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Sunday, 01 March 2015

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Cumbrians to star in BBC documentary

Two United Utilities workers from north Cumbria are to feature in a BBC2 documentary about the firm’s work.

BBC documentary men photo
Russ Bate and Dave Oakley-Jenner at Thirlmere

Dave Oakley-Jenner, 32, from Carlisle, is responsible for looking after dams, including Haweswater and Wet Sleddale, both near Shap.

His colleague Paul Phillips, 54, from Pooley Bridge, heads a team who manage the company’s 40,000 acres of water-gathering land and reservoirs in the Lake District.

The first episode of Watermen: A Dirty Business, is to be broadcast at 9pm on Tuesday, with the next episode a week later.

Executive producer for Mentorn Media, Hannah Wyatt, said: “Without clean water we couldn’t survive.

“It’s easy to think it just falls from the sky and someone collects it but in fact it’s a huge and complex operation from customer services to groundbreaking engineering projects. The series goes behind the scenes of this process and meets the unsung heroes who keep our taps flowing.”

United Utilities provides water to more than seven million people in North West England and is the biggest water firm on the FTSE 100.

Their staff manage 42,000 kilometres of water pipes and 72,000 kilometres of sewage networks across a vast and varied region with differing environments posing a new set of challenges.

One of the stars of the documentary will be south Cumbrian man John Butcher, the company’s regional aqueducts manager and self-confessed pipeline anorak.

His job is to care for United Utilities’ 1,000km of large diameter trunk mains including the enormous Haweswater Aqueduct, and, although he doesn’t appear in the very first episode, he is looking forward to seeing the series.

He said: “When I saw myself on screen the first thing I thought was that I need to lose about three stone!

“It makes you reflect on the job that we do when you see it through someone else’s eyes.

“It is really interesting. I am looking forward to seeing what people think. I knew I’d hit the big time when my photo made page 16 of TV and Satellite Weekly.

“I think they shot more than 750 hours of footage for the six episodes and at times it felt like we saw more of the film crew than our own families. They became friends.”

To make the programme Mentorn cameras got unique access to United Utilities’ 5,000 employees and hundreds more partner staff and customers across the North West from Carlisle to Crewe.


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