Daily Mail

Baldrick has a cunning plan to fix potholes – and it might just work!


FinallY, Baldrick has a cunning plan that might work. sir Tony robinson, beloved as the turnip-headed manservant in Blackadder, is going to rid the kingdom of potholes.

You might expect his solution to be spectacula­rly stupid — digging away all the roads down to pothole level, for instance, or filling the cavities with rat stew, which is what Baldrick usually puts in a pot.

But no, this plan, revealed on Tony Robinson’s Marvellous Machines (Yesterday), involves a 13-ton JcB Pothole Pro, ‘boasting a 360-degree swivelling cabin and a more-than-five-metre articulati­ng arm with modulating attachment­s’, capable of driving sideways.

The vehicle is as clever as it sounds. its 52 teeth shred the road surface and scrape away a neat oblong around the pothole in seconds, before a brush that revolves 300 times a minute sweeps up the dust. Then it charges off to the next hole at 25mph, while a road crew lays fresh tarmac.

Tony looked completely enamoured of this behemoth, and more than a bit wistful that he wasn’t allowed to clamber up into the cockpit to have a go at the controls.

The only problem with his plan is the sheer number of potholes in the Uk. last month the rac published a rough estimate, suggesting

there are more than a million. The cost of fixing them all could be £12 billion. Perhaps rat stew is a better idea after all.

sir Tony couldn’t get quite as excited about the new generation of atomic clocks, developed to bring extra precision to orbiting satellites. apparently, the old atomic clocks are prone to losing the odd millisecon­d. The latest ones, which fire a blue laser at a single atom suspended in a vacuum, are 100 times more accurate, to the nearest hundred-million-billionth of a second. Whoopee.

Much more entertaini­ng was the Big Boy mega-maintenanc­e monster at cologne airport, which performs a task i’d never considered necessary — washing the runway. Blasting the asphalt with water, it removes the rubber tyremarks left daily by aeroplanes as they land.

a woman with a delightful German accent assured us that this was highly ‘ echo- friendly’ because it didn’t use ‘shemicals’.

Michael Portillo’s faultless spanish accent was much in evidence as he chatted to locals in Portillo’s Andalucia (Ch5). His fluency is no surprise, since his father, luis, was a castilian poet who escaped to england in 1939 after the civil War.

Much more shocking was to see Michael behind the wheel of a car. Visiting Granada in the first episode of this six-part series, he didn’t so much as glance sideways at a train. His peacock costumes were worryingly absent too. in place of his usual pink trousers and luminous fedoras, he was mostly bare-headed and sported a pair of baggy white slacks. This isn’t like him at all.

He kept his spirits up with plenty of sugary treats. in the nearby town of santa Fe, he helped to bake a batch of pianono cakes and, ringing the doorbell at a quiet convent, he bought a couple of packets of biscuits from a nun who modestly refused to be seen. one hand appeared for a moment, placed the biccies in a revolving hatch, and vanished again.

The shots of Granada, a breathtaki­ngly beautiful city, lingered much longer. so did Michael, as he wandered through the courtyards and colonnades of the alhambra palace, a 14th-century fortress that was once the headquarte­rs of a Muslim empire.

We also learned how the pomegranat­e got its name: ‘pomme’ means apple, so it’s the ‘apple of Granada’. Fancy that.

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