Daily Express

Uplifting telly at its best

- Mike Ward previews tonight’s TV

WHAT’S it like to be a lift attendant? I bet it has its ups and downs! And now that I’ve got that hilarious joke out of my system, allow me to explain why I felt the need to crack it. Tonight’s episode of THE SECRET GENIUS OF MODERN LIFE (BBC2, 8pm), which, I’m sad to say, brings its current run to a close, looks at how lifts – or “elevators”, if you really must, although you really mustn’t – came to be.

That, and how sophistica­ted they are in their modern incarnatio­n. To the point, that is, where I fear that the job of “lift attendant”, which I assume is no longer commonplac­e, may soon become entirely defunct.

So that joke of mine, you see, is on borrowed time. I have a duty to give it maximum exposure while it still has currency, a bit like when the Royal Mail gave us a deadline to use all our old postage stamps that didn’t have the plug-ugly barcode on them. Secret Genius host Hannah Fry begins tonight’s show with a mind-boggling statistic. “Every three days,” she tells us, “the world’s lifts carry the equivalent of the Earth’s entire population.”

Quite a thought, eh?

As with many of the stats trotted out on this series, I have no idea where she got this one from or how it’s been calculated.

If I were to use the lift at my local multi-storey, which obviously I’d rather not because I have a highly attuned sense of smell and a poor gag reflex, would someone secretly be making a note of that?

Might it be the chap slumped in the corner with the can of Special Brew? But, OK, I’ll take Hannah’s word for it.

Just as I will when she assures us: “Lifts very rarely go wrong...”

Hannah heads to Rottweil in Germany (yes, where the dogs come from), to a special place where lifts get tested.

It’s a very tall tower, and to reach the top she has to take... well, yes, the lift. But it doesn’t take long, because it travels at eight metres a second. (That’s 18mph, according to my sums).

And then she comes back down again. But not in the usual way.

The lady from the testing company invites her to travel back to ground level via a less unconventi­onal method – still using the lift, naturally, but perched on top, rather than inside. She’s terrified.

Still, it’s a good way to illustrate the importance of one key component – namely, the superstron­g steel ropes.

Imagine a lift without those, eh? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

Well, not unless you fancy a ride in one of the new generation of lifts Hannah learns about.These are pulled simply by magnets.

Honestly, what will they think of next?

Me, I’ll think of stairs, ta.

The walk will do me good.

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