How Do They Do It?

Monday 30 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 learns how electricity is supplied to people’s homes and takes a look at the world’s biggest floating crane. ‘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. This week, Robert meets people who work around the clock to provide electricity to homes. High above the Appalachian mountains in North America, linesman Daniel ‘Spider’ Lockhart works from a narrow helicopter platform to repair electrical cables. From his precarious position, the linesman must grab on to the live wires and fix new dampeners to prevent the cables swinging in the wind. Spider is shielded from the line’s half a million volts of electricity by a wire-lined hot suit that carries the current around his body. However, one false move and he could suffer a fatal shock – or fall 50m to the treacherous ground below. A kilometre offshore in Wakasa Bay on the east coast of Japan, a new breakwater is being built. This mammoth task requires a very special type of crane. Enter the Kaisho, one of the world’s largest floating cranes. Standing at over 120m tall, this amazing piece of machinery is capable of lifting up to 4,100 tonnes at a time and placing it directly onto the seabed. Robert learns all about the technology behind this awe-inspiring machine.

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