Inside the Factory spinoff: 'Wallace goes on a toilet paper quest '

‘If King Kong used toilet paper,” said Gregg Wallace, “this is what he would use.” The MasterChef host was visiting a Manchester mill that had increased production from 700,000 to 1m toilet rolls a day to satisfy increased demand during lockdown. The British spirit of stockpiling that led Margaret Thatcher to collect tinned goods for her larder in the 70s is still thriving. Even in Call the Midwife mothers don’t give birth by being chopped into pieces by, effectively, a giant bread slicer. Here, Wallace was doing his bit to increase scream-related toilet-roll purchases by recycling material from a two-year-old show and topping it off with catch-up interviews via video link. It was like one of those disappointing Simpsons clip shows, but with the twist that we got to see Wallace at his laptop in his den chatting to workers on the frontline of toilet-rollproduction. My favourite interviewee was the 24-year-old who suggested that he isn’t averse to telling prospective romantic partners where he works. The programme exasperated me, because the firm that plunders koala bears’ image rights for their packaging should have paid for this free advertisement, rather than the bill being footed by licence-fee paying mugs like me. If we are to learn any lessons about sustainability as a result of lockdown, then maybe our dependence on unsustainable industries needs to be questioned. The long fibres for this brand of toilet roll come from eucalyptus pulp shipped from Brazil. They provide the raw material for the sturdy middle section of toilet paper, while the short fibres from Swedish trees provide the material for the soft outer coverings so that your ickle botty doesn’t get splinters. Toilet roll is neither necessary nor sufficient for that issue that concerns everyone, maximum anal daintiness. There are cultures who look on Britons’ dependence on toilet paper and despair at our lack of hygiene and concern for the environment.