Joe dishes out more of our consumer justices

When comedian Joe Lycett entered into a correspondence with a council over a parking fine, he couldn’t have guessed it would lead to a whole new career. Or perhaps he could.

The stand-up, who can also currently be found hosting The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC1, jokes: “My grand plan was to get a parking fine in York, contest it with a series of increasingly absurd emails, perform it on Cats Does Countdown and use its success to convince Channel 4 to give me a consumer show. It worked.”

But even if it was a happy accident, over the course of two series of Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, he has discovered that his approach to championing consumer rights gets results. Joe says: “At first, I thought it was just fun to make a funny version of Watchdog, but it’s become apparent with some of the stories that using humour is actually really effective in getting companies to listen up and change their ways.

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“It’s a bit embarrassing for a company to be exposed for wrongdoing, but it’s really embarrassing if it’s done by making them the butt of a joke.”

Perhaps Joe’s method of dealing with companies may be partly down to the fact that he doesn’t really like confrontation, although he says it’s something he’s getting better at.

He explains: “I’m so British and polite that creating a scene or being confrontational is so not my vibe. But [sidekick] Mark Silcox said to me that you basically have to suspend reality on this show, and I’ve found that really helpful. As the series goes on, I think I get more courageous. But I still find it absolutely terrifying!”

So, it’s good that he’s got Mark and some celebrity helpers to share the load. As anyone who has been watching this second series, which is now up to its eighth episode, will know, the line-up is certainly eclectic.

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As Joe says: “We’ve got amazing comics like Katherine Ryan, Lucy Beaumont and Rosie Jones, plus some classic television legends like Anneka Rice and Mr Motivator, and then cameos from people like Alan Sugar and Uri Geller. It’s like a mad dinner party.”

This week, he’s joined by Alison Hammond who will be helping him find out if an online review site is as trustworthy as it seems.

Joe also takes aim at a paintballing company’s dubious practices and recruits help from a mini-me to take on Google Play Store. And Mark puts high-street bags for life to the test.

So, given Joe’s success at tackling injustices and the fact that he claims to have masterminded landing this series, what’s next for him?

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He laughs: “My next plan is to convince Mark Silcox to run for Prime Minister and manage his, ultimately successful, campaign.”

We wouldn’t bet against it working, although Joe does point out that Mark is very much his own man – and that anything he gets up to in the series is of his own free will.

“I should make it clear I don’t make him do anything – he loves it. Mark has a film in every episode, and they are all so, so funny.”