Higher channels

November 20, 1998

John Davies suggests some television and radio programmes worth noting this week. (All times pm unless stated.) Pick of the week Cuba Libre (Saturday 4.0 onwards, History Channel). The cable/satellite channel anticipates by six weeks the Cuban revolution's 40th anniversary with five programmes. Spies - Double Agent (4.30) is about Oleg Penkovsky's role in the missile crisis; The Bay of Pigs (6.0) is a new look at the abortive US invasion. Also new, Biography - Che Guevara (7.0) includes eyewitness accounts and a contribution from Guevara's biographer, Jon Lee Anderson. BBC2's Cold War tackles Cuba next week (November 28).

Also this week SATURDAY November 21 The Sky at Night (12.05 BBC2). Patrick Moore looks back at the work of the Royal Greenwich Observatory with its last director, Jasper Wall.

History Hunters (4.0 C4). New series in which Tony Robinson gets teams of ordinary people to investigate the past. This week, how the Crystal Palace was built in 1851 and how it burned down 85 years later.

Cuba Libre (History Channel). See above.

Inspired by Myth (4.15 R3). Oxford's Oliver Taplin discusses Oedipus with opera director David Freeman.

Cold War (8.20 BBC2). Part 9: the build-up to and the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961.

Experimental Feature: Still No Truce (12.25 am R4). Second of three late-night programmes with new work by Welsh poet R. S. Thomas.

SUNDAY November 22 What Does Mr Swanzy Want? (4.0 R4). In the 1940s and 1950s, the World Service's Caribbean Voices helped launch writers such as George Lamming, V. S. Naipaul and Derek Walcott. But was its producer, Henry Swanzy, a cultural imperialist?

Sunday Feature: Maya Angelou (5.45 R3). The American writer talks to Hermione Lee.

Earth Story (8.0 BBC2). Part 4 searches for "the engine that drives the dance of plate tectonics".

Shell Shock (8.0 C4). Final part of the series looks at the psychological damage suffered by veterans of recent conflicts. With Ian Palmer, professor of military psychology at the Royal Defence Medical College.

Byzantium Revisited (10.45 R4). Comparing politics and bureaucracy then and now: Michael Bywater samples Procopius's account of the emperor Justinian's reign.

MONDAY November 23 The Interesting Narrative (9.45 am and all week). The autobiography of the 18th-century Nigerian-born slave Olaudah Equiano, abridged and serialised.

World in Action (8.0 ITV). Report on a European campaign to ban TV ads aimed at children.

Beyond the Clouds (11.0 National Geographic). Part 3 of re-run of Phil Agland's beautiful 1994 documentary series about daily life in provincial China.

Child Brides (11.05 C4). Ethiopian journalist Elleni Mocria on the blight of child marriage - illegal under 15 in her country, but still practised.

TUESDAY November 24 The Bank, the President and the Pearl of Africa (12 midnight C4). Second part of insightful look at the World Bank in action, following its officials as they consider plans to reduce Uganda's external debt.

WEDNESDAY November 25 The Life of Birds (8.0 BBC1). Programme 6: avian signals and songs with David Attenborough.

Costing the Earth (9.0 R4). What can be done about deadly chemicals buried or dumped at sea?

Omnibus: The Whirl of Vanity Fair (10.45 BBC1; 10.30 in Scotland; 11.15 in Wales). With the serialisation on episode 4, a look at Thackeray's life and his novel's contemporary relevance with John Sutherland, D. J. Taylor, Kathy Lette and Peter York.

THURSDAY November 26 Crossing Continents (11.0 am R4). Report from Akademgorodok, the "science city" established in Siberia 40 years ago but now struggling to survive.

Leading Edge (9.0 R4). On mass extinctions.

Science at War (9.25 BBC2). The invention of radar.

Dispatches (9.30 C4). New evidence on links between meat-eating and dementias such as Alzheimer's disease.

John Davies (Davieses@aol.com)

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