HAILED as the new Fred Dibnah, TT racer Guy Martin made his much-anticipated television presenting debut last week with The Boat that Guy Built.
For fans familiar with Guy’s fast-talking, naturally comic delivery, his fascination with all things mechanical and his penchant for tea, the series is a sure-fire hit: not so much the new Fred Dibnah as the old Guy Martin, and all the better for it.
The series follows Guy as he investigates the inventions of the Industrial Revolution and uses traditional engineering methods to renovate a narrowboat.
In the first episode of six, with the help of friend Mave, aka Mark Davies, we see him learning to smelt iron, make drinking mugs and cast a pot in which to boil water – all in the name of brewing the all-important cup of tea.
But first he has to take charge of the barge, which is moored at the start of the Bridgewater Canal near Manchester.
‘There’s a bit of red lead on it,’ he announces affably, surveying the rusting hulk.
‘It’s called Reckless.’
‘Very fitting,’ responds Mave. ‘I have to say I admire your enthusiasm.’
The boat is 60 feet long and neither has ever sailed one before so actually setting off proves a bit of a challenge.
‘A few briars there but all under control,’ adds Guy cheerfully, scanning considerable amounts of foliage strewn across the deck as the boat lurches erratically from its mooring.
Heading off towards the Wedgewood potteries, the pair negotiate the Anderton boat lift, an awe- inspiring Victorian contraption built in 1875, raising boats 50 feet to link the Trent and Mersey Canal and the River Weaver.
We also learn snippets about iron smelting and casting, throwing and making Wedgewood pots and the history of tea.
The Boat that Guy Built is part of an established tradition of programmes about charismatic and slightly eccentric people doing stuff, from Two Fat Ladies to Boorman and McGregor in the Long Way Round.
For those who saw episode one, part two shows Guy and Mave progress from tea-making to ablution as they construct a steam-powered shower and a toilet for the boat.
For those who missed it, episode one is available on BBC i-Player.
Episode two is at 7.30pm, BBC1 on Wednesday.