It's not just the Elgin Marbles. Other British Museum artefacts, such as its Benin bronzes, which Nigeria would like back, are also under dispute. And what about the Native American pieces in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Museum? Or the British Library's Lindisfarne Gospels - shouldn't they be in Durham Cathedral? These and other questions of "cultural restitution" are aired in BBC2's Stolen Goods, National Treasures (6.00 Saturday). To help you make up your mind, there are contributions from the BM's Nigel Barley, Ian Jenkins and director Robert Anderson, Alexis Mantis of the Parthenon Museum, Nigeria's Wole Soyinka, historian of Africa Frank Willett and Glasgow Museums director Mark O'Neill. » The British Museum ; » National Museums of Scotland
(All times pm unless stated.)
FRIDAY December 8
The Afternoon Play: The Starving Girl of Llanfihangel (2.15 R4). An actual event from 19th-century Welsh history dramatised by Mary Cooper.
Russia: Gold Domes, Black Earth (8.30 World Service, repeated Sat 2.30 am). Tim Whewell continues his series on Russia and its history.
This Meaningless Life (8.55 R3). Second of Susan Blackmore's (University of the West of England) science-meets-religion discussions, with Sam Berry, professor of Genetics at UCL and a former member of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. (The final programme in the series is at 7.15 the following day.)
Conquistadors (9.00 BBC2; 9.30 in Wales). Michael Wood, "action historian" (in Radio Times 's apt phrase), follows the route taken by Francisco de Orellano in his ill-fated quest for El Dorado. (Still in South American history, an hour later at 10.00, the Inca site at Machu Picchu is the subject of a National Geographic documentary, while on Wednesday, the History Channel has an hour on The Gold of El Dorado at 6.00). » Conquistadors
David Copperfield (9.00 UK Drama). The cable/satellite channel starts a season of Dickens adaptations with this two-parter first shown on BBC1 last Christmas.
Meetings with Remarkable Trees (9.50 BBC2). The Monkey Puzzle at Bicton in Devon.
SATURDAY December 9
The Medieval Ball (2.30 R4). Terry Jones continues his exploration of the medieval mind and its manifestation in maps and elsewhere.
Stolen Goods, National Treasures (6.00 BBC2). See Pick of the week at the top of the page.
House Detectives (6.50 BBC2). "Haunted" cottages in Suffolk. » House detectives
The Sandman (7.15 C4). Reworking of E.T.A. Hoffmann's story by Will Tuckett and the Brothers Quay.
This Meaningless Life (7.15 R3). Susan Blackmore discusses belief and science with psychologist Rev. Dr. Fraser Watts and neurosurgeon Henry Marsh, senior consultant at Atkinson Morley's Hospital.
Secrets of the Ancients (7.20 BBC2). Repeat series continues: this week, an attempt to reconstruct some of the achievements of Mexico's 3,000-year-old Olmec civilisation with, among others, sculptor Glyn Williams of the Royal College of Art.
Saturday (8.00 C4). Documentary about the British weekend by James Runcie - son of the former archbishop. Followed the next day by, predictably, Sunday (8.05 C4)
SUNDAY December 10
Music Matters (12.15 R3). Music in the classroom, plus travelling folk singers.
Classic Serial (3.00 R4). Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass adapted by Hattie Naylor. Among the supporting actors are John Fortune and the great Ken Campbell.
Writing Poetry (4.30 R4). Narrative poetry, with Helen Dunmore, Glyn Maxwell and Andrew Motion, plus examples from The Ancient Mariner .
Bach Year (4.45 R3). Bach and the voice, including the question of how many voices to a part there should be in his choral works. » Bach year
The Sunday Feature: The Romantic Road (5.45 R3). Julian Evans on the literature of Austria's past - Freud, Musil, etc. - and its present. (Rather the same territory as Dennis Marks's Faultline , also on R3 earlier this autumn, where Musil was frequently invoked in an exploration of the Austro-Hungarian empire.) » Sunday Feature
The Natural World (6.40 BBC2). "Seychelles - Jewels of a Lost Continent"
Changing Stages (7.05 BBC2). Last in Richard Eyre's series on twentieth-century stage drama which despite its omissions has been a valuable compilation of filmed and taped performance. In this episode, Eyre argues that "in order to survive, theatre must be more intense more intimate" and illustrates his thesis with work by Peter Brook, Robert Lepage, Tony Kushner as well as blockbuster musicals such as Les Miserables. » Changing stages
Sunday Play: A Fairly Honourable Defeat (7.30 R3). Iris Murdoch's novel adapted by James Friel, directed by Maria Aitken and with a starry cast that includes Anna Carteret, Julian Glover, Karl Johnson and Alex Jennings. » Sunday Play
Behold the Man (8.00 R2). Jesus the miracle worker - separating fact from fiction. » Behold the man
Hitler, the Private Man (8.00 C5). German-made documentary about the Nazi leader. » Hitler, the Private Man
Review (8.20 BBC2). Tom Paulin and Germaine Greer are among those choosing the year's cultural highlights.
Take A Girl Like You (9.05 BBC1). Final episode of Andrew Davies's Kingsley Amis adaptation.
Kanzi (10. 00 National Geographic). On the work of the Georgia State University Language Research Centre. The documentary is named after bonobos ape Kanzi, who, together with his sister Panbanisha, has changed some researchers' ideas on primate communication and linguistic skills.
The South Bank Show (10.45 ITV). Artists Shirin Neshat, Jemima Stehli and Marlene Dumas.
The Unknown Soldiers (11.50 ITV). Indian, African and West Indian veterans talk about fighting for the British empire "in various wars".
The Sky at Night (1.25 am BBC1). NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman on observing from space. » The Sky at Night
MONDAY December 11
Composer of the Week (9.00 am R3 and rest of week) is E. J. Moeran.
Start the Week (9.00 am R4). Featuring historian Niall Ferguson on his first internet lecture and the rise of the e-university. » Boxmind Pilot e-Lecture
Work in Progress (10.00 R3 and rest of week). Margaret Drabble on the making of her new novel.
Random Edition (11.00 am R4). The London Journal for Nov 1725. Peter Snow consults Roy Porter, among others.
A Short History of Darkness (3.45 R4, also Tuesday and Wednesday). Three "experimental" montage features on the theme of darkness begin with the soundscapes of night and include Jonathan Dowler on night blindness, Ian Bailey on a night battle in the Falklands War, and new poems from Hugo Williams and John Burnside.
The Business of the Arts (8.00 R4). Kate Mosse investigates the arts-business relationship in two programmes (see also Thursday's Night Waves ).
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). The second round begins, with Birkbeck vs. University College, Oxford.
Resurrecting the Mammoth (8.00 C4). Repeat (for the second time) of an old Equinox about Kazufumi Goto's attempts to get a present day elephant impregnated with an extinct mammoth's sperm. Any luck yet, Kaz?
Animal ER (8.30 C5). Behind the scenes at the Royal Veterinary College. » animal ER ; » The Royal Veterinary College
What the Romans Did for Us (8.30 BBC2, not N. Ireland). Last of the series features Adam Hart-Davis testing the Roman recipe for mortar and trying out "some of their wackier technology" such as the hydraulis (water organ) and a denarius-in-the-slot machine. More in a similar vein in The Emperor's Gift (12.30 am BBC2), an Open University programme on Rome's Colosseum. » Roman Britain
Andes to Amazon (9.00 BBC2). Biodiversity in the Amazon jungle. » Andes to Amazon
Animals that Changed the World (9.00 R4). The impact of the cow on human history. » Animals
War Months (9.00 Discovery Channel). More newsreel, commentary and recollections. » War Months
Neanderthal (9.00 C4). Second half of this human-ancestry "documentary reconstruction". » Neanderthal
Trust Me, I'm the Prime Minister (11.20 BBC2). Ace political interviewer Michael Cockerell gives the Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture, on how British prime ministers have failed to make proper use of television. Not to be confused with …
Trust Me (11.35 C4, also Tues 11.30, Wed 11.35, Thurs 11.45). The prisoner's dilemma, that old standby of ethics and mathematical theory, turned into a game show hosted by Big Brother 's Nick Bateman.
TUESDAY December 12
The Ancient Ark (9.30 am R4). The eagle in cultural mythology (repeat series).
Solitude (11.00 am R4). Second half of Peter France's examination of being alone concentrates on enforced solitude - from an anti-apartheid prisoner to an old lady in her own home.
Afternoon Play: Hanging from the Sky (2.15 R4). Documentary drama about Stonehenge, apparently using the latest archaeological knowledge.
A Short History of Darkness (3.45 R4). The second collage (of three) is about the darkness of the Antarctic night, under the sea, etc. With new poems by Sarah Maguire and John Burnside.
Case Notes (9.00 R4). About NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence), the new government agency, and what its effect might be. » NICE
Everyman: Angels (10.35 BBC1; 11.05 in N. Ireland, Scotland, 11.15 in Wales). Birmingham University researcher Emma Heathcote explores people's "angel experiences".
Faces of Islam (11.25 BBC1; 11.55 in N. Ireland, Scotland, 12.05 am in Wales). Turkish flautist Kudsi Erguner on his faith and his music.
WEDNESDAY December 13
A Short History of Darkness (3.45 R4). Final 15-minute exploration embraces dark matter, fears of the dark, etc. With new poems by Colette Bryce and Ruth Padel.
Thinking Allowed (4.00 R4). Laurie Taylor with Bethan Marshall on the effectiveness of English teachers
The Gold of El Dorado (6.00 History Channel).
Tomorrow's World (7.00 BBC1). New kinds of brain operation.
Leopard, Stealth Hunter (7.30 C5). The big cat in Africa.
Driving Mum Crazy (8.00 C5). A seven-year-old boy with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. First in a new series about unruly children.
Twenty Minutes: Book of the Month (8.15 R3) is Barbara Lewalski's Life of John Milton .
Connect (9.00 R4). The new "front line" - of Europe's defences against diseases from the rest of the world.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). What do the new Christmas films, books and games reveal about changing attitudes to childhood?
THURSDAY December 14
Routes of English (9.00 am R4). London Jamaican. Melvyn Bragg consults Linton Kwesi Johnson and people on the streets of Brixton. » Routes of English
Crossing Continents (11.00 am R4). Swedes under stress. » crossing continents
The Most Beautiful Sound in the World (11.30 am R4). Repeat of Piers Plowright's aural exploration.
EUtopia (11.30 am, also 1.30, 3.30, 5.30, 7.30 BBC Knowledge). "Loads of Euros" - the impact of EU grants on remote communities such as a Greek mountain village and a nomadic tribe in Sweden. An episode of the co-produced series that hasn't been previously shown on BBC2.
Word of Mouth (4.00 R4). Michael Rosen begins a new series with items about the language of film and of today's teenagers.
The Material World (4.30 R4). Supercritical fluids - an alternative to chemical solvents. This week's experts are Ray Marriott and Martyn Poliakoff.
Copyrights and Wrongs (8.00 R4). Intellectual property then and now, probed by Peter Day. (first of two programmes.)
Analysis (8.30 R4). Ian Hargreaves on the decline in participatory politics - or is it just taking new forms?
The Windsors (8.00 C4). That family again.
Horizon (9.00 BBC2). Revised repeat of "Atlantis Reborn", the documentary that convincingly demolished Graham Hancock's ideas about a lost continent of Atlantis, and about which Hancock complained to the Broadcasting Standards Commission. (Although he has a Channel 4 series to his name, was Hancock worth so much bother? Did someone mention the words "sledgehammer" and "nut"? The brief summary of the BSC adjudication isn't very informative: if you want to know more detail, e-mail me and I'll send you a longer version.) » Horizon
The Science of Crime (9.00 C4). Forensic science with Kathy Reichs, psychologist and detective story writer. » EQUINOX
Leading Edge Live (9.00 R4). A panel of scientists face questioning from the general public.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). The State and the Arts, a discussion featuring Mary Warnock, the Tate Modern's Andrew Brighton, and arts minister Alan Howarth (who was also in Saturday's BBC2 cultural-restitution programme. Busy guy.)
Open Science (from 12.30 am BBC2). The Open University's offerings for the night begin with Does Science Matter? and include Making Contact (2.00 am), on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. » Open2.NET