Young Bentham carpenter Billy says Channel 4 show was 'once in a lifetime experience' after bowing out at semi-final stage

Talented Billy Walden has finished fourth in a new Channel 4 carpentry TV show.

Monday, 22nd November 2021, 12:30 pm
Billy Walden on the new TV show. Photo courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

Billy was one of nine contestants on 'Handmade: Britain's Best Woodworker', after shaking off competition from 500 applicants.

Hosted by Mel Giedroyc, the show has been aired at 8pm every Thursday for the last five weeks.

But last week, Billy was asked to leave the show at the semi-final stage.

Billy Walden pictured during one of the show's tasks. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

The final four contestants had been tasked with making a drinks cabinet, with Billy's cylindrical design deemed not good enough to make it into this week's final.

The six-part series - billed as "the artisan's answer to The Great British Bake Off" - has seen the woodworkers carving, whittling and building their way through a series of rounds, in a bid to impress esteemed carpentry judges Helen Welch and Alex Di Rijke, before one is crowned Britain’s Best Woodworker.

Each episode has centred around a ‘Big Build’, with previous shows requiring a bed, dolls' house, chair and carved animal to be made, while also having to complete a smaller ‘Skills Test’.

But despite having to leave, Billy has said the show was a great experience and he loved every minute.

Billy Walden carving an animal sculpture for one of the show's tasks. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

The 21-year-old said he got involved after a friend of his mum who works in the film industry got in touch to ask if he would take part in a pilot for Channel 4.

"Back then it was called Good With Wood and I filmed the pilot down in Bristol where I competed against two other carpenters," he said.

"After the programme was commissioned, I was asked to apply to go on the programme; we all went through a rigorous application progress and nine contestants were chosen from 500 applicants.

"Filming was at the gorgeous Glanusk Estate in Cricklehowell, Wales. We had to self-isolate in pods when we arrived and then after that we completed a challenge each week

Billy Walden during one of the shows. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

"Challenges were in a custom-built workshop filled to the brim with tools and wood. Even though it was extremely challenging mentally and physically I loved every minute of the 'once in a lifetime' experience.

"The challenges were over two days which made time tight as it was, but throw in stopping for interviews, re-takes and the immunity challenge and it really did leave you little time to complete.

"I was the only contestant to complete each challenge on time. My proudest achievement was definitely the chair, followed by the bed.

"My least favourite was the printing block and the lion. But unbelievably even though I hated the lion, loads of people loved it and I had numerous messages from people wanting to buy it. I gave it away to be put on a nature trail in Wales.

The judges examine Billy's drinks cabinet during the semi-final show. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

"The programme has been a massive success and sold all over the world - currently it is airing in New Zealand and, earlier this year, Fremantle acquired format production rights for Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Hungary, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Poland, Israel, India, Indonesia, Mexico and Australia.

"It was amazing not only to be involved in the programme but also to be involved from the very start of the concept.

"I have just been offered another exciting media project and as soon as I have permission the details will be posted on my website. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout the show, the positive feedback has been amazing and I'm really glad so many people enjoyed it."

As we reported last month, the programme was made by Plimsoll Productions and filmed after the first lockdown in 2020.

Billy first featured in the Lancaster Guardian at the age of 15 when he was the youngest person to complete a full camper van conversion on his own.

It impressed George Clarke so much that it featured on his programme Amazing Spaces, with George calling Billy "a talented but humble craftsman" and stating that Billy’s work "took his breath away".

Billy Walden with host Mel Giedroyc during one of the show's tasks. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions

At 16 Billy then went on to prove the quality of his carpentry skills by winning the SkillBuild award, the largest multi-trade competition in the UK.

A year later his fully rebuilt 1965 narrow boat was shown on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces and Billy became the youngest project manager on the programme and the first to have two builds shown on the same episode.

Billy's website can be found here.

Billy Walden pictured during one of the shows. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions
The chair Billy made for one of the tasks. Screenshot courtesy of Plimsoll Productions