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Review of Joe Lycett vs Sewage – the shocking reality of our water systems is truly horrifying.
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Review of Joe Lycett vs Sewage – the shocking reality of our water systems is truly horrifying.


Joe Lycett is certainly a busy person, isn’t he? He first made headlines by temporarily changing his name to Hugo Boss to draw attention to the fashion company’s aggressive actions against small businesses for copyright infringement. He also made waves with a social media post targeting oil company Shell. His interview with Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC after Liz Truss became prime minister was also notable and worth taking a few minutes to watch online. Recently, he livestreamed himself shredding £10,000 in protest of David Beckham’s sponsorship deal promoting the Fifa World Cup in Qatar, a country with a poor track record on LGBTQ+ rights. He has also made smaller yet entertaining gestures, such as using a photo of potpourri to raise £50,000 for the charity Crisis after a government official described homelessness as a “lifestyle choice.”

He has now become a mess. And I say that in the most positive way. In Joe Lycett vs Sewage, the comedian takes aim at – and honestly, it’s not until you type these words that you realize how terrible things truly are (and how much more we should acknowledge it in our daily moments of despair and hiding under the covers). Yes, real feces, in its completely untreated form as it comes out of our bodies, is being released into rivers. Millions of liters of it are being pumped into oceans and rivers where people like to swim – and often live nearby.

Lycett goes to a treatment facility to observe the proper procedures for ensuring the safety of our waste products (“Can I consume it? Swim in it? Use it on a child?”), and discovers that we have insufficient capacity to handle the raw materials due to years of neglect in essential infrastructure (Infrastructure! How tedious! How costly! How crucial!). It is estimated that about £350 billion would be needed to update and improve our current systems.

He uses a proven method to gather information, which includes energetically understanding the situation, conducting friendly interviews with those affected, and seeking employee testimonies through social media. He reveals the alarming number and extent of pollution in beaches and rivers across the country, although one interviewee notes that the term “spills” downplays the intentional nature of these discharges. The documentary also highlights the water companies’ monopoly and the absence of innovative leaders like Bazalgette to improve the system. Lycett’s idea of creating an ethical sewerage network, called J’Eau, is unfortunately abandoned. The film also exposes the close relationship between employees at the Environment Agency and Ofwat, the regulatory body responsible for fining water companies, and the common practice of these individuals finding employment at the very companies they were once overseeing. This lack of accountability creates little incentive for companies to make improvements, as they would rather prioritize profits than face rare penalties.

The traditional prank, which occurs later in the program, falls flat. He enlists the help of Gary Lineker (who, in case you don’t remember, once played a game while suffering from diarrhea and accidentally defecated on the field) to act as the first guest on a new podcast called Turdcast. This is meant to promote a launch event at the Albert Docks for a campaign against the water companies’ actions. The event involves people using an inflatable “Turdis” to relieve themselves in private, with the fake results being released into the sea. This is meant to attract media attention, outrage, and raise awareness. Unfortunately, due to strong winds, the Turdis cannot be set up for very long, but the rest of the plan goes ahead as planned.

The show makes an effort towards the end to suggest that the media and public are equally captivated by Lycett’s stunts, like many of his previous ones, but it falls short. However, this show has the potential to improve and contribute to the 20,000 emails that have already been sent to water companies through turdcast.co.uk. Lycett remains a charming and clever host who is focused on his goal, and as long as we don’t question why a Channel 4 comedian is our only protector against a crappy world, everything should be fine.

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Source: theguardian.com