The underground world of Lancashire’s sewers will surface tonight as the first of a new documentary series begins – starring two Preston workers.
Tessa Smith, from Fulwood and Mark Moss, also from Preston, will be featured in the six-part series, Watermen: A Dirty Business, on BBC Two tonight, showing the ups and downs of life working for the North West water company United Utilities.
Mark, 34, swapped the high seas of the merchant navy for adventures on the sewer network when he began working for the company in 2002.
The network asset engineer said: “The travelling side of the merchant navy was really good and I visited a lot of interesting places.
“This job is similar in that you’re never stuck in the same place. I could never just work in the same workshop all day, I need to keep moving.”
Mark spent five years travelling the world, visiting Spain, Africa, the Caribbean, America and Russia, before he found out he was to become a dad and started looking for work on dry land where he now lives with his partner and daughter.
Usually found with his colleague, Chris Broughton, from Haydock, Mark thinks people will be surprised at what goes on behind the scenes when the documentary is aired.
He said: “They filmed us entering a giant tank under a car park in Chorley.
“I don’t think people would have a clue we do that sort of thing, most people just think of the water side of the business.”
To make the programme, cameras got exclusive access to United Utilities’s 5,000 employees and hundreds more partner staff and customers across the North West, from Carlisle to Crewe, and the first episode sees Britain in the midst of a heat wave.
And diminutive Tessa, a project co-ordinator, can be found liaising with residents and business owners at one of United Utilities’ major construction sites.
The 37-year-old, who lives with her dogs, Riley and Cassie, said: “The jobs are always different. Dealing with the public you get to meet so many different characters.
“The trouble is, I’m very friendly and easy to talk to, so I seem to attract the weirdos!
“Some days you get shouted at and that’s part of the job, but there’s nothing better than helping someone and getting a big ‘thank you’ afterwards.
“Anyway, after a bad day, there’s nothing a glass of wine won’t put right!”
n Watermen: A Dirty Business will broadcast at 9pm tonight on BBC Two.