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Documentary series. Gregg Wallace explores the factory that makes 700,000 toilet rolls a day and Cherry Healey gets the bum deal of following a flush through the sewers.

Gregg Wallace explores the Manchester factory that produces 700,000 toilet rolls a day. He begins 940 miles away in Sweden, where the raw material - wood - is harvested from a sustainable forest of one billion spruce trees. Most of the wood is used for timber, but the offcuts are turned into sheets of wood pulp. Gregg follows this pulp to Manchester, where he learns that two types of wood fibre - long and short - are required for a loo roll, to give it strength but also softness. He watches as 3,750 kilos of fibre are combined with 34,000 litres of water and sprayed into a 40-metre-long, 11-metre-high paper-making machine. It takes just four seconds for the watery pulp mix to be transformed into soft, dry paper. It is then rolled onto a 1.2 tonne supersized toilet roll known as a 'mother reel'. Each one of these gives birth to 25,000 individual toilet rolls.

Meanwhile, Cherry Healey is at Britain's oldest toilet factory, where they churn out 1,000 loos a day. And she gets the bum deal of following the flush through the sewers and water treatment works of Brighton, finding out how sewage is cleared of debris, grease and bacteria, and transformed into clean water in a little over an hour after flushing. She has a cheeky encounter with a high-tech Japanese toilet and heads to Cranfield University to see a prototype toilet that does away with the need for water altogether. Could this be the toilet of the future that gives one-third of the world's population access to efficient sanitation?

Historian Ruth Goodman finds out what was used to wipe with before the invention of toilet paper. She discovers that the weapon of choice in the American midwest was a dried-out corn cob. And that it wasn't until the 1930s that toilet paper was guaranteed 'splinter free'. She is also in myth-busting mode, finally laying to rest the idea that Thomas Crapper invented the modern toilet. She heads into the House of Lords to check out an 18th-century flushing toilet, still in use today, and discovers that the Great Stink of 1858 expedited a period of sanitary invention that led to the toilet we know today.

59 minutes

Last on

Sun 16 Aug 2020 20:15

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:02

    Katy Perry

    California Gurls (feat. Snoop Dogg)

  • 00:02



  • 00:04



  • 00:06

    Take That


  • 00:07

    The Phoenix Foundation


  • 00:09

    Paloma Faith


  • 00:10


    All In One Night

  • 00:12

    Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky

    The Sleeping Beauty (Panorama)

    Orchestra: London Symphony Orchestra. Conductor: André Previn.
  • 00:16

    Bad Sounds

    Living Alone

  • 00:16

    Crystal Fighters

    Live For You

  • 00:21



  • 00:22

    Rita Ora

    Your Song

  • 00:24



  • 00:26

    Fickle Friends


  • 00:28

    Royal Blood

    Figure it Out

  • 00:30

    Rae Morris

    Lower The Tone

  • 00:34

    Eliza and the Bear

    It Gets Cold

  • 00:27

    Ray BLK

    Doing Me

  • 00:35

    Fickle Friends

    Hard To Be Myself

  • 00:37

    Paloma Faith

    Till I'm Done

  • 00:37

    Louis Berry

    25 Reasons

  • 00:38



  • 00:41

    Calvin Harris

    Acceptable In The 80s

  • 00:41

    Chase & Status

    This Moment - Instrumental

  • 00:45

    Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds

    She Taught Me How To Fly

  • 00:45


    Clearest Blue

  • 00:46



  • 00:47



  • 00:48

    Dua Lipa

    Be The One

  • 00:55

    Laura Mvula

    Phenomenal Woman

  • 00:57


    All I Can Think About Is You

  • 00:57

    Tom Grennan

    Found What I've Been Looking For


Role Contributor
Presenter Ruth Goodman
Presenter Cherry Healey
Presenter Gregg Wallace
Production Company Voltage TV Productions Ltd
Music Steve Tait
Sound Geraint Lewis
Sound Simon Cross
Director of photography Chris Titus-King
Camera Operator Rhys Plume
Colourist Tim O'Brien
On-line editing Jamie Home
Re-recording mixer Michael Wood
Runner Celeste Harper-Davis
Runner Natalie Chodakowska
Production Coordinator Rachel Drew
Production Manager Samara Friend
Editor Tim Hansen
Editor Ruth Horner
Assistant Producer Katie Louise Clarke
Assistant Producer Fran Jarvis
Producer Phillip Smith
Executive Producer Jon Alwen
Executive Producer Sanjay Singhal
Director Emma Pound
Series Editor Amanda Lyon


  • Tue 24 Jul 2018 20:00
  • Sun 29 Jul 2018 19:00
  • Wed 8 Aug 2018 01:15
  • Fri 21 Jun 2019 19:00
  • Sun 16 Aug 2020 20:15