: ‘Now, I'm going as well…’ It was harder than ever to tell them they were going home. There’s a big pregnant pause and I have to steal myself and just take a deep breath. I can't be more emotional than they are.
Do you follow the sewers on social media?
I follow the sewers on Instagram. I'll check in and see what they're making and what fashion shows they're on the front row of… Annie, who won, does her Monday Makes. They do become friends for life.
Essentially, a lot of them had a 10-week in-depth sewing course, so the work they're creating becomes incredible.
Does every celebrity you meet want to do Sewing Bee?
Either that or they say, ‘Oh, I'm not good enough yet. Wait ‘til I do this…’ I really love the celebrities who come on for Christmas. They’re saying, ‘You might know me from this, but I'm gonna give sewing a go and do my best.’ They do much better than they think they're going to, don't they? And it’s inspirational.
Actually, sometimes it's more people I know that I think would be really good. Like Russell Tovey. He'd be really fantastic. He's really into his art. I would love to get Aisling Bea. She’d be really fantastic and good fun.
They’d all be laughing too much to sew, surely…
Yes. She's so into reusing fashion and textiles and her sister is a costume maker, so I really think Aisling would have a perfect background and approach… as well as being very funny.
Have you had funny comments from people wanting you to set them up with Patrick?
Yeah, that's the odd side-effect of the job. People say, ‘Ooh, I fancy that Patrick…’ and ‘Ooh, is he as handsome in real life?’ Or ‘Has he got a girlfriend?’ There’s lots of that. I don't forward anyone’s DMs. I don't want responsibility for a broken heart from Patrick.
You must get people inquiring about Esme’s outfits and necklaces, too. Twitter is full of admiration…
Every time Esme walks out [on set], all of us gasp. We gasp. I had to change something in the script for Christmas, actually. I’d written something like ‘Oh, the shining star in the sky…’ And Esme, who had a dress made of silver sequins, said: ‘I’m the shining star in the sky!’ Yeah, you are, Esme.
What else are you up to?
As the show airs, I'll be going to Australia and America to tour. I’m really excited.
In Australia, of course, they really love Sewing Bee, so it'll be nice to meet sewing fans.
And you’ll get a chance to spend time with some relatives, too…
Yeah. My son will be coming and he's half-Australian, so his grandparents and great-grandparents are there. And my dad's in Adelaide.
Joe Lycett is there at the same time, so I’ll even get to hang out with him. I've got my first novel coming out in September, too. It's hard to describe. It’s a funny book about a weird girl.
Is it autobiographical?
Yeah, I know, it sounds like a very badly disguised version of me. It is set in Essex, but this girl works in a pub and it's not me. I promise.
Why Sara Pascoe is the perfect Sewing Bee presenter
As a former celebrity contestant, Sara is a brilliant addition to the show. She has real empathy for the contestants and brings her own brand of humour into the sewing room.
We love seeing how she bonds with the contestants and hope she's part of the programme for many years to come.
Get to know Sewing Bee judges Esme Young
Fashion designer Esme Young brings years of sewing experience to the Sewing Bee and is always quick to spot an unfinished hem!
Meet the iconic Sewing Bee judge Esme Young and learn the secrets of the sewing room.
Photography by BBC/Love Productions/James Slack
Sarah Orme is a UK-based linocut printmaker, digital editor, feature writer and award-winning podcaster. She's been editing the sewing and art sections of Gathered.how – and before that our sister website calmmoment.com – for over 3 years. She’s the host of Gathered’s We’ve Made It podcast and A Calmer Life podcast. She’s a keen crafter and artist and loves creating DIY tutorials for Gathered. Sarah has previously written features for The Guardian, In The Moment Magazine, Project Calm Magazine, countryfile.com, radiotimes.com and yourhomestyle.uk. She enjoys designing her own unique lino prints and dreams of opening her own online shop. She shares her work @sarahormeprints
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