Joe Lycett has been The Great British Sewing Bee’s beloved presenter since 2019 after taking over from the lovely Claudia Winkleman. Stand-up comic, consumer champion and Twitter over-sharer, he’s brought comedy, kindness and an array of fabulous outfits to the show that we absolutely adore. He brought lots of joy to the sewing room and quickly became a firm favourite.
You can learn all about The Great British Sewing Bee 2021 over in our episode guide but we wanted to sit down with Joe Lycett and talk about the 2021 series of the Sewing Bee. As always there were happy tears, frustrated tears (from both us and the contestants!) and a whole lot of laughs. We chatted to Joe about what it was like to be back, his favourite challenges and pieces and of course, his outfits for this year’s show. Sadly this was his last series of the show, but we look forward to seeing how new presenter Sara Pascoe fares in the sewing room.
Hi Joe! The Sewing Bee 2021 is back. How did it feel coming back to Patrick and Esme and the Sewing Room? Did it feel like coming home to mummy and daddy?
It certainly did – it was strange really. It was the first thing I had done since Lockdown; we were in sniffing distance of one another. It was a real treat and hugely liberating.
Do you play it straight this time in the haberdashery or are there any naughty moments?
There are plenty of naughty moments, don’t you worry about that. The little minx in me was very evident and active throughout.
Were there tears in the 2021 Sewing Bee?
There were a lot of tears this year, some joyful tears and then sad moments when people messed up. It was quite a dramatic series in that regard.
Hugs aren’t allowed this year so what did you offer as support instead?
Sweets and chocolate seemed to be the best way to get round the sewers. I was still able to offer emotional support and had tissues on hand for the teary moments.
What was the vibe in the Sewing Room this year with the new set etc? Did it feel different?
Yes and no, it was a new set and there was distance but the warmth and heart was there and the camaraderie was as strong as ever. This time, we have incredible river views which was good for the sewers to look at.
Since being in the series and around Esme and Patrick would you say your style has improved?
I don’t think there were ever any issues with my style, and if anything I would say their style has improved from being around me.
What’s the best present a fan has sent you?
I have got a lovely embroidered badge that has me, Patrick and Esme on it, with me wearing fur around my neck. Past sewer Mercedes’s daughter embroidered a drawing of me in the bath with a face mask on.
What are your 3 favourite challenges from this series?
I loved the Transformation challenge in Sustainability week – using army surplus to make into a woman’s garment; I loved the Made to Measure in Children’s week with the Unisex Raincoat, and I loved the Paper Bag Shorts in Week 2 – Summer as a Pattern challenge.
During Covid a lot of people weren’t able to go out buying clothes, do you think it has brought some kind of sustainability sense to the nation?
I really hope so, we definitely need to be reusing and getting the most out of our fabrics. It’s a massive pollution and it’s a huge issue. Just use what you have and think twice about buying stuff that you really don’t need.
Can you describe some of the outfits you wear in this series?
They are sort of indescribable – an assault to the eyes. I keep them and reuse them. There was a pink fur jacket in the first series, which I took from the show.
And is mum still a fan of Sewing Bee?
My mum is still a huge fan and loved the last series. She couldn’t visit the set this time because of Covid protocols, but I sent her pictures all the time, so she felt part of it.
Have you learned about sewing this time round?
Yes of course I have learned more!
OK, tell us more – the difference between Warp and Weft?
Warp is the lengthwise thread in a woven fabric and Weft is the crosswise thread used in interfacing, they support and stabilise the fabric of the garment. Of course.
How difficult is it for you when a Sewer has to leave, do you talk to them off-camera?
I found it really hard this year. They are a really lovely gang, amazingly diverse group in terms of culture and their skills, they have brilliant creative minds and they brought so much to it. I really connected to them and felt they were a strong bunch of Sewers.
Are you on this series What’s App group – and how many messages would you get in a day?
Yes, I keep in touch with sewers from the previous series – and all they talk about is sewing, but it’s a lovely way of keeping in contact. The group goes dead during TX and then it comes alive after that with so many messages.
Can we expect to see some comedy moments from you?
I hope so – a lot of silliness in the sewing room to break the tension of working against the clock. I probably drive them mad, but it’s all done with good humour.
How do you try and make the Sewers calmer or destress them when you’re chatting to them?
I really try not to bother them too much. If I can see that they are stressing out for whatever reason, I will keep it mercifully brief. The show has warmth and heart, and I don’t want to scupper the Sewers in any way. Obviously, we are trying to make a telly programme, but I don’t want to make their lives harder; I want them to be proud of what they have done, and the show is all about pushing their sewing skills and creativity.
What was the last day like?
The last day was amazing, a real feat and the crew are such fun to be around and so expert at what they do. It’s such a lovely production, and the last day felt like a real victory amidst the chaos of the world. It was a successful shoot and we completed 12 episodes of telly engineering. The pressure was on for a lot of people but they rose to the challenge and we all got there.
You recently won two RTS awards for best presenter, one for the Sewing Bee! The judges described you as ‘warm, approachable and kind, with tremendous enthusiasm for the subject matter.’ How did you feel about that?
I was shocked and humbled at the same time to find out I had won both. And it’s really thanks to the amazing teams on both shows who put in so much effort to make them work. Quite frankly, I am delighted. I am not sure where I will put them, but they will get pride of place in the house.
Thanks Joe! We absolutely loved speaking to you and can’t wait for the 2021 Sewing Bee. If you fancy learning how to sew then make sure you check out our best sewing machines for beginners and our sewing for beginners guide which covers all the basics. There’s everything from threading your machine to making your first stitch!
Now you’ve heard from Joe we’re going to tell you why we love him here at Gathered.
3 reasons why we love Joe Lycett on the Bee
From his flamboyant outfits (and fabulous nail varnish choices) to his brand of gentle wit, Lycett tackled last Spring’s Spring’s series of the Bee like the pro he is. At times his lack of sewing experience even worked in his favour as he looked on, bemused, at the dressmaking wizardry happening on the contestants’ sewing machines and lightened the atmosphere with quips and sidenotes.
In a way his lack of seamstress skill mirrored the viewers’ – few of who would be comfortable grappling with stretch lycra or refashioning a coat for a dog.
He may not match Claudia in the shiny fringe and perfect smoky eye stakes but he’s more than made up for in his drama-filled outfits and one-liners. Here are three reasons we reckon he’s perfect for The Great British Sewing Bee.
He’s a snappy dresser
A quick scroll through Joe’s Instagram leaves us in no doubt of his passion for, shall we say, unique fashion. Fur coats, jazzy shirts and gold lamé are just a few of his sartorial highlights, so out-there GBSB creations like skanklets and elephant costumes doesn’t phase him one bit. Plus, anyone dedicated enough to match their shirt to their wallpaper is sure to appreciate The Sewing Bee’s amazing haberdashery, right?
We’re expecting good things from Joe’s flamboyant wardrobe in the 2021 series.
Who is Joe Lycett?
He’s a popular UK comedian. Before he stepped up to host the Great British Sewing Bee he has hosted Live At the Apollo and starring in shows such as 8 of 10 Cats Does Countdown, Would I Lie to You? and Roast Battle. In fact he’s so popular he’s won awards and sold out three sell out UK and Ireland tours. So we’re looking forward to seeing what he brings to the Bee!
He’s a pro at puns
With previous stand-up show titles as Some Lycett Hot and That’s The Way, A-ha, A-ha, Joe Lycett, it’s clear that Joe has some serious punning skills, so we can’t wait to see what sewing-related wordplay he comes up with this series. In fact, he was showing off his punning prowess as soon as he first released a statement announcing his new role!
Let’s just hope he hasn’t used up all his best sewing puns before the show even starts…
He’s got sewing skills (well, sort of)
We all had to begin our sewing journey somewhere, and in Joe’s case it was with this rather fetching, erm, pair of trousers, sewn together with an actually-not-too-bad running stitch.
Even Patrick Grant was impressed, calling his creation “a thing of wonder” – we have a feeling he might not be quite so forgiving when it comes to judging the new contestant’s efforts, though.