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'This is not about confronting the receptionist, we go for the boss'

In Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, the comedian battles dodgy businesses on behalf of you, the consumer. Georgia Humphreys reports


Joe Lycett on set for his C4 show Got Your Back

Joe Lycett on set for his C4 show Got Your Back

Joe Lycett

Joe Lycett

Joe Lycett on set for his C4 show Got Your Back

Joe Lycett is a self-proclaimed "over-thinker". Which is why the Brummie comedian admits he does feel a little bad sometimes about going after companies in his Channel 4 show.

Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, which is returning for a second series, sees the 31-year-old stand-up star investigate consumer complaints from members of the public, often going undercover in a quest for justice.

But while he sometimes leaves shoots wondering if he's said the wrong thing, he's at peace with why they do the show: to get genuine results.

"It's never about taking on a receptionist, or about the little people in the company," notes the TV personality, also known for presenting The Great British Sewing Bee, and for appearances on shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats.

"We always try and get to the top people: the bosses, the people who are ultimately responsible if there's bad practice."

From scams and poor customer service to unacceptable consumer standards, the series covers a range of gripes, giving us plenty of laughs along the way.

In episode one of the new series, Lycett investigates the number of packages the courier service Hermes loses.

They didn't catch up with the CEO in his office, but they did manage to get him on the phone instead, which was "brilliant because it meant that actually I could speak to him", says Lycett. "It meant I could say, 'Are you going to do something about this? What's your plan?'"

He continues thoughtfully: "They're people at the end of the day and I never try to be rude, or whatever. I always try to present the stuff as gently and as humorously as possible."

After our interview, affable Lycett made headlines when he legally changed his name to Hugo Boss.

It was a jibe against the German luxury designer using trademark claims to target small businesses and charities who use the name "boss".

He posted on Twitter that he would be "launching a brand new product as Hugo Boss" and that all will be revealed in the new series of Joe Lycett's Got Your Back.

As for what else we can expect in the new episodes, the funnyman learnt plenty of lessons from the first series.

"When you're going into companies and you're secret-filming, I didn't realise the amount of protection that you need legally before you can do just the slightest thing," he suggests.

"And it's really good that they have that, because it's protecting me and the channel from getting massively sued. The channel has been so good at allowing mad ideas and facilitating stuff."

When it comes to him as a performer, he knew there was "massive room for improvement" when it comes to the studio segments of the show.

"It felt like a sort of linking thing between the VTs [videotaped segments], but didn't feel like a juicy enough thing of itself - and it's an important part of the series.

"I think a big part of that was I didn't feel that comfortable doing Autocue. I was really new to it and I felt very not natural with it.

"So, I've been doing these little training sessions with a good friend of mine who's a theatre director and he's been helping me essentially get natural and loose with Autocue. It's really transformed how I feel in studio."

Lycett is a truly lovely interviewee; it seems like he'd be happy to chat all day and it's clear he genuinely cares about his work.

So, it's not surprising to hear he always makes an effort with fans who approach him in public.

"It's a cliche, but the people who enjoy your work and who come up and say, 'I enjoyed that and I liked that,' they are the people who ultimately are keeping you in work. And so, it would be rude and ungrateful of me to be anything but polite.

"I enjoy it, ultimately; particularly when I've had a drink, I love being famous. It's so fun."

However, asked if he'd ever star in a reality show such as I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! or Strictly Come Dancing, he protests: "No, thank you. I mean, who knows, there might come a point when I really need the money. But, at this point, I don't.

"I never wanted to be famous, I just wanted to be creative for my job and perform. I like to show off. I don't go to celeb events, or whatever; that's not really my vibe.

"And, not a criticism of anyone who does these [reality] shows, but I think often they're done as little profile boosts and to get more interest, or whatever, and that's not really what I'm about. I just want to keep making work."

He does enjoy some chill-out time, too, though.

"I've got really into gardening. I could talk about this for hours, but I just caught the bug in the last few years and I've got such plans for my little garden in Birmingham.

"I'm going to do beans, I'm also trying broccoli, cauliflower. The beetroot died a death, so I'm going to have another go at beetroot."

Does he find gardening beneficial for his mental health?

"Yeah, it's really good for my brain box," he concurs. "I think it's something to do with the nurturing side of the psyche; tying up a sunflower, or whatever, and helping it grow. It is just some kind of core human experience.

"I don't have kids, I'm not nurturing another human, so nurturing something else is really fulfilling."

Joe Lycett's Got Your Back, Channel 4, Friday, 8pm

Belfast Telegraph