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Pick of the week

Robin Buss's pick of the week

English Programme: The Gift of the Gab C4, Tuesday-Friday, February 8-11, 10.50-11.10am

Graham Linehan, scriptwriter of Father Ted, and Enda Walsh, who wrote the screenplay for Disco Pigs, talk about their work, where ideas come from, how they develop them and what might convince us that there is something in Ireland other than leprechauns and gunmen.

Glenn Patterson introduces this three-part series that talks to screenwriters, journalists, playwrights and poets working north and south of the border about practical matters of what it means to make a living by putting pen to paper.

New Boy C4, Monday, February 7, 10.05-11.05am

Three teenage boys go on holiday with motivational coach Kate Marlow, who aims to send them back altered, so that even their parents won't recognise them. The essential step in making confident young men out of these timid teens is to teach them life skills that they can apply to work, relationships and their own self-image.

Schama Shorts BBC2, Thursday, February 10, 2-5am

Schama Shorts are extracts from Simon Schama's series A History of Britain, chosen so that each part is centred on a theme and is appropriate to the national curriculum. To begin, there's the Battle of Hastings, followed by Becket and the Black Death. Elizabeth, Cromwell and the Jacobite rebellions take us into modern times and Empire, Revolution and Queen Victoria's women as far as the 19th century.

The 11 to 14-year-old target audience should not find these 20-minute chunks too hard to swallow. Immediately following is Timelines 1066-1660, a new resource for the same age group, which aims to put the six centuries following the conquest into perspective and to trace the emergence of a constitutional monarchy.

Tales from Europe BBC Radio 4, Tuesdays, February 8-March 15, 3.15-3.30am

These are pretty morbid tales, what with the victims of The Pied Piper in week one and Godfather Death in week two. Not that the audience of seven to nine-year-olds is likely to mind; the idea is that they learn to listen and perhaps talk about these traditional tales.

The Pied Piper is not Browning's poem, but a lively rewriting by Kevin Crossley-Holland, read by Tony Robinson.

The stories take on a happier note with the loner-to-idol story of the Ugly Duckling - only to be cast back into the Underworld a week later with Persephone.

Mindset BBC4, Mondays, February 7 and 14, 9.30-10.30pm

Last week, Stuart Jeffries tried to analyse the French; now he looks at the Germans, then in the final part, at Britain itself, in this attempt to understand our closest European neighbours.

The French turned out to attach much importance to intellect and culture, as well as to the Republican values that help to explain why the row over wearing headscarves in schools has taken on such importance.

In Germany, he finds people who like order, a well-tended environment and nudity.

In Britain, he suggests there's a tolerant approach to cultural diversity, but that one can never afford to be complacent. Older pupils may find material for discussion in his comparisons between cultures and concern for civil liberties in Britain.

Full listings can be found at:

* www.channel4.comlearningmainprogrammestv_schedule.htm


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