Higher channels

May 26, 2000

John Davies surveys the broadcasting schedules (all times pm unless stated).

Pick of the week

Channel 4's new Sunday-night series The Day the World Took Off (8.00) is an interesting attempt to do something different with history: using the first railway journey from Liverpool to Manchester in 1830 as a framework, it sets out to explain the industrial revolution's origins in northwest England. An academic team featuring two from Cambridge University (Simon Schaffer, Alan MacFarlane), Warwick University's Maxine Berg, Christopher Cullen of the School of Oriental and African Studies and Joel Mokyr of Northwestern University (Illinois) offer theories, including the notion that tea was important to the health of urban populations. Later programmes will go further into the past to examine the roots of technological progress.

Friday May 26

Rough Science (7.30 BBC2). Five scientists use their expertise to tackle a variety of challenges on an uninhabited Mediterranean island using just the materials to hand.

Laboratory of War (8.30 World Service). Series on science and war begins with the threat of biological weapons.


Century Songs (11.00am R3). The BBC's Music Live project began on Thursday and goes on until Monday: there are too many programmes to mention here (see the website at www.bbc.co.uk/musiclive), but here's the start of a five-part presentation of 100 songs by 100 composers. Also worth dipping into on R3 is a rare performance of Eric Satie's Vexations (from midnight), 18 notes repeated for six hours by a team of pianists.

Private Passions (12 noon R3). Richard Sennett, visiting sociology professor at the London School of Economics, chooses music.

Correspondent Europe: Our Rights (6.50 BBC2). The right to die, the rights of children and the rights of Moroccan women in France.

History Zone Films - Echoes of the Raj (8.05 BBC2). Memories from the last days of the empire.


Young Musicians 2000 (5.00 R3, also BBC2). The final.

The Day the World Took Off (8.00 C4). See pick of the week


Dunkirk Night (from 8.00, BBC Knowledge). Repeats, plus What If (9.00), a new counterfactual look at the British Expeditionary Force evacuation.


Local Heroes (7.30 BBC2). In Yorkshire, Adam Hart-Davis hymns whaling scientist William Scoresby, genetics pioneer William Bateson, ionosphere discoverer Edward Appleton and navigator James Cook.

Anna Karenina (9.00 C4). Last episode in this excellent adaptation.


Secret Life of a Crocodile (8.00 BBC1). The secret is the biochemistry of their blood, which can kill bacteria that antibiotics can't.

Frontiers (9.00 R4). Peter Evans tries to explain the latest theories about a "lost dimension" to space.


Mysteries of Lost Empires: Medieval Siege (9.00 C4). First of new series attempts to reconstruct a 14th-century trebuchet. Durham University's Michael Prestwich and military historian Richard Holmes are among those advising.

Night Waves (9.30 R3). Including interview with Doris Lessing.

More programmes at www.thesis.co.uk Email Davieses@aol.com

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