A new TV competition to find Britain's top woodworker is based in Epping Forest.

The Chop: Britain's Top Woodworker, which airs every Thursday on Sky History, sees 10 of the country's finest carpenters whittle, carve and chop for the chance to stage their own exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in London.

Co-host Lee Mack said viewers will be surprised to see contestants wearing face masks, despite the TV series being filmed before the pandemic.

The comedian is joined by Rick Edwards, host of BBC One game show Impossible, while master carpenter William Hardie will offer a professional perspective.

Hardie oversees the construction of a cabin in the woods, adding a new room on a different historical theme every week. Over nine weeks, the contestants are tasked with creating items and artefacts to furnish the rooms.

Mack, 52, said: “It’s quite ironic that everything was filmed pre-lockdown and pre-Covid and yet most of the contestants spend most of the time with a mask on, because it’s woodwork.

“So people will watch it and go: ‘Well they’re obeying the rules but Rick and Will aren’t’, but actually it was filmed a long time ago – this time last year.”

Mack, best known for writing and starring in the sitcom Not Going Out, said he was interested in pursuing woodworking further after working on the show.

Epping Forest Guardian:

Lee Mack. Photo: PA

He said: “My woodworking history sort of ended at school, when I was about 14. I made a fish, which I still have. But it’s an area that I definitely am interested in.

“I’d love to be good at it, I’d love to have a workshop or something. But I just own a few basic tools and do some DIY, that’s my limit.

“I’m interested in the subject matter rather than actually doing it – a bit like football. I love football, but I can’t play.”

Epping Forest Guardian:

Rick Edwards. Photo: Ian West/PA

Speaking about lockdown, Mack said his life had stayed largely the same, as he was writing from home.

He said: “My life didn’t massively change due to lockdown, because I was in the process of writing my sitcom from home anyway, so nothing changed with my personal work, just my kids not going to school was obviously the big thing.”

Jokingly, he added: “But I barely know their names anyway. And that will look good in print.”

The Chop airs every Thursday at 9pm on Sky History.