Channel 4 presents the ultimate 'up-cycling' challenge

Three Designers. One Plane. Zero Waste.

In this 90-minute special, Kevin McCloud challenges three designers to turn an entire Airbus A320 into hundreds of amazing new products in a giant ‘Up-cycling’ experiment. Their task is to find a new use for every single piece of the plane, leaving only an empty hangar behind them.

The office pods and desk lamps, rickshaws and rocking chairs, luggage, storage and even jewellery that they fashion from this fallen giant will prove – in a spectacular and sustainable way – that creativity is a genuine solution to Britain’s waste crisis.

The experiment is a showcase for a quiet revolution in the way we treat rubbish, and Kevin’s call to action to a country becoming complacent about waste. For a new generation of designers, recycling means something far more dynamic than sorting our bottles from our potato peelings when putting out the bins. They’re turning base metal into gold as they fashion desirable (and highly saleable) products from junk and scrap.

Upcycling a plane is no easy task. It’s not just the size of this challenge that makes it tough – to master it, the designers need endless ingenuity, patience with the most unpromising materials (composite flooring) and the entrepreneurial skills and sales patter needed to sell their sometimes outlandish creations.

It’s a transformation on an unprecedented scale and Kevin’s largest recycling project to date. If they can pull it off, though, they’ll have shown that the sky’s (not) the limit.

Kevin and the Mechanibals (w/t) is a 1x90’ Arrow Media film commissioned by Jill Fullerton-Smith and John Hay, at Channel 4. Tom Brisley, Joint Creative Director at Arrow Media says, “It's fantastic when you can combine a genuine TV event with something that can make a difference in the real world. As more airliners are broken up and melted down at the end of their lives, the skill and crafting that went into making them is lost forever, not to mention the pile of composite material which goes straight to landfill. We knew that finding ways of keeping the spirit of the plane alive in redesigned pieces, as well as reducing Britain's waste, would inspire designer and champion of recycling, Kevin McCloud into action.”

TX end of April.

Notes for Editors:

The proceeds raised from the sale of the plane creations will be for NCCA UK; a children's cancer charity working to raise awareness of neuroblastoma, fund research and support families so that more children can survive the disease, connected personally to the MD of Sycamore Aviation, who donated our plane.

About Arrow Media

Arrow Media is one of the UK’s most ambitious creative forces. A fast-growing independent production company, Arrow Media specialises in creating high quality and innovative content across TV, film and digital media from long-running series to big ambitious projects such as Live from Space, Ultimate Airport Dubai and Jumbo – the plane that changed the world. Established in 2011, the company was founded by Tom Brisley, John Smithson, and Iain Pelling and operates in the UK, US and other key international territories, where all three partners have extensive experience.


Combing passion, design knowledge and practical making skills, each of our three designers have one thing in common – they live to redesign, repurpose and remake.

Paul Firbank –Scrap Metal Magician

Based in the East End of London, Paul sorts and sifts through London’s scrap yards, railway arch grease shops and thrift markets looking for the remains of outmoded modern metal parts and vintage engineered machinery.

Paul restores, welds, turns, strips, brushes, polishes and varnishes, transforming these discarded scraps into bespoke pieces of contemporary lighting and furniture. Paul and his partner Lizzie set up the in 2011.

‘Paul Firbank, the Rag and Bone Man is the unchallenged King of the Scraphill, Ruler of Recycling and a gifted craftsman in metal’ Kevin McCloud.

Max McMurdo – Upmarket Conceptualist

Max takes everyday waste objects and upcycles them into beautiful yet functional pieces of furniture and accessories. He has made an array of products, from bath chairs for the Body Shop, to an aeroplane wing desk for Theo Paphitis.

‘If we are to change consumer attitudes towards recycling and re-use, we really must provide desirable eco-friendly alternatives.’

In 2003, Max set up, a company dedicated to designing a range of desirable furniture salvaged from waste destined for the landfill; and spreading the ethos of upcycling remains Max’s number one goal.

Harry Dwyer – Mad Inventor

Harry is the wildcard among our three designers. He grew up on a farm tinkering with machines and building whatever he could imagine. His creations are often driven by a desire to make something fun and unusal, the bigger, wilder and more original, the better.

Harry has created bespoke vehicle restorations and custom interiors for various private and public commissions including pimped up vans for ‘bands in transit’ a Ford motor company project. He also turned an Austin 500 van into a two horsepower motorboat that he sailed down the Sharpness canal.

Harry is a semi-professional maker and whilst he takes on commercial projects he also runs a small electronics company, and recently collaborated with the artist Antony Gormley.

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