Higher Channels

July 30, 1999

John Davies picks programmes for the academically inclined (all times pm unless stated).

Pick of the Week

Evolutionary theory versus theology - that is the (perhaps false) antithesis at the heart of Wings of Angels (Sunday 10.30 BBC2), a dramatised Horizon special. Hero of Philip Martin's thoughtful film is ornithologist David Lack (1910-73), whose study of Galapagos Islands finches confirmed Darwin's theories. Lack's belief in evolution conflicted with the Christianity of the woman he loved (Elizabeth Silva, played by Emma Fielding). Paul Rhys plays Lack, and Ian Hogg his mentor Julian Huxley.

FRIDAY July 30 Extreme Machines (11.00 Discovery Channel). The future of robotics.

SATURDAY July 31 When Banks Fall Apart (2.30 R4). First of three stories of banking malpractice is about an 1870s Glasgow bank collapse.

A Limited Operation (8.00 R4). What the archives say about the arrival of British troops in Derry and Belfast in 1969.

Into Africa (8.10 BBC2). "The Slave Kingdoms". Henry Louis Gates tackles the subject of slavery and local rulers' historical involvement in the trade.

Spinning Yarns (10.30 World Service, repeated Sun 8.30am). The history of natural fibres, beginning with the invention of string.

SUNDAY August 1 Rain of Ruin - The Atomic Bombing of Japan (4.30 History Channel).

Fruitful Earth (6.40 BBC2). Part two of Alun Howkins's history of the land spans the Domesday Book, the Black Death and the decline of feudalism.

Animal People: Octopus Hunter (6.40 BBC1). Mark Norman of Melbourne University, who has found a new kind of octopus.

Big Ideas (7.30 BBC2). John Adams on risk.

The Mayfair Set (8.00 BBC2). How James Goldsmith (perhaps) changed capitalism.

Wings of Angels (10.30 BBC2). See above.

MONDAY August 2 Local Heroes (8.00 BBC2). Some of northern England's technological innovators: Adamson, Bessemer, Blackley, BucklandI Analysis (8.30 R4). Ian Hargreaves asks whether US power is really unchallengeable.

The First Musical Postmodernists (8.30 R3). Interval talk by Peter Paul Nash.

Life Support (9.30 BBC1). Third episode of hospital drama series centred on a glamorous (female) Scots medical ethicist. Could her character have been inspired by Sheila McLean, Glasgow University medical ethics guru, who is thanked in the credits?

TUESDAY August 3 On the Ropes (9.00 am R4). More medical ethics: a new series begins with David Moor, the Newcastle doctor who was accused of "mercy killing".

Unearthing Mysteries (11.00 am R4). The remains of Soutra hospital in Scotland and what they tell about medieval medicine.

Secrets of the Dead (9.00 C4). Part two of "Catastrophe" - more evidence of a 535ad volcanic eruption.

Tobacco Wars (10.15 BBC1). Final part: the whistleblowers and the lawsuits.

WEDNESDAY August 4 Shades of Black (11.00 am R4). African communities in Britain, beginning with the Somalis of Cardiff.

THURSDAY August 5 The Material World (4.30 R4). Why Plymouth University scientists study surfing.

Birds of Japan (7.30 C5). Cranes are the subject of the first of nine programmes.

Western Front (7.30 BBC2; repeated Sunday). Part two of series starts in 1915 with the first use of poison gas in war.

Email: Davieses@aol.com

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