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Would Laurence Olivier be allowed to play Othello today?

Also: how does the Queensferry Bridge measure up and the vehicles that are the most lethal for pedestrians

2 September 2017

9:00 AM

2 September 2017

9:00 AM

Ethnic ethics

Actor Ed Skrein withdrew from a cartoon film after protests that he had the wrong ethnic background to play a Japanese-American. Some famous performances which, on the same principle, could be regarded as unacceptable:

— Laurence Olivier blacked up to play the lead role in the 1965 film of Othello.
— Andrew Sachs, son of a German Jew, played Manuel the Spanish waiter in Fawlty Towers in 1975 and 1979.
— Eddie Redmayne, who is not disabled, played Stephen Hawking in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.
— Lin-Manuel Miranda, who is of Puerto Rican descent, played founding father Alexander Hamilton in the Broadway musical Hamilton, which he also wrote.

Bridge of size

How does the Queensferry Bridge, the new road bridge across the Forth, measure up against its predecessor?

Queensferry bridge / Forth bridge
Opened 2017 / 1964
Cost £1.35bn / £11.5m (£210m today)
Main span 2,130ft / 3,300ft
Height above
high-tide level
683ft / 512ft
Tonnes of steel 35,000 / 39,000
Construction deaths 2 / 7

Vicious cycles


A cyclist using a ‘fixie’ bike with no front brake was convicted over the death of a woman who stepped into the road. Which vehicles are most lethal for pedestrians?

— In 2015, for every billion miles cycled in Britain, 137 pedestrians were hit by a bike, leading to 0.6 deaths and 30 serious injuries (per billion miles). Pedestrian victim figures for other vehicles:

Deaths / Serious injuries
Car 1.1 / 16
Lorry 3 / 6.8
Motorcycle 3.6 / 75
Bus/coach 10 / 76

Figures per billion vehicle miles.
Source: Department for Transport

Storm force

How bad was Hurricane Harvey? It was briefly a Category 4 storm as it hit Texas, the strongest in the state since Hurricane Carla in 1961. But other states have suffered more. In the last century, eight Cat 4 storms and these three Cat 5s, all made landfall in the USA (excluding Hawaii):

Florida: Labor Day Storm, September 1935; Hurricane Andrew, August 1992
Mississippi and Louisiana: Hurricane Camille, August 1969


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