How Do They Do It?

Series 3 - Episode 6

How Do They Do It?

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Love it or hate it, Marmite is a quintessentially British product – even though it was invented by a German. In the late 19th century, chemist Justus von Liebig was one of the first people to recognise the nutritional properties of yeast extract. However, rather than develop his idea, he put his energies into another product – Oxo. It was left to the Marmite Company of Burton upon Trent to begin manufacturing the famous spread in 1902.

Today the production line runs 24 hours a day, producing more than 5,000 tonnes of Marmite a year. The key to making the black stuff is brewer’s yeast, a waste product of beer-making. After it has done its job turning malted barley and hops into ale, it is loaded into tankers for the short trip across Burton to the Marmite factory. The yeast is then broken down by enzymes and salt, before it is filtered, concentrated and mixed with a secret selection of spices to produce the final spread.

Elsewhere, Robert meets a group of designers who have set their minds to a most difficult seafaring challenge. They claim to have a built a lifeboat that will not capsize even in the most violent of storms.
Naval architect Ian Chaplin explains that the RNLI’s most advanced lifeboat yet, the Tamar Class, is designed with a fibreglass and foam hull and a low centre of gravity to make it almost unsinkable. Robert watches on as the boat is put to the test and deliberately capsized. Will the brand-new £2.4million boat right itself, or will it sink to the bottom of the harbour?

Robert also discovers the secrets behind the world’s most spectacular light show in Hong Kong. Surprisingly enough, this fantastic display was developed to save power and reduce light pollution. With the city’s skyscrapers vying for attention with ever brighter lighting, the city authorities came up with the idea of a co­ordinated light show. Now over seven kilometres of LEDs, two-and-a-half kilometres of neon and 15,000 lights and lasers are illuminated each evening in a computer-controlled 14-minute display – all for the tidy sum of $15million.

More episodes


  • Series 3 - Episode 7

    Robert finds out how steel is made; discovers how household rubbish is turned into compost; and learns the secrets of cheese.


  • Series 3 - Episode 5

    Robert watches on as the Lancashire Fire Service trains its crews to tackle everything from blazing fuel tankers to search and rescue missions.

  • Series 2 - Episode 5

    Robert examines tree felling in Scandinavia, car transportation in Bristol and confectionery production in Canada.

All episodes 

Comments (12)

  • jamie coppell

    over 2 years ago

    jamie coppell

    it was cool ;0

  • john mcmanaman

    over 2 years ago

    john mcmanaman

    your site is a disgrace.go to bbc iplayer look and learn

  • phil woodford

    almost 3 years ago

    phil woodford

    what IS the problem with not being able to see episodes of "How do they do it"? It's a great informative programme which I miss every Monday night,and cannot get to see again

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  • dave wood

    almost 3 years ago

    dave wood

    this has got to be the worst site for 'catch-up tv' every programme, including 'how do they do it' never seems to work or is un-available I don't know why I bother

  • chrisbrooks

    almost 3 years ago


    i cant seem to get anything to work on this site every thing i try to watch comes up as not available WHY IS THIS

  • annonymous

    3 years ago


    show ended prematurely, at end of first half, before they got to the marmite bit.couldn't even get some of the other programmes (e.g. CSI and NCIS) to play.

  • ken palmer

    over 3 years ago

    ken palmer

    Picture froze before finishing the life boat sequence!!!!!

  • Demand_FIVE

    over 3 years ago


    Thanks for making us aware of this issue. We are experiencing a technical problem with our video at present. It is being investigated and we’ll get this restored as soon as we can. Thanks for your patience.

  • Brian Regelous

    over 3 years ago

    Brian Regelous

    How can you justify not showing ' How dot they do it ? shown on Channel 5 on 8/11/2010 ? Could you please tell me why it is not called ' Channel 5 On Demand except for '' How do they do it ? Episode 14/20 when I forget to record it '' ?

  • Alan Clare

    over 3 years ago

    Alan Clare

    Only showed ten minutes instead of 23 minutes.