Higher channels

November 12, 1999

John Davies picks programmes of interest to academics. (All times pm unless stated.) Pick of the week It's a big week for ambitious new Channel 4 series - on country life (Green and Pleasant Land, Sunday), religion (Tempting Faith, Saturday) and, biggest of all, Universe (Monday 9.00). Part one, "Big Bang", hurries through current cosmological thinking on the first few seconds; part two, next week, is about stars.

FRIDAY November 12 Navajo Code Talkers (6.00 History Channel). How a few hundred US Navajo Indians used their language to develop an unbreakable code during the last war.

saturDAY November 13 Tempting Faith (8.00 C4). Start of series on religion in postwar Britain goes from the bombing of Coventry to the Commonwealth immigrants of the 1950s.

Archive Hour: Army of Occupation (8.00 R4). Military historian Richard Holmes on the British soldiers who occupied Germany after the first world war.

Dr Who Night (from 8.55 BBC2). Programmes about the timelord include gerontologist Tom Kirkwood on How to Live Forever (9.45), and Surrey physicist Jim Al-Khalili on How to Build a Tardis (10.25).

Sounding the Century Lecture (10.00 R3). Simon Schama on the future of history.

Play of the Week: The Golden Ass (10.30 World Service, repeated Sunday 6.30). Apuleius's seminal Latin novel adapted.

SUNDAY November 14 Jonathan Dimbleby (1.00 ITV). Interview with David Blunkett.

Desert Rats - The Soldiers' Story (5.00 most regions ITV). Archive and personal testimony from the second world war North African campaign.

The Sunday Feature: Samizdat (5.45 R3). Chris Bowlby on the power of underground literature in communist Czechoslovakia. Later, Timothy Garton Ash recalls the "velvet revolution" and its aftermath in Freedom's Battle (8.00 BBC2).

Green and Pleasant Land (8.00 C4). The harsh realities of rural life - recollections of some of Britain's oldest countrymen and women.

MONDAY November 15 Millennium (7.10 BBC2). The 15th century: the Aztecs, the Ottomans, a Chinese admiral, Christopher Columbus and the Italian Renaissance, all in 50 minutes.

Universe (9.00 C4). See above.

TUESDAY November 16 Secrets of the Ancients: The Claw (9.00 BBC2). How did Archimedes devise a machine to lift ships out of the water? In modern Syracuse, Jo da Silva attempts the same, with help from circus constructor Brian Austen and crowds of locals.

Night Waves (9.45 R3). Including discussion on Noel Annan's The Dons.

wedneSDAY November 17 Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Bernard Crick talks to Laurie Taylor about citizenship.

Twenty Minutes - Domes of Discovery (8.15 R3). First of three talks by Jonathan Glancey focuses on the Emperor Hadrian's Pantheon. Thursday (7.40) he discusses 18th-century French architect Boullee; Friday (8.20), it is Wren's turn.

ThurSDAY November 18 Melvyn Bragg - In Our Time (9.00am R4). Adam Phillips and Anthony O'Hear on progress.

The Material World (4.30 R4). The latest on robot intelligence, from Owen Holland (Cambridge) and Phil Husbands (Sussex).

Horizon: Volcanoes of the Deep (9.30 BBC2). Underwater volcanoes and the strange creatures that live around them.

Email: Davieses@aol.com. For a fuller guide, visit the THES website at www.thesis.co.uk

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