Higher channels

September 18, 1998

In a new weekly column, John Davies selects radio and television programmes of use to THES readers. (All times pm unless stated.)

Pick of the week

Cold War (Saturday 8.10 BBC2). Jeremy Isaacs was once a television documentary-maker, and among his credits is ITV's 1974 World at War series. And now this, a 24-part series that surveys the conflict between the West and the Soviet bloc.

Also this week:

FRIDAY September 18

Avalanche (8.0 National Geographic Channel). Avalanches and how scientists try to predict them.

SATURDAY September 19

A History of War and Peace in Four Menus (2.30 Radio 4). The third of four programmes blending history and food. The marriage of Henry V to Katherine of Valois (1420) is discussed, and a Lenten fish dish of the period is created.

Biography: Julius Caesar (7.0 History Channel). The script is overfond of words such as "incredibly", but Mark Hassall of the Institute of Archaeology and three Oxford dons - Miriam Griffin, Christopher Pelling and Andrew Lintott - add gravitas.

The Glory of the Geeks (8.0 C4) US web columnist Bob Cringely's sequel to The Revenge of the Nerds. A useful oral history of computer networking and the developments that led to the Internet's foundation.

SUNDAY September 20

Portillo's Progress (8.0 C4). The former Conservative minister "goes on a quest for a new political agenda for his party". First of three.

The Nazis - A Warning from History (9.0 BBC2). Repeat for history of the rise of Hitlerism, which won 1997 Bafta best factual series award.

The Private Life of Plants (8.0 UK Horizons). David Attenborough's BBC series gets a cable/satellite rerun, daily until Friday.

MONDAY September 21

Local Heroes: The Netherlands (8.0 BBC2). Adam Hart-Davis's series on inventors reaches the Netherlands and finds "heroes" such as Willebrord Snell, who used triangulation to map his country.

Postscript (10.10 Radio 3). Five writers "as yet little known to the British audience". Tonight, Azouz Begag of France. Chang Ta Chun of Taiwan (Tuesday); Russian feminist Ludmilla Ulitskaya (Wednesday); Saudi dissident Abdelrahman Munif (Thursday); and Nicholas Papandreou of Greece (Friday).

Raiders of the Human Body (11.20 BBC2, also Tuesday and Wednesday). The bizarre exploits of pioneering anatomists begins with a 17th-century Sicilian priest and his secret experiments in dissection.

TUESDAY September 22

Equinox: Killer Earth (9.0 C4). Why did dinosaurs die out? Concentrates on the evidence for enormous "flood basalt" eruptions and their effects.

Turn on, Turn off - Drugs that Changed the World (9.02 Radio 4). Pharmacology professor Susan Greenfield examines drugs' physical effects and social consequences. This week: painkillers.

WEDNESDAY September 23

Tomorrow's World (7.30 BBC1). Includes second report from Frenchay Hospital, Bristol, on "groundbreaking" operation by neurosurgeon Steven Gill.

University Challenge (8.0 BBC2). Selwyn, Cambridge, versus Harris Manchester, Oxford.

Isambard's Bastards (9.02 Radio 4). Series about British engineering. This week: why the UK is strong in intermediate technology and precision engineering and what this reveals about our education system.

THURSDAY September 24

The Material World (4.30 Radio 4) focuses on anaesthetics, with Leeds University's Dr Bill Winlow.

Weather Wise (9.02 Radio 4). Series on weather science starts with the British climate, and includes Anthony Illingworth of Reading University.

Night Waves (10.45 Radio 3) Debate on the value of university education.

Brainspotting (2am C4). Repeat of series in which Ken Campbell considers consciousness and related mysteries. Part two of three, with artificial intelligence guru Marvin Minsky, physicist Peter Coveney and philosophers John Searle and Galen Strawson.

Comments to John Davies at Daviesesaol.com

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