Britain as we know today is far from what it was in the 19th century according to Guy Martin in his latest TV programme The Boat That Guy Built. “Everything was coming out of Britain,” he says, “iron bridges, steam engines, the cotton industry.”
In this show, Guy, a part-time motorbike racer and full-time lorry mechanic, attempts to revive the glory days when Britain was once a giant workshop that produced a plethora of goods. And he is doing this by refurbishing a rundown boat named ‘Reckless’.
In the first episode which aired on BBC1 yesterday, Guy and his best mate, Mave, set off to furnish the boat with the most basic thing any vessel aspiring to explore the English canals should have – an old school cup of tea.
To accomplish this, the pair looked into creating their own metal cauldron for boiling water, ceramic mugs to drink their beverage (not just any ceramic but the famous Wedgewood ceramic mugs) and of course all this will not be complete without the best selection of tea. They go on to seek experts’ advice and assistance to ensure that everything is done in the right way to reproduce the finest of British inventions.
As canals were an essential part in the growth of Britain’s greatest cities, throughout the show, audience gets a sneak peak of the beautiful streams that line through the country and at the same time learn a little bit about how boats are used and travelled in the 19th century.
“They were the HGVs of our time,” Guy quips. “Whole families lived in boats, sleeping in a tiny cabin at the back.”
Although the foundation of the show lies on the basis of educating its audiences about a subject – which in this case is Britain’s 19th century industry revolution – both Guy and Mave are clever to avoid the normal humdrum that usually follows an educational documentary with their humour and wit. Down-to-earth and cheeky, these best mates are constantly caught jesting at each other, which gets audience chuckling if not laughing at their acts. In one scene when Guy introduces ‘Reckless’ to Mave, the latter reveals his cynical side by saying “How very fitting!”
Guy also learns the art of ‘slurping’ and ‘sucking’ tea in order to get the right taste for his much-needed break-time beverage with the help of a couple of tea experts.
At the heart of the show, Guy’s passion for celebrating the finest and best of British will surely get patriotic Britons hooked on to discover more of the country’s greatest inventions during the industrial revolution. For the rest, Guy’s boyish looks coupled with his fascination for every little discovery is just downright amusing to watch. Dressed in his mechanic clothes with dishevelled facial hair and manicure, the show doesn’t get any more real than this, giving it a fresh outlook to the reality shows that are already flooding our TV channels.