GMRC is what it is - like an exhibition, not everyone will love the format or the layouts. Personally, I've thoroughly enjoyed it, and it can only benefit the hobby. How many model railway programmes do we get on TV? Now how many model railway programmes do we get where the producers show respect for the subject and take railway modelling seriously (but not too seriously, thankfully)? This could have been one giant piss-take, along the lines of here comes Thomas, toot toot, and let's make fun of the grown men (no women, of course) playing with their little trains. Instead we get an attempt to take the appeal and pleasure of our hobby and package it for a wider audience. It doesn't work completely, but it's still better than anything we've seen before. Just compare it with rubbish like "The Biggest Little Railway in the World".
If I could change anything, I would say that each team must be made up of railway modellers. It was a bad reflection on Laurie Calvert, which is a shame because at exhibitions he comes across as a very nice guy, who throws himself into his subject. His science fiction layout is excellent.
I must also say that Kathy Millatt is wonderful! Kudos to her for coming on to this forum to talk about the show. It again reflects well on the programme that a bone fide modeller like Kathy Millatt is in a prominent position, as is the editor of what is still Britain's best railway modelling magazine.
You make some interesting points.
Certainly, I've liked what I've seen so far - and I don't doubt that I'll like what remains to be seen of this series. I don't think anyone would realistically expect everything about the series to work, straight out of the box - but, overall, I've found the series to be rather good - I'd like further series.
I can see what you mean about teams being composed completely of railway modellers - however, I can also see why various people (and companies) connected with the series would be happy for at least one team not to be. If nothing else, this shows a number of beginners that it's possible to build some sort of working layout in a reasonable time, even if you haven't got loads of experience in railway modelling. It also shows that some problems are likely - but it's quite possible that they'd be able to be addressed.
Although I've never been into "steampunk", the fact that Laurie was willing to enter, with a team of people with little or no railway modelling experience, speaks volumes. They would have known they were probably going home (and possibly in line for some unwarranted "stick"), before they even got to the venue. Despite this, they were still willing to have a go - and give it their best. As far as I'm concerned, they all deserve respect.
Indeed, some people could argue that Laurie deserves particular respect here - I don't doubt that he could have turned up at a challenge like this, with a team of experienced railway modellers and ended up in a far better position at the end of a heat.
However, none of this takes anything away from the team that won this heat. Their layout and their work were excellent - and they fully deserve their heat win and place in the final.
Incidentally, for me, there was a "night and day" difference between GMRC and "Biggest Little Railway" - in fairness, they were trying to do completely different things - but I'm really enjoying GMRC.
As for the team in front of the cameras on GMRC - the judges - the presenters - they all "work" well here and I hope we see them all in any future series.