‘Please Come and See Me Because I’ll Be Dead Soon’: How Michael Sheen Got Sucked Into a Forever Chemicals Exposé

June 24, 2024 | Source: The Guardian | by Daniel Dylan Wray

An opera-loving member of high society turned eco-activist who was forced into police protection with a panic button round his neckA Hollywood actor who recorded said activist’s life story as he was dying from exposure to the very chemicals he was investigating. Throw in two investigative journalists who realise not everything is as it seems, then uncover some startling truths, and you have “podcasting’s strangest team” on Buried: The Last Witness.

On their award-winning 2023 podcast Buried, the husband and wife duo Dan Ashby and Lucy Taylor dug into illegal toxic waste dumping in the UK and its links to organised crime. This time, they focus on “forever chemicals”, specifically polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and set out to discover whether one whistleblower may have been decades ahead of his time in reporting on their harmful impact.

“It’s amazing how big the scale of this story is,” says Ashby, as we sit backstage at the Crucible theatre, where they are doing a live discussion as part of Sheffield DocFest. “With this series, we don’t just want it to make your blood turn cold, we want it to make you question your own blood itself.”

It all started when Taylor and Ashby were sent a lead about the work of former farmer’s representative Douglas Gowan. In 1967, he discovered a deformed calf in a field and began to investigate strange goings on with animals close to the Brofiscin and Maendy quarries in south Wales. He linked them to the dumping of waste by companies including the nearby Monsanto chemical plant, which was producing PCBs.