70-year-old Milton Keynes teacher reflects on his experiences as a Great Pottery Throwdown finalist

Peter White, spoke about his desire to 'inspire' the next generation by entering a national television competition show in his 70s.

By James Lowson
Tuesday, 16th March 2021, 9:50 am

After years of watching The Great Pottery Throwdown and with encouragement from his wife Gill, Peter finally took the brave step to apply for one of his favourite shows.

Peter from Woburn Sands has had a lifelong passion for the creative arts and finally took the brave step to hit send on his application to the casting team at Channel 4

Peter said: "When I told people I was going on they thought I was mad (laughs). No, everyone was so supportive from the word go.

Peter White, 70, from Milton Keynes was a finalist on the fourth season of the Great Pottery Throwdown

"They said age doesn't matter, go for it."

The Great Pottery Throwdown is a close cousin to the Great British Bake Off, and follows the same competition programme format. Peter excelled surviving all the way to the final, before he was narrowly beaten by series winner, Jodie Neale, in the finale which aired on Channel 4 at 8pm on Sunday evening (March 14).

The series is available to watch on catch-up on All4. This was the fourth season of the show which first aired in 2015, auditions are open for the fifth season now,

Peter has been teaching art and design for 30 years and continues to run tech classes via zoom for a secondary school in Wendover. He worked as an art and design and technology teacher at Stantonbury Campus in Milton Keynes for over 20 years.

Here's some of Peter's handy work

Pottery has been a lifelong passion for Peter and that is what made him such a great fit on the Channel 4 programme. He outlined his love of the creative arts, stating: "I had an interest in pottery as a young child and was encouraged to develop my interest at school.

"However life took over and I did not return to pottery until my mid-forties. The work of Mo Jupp and Paul Astbury were my biggest inspirations when I returned to pottery as their

sculptures are inspirational."

Given his teaching background Peter was always likely to hear from some of his students once he started flashing up on social media and promotional material for a prime time Channel 4 series.

He added: "It was unbelievable, when I made the show, I heard from people I hadn't spoke to in 30-35 years. Obviously, Covid changed the way we were able to share the experience. So it was me, my wife and mother-in-law, Iris, but we'd have the [grand]children on Zoom and people were texting as the show aired as well."

Beyond the chaos of living with strangers in a bubble, and having your every move filmed, the toughest practical challenge for Peter was trying to create porcelain daisies. The 70-year-old commented: "Honestly, it was a nightmare it was so slippy and out of control, it was so oily! But I got through it. Ok, I came last, but I made it to the final, so it didn't go too bad in the end.

"Every week was a challenge, every task was difficult, it tested my knowledge and understanding of pottery every week."

Even the challenges of living with strangers proved to be easier than Peter first feared, he indicated one of the worst aspects of the series was saying goodbye to someone he'd become close to every week.

When asked to describe both his experiences and the feedback he's received in the Milton Keynes community the word, Peter kept on coming back to was 'humbling'. The overwhelming responses he'd received from people who enjoyed watching him compete and used the show as a Sunday night distraction from the bleak realities of early 2021.

Using the momentum of his exploits on Channel 4, at an age most of us hope to retire, Peter is cracking on with his own pottery business. Woburn Sands Clay.

Launched in January Peter has been moulding more sculptures in between virtual teaching lessons. The plan is for Peter to eventually transition out of secondary school teaching into teaching pottery classes from his new workshop.

When asked about the challenges of starting a business during lockdown, perhaps unsurprisingly Peter had a positive outlook on the process. He said: "I guess the one thing I would, say it has allowed me to go out and get on with it. It's given me the chance to be creative without worrying about being interrupted."

Peter, wanted to leave Milton Keynes Citizen readers with the following message. He said: "Just keep believing in what you do and yourself. Never mind what age you are, go for it and enjoy it."