Omnibus: Up in Flames (4.05 am World Service, repeated Thurs 2.30). Why did Venice’s Fenice opera house burn down in 1996? Michael Dibdin investigates, using his fictional detective Aurelio Zen to speculate. He diesn't reach a conclusion, but still, it’s nice to be told that "Venice without La Fenice is like Paris without the Eiffel Tower".
» The West (9.05 am BBC2, also Wed 8.35 am). "Geography of Hope, 1877–87".
Adventures in Science (9.30 am R4). Ben Silburn begins this series (which sounds as if it might be aimed at children) with the low-down on comets.
Behind the Chicken Shed (10.20 am ITV, also Wed - Fri same times). North London-based children’s theatre group profiled.
Soldier, Scientist, Spy, Fraud (11.00 am R4). The life, work and dubious achievements of naturalist Richard Meinertzhagen.
» Royal Institution Christmas Lectures (11.30 am C4, also Wed 12.05, Thurs 12 noon, Fri 12.05, Sat 4.15). Usually broadcast by BBC tv, this year’s lectures have moved to C4. They are given by Kevin Warwick (Reading University), who talks on "The Rise of the Robots". (Warwick is also to be heard on the same subject in Heaven and HAL on Sunday 4.00).
In Search of Longitude (1.00 National Geographic). Patrick Malahide as John Harrison (a repeat from a BBC tv Horizon special of two years ago.) The C4 version of the John Harrison story, with Michael Gambon as the chronometer maker, is being repeated on Saturday and Sunday (Dec 30-31).
Oklahoma! Behind the Scenes (3.00 C4) and Oklahoma! (3.45 C4). The National Theatre production.
Darkness Visible (3.45 R4 and for rest of week; long-wave only today on account of the 8 hour Harry Potterthon beginning at midday). The meanings of fairy tales explored.
The Count of Monte Cristo (5.30 BBC2, and following days). The first two parts of a French-made adaptation (in 8 parts) of Dumas's classic, starring Gerard Depardieu.
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (7.25 BBC2, also Wed 5.55, Thurs 6.15, Fri 7.30, Sat 6.40, Sun 7.10, Mon 6.50). Re-run of classic 1979 spy series.
John le Carré – The Secret Centre (8.15 BBC2). A new profile of the author.
Richard Hillary: A Fighter Pilot's Story (8.00 C4). Drama-documentary about the writer and airman who died aged 23 in 1942.
Case Notes (9.00 R4). New ways of treating childhood illnesses.
Hippo Talk (2.45 am C4). How hippopotami communicate with each other both above and under water.