Higher channels

December 24, 1999

John Davies brings two weeks' broadcasting highlights (all times pm unless stated).

FRIDAY December 24

Seeing Salvation (4.45 and 8.05 BBC2, also December 26 at 9.45am). Neil MacGregor of the National Gallery with four ten-minute glances (the first was on December 23) at the Christian nativity in visual art.

SATURDAY December 25

Christmas Oratorio (11.00am BBC2, also December 26, , January 1, 2 and 6, times vary). John Eliot Gardiner and his English Baroque Soloists perform all six parts of J. S. Bach's masterpiece, beginning with cantata one on Christmas Day. From January 2, Radio 3's series Bach Year (4.45) explores his work.

Scenes from a Painted Bestiary (5.00 R4). Medieval bestiaries and the light they throw on the medieval mind.

Great Expectations (7.00 BBC1, also December 26 at 6.25). Graham Greene said the opening of Dickens's novel was "supreme - untouched" by Proust or Tolstoy. Adapted by Adrian Hodges, directed by Simon Curtis.

SUNDAY December 26

Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (11.20am BBC2 and daily to Dec 30). Time is the theme this year and the lecturer is Oxford physicist Neil Johnson.

The Foot of the Cross or the Muzzle of a Gun (12.25 R3). Focus on composer Francis Poulenc, born 1899 (also January 1, BBC2).

The Burgess Variations (8.00 BBC2, also December , same time). Two-part portrait of writer Anthony Burgess (1917-93).

Great Exhibitions (8.00 C4). Taking the Millennium Dome as his cue, Jonathan Glancey offers a survey of past national exhibitions. The grandfather of them all, 1851's Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, gets special attention, as do those in Paris (1889 and 1900), Shepherd's Bush (1908), Wembley (1924-25) and the South Bank (1951).

The Turn of the Screw (9.00 ITV). Henry James's novella adapted by Nick Dear and directed by Ben Bolt.

TUESDAY December 28

Nature's Timekeeper (9.00 R4). Biological time and the human body.

Hitler and Stalin: Twin Tyrants (9.35 C4). Double biography comparing the two dictators.

WEDNESDAY December 29

Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Laurie Taylor interviews anthropologist Paco Underhill and Richard Sennett of the London School of Economics.

Oetzi the Iceman (6.35 C4). Neolithic drama-documentary based on what has been learned from the discovery of a 5,000-year-old body preserved in an Alpine glacier.

2000 and Beyond: A Tomorrow's World Special (7.30 BBC1). Thirty minutes of predictions. Also, Tomorrow's World Plus (December 31, 4.55 UK Horizons): eight hours of reruns.

Revelation - a Guide to the End of the World (8.00 R4). Influence of the Book of Revelation.

THURSDAY December 30

Apocalypse! (1.30 C4). The Book of Revelation and "the end of time". Later, A Brief History of the End of the World (8.00 R4, also January 6) is a two-parter in which Christopher Frayling surveys apocalyptic beliefs.

The Material World (4.30 R4). Renaissance engineering: can we learn from Brunelleschi?

Living on the Line (7.00 C4). Centrepiece of C4's season of programmes relating to the Greenwich Meridian. Jon Snow and Ekow Eshun visit the countries crossed by the 0x line, from Ghana to Yorkshire. Later, A Night of TV on the Line (12.35am C4) samples broadcasting output of France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo and Ghana.

Yugoslavia: The Death of a Nation (8.00 Discovery Channel). The BBC's excellent 1995 series, edited and updated.

The Natural World: Millennium Oak (9.00 BBC2). A recreation of 1,000 years in the life of an oak tree and the life around it.

See page 19 for next week's programming.

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