Stage, Theatre & TV1st March 2014

Lynda's Pyjamas Steal the Sewing Bee Show

Lynda Lewis made an occasion out of her first appearance on the GB Sewing Bee

by Sarah Lawrence

Some people are just made for television, aren’t they? After the first two episodes of the second series of the Great British Sewing Bee, which is being aired on BBC2, Lynda Lewis is taking the programme by storm. Lynda is lighting up our televisions with her thoroughly nice, warm and genuine approach. She’s not a bad seamstress either!

What has this experience been like for this Caerphilly lass? Being Deaf and unused to appearing on TV, it is one thing to complete an on-line application thinking you have no chance of getting through, but an entirely different thing to find yourself on prime-time TV, under the gaze of a UK wide audience. Watching the programme, I find myself surprised at how much I am drawn into the challenges and have a strong urge to break out my own sewing kit. Lynda’s involvement brings a frequent smile to my face and of course the all important nervousness that comes with supporting her.

Back to the original question, what has it been like for Lynda? Now living in West Sussex to be near her eldest daughter, Lynda recalls, “being excited and a little nervous”, on the run-up to the start of the first episode. “I had no idea what to expect as I have never been on TV before!” Together with her family, Lynda decided to watch the first episode at her eldest daughter’s house. Being a big deal, this lovely Welsh lass and her family quite rightly made an occasion out of it, with her youngest daughter travelling from Exeter to join them, and her grandchildren getting special dispensation to stay up past their bedtime to tune in.

With nibbles arranged, wine and mojitos to hand, and the kids enjoying a sparkling glass of Schloer in champagne glasses, tension and excitement rose as the programme got underway. All of the contestants seem lovely, but the highlight for me had to be Lynda explaining to dishy Patrick that in keeping with Deaf culture, he had been given a ‘sign’ nickname. Oh Lynda, you are a smoothy. Without the beard, I’m sure we would have seen Patrick blush!

Throughout the challenges, Lynda held her own, creative in design and talented in delivery. No-one was evicted from the programme, but even if they had been, I think Lynda would have been safe. On the run up to the programme and immediately afterwards, Lynda’s social media was full of praise and positive comment, testament to her vibrant and friendly nature throughout the programme.

“The support I have had has been amazing”, Lynda explained, “everyone, family, friends and strangers have been sending messages and good wishes. It has made for a very emotional two weeks, with me being moved to tears by all the wonderful things people have said.”

“The day after Episode 1, I was at Fisher Farm Park and a 9 year old girl wanted to meet me and show me the dress she was wearing as she had made it herself! We had a chat and our photo taken, her Nan said that it had made her day! Last Saturday I went to Unravel in Farnham and was shocked at the lovely reception I had from people. Everyone was coming over to chat and wish me luck and have their photograph taken with me! I've had wonderful messages on Facebook and on Twitter!”

With Episode 2 now behind us and Lynda doing even better than she had in the first, it was not surprising to learn that her favourite challenge so far has been the gentleman’s pyjamas. “I was much more relaxed in the second episode plus they won garment of the week!” Lynda recalls proudly. “I was delighted as I had failed to finish my nightgown in Episode 1. I felt I used my time well and the pattern and fabric were good choices.”

Being noticed in the street and in being approached by people who don't seem to give a thought to her being Deaf, Lynda is astounded by the public's response, particularly organisations concerned with deafness who have sent numerous good luck messages and told her what an inspiration she is.

In tackling all six challenges with gusto up to now, I had to ask Lynda who she would like to design something for and why. Giving the question some thought Lynda concluded, “It would have to be Claudia Winkleman. I saw her recently on TV wearing a dress. She has amazing legs and is absolutely gorgeous. I think that designing and making a catwalk dress for her would be a dream!!” Perhaps that will be one of the challenges later in the programme.

Surviving week one when no-one was eliminated because Cliff had left, Lynda describes the joy of surviving week two with the disappointment that someone had to go. “This week, the joy of winning garment of the week was short lived as in the next breath they announced that Simon was leaving! I felt quite safe as I thought it unlikely I'd be leaving after the pyjamas doing well but was gutted at Simon's departure.”

In amongst all of the comments and well-wishing, Lynda draws my attention to a short BSL video clip she had been sent by a young deaf teenager. The young man in question had been told that Lynda was taking part as a Deaf woman by his dad. Tuning in to watch the GB Sewing Bee, he sent Lynda a short BSL video clip afterwards, describing how proud he was of her and wishing her well. That meant a great deal to Lynda.

A vision of genuine loveliness, I am sure we are amongst a growing crowd of supporters who hope Lynda remains on the programme for weeks to come!

Article by Sarah Lawrence

posted in Entertainment / Stage, Theatre & TV

1st March 2014