Sandi Toksvig has turned her hand to a new TV role after quitting her presenting job on Great British Bake Off, and her latest project is a very worthy one.
Sandi's newest TV venture is two-part Channel 4 documentary The Write Offs, which sees her help eight adults who struggle with reading and writing to master basic literacy, culminating in each of them reading a speech that they have written to their friends and family.
In tonight's opening episode (September 22), Sandi met the group of learners for the first time. The group included Craig, who said that he cannot read books to his young daughter and so makes up the stories, and young mum Emily, who revealed how much she struggles to read letters sent to her by her child's school.
Sandi set the learners two big challenges to help them develop their skills, to complement their work with their tutors.
The first challenge saw the group split into pairs and dropped off in the Peak District area. They then had to find their way to a restaurant where Sandi was waiting for them, using only their map and sign-reading skills to navigate the modes of transport available to them in order to make it to their destination.
Their next challenge was to write a shopping list, track down the ingredients in a large supermarket and then prepare a chicken pie using a written recipe. Despite some mishaps involving wrongly purchased or missing ingredients, all of the learners successfully made their pie.
Sandi welcomed her "very, very good friend" and former Bake Off colleague Prue Leith into the kitchen to taste the group's food and give her verdict – and she was very impressed by what she was eating, delighting the chefs.
There were plenty of Bake Off fans watching who were very excited to see the pair reunited:
Lovely to see Prue Leith and Sandi Toksvig working on another TV show together #TheWriteOffs— Susan Seddon 🌈📻🎶 (@SuzeTwelve) September 22, 2020
The episode ended with 66-year-old Tommy, who had revealed earlier in the episode that it was his "dream" to be able to write a letter of thanks to the people who have supported him and to read it out to them, doing just that and addressing a room full of his friends with his own handwritten letter, announcing that "life couldn't get any better".
Viewers praised the programme for its sensitive approach to the issue of difficulties with literacy and host Sandi for her kindness and warmth while working with the participants:
#thewriteoffs such a heartwarming programme..and couldn't have found a better host— Julie Wilson (@JulieWi74303676) September 22, 2020
#TheWriteOffs is already breaking me emotionally. Sandi Toksvig is perfect for this show.— Elliot Gonzalez (@elliot_gonzalez) September 22, 2020
So wonderful to see so many viewers responding positively to #thewriteoffs - hats off to @sanditoksvig and @Channel4 for their sensitive handling of adult illiteracy and highlighting the impact it can have on peoples’ lives. Amazingly brave participants too. Properly smart telly— Cathryn Summerhayes (@Taffyagent) September 22, 2020
The Write Offs concludes next Tuesday (September 29) at 9.30pm on Channel 4.
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