When Oscar met Ste
He might be United Utilities’ biggest fan, but when six-year-old Oscar Pickering met his Sewermen hero the admiration definitely went both ways.
Star of Channel 5’s Sewermen, Steve Iveson dropped by to see Oscar, from Horwich, after colleagues at Rivington Water Treatment Works learned of his obsession with the fly-on-the-wall series.
After getting a personal tour of Ste’s jetter wagon and exchanging opinions on drain-cleaning, Ste said admiringly: “He could do my job.”
Oscar and dad Ian were such regular visitors to the bench outside the plant that staff took a real shine to the youngster, who had made his own hi-vis jacket by writing United Utilities on with pen.
He also made his own lanyard ID badge by cutting up his gran’s water bill and attaching his photo.
After chatting to them one day, catchment controller Hazel Gregory was so amazed by Oscar’s encyclopaedic knowledge of United Utilities’ work she fixed him a date with Ste.
“He is a genuine fan of the show. He knows all sorts of things about what we do. He was asking about methane levels in the sewers and walks up here with his dad most nights. Everyone knows him. But the main thing is that he’s a really lovely lad. It’s lovely to meet someone who is so genuinely keen on what you’re doing. He even wants his bedroom decorated like United Utilities. We wanted to do something for him,” she said.
When he heard about his young fan, Ste was only too glad to help – bringing his work mate Anthony Fiorenza, better known as Oz, and his jetter wagon along for the ride.
The trio spent an hour looking round the wagon. A delighted Oscar got his hands on a real-life (clean) drain cleaning rod, was presented with his own official branded United Utilities vest and hat, plus other goodies, and sat in the driving seat before they all walked up to the nearby dam at Lower Rivington Reservoir.
Said Ste: “He never stopped talking. What a great little lad. He recognised me and Oz straight away. He said ‘you fed the lambs’, because that was a scene in the series. He’s absolutely besotted with United Utilities and he’s well clued up. He’ll be an apprentice in another 10 years.”
Dad Ian, of nearby Scholes Park, said Oscar had started watching Sewermen during lockdown and got obsessed.
“He’s been fascinated with where water comes from and where it goes ever since he was a baby. We walk up to the water works most days after school and he sees the tankers. He watches United Utilities videos on YouTube and must have watched every episode of Sewermen. He was so looking forward to meeting Ste, but we didn’t expect the jacket and the hat. It’s been a fantastic early birthday for him. He’ll be seven later this week,” he said.
Ste, a wastewater technician, was one of the standout stars of the hit Channel 5 show, which shows the daily highs and lows of life working for the North West’s water company.
As the name suggests, much of Sewermen’s output featured the grimier side of the business, with often hilarious results. First broadcast in 2019, Sewermen is still on regular repeat and has earned an army of fans – meaning Ste still gets recognised by customers.
“People often say ‘weren’t you on the telly?’. I think with lockdown people have been at home all the time and Sewermen is always on repeat. I have no regrets. I like it. Meeting people is the best part of the job. They’re more important than anything,” he said.