How Do They Do It?

Monday 23 August, 7:30pm on Five

This factual series lifts the lid on the incredible engineering behind everyday life. Presenter Robert Llewellyn is on a quest to understand the extraordinary engines, machines and structures that form the backbone of 21st-century living. This week, Robert takes a look at the world’s sharpest knives, the process of manufacturing diamonds and how the bricks used to restore St Pancras station were made. ‘How Do They Do It?’ puts the modern world under the microscope to explain the technology, designs and processes behind our daily lives. As the world becomes progressively more automated and mechanised, people grow further removed from the means and methods of production. To rectify this, actor, writer and presenter Robert Llewellyn (‘Red Dwarf’, ‘Scrapheap Challenge’) gets his hands dirty in a quest to understand modern technology. Each episode contains three stories that venture out of the ordinary, as Robert meets the boffins who are constantly striving to make things bigger, faster, smaller or better. This week, Robert gets the lowdown on the sharpest new knife on the block. On the Japanese island of Kyushu, a factory at the cutting edge of technology is breaking with tradition to produce knives made from a super-sharp ceramic known as zirconia, which is second only to diamond in terms of hardness. This groundbreaking new material does not stain or rust and is almost impossible to blunt. Elsewhere, Robert takes a look at the fascinating process of growing man-made diamonds. While people assume that diamonds are a strictly natural entity, companies all round the world are capable of manufacturing diamonds in their own labs. Sarasota, Florida is home to one of the world’s leading diamond laboratories, which reproduces the very same conditions that cause natural diamonds to develop. Inside the lab, temperatures of over 1,500 degrees Celsius and atmospheric pressures 58,000 times higher than normal allow a tiny seed diamond to be turned into a brilliant one-carat stone in just four days.

About the author

  • BBC One
  • BBC Two
  • BBC Three
  • ITV1
  • ITV2
  • 4
  • E4
  • Film4
  • More4
  • Five
  • Fiver
  • Sky1