Higher channels

July 23, 1999

Another week of schedule-scanning by John Davies (all times pm unless stated.)

Pick of the Week

Cranfield military historian Richard Holmes has already visited battlefields such as the Somme for his War Walks series. Now he returns to the first world war to present a more comprehensive six-parter: Western Front (Thursday 7.30 BBC2; July 31 in Wales). Programme one covers the war's first few months: the importance of train timetabling, inadequacies of officer training and, of course, the start of trench-digging.

Saturday July 24 Spitfires to other Planets (2.30 R4). Britain's 1971 entry into the space race - a coda to last week's moon programmes.

Into Africa (8.10 BBC2). "Black Kingdoms of the Nile". Henry Louis Gates searches for the ancient Nubian empire.

Contemporary American Poets (8.50 R3). John Ashbery reads some of his work.

Raptor Hunters (9.00 National Geographic). British and Arab scientists investigate dinosaur remains in the Tunisian Sahara.

Sunday July 25 Fruitful Earth (6.40 BBC2). Sussex social historian Alun Howkins starts an informative history of British agriculture with the Iron Age and the Romans.

Big Ideas (7.30 BBC2). Julian LeGrand (London School of Economics) on class and "efficient equality", with dissenting opinions from James Tooley (Newcastle) and Ruth Lister (Loughborough).

The Mayfair Set (8.00 BBC2). The influence of Jim Slater assessed. The subtitle, "Entrepreneur Spelt S.P.I.V.", gives a flavour of what to expect.

Dyslexic Genius (8.30 C4). The link between dyslexia and creativity. Two other C4

documentaries this week look at Dyslexic Criminals (Monday 8.30) and Dyslexic Children (Thursday 8.00), while Dyslexic Vision (from Tuesday 7.55 C4) features students at Glasgow College of Art.

Monday July 26

A. J. Ayer - A Philosopher's Life (9.45am R4, and rest of week). Ben Rogers reads extracts from his new biography of the philosopher.

Local Heroes (8.00 BBC2). Brunel's tunnel under the Thames, Hubert Booth's vacuum cleaner, etc.

Postscript - Notes from India (9.55 R3 and rest of week, times vary). Mark Tully explores the traditions of Indian music.

Attack of the Killer Tomato (11.45 C4). Debate on genetically modified food.

Tuesday July Secrets of the Dead: Catastrophe (9.00 C4). First of a two-parter in which writer David Keys collects experts - among them Belfast dendrochronologist Mike Baillie and an Icelandic volcanologist - to argue for a major climatic disaster around 535AD.

Patient Progress (9.00 R4). Research into new variant of CJD.

WEDNESDAY July 28 Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Adam Kuper, Brunel social anthropology professor, on "culture" and the future for anthropology.

Gunpowder and Needles (9.00 R4). The state of Chinese science.

The Secret Life of Twins (9.30 BBC1). Twins shed light on the nature-nurture debate.

THURSDAY July 29 Crossing Continents (11.00am). Report from Croatia on ethnic cleansing's aftermath.

The Material World (4.30 R4). Developmental biologist Michael Richardson and palaeontologist Michael Coates on natural selection and the embryo.

Western Front (7.30 BBC2, July 31 in Wales). See above.

Inside Story (10.00 BBC1, 10.15 in Northern Ireland). "Heart Team", about the decisions facing transplant surgeons and patients.

Email: Davieses@aol.com

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