You don’t have to be a dendrophile to enjoy BBC2’s Meetings with Remarkable Trees series; history comes into it, too. This week, two special trees get their ten-minutes’ worth: on Friday (9.50; 10.20 in Wales), the Duke of Wellington’s American-derived Wellingtonia redwood, a testament to the era of the “great white plant hunters going around the world” (in the words of forester Tony Russell) is the focus. On Monday (9.50) we can take a look at “Milton’s mulberry”, planted in the garden of Christ’s College, Cambridge, in the year of Milton’s birth, as part of James I’s failed project to encourage silkworm cultivation. » trees on the web
(All times pm unless stated)
FRIDAY November 24
Conquistadors (9.00 BBC2; 9.30 in Wales). “The Fall of the Aztecs.” Michael Wood starts a four-part travelogue-history series on the 16th-century Spaniards who overran central and south America. The stories of Hernan Cortes and the collapse of the Aztec empire are told first. Because Wood has travelled the route that Cortes took, from Yucatan to what is now Mexico City – and seems to have endured some of the same awful weather – the present day sometimes gets more of a look-in than the history, but the programme does a reasonable job of giving the basic facts.
Night Waves (9.45 R3). On Woody Allen et al .
Meetings with Remarkable Trees (9.50 BBC2; 10.20 in Wales). See pick of the week at the top of the page.
SATURDAY November 25
The Century Speaks (2.30 R4). “What’s Next.” Last in compilation series from BBC’s oral-history archive speculates about the future.
Refugee Tales (4.00 C4). The stories of four refugee families who came to Britain – Jewish, Chilean, Somalian and Tamil.
The Real Kaiser Bill (6.50 C4). Repeat of biodoc on Wilhelm II.
Correspondent (6.55 BBC2). “Raising the Veil” – on the changes taking place in Iran through the eyes of three families.
Witness: The Maze (7.50 C4). The notorious Northern Ireland prison, from its establishment in 1970 to its role in the current peace process and its closure. With first-hand testimony from ex-warders and ex-prisoners. Valuable stuff.
House Detectives (7.40 BBC2). Plymouth House in Northop, Flintshire.
Archive Hour: The Railway Station (8.00 R4). Lancaster U’s Jeffrey Richards concludes his cultural history with the country station.
Secrets of the Ancients (8.10 BBC2). Repeat series: “Caesar’s Bridge” attempts to reconstruct a Roman engineering.
Days in the Life (9.00 BBC2). The Battle of Grosvenor Square, in March 1968, recalled by (among others) Tariq Ali and some mounted policemen.
Telling Tales (9.50 BBC2). Alan Bennett on eating out in his boyhood. (Also Wed 9.45).
Watching (10.35 BBC2). “Punch.” Tom Sutcliffe on screen violence, especially films about boxing.
SUNDAY November 26
5 Live Report (12 noon R5). “Degrees of Uncertainty”. Investigating the growth of “virtual” universities.
Music Matters (12.15 R3). Reports from China, including a piano factory and a potential new opera house.
The Classic Serial: Emma (3.00 R4). New two-part adaptation of Jane Austen.
Adventures in Poetry (4.30 R4). QMW’s Peggy Reynolds and others react to Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat . Last in series.
Bach Year (4.45 R3). On the Art of Fugue and some of its unsolved questions.
A Samba for Saro-Wiwa (5.40 R4). Zina Saro-Wiwa, daughter of Ken S-W, on Salvador Da Bahia, the old Brazilian capital. (See also Tuesday’s Everyman.)
The Sunday Feature: China Beyond China (5.45 R3). Chinese artists living outside the mainland – poet Yang Lian, novelist Huang Pao-Lien and others – talk to Ian Buruma.
The Natural World (5.55 BBC2). Magadagascar, Land of Lemurs.
Changing Stages (7.30 BBC2). Part 4: “1956”. Richard Eyre on the impact of Osborne’s Look Back in Anger . David Hare and Harold Pinter are among those interviewed.
Sunday Play: Dr Ibsen’s Ghosts (7.30 R3). Paul Scofield plays the playwright in Robert Ferguson’s new play.
The Difference (8.00 C4). Part 2 of the population-genetics series concentrates on genetic differences in athletic ability and diet, with special reference to the runners of Kenya’s Kalenjin tribe and the inability of many non-Europeans to digest fresh milk. UCL’s Hugh Montgomery, a cardiovascular geneticist, talks about different strengths in different races; Birmingham City Hospital researcher Caroline Cleaver talks about lactose intolerance; and London School of Tropical Medicine epidemiologists Dave Leon and Lisa Hall comment on the diabetic tendencies of South Asian people eating Western diets. Also featuring Geoffrey Miller on sexual selection There’s a studio debate after the series’ final episode – if you’d like to be in the audience and add some academic authority, email email@example.com
Behold the Man (8.00 R2). “Jesus the Messiah.” The history and theology behind the New Testament gospels.
Madame Bovary (9.00 UK Drama). Rerun of all three episodes of the BBC's Flaubert adaptation, first shown in April on BBC2.
Take A Girl Like You (9.05 BBC1). Andrew ( A Very Peculiar Practice ) Davies’s adaptation of the 1960 Kingsley Amis novel. See also Monday’s Omnibus.
Humans: Who Are We? (10.00 National Geographic). Second half of Canadian-made documentary series travels from Neanderthals to the triumph of homo sapiens , and utilises the archaeological, genetic and anthropological expertise of Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, Steven Pinker, Derek Bickerton, Steve Mithen, Kathleen Gibson, Lee Berger… The list goes on. Panorama (10.15 BBC1). Could some men branded paedophiles be innocent?
The South Bank Show (10.45 ITV). Ron Howard.
Composer of the Week (9.00 am R3 and rest of week) is Heinrich von Biber.
Book of the Week (9.45 am R4 and rest of week) is The Letters of Oscar Wilde read by Simon Callow.
Work in Progress (10.00 am R3 and rest of week). Filmmaker Vadim Jean.
Random Edition (11.00 am R4). Peter Snow peruses the Daily Express of 11 October 1982.
Shroud of Turin (6.00 History Channel). The latest in shroud science.
Living with Colour (from 7.00 R5). A bunch of programmes on multicultural Britain, including the results of a specially commissioned opinion poll, a live debate (7.30), The Gravy Train (9.00), on the race relations “industry”, and Do Not Adjust Your Set (10.30), on Black and Asian achievements in film and TV.
China Evening II (7.30 R3). Final night of Radio 3’s season is about China today, with a special emphasis on current Chinese youth culture and the first generation from one-child families. »BBC Radio 3
Pyramids and Prophets (8.00 C4). Egyptological repeat.
Saving the Patient (8.00 R4). Part 3: the NHS and the elderly.
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, v Bristol U.
Animal ER (8.30 C5). Featuring staff and students at the Royal Veterinary College’s Hertfordshire campus. » RVC website
What the Romans Did for Us (8.30 BBC2, not N Ireland). Adam Hart-Davis on straight roads, mining techniques, etc. (the Open University is re-running its 1998 series The Romans in Britain (12.30 am BBC2)): this week Guy de la Bédoyère re-reveals archaeological evidence about the "golden age" of Roman rule.
Animals that Changed the World (9.00 R4). New series on animals in history and culture, beginning with the horse – Genghis Khan, the Wild West, etc.
Private Lives of the Pharaohs (9.00 C4). Final programme in series focuses on a mummy in the Manchester Museum.
War Months (9.00 Discovery Channel). Two more episodes mixing newsreel and personal recollection from the second world war. » Discovery Channel website
Meetings with Remarkable Trees (9.50 BBC2). See pick of the week at the top of the page.
What If? (10.00 BBC Knowledge). A Battle of Britain special supposes the Germans might have won.
The Whitechapel Murders (10.00 C4). Repeat of Secret History doc on Jack the Ripper.
Omnibus (10.35 BBC1; 11.15 in N Ireland) is about Kingsley Amis, the only ex-Swansea University lecturer ever to have won the Booker Prize.
Aids: The Global Killer (11.05 C4). Zambia. Russia and the UK are the locations visited for Nick Danziger’s 90-minute special.
TUESDAY November 28
Unearthing Mysteries (11.00 am R4). How big was Alexandria’s Pharos Lighthouse (one of the Seven Wonders of the World)? Aubrey Manning tries to find out from underwater archaeologists and historians.
The History of Water (5.00 Discovery Channel)
Turner Prize 2000 (8.00 C4). Live prize ceremony from Tate Britain.
» Turner Prize on the web
Case Notes (9.00 R4). Hair-loss remedies.
Cutting Edge: Casualty Cops (9.00 C4). The dangers of working in an accident and emergency unit, with filming from King’s College Hospital, London.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). On the Turner Prize, plus Napoleon the Novelist by Cambridge’s Andy Martin.
Everyman: In the Shadow of a Saint (10.35 BBC1; 11.05 in N Ireland, Scotland, 11.15 in Wales). Ken Wiwa, son of executed Nigerian human-rights activist Ken Saro-Wiwa, goes back to Nigeria and also talks to other offspring of African heroes – Steve Biko’s son, Nelson Mandela’s daughter…
Faces of Islam (11.25 BBC1; 11.55 in N Ireland, Scotland, 12.05 am in Wales). Ex-hippy John Butt, the man who brought The Archers to Afghanistan.
WEDNESDAY November 29
Turning the Tide (11.00 am R4). Wind turbines versus habitat conservation in Cambridgeshire.
Superhuman Debate (3.00, 6.00, 9.00 and 12 midnight BBC Knowledge). Robert Winston and fellow scientists follow up his BBC1 series with a discussion on the future of medicine.
Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Michael Dummett, philosopher and refugee advocate.
Tomorrow’s World (7.00 BBC1). New methods for diagnosing Down’s Syndrome in the womb and other “breakthroughs”.
The Money Programme (7.30 BBC2). “The People Smugglers.” The profits to be made from transporting immigrants into Britain.
Twenty Minutes: Book of the Month (7.50 R3). Julia Pascal on David Macey’s new biography of Franz Fanon.
Connect (9.00 R4). Quentin Cooper on the “designer science” of the fragrance industry.
The State of the Planet (9.10 BBC1). “Real success can only come if there’s a change in our societies, in ourselves and in our politics,” says David Attenborough in the last part of his trilogy, “The Future of Life”.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). On the British Museum’s new Great Court (which also has a programme to itself next Saturday on BBC2).
THURSDAY November 30
Routes of English (9.00 am R4). The dialect of Derry/Londonderry.
Crossing Continents (11.00 am R4). Bangladesh’s eunuchs
The Material World (4.30 R4). Food scientists Andy Taylor and Don Mottram on flavour com£.
Document (8.00 R4). The albatross in Captain Cook’s journals and Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner .
Analysis (8.30 R4). Would it matter if the EU was dissolved?
The Windsors (8.00 C4). Eighty years in the life of a royal family. First of a four-part series.
What Rubbish? (8.05 World Service, repeated Friday 2.05 am and 3.05). Susie Emmett with the second of three programmes on the worldwide problem of domestic and industrial waste.
Heritage (8.30 World Service, repeated Friday 2.30 am and 3.30). How archaeologists are unearthing ancient and historic British gardens, from Roman Fishbourne to Biddulph Grange, a 19th-century pleasure garden.
Horizon (9.00 BBC2). Supermassive Black Holes – the new discovery from earlier this year that may point to the notorious black holes’ role in creating, not destroying, galaxies. My preview tape wasn’t captioned, but among the half-dozen or so astrophysicists explaining what is “still just a theory” are Karl Gebhardt and Joe Silk.
The Great Train Robbery (9.00 C4). About the 1963 crime. Channel 4 doesn’t bill this as a repeat, but I seem to remember a programme with the same title going out in the Secret History series in August last year…
Leading Edge (9.00 R4). New research on the Canadian Arctic by Nasa.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). The life of Lucy Hutchinson (1620 – ??), poet and memoirist.