Life

TV review: Italy's economy is killing people

Kathy Burke getting her photograph taken by fashion icon Rankin

When Bridges Collapse: The Genoa Disaster, BBC 2, Monday at 9pm

The collapse of the Morandi suspension bridge in Genoa a year ago made headlines around the world.

It was almost unthinkable that a major bridge (1km long and 50 metres high) could smash to the ground in a European city.

Forty-three people died and 13 were injured as the centre section of the bridge collapsed onto the apartment blocks and railway lines of the valley floor in the mid-morning traffic of August 14.

Italy mourned, but perhaps shouldn't have been surprised. Six bridges had collapsed in the country in the previous six years.

None were of the scale of the “biggest, most famous bridge in Italy” but each pointed to an inspection system which was struggling to find problems.

‘The Genoa Disaster' told the human story of the disaster with interviews with survivors, the emergency services and even two octogenarians who found each other in the confusion of the collapse and decided to become a couple.

But the real story was in figuring out what happened. How could a bridge collapse?

The state is seeking prosecutions against 71 people, but the answer is still uncertain.

A government appointed team given a month to reach a conclusion found steel supports in the road section failed, however the engineering community in Italy sees a different problem.

A CCTV camera on the ground appears to show a giant gable stay (52 steel cables encased in concrete to protect against rust) snap at a point near the top of the supporting 90 metre tower.

The failure which cascaded through the bridge brought it down and exposed the Morandi as having a significant design flaw.

More modern bridges are designed so that a number of sections can fail without compromising the integrity of the entire structure.

The Morandi, opened in 1967 after four-years work, was susceptible to “single point failure.”

The real failure, however, seems to have been the Italian economy.

The inspection regime has been starved of funding and relies on old technology reflecting a country in deep economic trouble.

Per capita income at levels in Italy are at 1998 levels (Germany increased 28 per cent in the same period) and debt is at 130 per cent of GDP.

Italy has had three recessions in this time - 2008, 2012 and 2018 - and is at loggerheads with the EU.

Its failing economy is literally killing people.

***

Kathy Burke's All Woman, Channel 4, Tuesday at 10pm

You've got to love Kathy Burke.

Not only did she brings us some of the most memorable characters in comedy (Waynetta to Wayne and Perry to Kevin), but it turns out she's a decent TV presenter.

‘All Woman' is a fairly familiar documentary topic about the dangers of young women feeling they have to attain perfect beauty. This is obviously amplified in a world of social media and relatively inexpensive cosmetic surgery.

Burke spoke to Love Island contestants, plastic surgeons and young people refusing to accept the rules, but she didn't dispute the facts of life.

“They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we all know that's b****x, you're a looker or you're not,”

And she adds: “A beautiful woman is extremely powerful.”

Burke readily concedes that she's in the ‘not' category, but while she struggled with this in her youth has now come to embrace her looks and champion her brain, confident that she is “a good person.”

It wasn't the most dynamic of television programmes but Burke's solid advice deserves to be heard all the same.

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