Pick of the week
More Victoriana. In the week that marks the centenary of Queen Victoria’s death, BBC Radio 4 starts a substantial season about the events and achievements of her reign, covering a lot more than BBC2 did earlier this month. It includes Ian Hislop’s A Revolution in Five Acts (Mon - Fri 11.00 am), telling the story of 19th-century reform; archive recordings ( Queen Victoria , Saturday 8.00); readings including a series of Victorian Love Stories (Monday to Friday 3.30), plus the first of three dramas about unorthodox unions in Victorian Marriage Beds (Monday 2.15).
All times pm unless stated
FRIDAY January 19
From Crocodile Dung to Electrocution (3.45 R4). Last in series on the history of contraception looks to the future.
Front Row (7.15 R4). Martin Amis interviewed.
Gene Pioneers (8.05 World Service, repeated Sat 2.05 am). Peter Evans begins a series on the genetic revolutions of the last 30 years by talking with biochemist Maxine Singer about the early days of nucleic acids research.
Timewatch (9.00 BBC2, Monday 7.10 in Wales). Did Heinrich Himmler try to do a deal with the Allies before the end of the war in 1945? New evidence uncovered by the production team of The Nazis – A Warning from History .
» Night Waves (9.30 R3). Including Fiona Shaw talking about performing Greek tragedy for modern audiences. (You can catch her talking about Euripides’ Medea on a Monday night Open University programme at 1.00 am. She is also in the last part of the series on little-known Victorian cultural figures.)
SATURDAY 20 January
Private Passions (12 noon R3). University of North London architecture Prof. Robert Harbison chooses music.
Inauguration of the President (4.30 BBC2, also Sky News and elsewhere). George W. Bush live from Washington.
» Cousins (6.00 UK Horizons). Re-run (from BBC1 last August) of primates series with Dr. Charlotte Uehlenbroek begins with her getting close to gorillas in Rwanda and lemurs on Madagascar.
» Correspondent – The Man from Madras (7.30 BBC2). About the success of southern Indian IT professionals.
Queen Victoria (8.00 R4). Amanda Foreman with archive recordings of people who knew the queen, or attended her funeral.
The Rise and Rise of Animal Rights (8.00 C4, also Sunday same time). Two-parter on changing attitudes to animals ranging from Desmond Morris’s Zoo Time on 1950s television via Jane Goodall’s chimps to current hunt saboteurs and anti-vivisectionists. Peter Singer and Roger Scruton are among those taking opposing positions. (Programme one is an interesting historical survey that seems to have little sympathy for the extremes - likely to be given a last-minute 'tweak'.)
» The Greeks (8.15 BBC2). Part three: “The Empire of the Mind”. On the Peloponnesian War and Socrates. Last of disappointingly superficial US-made series which should really have been entitled The Athenians in the sixth and fifth centuries BC .
Coconut Revolution (11.50 C4). About the “world’s first true eco-revolution” on the Papua New Guinean island of Bougainville, where the activities of a copper-mining company were targeted. » Bougainville – The Long Struggle for Freedom and » Bougainville News Updates
SUNDAY 21 January
Two Thousand Years (11.30 am ITV). The seventh century in Christianity (revised repeat).
Five Live Report – Bushwhacked (12 noon R5). The shortcomings of the Florida voting system.
» Music Matters (12.15 R3). Pianist Robert Levin on improvisation; organist Gillian Weir on her sixtieth birthday.
Performing Verdi (4.45 R3). The different versions of La Forza del Destino (NB: next Saturday is Verdi day on R3).
An Inequitable Life (5.00 R4). A Money Box special on the collapse of Equitable Life and its consequences.
Fairy-tale Economics (5.40 R4). Bridget Rosewell on The Elves and the Shoemaker – and its lessons concerning profit, loss and exploitation.
» Sunday Feature : The Romantic Road (5.45 R3). Julian Evans meets Czech writers Ivan Klima, Michal Viewegh and Jachym Topal and talks about Kafka and other influences.
» Time Team (6.00 C4). A mid-Wales site that “in archaeological terms, is too good to be true”.
The Rise and Rise of Animal Rights (8.00 C4). Part two: after yesterday’s survey of animal rights ideas from the 1960s onwards, today’s is scheduled to look at Britain’s 1995 veal protests, and activists who target scientists involved in animal experiments.
The Day the World Took Off (8.00 History Channel). Another chance to see one of last year’s most interesting series, originally shown on Channel 4 last May and June. 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 north-west England. An academic team explore the world for evidence of other countries’ technological development, or lack of it; later programmes go back in time in search of earlier breakthroughs in technology.
The World at War (8.05 BBC2). Part two: Churchill replaces Chamberlain; the Nazis enter eastern Europe.
» Panorama : The Accidental President (10.15 BBC1). Gavin Hewitt on the Bush dynasty and the new man in the White House.
Scene by Scene (11.25 BBC2). Mark Cousins interviews Tom Hanks.
MONDAY 22 January
Start the Week (9.00 am R4). Andrew J. Nathan and others, on the Tiananmen Square massacre.
» Composer of the Week (9.00 am R3 and rest of week) is Verdi, who died on Jan 1901.
A Revolution in Five Acts (11.00 am R4 and rest of week, repeated 9.30). Ian Hislop plus historians on the Railway Act of 1844.
Tales from Thackeray (11.30 am R4). ”The Bedford Row Conspiracy”.
Afternoon Play – Victorian Marriage Beds (2.15 R4). First of three drama-documentaries is about George Eliot and George Lewes. Lesley Hall of the Wellcome Institute (who is also in Wednesday’s episode of Revolution in Five Acts ), provides expert commentary on Victorian sexual attitudes.
Victorian Love Stories (3.30 R4, and rest of week). Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose .
Victoria’s Children (3.45 R4 and rest of week). Victoria and Albert’s offspring, and their effect on European politics (including the haemophilia gene they inherited and passed on).
Earth Story (7.10 BBC2, not Wales). “Ring of Fire”, part three of repeat geology series, has Aubrey Manning climbing an active volcano in Bolivia and visiting the site of the most powerful earthquake ever recorded (Alaska in 1964) to learn about clues to the earth’s structure around the Pacific Rim.
Timewatch (7.10 BBC2, Wales only). Did Heinrich Himmler try to do a deal with the Allies before the end of the war in 1945? New evidence uncovered by the production team of The Nazis – A Warning from History .
Kumbh Mela (7.50 C4 and rest of week). Coverage of the holiest and most colourful celebration in the Hindu religion.
The Darkness and the Light (8.00 R4). First of two collages of voices from Victorian fact and fiction concentrates on illumination – both physical (the coming of gas lamps and electricity) and metaphorical (social reform, Darwinism, etc). Dickens, Ruskin and Mayhew feature.
Universe (8.00 C4). “Stars”. Repeat of four-part series from November 1999 begins with a programme that was episode two in the original order. The original first episode, “Big Bang”, is due to be shown next week, together with a (new) profile of Stephen Hawking.
University Challenge (8.00 BBC2). Balliol, Oxford, vs. York.
» Animal ER (8.30 C5). Last in series about the Royal Veterinary College.
» Meet the Ancestors (8.30 BBC2). A skeleton from an Iron Age rubbish pit in Gloucestershire.
Beyond the Human Senses (9.00 Discovery Channel). Exploring the technology that can extend human perception; includes COG, a “state of the art” robot.
Journeys to the Bottom of the Sea (9.00 BBC2). Repeat programme about the wreck of HMS Pandora , which sank in 1791 after capturing some of the Bounty mutineers.
Napoleon’s Lost Fleet (9.00 C4). More underwater archaeology with Franck Goddio (Originally shown on the Discovery Channel).
Nature (9.00 R4). The albatross.
» Night Waves (9.30 R3). Ronald Reagan’s presidency and its cultural after-effects; plus the T.S. Eliot prize for poetry.
TUESDAY 23 January
Taking a Stand (9.00 R4). UN humanitarian aid specialist Charles Petrie talks to Fergal Keane.
A Revolution in Five Acts (11.00 am R4, repeated 9.30). Ian Hislop plus historians on the repeal of the Corn Laws.
The Iron Road (11.30 am R4). The impact of the railway in literature, film and music. Alexei Sayle presents the first in a light-hearted series.
Victorian Love Stories (3.30 R4). George Egerton’s A Little Grey Glove .
File on Four (8.00 R4). The NHS and the private sector – is fraud likely?
Twenty Minutes: A Historian in Russia (8.45 R3, also Wed 8.00, Fri 8.15). Catherine Merridale on death under the Soviet regime, and other matters.
The Challenger (9.00 BBC2). About the space shuttle disaster, 15 years on. Since the same story was told just three years ago in the BBC tv series Disaster , one wonders why money was spent on this straightforward account that contains, as far as I can tell, no new information. Why didn’t the programme use Boston College sociologist Diane Vaughan, whose 1996 book The Challenger Launch Decision offered a new perspective? (See THES interview " Risk in the Rules ", March 22 1996).
Whitbread Book Awards (9.50 BBC2). Live coverage of this year's ceremony.
Boys from the Black Stuff (10.00 UK Drama, also Wed, Thurs, Fri). Re-run of the Alan Bleasdale classic series from the 1980s.
Boston Law (10.35 BBC1 – 11.15 in Wales; also Wednesday 10.35 – 11.05 in N. Ireland and Wales). More behind-the-scenes stuff from the Massachusetts courts.
WEDNESDAY 24 January
Meridian Music: Verdi (9.05 am, repeated Thursday 1.05am). First of two programmes with Michael Oliver. (Next Saturday is a Verdi Day on R3.)
A Revolution in Five Acts (11.00 am R4, repeated 9.30). Ian Hislop and historians (Jeremy Black, Lucy Bland, Lesley Hall et al .) on the Contagious Diseases Act.
Victorian Love Stories (3.30 R4). An Old Wife’s Tale by Ellen T. Fowler.
The Disease Detectives (9.00 R4). Epidemiology series begins with the story of a 1854 cholera outbreak in London and scientific hero John Snow. (Also part of the Victorian season.)
» Night Waves (9.30 R3). Can fans be critics?
All the Rage (11.20 BBC1, 12.35am in Wales). Last in series about the possible solutions for chronic anger, with Dublin psychologist Joe Griffin advising two subjects. Nowhere are the words “cognitive behaviour therapy” mentioned, but that’s what it seems to be.
THURSDAY 25 January
Melvyn Bragg – In Our Time (9.00 am R4). Richard Drayton and Simon Schaffer on science and Victorian imperialism.
A Revolution in Five Acts (11.00 am R4, repeated 9.30). Ian Hislop plus historians on the Reform Act of 1867.
Moral Notes (11.30 am R4). Simon Brett continues his series with a selection of Victorian love songs.
Victorian Love Stories (3.30 R4). Henry Harland’s Flower o’ the Quince .
The Material World (4.30 R4). The crisis of North Sea fish stocks, with experts Colin Bannister and Mike Heath.
In Business (8.30 R4). The end of the US boom years, and what they mean.
Costing the Earth (9.00 R4). “Wildlife for All”. What can be done to bring people and nature back together?
The 1940s House (9.00 C4). Last in series: the guinea-pig family and series advisers reflect on their attempt to re-live wartime civilian life.
» Horizon : The Mystery of the Miami Circle (9.00 BBC2; 9.30 in Wales). How archaeological discoveries in downtown Miami are leading to a reassessment of Florida’s inhabitants prior to Columbus.
Music Masters – John Adams (9.00 BBC Knowledge). US composer profiled.
» Planets – Brief Encounters (9.50 BBC2, 10.20 in Wales). Jupiter and its moons.
» The West Wing (10.00 C4). “Post Hoc, Ego Propter Hoc”. Don’t you love it when mainstream US drama series start quoting Latin at you?
Clive Anderson's Conspiracies (8.15, 10.30 and 12.15 am BBC Choice). Clive Anderson explores theories about the TWA 800 disaster and the Oklahoma bombing.
» Open Science (from 12.30 am BBC2). Open University's science night includes Background Brief: Superbugs on the March (12.40 am), on antibiotic-resistant microbes.