TV presenter Dominic ‘Dom’ Littlewood has described Hull-based bus company East Yorkshire (EY) as the “lifeblood of the community” after taking up his latest challenge.
The consumer campaigner and exposer of rogue tradesmen has been experiencing life with essential workers for his new series, Dom Digs In, seeing if he can make the grade within the various organisations he visits.
Wanting to see how a bus operator was faring during the height of a pandemic, Dom arranged to film for a few days with EY and earlier today BBC One viewers were able to see the ins and outs of the company’s activities through Dom’s eyes.
Dom tried his hand at various tasks, learning how to drive a double-decker, running the control centre, carrying out an oil change and having a crack at renewing the livery of one of the bus fleet, with varying degrees of success.
“Running a bus service is a much bigger challenge than I ever imagined,” said Dom, who learned from area director Ben Gilligan that the company runs 250 buses, employs 650 people and that a “sense of humour and a thick skin” were among the necessary attributes for a role at EY.
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The presenter, kitted out in EY uniform, had his driving skills assessed first by Darren Kendrew, training manager, but only in a van before he was considered safe to be let loose in a bus.
Dom then shadowed driver Sarah Daddy on the 104 service to Castle Hill Hospital, chatting to passengers including hospital cleaner Brenda and support worker Penelope, who said the service was vital to their daily lives.
With training supervisor Tracy Beadle keeping a watchful eye, and the loan of Hull City’s car park for some manoeuvring tests, Dom managed to “squish” one traffic cone and mount a kerb in his practice run.
After driving a double-decker through the bus wash with no mishaps, Dom joined Les Taylor, paint shop supervisor of 41 years, for a lesson in refreshing the livery of a bus, with the instruction, “don’t hit it, don’t pat it, you roll it, you have to get a move on, Dom”.
With apprentice mechanic Jack Jackson, Dom climbed into the 4ft deep pit to do an oil change but literally slipped up when he lost his grip on a container of fresh engine oil, dropped it and covered Jack in the contents.
“All of a sudden, this job just got a whole lot messier,” said Dom.
Lunch with some of the EY crew revealed the feelings of the team about it being “like a massive family” and that they were genuinely pleased to get out of bed to come to work every day.
A stint in the control centre had Dom saying he would have “crumbled” without Simon Cowey, service delivery controller on hand, as drivers radioed in about a road closure, caused by an accident involving a pedestrian.
“As soon as I answer one call, another one comes in,” he said, learning that he could have a “lie-in” the next day and come in for 6am, rather than 4am, when he would be helping with detailing the drivers.
“I have loved my time at East Yorkshire buses,” Dom said. “These men and women go above and beyond to keep the wheels on this essential service.”
Dom Digs In airs Monday to Friday, 11am, on BBC One or catch up on BBC iPlayer.