Higher channels

December 11, 1998

John Davies makes a weekly selection of radio and television programmes likely to be of interest to THES readers. (All times pm unless stated.) Pick of the week The Truth About Art: Gods (Sunday 8.0 C4). More intellectually coherent than his first programme, the second in Waldemar Januszczak's three-parter looks at how artists have attempted to visualise their gods - from cave paintings via Buddhism and early portrayals of Jesus Christ to contemporary Americans Bill Viola and James Turrell.

FRIDAY December 11 The Romans in Britain (7.30 BBC2). Second programme (of three) has Guy de la Bedoy re looking at the heyday of Roman occupation.

SATURDAY December 12 History Hunters (4.10 C4). Teams of amateur historians go in search of Coventry's past, in particular its watchmakers and car makers.

Biography: Boris Yeltsin (7.0 History Channel). While BBC2's Cold War takes a break - back for a further 13 episodes in February - take in this new biodoc of Russia's first major post-cold-war politician.

Human Rights Season: Amnesty (8.0 BBC2). Continuing BBC's Human Rights season, a portrait of Amnesty International at work. Also part of the season, a Correspondent Special (7.05 BBC2) investigates corruption in Palestine, while The Debate (11.45 BBC2) has argument from international academics and practitioners.

The Real Tojo (9.0 C4). Was General Tojo a misunderstood militarist? Biodoc examining the career of Japan's wartime prime minister.

SUNDAY December 13 Sunday Feature: Throwing the Dice (5.45 R3). On the French poet Stephane Mallarme.

The People vs the UK (11.25 BBC2). Exploring the cases that Britain has had to defend at the European Court of Human Rights.

White Lives (9.0 C4; also Monday). Veteran documentary maker Paul Watson casts a cold eye over the new South Africa, finding a high crime rate and apartheid attitudes still thriving. Also in South Africa, by contrast or coincidence, is Monday's final Planet Ustinov (8.0 C4) in which the multilingual Sir Peter sees the country "awash with hope".

The Sky at Night (1.10 am BBC1; 1.40am in Wales). Patrick Moore and Allan Chapman on timekeeping by starlight; plus what was learned from last month's Leonid meteor shower.

MONDAY December 14 Analysis (8.30 R4). The LSE's Julian le Grand ponders the role of the profit motive in public policy areas such as health and education.

Postscript: Reading Around (9.0 R3 and rest of week). Kevin Jackson considers the work of five classic European writers, beginning with Leopardi. Followed by Camoes (Tues), Holderlin (Wed), Rousseau (Thurs) and Potocki (Fri).

TUESDAY December 15 University Challenge (8.0 BBC2). Manchester University against Harris Manchester College, Oxford.

A Mission to Civilise (8.0 R4). First of two programmes on France's ties with its former African colonies visits the oil-rich state of Gabon.

WEDNESDAY December 16 Proud to be Chinese (7.30 BBC2). How Chinese communities around the world cope with changing national identities.

Costing the Earth (9.0 R4). Scrutinising the ban on DDT, the most effective weapon against malaria. Is there an environmental dilemma here?

THURSDAY December 17 Science at War (9.25 BBC2). "Full Spectrum Dominance". US defence research spending is as high now as at any time during the cold war. The result is the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs. This last in BBC2's series is hardly critical of the scientists involved (who talk about their destructive weapons in affectionate phrases such as "this little baby right here"), but does hint that the US is breaking the Test Ban Treaty in some of its nuclear weapons research.

Death Train (3.25 am C4). True Stories documentary about the Soviet Union's doomed Great Stalin Railway that was to have stretched across the Arctic Circle: the attempt to build it cost 60,000 lives, it is believed.

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