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.

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