The 'first scientific autopsy' of a fatbergby Fiona Rae
The word was added to the online Oxford dictionary in 2015, and in 2017, the Museum of London hacked two pieces from a 130-tonne monster discovered under Whitechapel for display to the public – and even invited viewers to follow the fortunes of the disgusting chunks as they evolved. A public vote to name the monster was organised and the people of Britain, inevitably, christened it “Fatty McFatberg”. In a somewhat happy twist, much of Fatty’s fat was later converted into biofuel.
Then last year, a new fatberg under London’s South Bank was deemed even larger than Whitechapel’s. The fatberg is, effectively, a kind of 21st-century celebrity.
Fatberg Autopsy: Secrets of the Sewers (Prime, Tuesday, 8.30pm) follows the “first scientific autopsy” on five tonnes of the Whitechapel fatberg. It’s not mere spectacle: Thames Water enthusiastically supported the documentary in the hope that it might prompt behaviour change and persuade people to stop using its ancient sewage network as a waste-disposal system.
This article was first published in the January 12, 2019 issue of the New Zealand Listener.
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