Higher channels

November 19, 1999

John Davies picks programmes of interest to academics. (All times pm unless stated.)

Pick of the week

Andrew Graham-Dixon takes on a big subject with the help of a big travel budget in BBC2's new six-part series Renaissance (Sunday 7.00 BBC2). Programme one begins and ends with Donatello's St John the Baptist. In between, Graham-Dixon ranges widely - from Assisi, Pisa, Florence and Venice to Macedonia, Ghent and Bruges. Not surprisingly, it is all about visual art: hardly any mention of literature and none at all of the music of the time.

FRIDAY November 19 Cracking the Code (8.00 Discovery Channel). The human genetic code and recent developments in genetic science.

saturDAY November 20 In These Arms (2.30 R4). Series about family life in past centuries begins with the 16th century and Lady Grace Mildmay, whose memoirs give an insight into aristocratic arranged marriages.

Biography: Hermann Goering (7.00 History Channel). Senior Nazi profiled.

Timewatch: Tales of the Eiffel Tower (8.05 BBC2). Film about the Eiffel Tower, as an engineering feat and Parisian cultural icon.

SUNDAY November 21 Something Understood (6.05am, repeated 11.30 R4). Marking the tenth anniversary of the UN Convention for the Rights of the Child and including a visit to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam by the ubiquitous Andrew Motion. More on Anne later in Anne Frank Remembered (9.00 UK Horizons).

Millennium Minds (4.00 C4). Alain de Botton starts a promising history-of-ideas series by discussing medieval and Renaissance thought with six academics new to TV.

Sunday Feature: Viewing the Century (5.45 R3). Susan Sontag interviewed.

Renaissance (7.00 BBC2). Pick of the week.

Named and Shamed (11.45 C5). Three-parter about 16-year-old Danny, locked up two years ago for persistent theft, but now free and trying to go straight.

MONDAY November 22 Ancient Gold of Troy (7.00 History Channel). What happened when "Priam's Gold" was found in a Russian museum.

Millennium (7.15 BBC2). The 16th century, "The century of the compass".

Universe (9.00 C4). "Stars". Inviting comparison with BBC2's superior Planets, this episode covers the birth and death of stars and the solar system's peculiarities.

Avalanche: The White Death (8.00 National Geographic). The "unstoppable force of nature" examined. See Thursday BBC2.

TUESDAY November 23 Secrets of the Ancients (9.00 BBC2). How did Mexico's 3,000-year-old Olmec civilisation transport stone 100 miles and carve larger-than-lifesize heads out of it, using Stone-Age tools? Sculptor Glyn Williams, last seen facing the QAA in BBC2's RCA series, tries his hand, but concludes the Olmecs "knew something we don't".

wedneSDAY November 24 Finest Hour (9.30 BBC1). The critical months of 1940 in Britain and elsewhere, recalled by those fighting and on the home front.

Earlier, a different perspective in Hitler and the Invasion of Britain (5.55 UK Horizons), a repeat of the Timewatch documentary.

ThurSDAY November 26 Horizon: Anatomy of an Avalanche (9.30 BBC2). Scientists look for the reasons an avalanche unexpectedly hit the Austrian village of Galtur last winter.

Background Brief: The Truth about Frankenstein Food (12.30am BBC2). Open University programme on "the science and the safety" of genetically modified food.

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

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