Host Mariella Frostrup on BBC’s Celebrity Painting Challenge

Presented by Mariella Frostrup, the four-part BBC series will see six famous faces step out of their comfort zones, as they put their artistic flair – and subsequent time-management – to the test.

Show host Mariella Frostrup. Picture: PA Photo/BBC/Guy Levy

Hoping to impress with their painting prowess is actor Jane Seymour; musician and presenter George Shelley; cricketer and broadcaster Phil Tufnell; model and DJ Amber Le Bon; presenter Josie d’Arby, and TV design guru Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

It’s a mixed-ability group that really “wanted to make a difference to their art”, says journalist and presenter Frostrup, 56.

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“Art is definitely something that everybody was passionate about. But I don’t think people realise quite how vulnerable you become.”

Covering everything from traditional artistic mediums (be warned, there’s a masterclass that features a nude Keith Allen) to fun challenges, the stars – mentored by artists Diana Ali and Pascal Anson – will each compete to reach the grand final. After which a selection of paintings will be auctioned off for charity.

But first they must impress acclaimed judges, Daphne Todd OBE and Lachlan Goudie.

So how did they get on?

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, 54

Was it hard to take the judge’s critique on board?

“There were moments when I could just hear exactly the same things being said as 40 years ago, which was quite scary. But I was a lot more open to hear what people said about my work, this time around, than when I was at college. I did a couple of paintings that I am much, much prouder of than anything I’ve done before.”

Did the process prove to be cathartic?

“It’s definitely polished up my act. It was like a boot camp for my creativity and everything I’ve done since, I feel, has been a lot more evolved. I want to do a lot of landscape painting, which is something that I’ve never got excited about before. I’m going to try and not put any cherubs in it... ‘Just a little cherub in the corner?’ ‘No!’ ‘Oh, come on, nobody would notice. An urn – at least an urn?’”

Josie d’Arby, 46

How artistic were you to start with?

“I did A Level art because it looked easy – I didn’t take it seriously. But I started painting again in 2014 because I was trying to illustrate a book that I was thinking about writing. I found it difficult but I did discover I liked drawing faces, then I did watercolours and then acrylics. People said I knew about art because I presented kids’ programmes but not once in this competition was there any sticky-back plastic or toilet tubes, so I was completely lost.”

Has the show reignited your passion?

“I took January and February off to paint and I’ve just completed my first body of work, so I’m hoping to share it with people. It’s OK to paint how you paint. You’re not Rembrandt or Da Vinci, but what you paint might have value all the same.”

Amber Le Bon, 29

What has the process 
done for your confidence 
as an artist?

“It’s taken away my fear of trying something and not being good at it. I wanted to scare myself and do something out of my comfort zone and I wanted to know that it’s OK to not be good at something. I used to love it, but I hadn’t painted for a long time because I was held back by a fear of failure – not just in art but in a lot of things.”

Has it reignited your love 
for it?

“I’ve been painting afterwards, and I don’t mind if they’re bad paintings now, if I don’t like them. That was the biggest way I grew. I had never shown people my work or had it critiqued. It was good to scare ourselves.”

Phil Tufnell, 52

What kind of artist are you?

“I just go with the flow of it, really. I’ve done a little bit of painting before, so I went along to pick up some tips. I just fancied doing a bit of art; I’ve always enjoyed it – and I went there to enjoy myself as well.”

How did you fare with the judges?

“It was a bit awkward to start with, to do a painting and then have it critiqued. But then by the end you’re going, ‘Oh sod them, who gives a monkey’s? Just enjoy what you’re doing.’ I’m just a normal person who enjoys art.”

Celebrity Painting Challenge starts on BBC1 tomorrow at 8pm