David Attenborough’s State of the Planet series devotes its second episode (Wednesday 9.10 BBC1) to a useful exposition of the "five human activities that are most threatening to biodiversity" (they are overharvesting; the introduction of alien species into ecosystems; the destruction of habitats; islandisation; and pollution). Evidence comes from Hawaii, Brazil, South Africa, New Mexico and elsewhere, and among those talking about the data are Stanford University’s Stephen Schneider (who was also in May’s BBC2 global-warning documentary Warnings from the Wild ), Edward O Wilson, Tom Lovejoy and Robert May. A persuasive documentary – but a pity that it ends with a shot of Attenborough taking off from a Hawaiian mountainside in a (somewhat eco-unfriendly) helicopter. On the subject of pollution, a new World Service series What Rubbish? (Thursday 8.05) travels the world in search of solutions to the problem of domestic and industrial waste. » State of the Planet » BBC World Service (on climate change)
(All times pm unless stated)
FRIDAY November 17
Wainewright the Poisoner (9.00 R4). Andrew Motion’s biographical excursion turned into a radio play by Peter Straughan.
The War Behind the Wire (9.00 BBC2, 9.30 in Wales). Colditz recalled by its survivors and escapers.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). The cultural legacy of Franco, plus JM Keynes. » Nightwaves
SATURDAY November 18
The Sky at Night (11.35 am BBC2). Project Darwin, the plan to search for extra-solar planets using several spacecraft. With Alan Penny of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and Patrick Moore (repeat from the weekend before last). » Sky at Night
The Century Speaks (2.30 R4). "Crime and the Law" - extracts from the BBC’s oral archive of the twentieth century. » BBC Oral History archive
Correspondent (6.55 BBC2). "When Peace Died". Jane Corbin interviews families and negotiators about the current Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. (For a more individual view, see David Hare’s Via Dolorosa on Sunday night) » Correspondent
House Detectives (7.40 BBC2). A Berwickshire round house - Regency or earlier? » House Detectives
Archive Hour: The Railway Station (8.00 R4). Jeffrey Richards (Lancaster University) on the terminus as starting point for writers and artists. (First of two repeats)
Secrets of the Ancients (8.10 BBC2). Repeat series (also re-run earlier this month on UK Horizons!) begins with Robin Knox-Johnston trying to sail a Viking ship.
Days in the Life (8.55 BBC2). Three programmes about three "life-changing days" from Britain’s recent cultural past begins by recalling the August 1970 rock festival on the Isle of Wight. The other two documentaries are from the 1960s: the Battle of Grosvenor Square (1968) and the 1965 Albert Hall poetry "happening".
Telling Tales (9.45 BBC2). Alan Bennett continues (also Wed 9.45 BBC2).
The Wire (9.45 R3). A new series of contemporary plays begins with Feed Me by Mark Ravenhill.
Watching (10.35 BBC2). Tom Sutcliffe on cinema’s awkward relationship with television.
SUNDAY November 19
Music Shanghaied (12.05 R3). Musical life in Shanghai – part of Radio 3’s China season. » New China
Adventures in Poetry (4.30 R4). Peggy Reynolds (QMW) continues her interestingly-researched series with Sylvia Plath’s Morning Song , featuring reactions from poets, mothers, midwives and a Plath biographer.
Battle for the Titanic (4.55 C4). Who owns the rights to the fated wreck? (Repeat)
Wild: Jewel Wings (5.15 BBC2). Dragonflies.
The Sunday Feature: The Romantic Road (5.45 R3). Julian Evans in Portugal, with José Saramago and other literary figures.
Thatcher - The Downing Street Years (6.45 BBC2). A re-edited 45-minute version of the four-parter first shown in 1993 (now presumably marking the tenth anniversary of the PM’s downfall).
Changing Stages (7.30 BBC2). Part three of Richard Eyre’s series concentrates on the US - not just serious dramatists (O’Neill, Odets, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller) plus stage musicals from Kern to Bernstein.
Sunday Play: Requiem (7.30 R3). A Bryony Lavery play about the French composer Lili Boulanger. » The Sunday Play
The Difference (8.00 C4). A new series tackling the tricky subject of human genetic variations in a fairly informative way. Population geneticists Spencer Wells (Oxford), Ken Kidd (Yale), Luca Cavalli-Sforza, biological anthropologist Robert Foley (Cambridge) and others stress the importance of chance mutations and environmental adaptation, while the Natural History Museum’s Chris Stringer (also to be seen later the same night in Humans: Who Are We? - see below) says that "we are all Africans under the sun". There’s a studio debate after the series’ final episode: email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be in the audience and add some academic authority.
Behold the Man (8.00 R2). The historical Jesus? A new 'life-of-Christ' series reflecting current historical and theological thinking. Derek Jacobi narrates; among the contributors to the first programme are Danny Schwartz (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), Donald Senior (Catholic Theological Union, Chicago), Richard Bauckham (St Andrew’s) and Graham Stanton (Cambridge).
Superhuman (9.10 BBC1). Robert Winston concludes his series with "The Baby Makers", about new techniques such as pre-implantation gestation diagnosis (PGD), as practised in his own Hammersmith Hospital unit.
Humans: Who Are We? (10.00 National Geographic). A Canadian-made two-parter on human origins covering much the same ground as BBC2’s ape-man earlier this year - from bipedalism and australopithecines and Neanderthals and the rise of homo sapiens - and featuring some of the same experts such as Steve Mithen of Reading University. Most of the experts, though, are from the US - anthropologist Ralph Holloway (Columbia), Rick Potts (Smithsonian) and Ian Tattersall (American Museum of Natural History), for example. (Part two is on the following Sunday). » ape-man
Panorama (10.15 BBC1) ponders the weather: how much worse (or different) will it get? » Panorama
The South Bank Show (10.45 ITV). Jazzer Courtney Pine profiled.
Via Dolorosa (10.55 BBC2). David Hare’s one-man performance of his own report of a visit to Israel; filmed at New York’s Lincoln Center and strangely compelling, despite Hare’s minimal acting skills.
Ultimate Questions (11.45 ITV). The last question in the series asks whether old moral assumptions have now collapsed. Debating audience questions are Brian Sewell, Germaine Greer, Canon Paul Oestreicher and Nicky Gumbel.
MONDAY November 20
Start the Week (9.00 am R4). Jeremy Paxman with Robert Skidelsky and philosopher AC Grayling (biographers of Keynes and Hazlitt, respectively).
Work in Progress (10.00 am R3 and rest of week). Carol Ann Duffy on writing poetry for children.
Random Edition (11.00 am R4). Peter Snow peruses the Observer of 3 Sept 1797, and learns about royal lover Mrs Jordan and naval hero Horatio Nelson from Claire Tomalin and Colin White.
The ABC of Vitamins (3.45 R4 and rest of week). Claudia Hammond covers A to E (repeats).
The Turner Prize (7.55 C4 and rest of week). Four art-world notables pick four short films for a year in the past and choose potential prize-winners. Tim Marlow, Nicholas Serota, Louisa Buck and Adrian Searle choose the years 1731, 1750, 1825 and 1858. For more Serota see Wednesday; the actual Turner Prize ceremony is live on C4 next week (28 Nov). » Turner Prize 2000 » Tate press release (more informative)
Return to the Valley of the Kings (8.00 C4). Egyptological repeat.
Saving the Patient (8.00 R4). Part two of a series on NHS reforms: tackling heart disease.
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). Warwick vs. Peterhouse, Cambridge.
Twenty Minutes: Heaven Taught Fergusson (8.20 R3, also Tues 8.15, Wed 8.20, Thurs 8.10 and Fri 8.15). First of five programmes on the Scottish poet Robert Fergusson (1750–74), presented by Robert Crawford. In this first one, he and Kathleen Jamie consider Fergusson’s relationship with Robert Burns; subsequent programmes feature the opinions of, and newly commissioned poems by, Douglas Dunn, Edwin Morgan, Don Paterson, Les Murray and others. » Twenty Minutes
What the Romans Did for Us (8.30 BBC2). De cloacis et aliis Romani imperii fructibus eloquitur Adam Hart-Davis. … In other words, this week’s programme is in praise of the towns the Romans built and the technology they used. ( Ut ait: de Romanis mortuis nil nisi bonum ) » What the Romans Did
Andes to Amazon (9.00 BBC2). The Great Plains of Brazil. Feature in this programme. » Andes to Amazon
Private Lives of the Pharaohs (9.00 C4). Part two: how many people did it take to build the Pyramids, and were they all slaves? Mark Lehner and Zahi Hawass don’t believe what they read in Herodotus.
Meetings with Remarkable Trees (9.50 BBC2). Tree ferns at Rossdohan (also Friday 9.50).
Omnibus (10.35 BBC1) is about Alicia Markova, "the people’s ballerina".
The Late Book: Telling the Workers About Science (12.30 am R4 and rest of week). Five classics of science popularisation, beginning with this one by J.B.S. Haldane. Followed by contributions from Primo Levi (Tues), Eve Curie (Wed), about Alexander Fleming (Thurs) and Einstein (Fri).
TUESDAY November 21
Unearthing Mysteries (11.00 am R4). The mystery of the smashed statues of Bacchus found in Romania; Aubrey Manning talks with Birkbeck’s Ian Haynes and others.
File on 4 (8.00 R4). Chile since Pinochet returned.
Case Notes (9.00 R4). Children’s developmental milestones.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). Including AC Grayling on the importance of William Hazlitt. » Nightwaves
WEDNESDAY November 22
Turning the Tide (11.00 am R4). This week, environmental economist John Bowers argues that coastal protection for rural areas is a waste of money.
Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Laurie Taylor talks with Betsy Stanko, director of the Violence Research Programme, on domestic violence.
Poisoned (8.30 C4). Heavy metals. The toxic dangers in everyday substances.
Laboratories of Power (9.00 R4). The scientists of the Codex Alimentarius Commission (the global authority on what’s safe to eat).
The State of the Planet (9.10 BBC1). This second episode of David Attenborough’s series is devoted to a useful exposition of the "five human activities that are most threatening to biodiversity" (being overharvesting; the introduction of alien species into ecosystems; the destruction of habitats; islandisation; and pollution). Evidence comes from Hawaii, Brazil, South Africa, New Mexico and elsewhere. » State of the Planet
Night Waves (9.30 R3). The legacy of Freud, with Adam Phillips and others. » Nightwaves
Rebel Yell (10.00 R2). The protest song in the US Civil Rights movement, and in the anti-Vietnam War movement.
The Richard Dimbleby Lecture (10.35 BBC1; 11.05 outside England ). The Tate Gallery’s Nicholas Serota asks "Who’s Afraid of Modern Art?" And on the same theme, C4’s Howard Jacobson Takes on the Turner (11.30 C4) looks for British contemporary art outside the shortlist. Later still, Is Painting Dead? (3.45 am C4) is a repeat of the discussion featuring Waldemar Januszczak, Karen Wright, Norman Rosenthal, Roger Scruton, Richard Cork et al .
THURSDAY November 23
Routes of English (9.00 am R4). New series of Melvyn Bragg’s survey of spoken English. This week, "Pitmatic", the dialect of Northumberland’s pit villages, and not to be confused with "Geordie".
Crossing Continents (11.00 am R4). Fiji after the coup.
The Material World (4.30 R4). What do science undergraduates think? Why did they choose the courses they are following? Quentin Cooper asks a group of physics and astronomy students at UCL.
Document (8.00 R4). How a Brent Health Authority letter dropped in the street led to protests over a geriatric hospital closure - but ultimately, perhaps, a revival of the cottage hospital concept?
Analysis (8.30 R4). Andrew Dilnot investigates altruism, and includes Richard Dawkins and economist Gary Becker in his probing.
To the Ends of the Earth: China’s Titanic (8.00 C4). A sunk junk from 1822; maritime historian Nigel Pickford investigates.
What Rubbish? (8.05 World Service, repeated Friday 2.05 am and 3.05). Travelling the world in search of solutions to the problem of domestic and industrial waste.
The Davies Diaries (9.00 R2). Ray Davies of Waterloo Sunset fame (sadly, no relation).
Horizon (9.00 BBC2). "Extreme Dinosaurs". What do new dinosaur fossils found in Patagonia tell us about (very large) creatures such as the argentinosaurus? Palaeontologist Phil Currie speculates. » Horizon
Dispatches: How to Jump the Health Queue (9.00 C4). NHS bureaucracy and how waiting lists can be fiddled.
Leading Edge (9.00 R4). What did the anthropologists do to the Yanomami Indians, and are anthropologists behaving any better now?
Night Waves (9.30 R3). Marshall McLuhan reassessed. » Nightwaves
Shiver (10.00 National Geographic). Explaining hypothermia.