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Pick of the week

Storyville: Israel and the Arabs

BBC Knowledge, Monday, June 4 and Tuesday, June 5, 10-11.30pm.

A timely repeat over two days for "The Fifty Years' War", Norma Percy's history of the Arab-Israeli dispute that includes archive footage, interviews with some of the leading protagonists in the conflict and an account of its course from the founding of the state of Israel in 1948.

Over the next two weeks, BBC Knowledge will also be showing the documentaries "The Tour", an Israeli-Palestinian co-production about a group of Palestinians visiting the places from which their families originated on a bus tour in Israel, and "One Day in September", the award-winning documentary about the Black September terrorist action at the 1972 Olympic Games.

None of this is easy viewing, but it could provide a better understanding of the issues.

Best for schools

French Express.

Channel 4, Tuesday, June 5, 4-5.15am and Wednesday, June 6, 4-4.50am French Express gives A-level (and bright GCSE) students an opportunity to investigate contemporary French life. At the heart of each programme is an interview, in French with subtitles, on a range of topics, from the politics of the National Front and the introduction of the Euro, to rap music, baby subsidies and table football - in short, material that gives confidence in using the language for more than tourism.

History in Action: the Luttrell Psalter

Channel 4, Wedesday, June 6, 5.20-6am.

This overnight repeat starts with an introduction to the art of illumination in the Middle Ages, then examines what this particular manuscript can tell us about daily life on Sir Geoffrey's estate and the seasonal round. One of the most fascinating aspects of the Luttrell Psalter is the marginal pictures: what do they represent and why are these monsters to be found on a religious book? A glimpse into a rich and fascinating culture for 11 to 12-year-olds.

Best of the rest

Timewatch: Roman Soldiers to Be.

BBC2, Friday, June 8, 9-9.50pm.

Nine volunteers dress up in Roman military uniforms and pitch camp in a Welsh field, in an attempt to discover what life was like for the ordinary Roman legionary. The short answer is: cold, damp and very unhygienic; there is a deserter on the first day. But along the way, as they train with the short stabbing sword and the javelin, the survivors discover some of the qualities that made the legions such a formidable force. Kate, a Cardiff University historian, directs the exercise from her cosy fireside and declares that it has all been worthwhile; students of Roman life might agree. As for the volunteers, they just seem happy to get into a warm bath.


Full educational programme schedules can be found online at

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