Higher Channels

January 5, 2001

Pick of the week

Jonathan Meades brings BBC2's Victorian season to a close with the enjoyably pugnacious Victoria Died in 1901 but is Still Alive Today (Sunday 9.45). The programme is mainly about Victorian architecture - most of which Meades dislikes for its "desire to be in two centuries at once", its "anti-Enlightenment" espousal of the Gothic and its general lack of classical proportion - but there are general swipes at nineteenth-century (and present-day) Britain's self-image too. Among his targets are the Victorians' creation of a fake Welshness, "cerebral conman" William Morris, the madness of William Burges's Cardiff Castle restoration, the "robber-baron mentality" manifested in Pugin's decorations for the Houses of Parliament and the hostility to city living that has resulted in the present-day suburbanisation of the country. Only Glasgow, it seems, escapes Meades's scorn; for him, its classical styles show it to be "the last British city to engage with reason".

All times pm unless stated.

FRIDAY January 5

The Poet and the Astronaut
(11.00 am R4). Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis and her cousin Joe Tanner, who inspired her poem Zero Gravity (featured in a BBC2 programme in July 1999).
Belief (7.00 R3). Last in Joan Bakewell's series features Janet Suzman talking about life's big questions.
Lost Worlds: Looking for One Beginning
(9.00 National Geographic). New archaeology series from John Romer - looks suspiciously like a retitling of C4's Great Excavations series from last year.
Some Liked It Hot
(10.00 ITV). Start of a series on the British on holiday from archive/reminiscence documentarist Steve Humphries (of C4 Green and Pleasant Land ilk).
Book at Bedtime: 2001 - A Space Odyssey (10.45 R4, and from Monday). Fifth of ten-part reading of Arthur C. Clarke's novel.

SATURDAY January 6

Private Passions
(12 noon R3). Philosopher A.C. Grayling with his choice of music.
The Lord Lieutenants (3.30 R4). First of four programmes in which Richard Stilgoe looks at the history and current role of lord-lieutenant (every English, Welsh and Scottish county has one).
People's Century Weekend (from 4.30 UK Horizons, also Sunday from 4.30). Over two days, re-runs of ten episodes from the excellent BBC tv history-from-below series that combined ordinary people's memories with archive film. Today's episodes cover the landmark years of 1900, 1914, 1919, 1933 and 1939; tomorrow's are all on post-Second World War themes.
The 1940s House (6.00 C4). Repeat of episode two. On Thursday (9.00 C4), episode three has the guinea-pig family experiencing food and fuel rationing.
Agenda: Arthur C. Clarke (6.30 World Service, repeated Sunday 6.30 am). The guru of Sri Lanka talks about robots, the future of technology, etc. More from Sir Arthur at the Open University on Thursday night.
Kumbh Mela: The Greatest Show on Earth (7.00 C4). An explanatory documentary launching C4's coverage of the once-every-12-years Hindu festival (also daily from Monday, 7.50 C4, and discussed on Monday's Night Waves , 9.30 R3).
Beautiful But Deadly (8.00 R4). Film femmes fatales.
» The Greeks (8.10 BBC2). First seen on BBC Knowledge last July, this three-part series begins by concentrating on the coming of democracy to Athens and the crucial role of Cleisthenes, but also has short digressions about Sparta, the Olympic Games, the importance of Homer and so on. Made in 1999 for showing on US television, it is nevertheless full of UK experts.

SUNDAY January 7

Countryfile
(11.00 am BBC1, not Scotland). Special celebrating Britain's conservationists.
The Making of Tosca (11.30 am C5). Australian documentary about a Sydney production of Puccini's opera.
Two Thousand Years (11.30 am ITV). The fifth century in the history of Christianity.
» Music Matters   (12.15 R3). On the latest edition of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians .
Performing Verdi (4.45 R3). Mark Elder and Rodney Milnes discuss Verdi's Simon Boccanegra in the first of a series about the work of the composer who died 100 years ago this month.
Fairy-tale Economics (5.40 R4). Was Jack (and his beanstalk) an example of entrepreneurial risk-taking? First of several questions posed by Bridget Rosewell.
» Sunday Feature : The John Tusa Interview (5.45 R3). Edward Bond, playwright.
» Time Team   (6.00 C4). The eighth season of the pop-archaeology series starts in Lincolnshire, investigating reports of a lost Saxon cemetery. Followed later by Time Team: Behind The Scenes (7.30 C4). (More old bones later in the week, on Tues, with a new series of BBC2's » Meet the Ancestors , and a bio-archaeologist in Thursday's Material World , 4.30 R4).
Pillories of the State (7.15 R4). New series in which Phil Hammond gets experts talking about British fields of enterprises begins with the "arts industry". We're promised the opinions of Profs. Eric Moody and Dianna Petherbridge, plus Doris Saatchi and Brian Sewell.
» Sunday Play : The Constant Prince (7.30 R3). Calderon de la Barca's play in a translation by John Clifford (it was the quarter centenary of Calderon's birth last year).
Warning from the Wild: The Price of Salmon (8.00 BBC2). The ecological and human cost of "farmed" fish, investigated by Julian Pettifer.
The Secret Life of Japan: Suicide (8.00 C4). On the huge rise in Japan's suicide rate.
Hitler's Henchmen: Mengele (8.00 C5). Another documentary from Germany's ZDF.
Victoria Died in 1901 but is Still Alive Today (9.45 BBC2). See Pick of the week at the top of the page.
The SS in Britain (10.55 ITV). About the Ukrainian soldiers who fought for the Nazis and came to Britain in 1947. Newly unearthed evidence suggests that many of them were responsible for war crimes.
» The Sky at Night   (1.50 am BBC1, 1.40 am Wales). Chris Kitchin talks to Patrick Moore about distant clues to the origins of the earth.

MONDAY January 8

Composer of the Week
(9.00 am R3 and rest of week) is Jacques Offenbach.
Start the Week (9.00 am R4, repeated 9.30) includes Ronan Bennett and psychoanalyst Andrew Samuels (who is keen on putting politics on the couch).
The Mind Teacher (10.45 am, repeated 7.45 R4). Related to the BBC On the Edge season (see R4 tomorrow at 8.00), a drama serial about a woman training to be an educational psychologist.
Black on Screen (11.00 am R4). Why hasn't Britain produced any black film stars?
Ghost Houses (3.45 R4 and rest of week). Great houses that are no longer great. Today, Clumber Park in Nottinghamshire.
Earth Story (7.10 BBC2, not Wales). Welcome start of a repeat run for one of the most informative science series of recent years, Aubrey Manning's 1998 exploration of geological history.
» Watchdog Healthcheck   (7.30 BBC1). Is the NHS Direct helpline overloaded? And other questions.
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). Queen's, Cambridge vs. St John's, Oxford.
» Animal ER  (8.30 C5). More stricken animals dealt with by the Royal Veterinary College.
The Sail (8.30 R4). Repeats about HMS Victory , its history and technology.
Nature (9.00 R4). Desert Rhinos of Namibia.
Planets - Brief Encounters (9.50 BBC2, also Thursday same time). A series of ten-minuters building on the computer-generated imagery of 1999's Planets begins with "Voyager", an introduction to the spacecraft launched in 1977 to capture images of Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and now leaving the solar system. Thursday's programme is about the creation and likely destruction of our solar system.
Everyman Special (10.35 BBC1, 11.25 Wales). On the Solway Harvester 's sinking.
Book at Bedtime: 2001 - A Space Odyssey (10.45 R4). Arthur C. Clarke serialisation continues.

TUESDAY January 9

Adventures in Science
(9.30 am R4). Ben Silburn offers an atom's-eye view of a proton in a particle accelerator.
The Mayfair Set (9.50 am, also 12.50, 3.50, 6.50, 9.50 BBC Knowledge). Repeat of the one about Jim Slater.
Predictions - Charles Handy (10.50 am, also 1.50, 4.50, 7.50, 10.50 BBC Knowledge). On the future of work.
Music Afloat (1.30 R4). Musicians aboard ship, featuring Captain Cook's voyages and the mutiny on the Bounty.
Afternoon Play: Miss Kilmansegg and her Precious Leg (2.15 R4). Dramatisation by Martyn Wade of Thomas Hood's satirical poem.
The Consultants (8.00 R4). Second half of survey of the lives and work of Britain's medical consultants.
Driving Mum Crazy
(8.30 C5). Last in series is about 14-year-old Robert, who regularly ran away from home and whose attention deficit hyperactivity disorder was helped by the drug Ritalin.
Islam: Revolution and Reform (8.30 World Service, repeated Wed 2.30 am, 3.30). Part two: Turkey.
Case Notes (9.00 R4). Long hours and how to stay sane under pressure. Linked, presumably, to the BBC1 programmes about "mental well-being" (see On the Edge: Black Dog , below).
» Meet The Ancestors   (9.00 BBC2). The site where human bones were found near the Gloucestershire village of Tormarton in 1968 was reexcavated last summer by Oxford University's Bronze Age Warfare Research Group. Julian Richards joins the investigations, as do environmental archaeologist Mark Robinson and fight expert Mike Loades.
To Diet For (9.00 C4). The culture of dieting examined in a one-hour documentary that goes back to the 1920s as well as featuring current trends.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). Including an item on changing representations of the Gulf War.
» On the Edge : Black Dog (10.35 BBC1). First of a season of "mental well-being" programmes on BBC1 is about clinical depression and its treatment with Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. See Wed for further related matter.

WEDNESDAY January 10

Patient Progress
(11.00 am R4). Stress (repeat).
Dream Lives (7.00 BBC1). In the Tomorrow's World slot, a new series about "using the latest technology to change people's lives" begins in a Leeds comprehensive school.
The Countryside Debates (8.00 R4). The proposition: that rural people suffer because they have no control over levers of power. This second programme (of three) comes from Grantham.
Twenty Minutes: Et In Arcadia Ego (8.45 R3). Repeat of Jonathan Glancey talk about ruins.
Signs of Life (9.00 R4). Docudrama on multiple sclerosis. The drama is written by Nicholas McInery; the documentary element features experts Giles Ellrington and Wendy Tindall-Shepherd.
» On the Edge : The Secret Life of Happiness (9.10 BBC1). The low-down on the brain's "happiness centre" (expounded by the University of Wisconsin's Richard Davidson) and how our genes can "predispose" us to happiness.
» Confidence Lab   (9.50 BBC2). More self-improvement: business psychologist Ros Taylor, psychologist Sandra Scott et al . help people's lack of confidence.
Night Waves (10.00 R3). On Nigeria.
» On the Edge

: All the Rage (10.35 BBC1) is the first of three programmes on stress and anger, laying out the basic consensus that there are more displays of public anger in Britain than there used to be. The central expert here is the University of Staffordshire's Ellis Cashmore. What can be done about all this bad temper? Later programmes promise more research and some solutions.

THURSDAY January 11

Moral Notes
(11.30 am R4). Victorian popular songs and their values: Simon Brett begins a new series by showing how family life was reflected in the songs of 150 years ago.
The Material World (4.30 R4). Bio-archaeologist Tamsin O'Connell on analysing ancient bones.
Gold Domes, Black Earth (8.00 R4). Tim Whewell on Russia's history and its present problems, part two: "Ruling Russia" (including a visit to Vladivostok).
Analysis (8.30 R4). Could a bit of austerity be good for us? Frances Cairncross reports.
The Way We Are (8.45 World Service, repeated Fri 2.45 am). Ivor Gaber of Goldsmith's with a series on trends in British society (using recent social science research).
The 1940s House (9.00 C4). More "staged reality". The guinea-pig family experiences food and fuel rationing.
Costing the Earth (9.00 R4). "Building a Better Sandbag". The lessons of Britain's recent (or even current?) flooding.
» Horizon : Life on Mars (9.00 BBC2). Is there - or was there - life on the red planet? First of two programmes on the latest thinking from scientists such as Mike Carr and Bill Hartmann. Followed by… Planets - Brief Encounters (9.50 BBC2), on the past and future of the solar system.
Night Waves (9.30 R3). On the life and poetry of Isaac Rosenberg.
» Open Science   (12.30 am BBC2). Beginning with » Final Frontier , which features items on how people across the centuries have visualised the skies and a profile of Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

 

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