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Joe Lycett's humorous approach to addressing the UK's issues, particularly with sewage, is enjoyable. However, it begs the question, why aren't government officials taking similar action?
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Joe Lycett’s humorous approach to addressing the UK’s issues, particularly with sewage, is enjoyable. However, it begs the question, why aren’t government officials taking similar action?


I am about to start this TV preview with two of the most contentious statements I have ever made in my career. Brace yourselves, or… hold on to something. Statement No 1: I do not believe that we should be disposing sewage into the ocean or water systems. “Oh, it’s not that bad,” you, a high-ranking water official, condescendingly explain to me. “It’s not completely untreated sewage. If you don’t like it, just don’t swim in the sea.” No, thank you! I do not think it is appropriate to pump sewage into the waters surrounding our island. However, I do believe that both the action (disposing sewage into the sea) and the response (essentially doing nothing and saying nothing) serve as a sharp metaphor for the current state of the British mentality. Please do not make a fuss about the sea sewage! It is impolite. The profits of water companies may be affected.

I do not believe it is Joe Lycett’s responsibility to address this issue. This is not a reflection on Lycett, whom I have admired for a long time and whose recent rise in popularity on Channel 4 has been both entertaining and gratifying. It is simply a matter of practicality and the current state of British politics. It seems more appropriate for Members of Parliament to handle this, doesn’t it? After all, isn’t that the purpose of governments and local councils – to prevent situations like sewage being pumped into the ocean? No? Well, I suppose you’re right. Perhaps the host of Travel Man should handle it instead. And why not have John Bishop take over the RNLI while we’re at it?

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This, I suppose, is half the point of Joe Lycett vs Sewage (20 February, 9pm, Channel 4), a documentary I would advise you finish your sandwich before watching. It is ludicrous that we’re letting water companies seep sewage into the sea (Point 1) and it’s completely absurd that Joe Lycett is apparently the only one willing to do anything about it (Point 2). But vs Sewage leans hard into that absurdity, and as a result is a lot better for it.

Joe Lycett is incredibly skilled at effortlessly putting people at ease and bringing out their fun and relatable sides. He does this whether he’s chatting with wild swimmers on the beach or visiting a sewage lab. Even with notable figures like Gary Lineker, Jon Sopel, Phil Daniels, and Deborah Meaden, he manages to get them to participate in silly stunts and wacky explainers. He turns serious topics, like the questionable hiring practices of the water industry, into lighthearted moments that make you laugh. This documentary sets a new standard for combining humor with meaningful messages and deserves recognition for its brilliance.

I struggle with accepting the necessity of creating a solution for this issue. How does sewage manage to reach the ocean? In the UK, there is a sewer system that combines both rainwater and wastewater, which can become overwhelmed during periods of heavy rainfall. In these cases, the excess is discharged into the sea, with the assumption that the rainwater will dilute the sewage. This practice is legally allowed and incorporated into the system design, although I am not in favor of it.

The issue at hand is that water companies prioritize paying dividends to their investors over investing in sewage system reform, which would require significant funds. As a result, there is little incentive for them to take action. Lycett addresses this problem by using humor and light-heartedness to shed light on the absurdity of the situation and challenges the audience to get involved and take action. While Lycett’s efforts are commendable, it would be refreshing to see someone else besides him take on the responsibility of addressing issues such as the oil crisis, the Truss scandal, the Beckham controversy, and the Braverman incident. Is there anyone else in a position of power who is willing to step up and tackle these problems?

Source: theguardian.com