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Robin Buss's pick of the week

The Big Bang

CITV Wednesday, July 7, 4.10pm

Why does bread always land buttered side down? How do you make a radio-controlled sandwich? These and many other important questions are answered by presenters Sam Pinkum and Kate McIntyre in a new series of "The Big Bang". In this series, as well as indoor experiments involving a wave machine, a marble roller-coaster and other useful things to have around the house, the team take us down to the beach to find out how to make dinosaur footprints and parachuting ducks.

LifeschoolJob BankSex EducationDrug EducationCrime

BBC2 Wednesday-Friday, July 7-9, 2-6am

Unfortunately, life is not all parachuting ducks, so the BBC has sensibly decided to devote the last few nights before the end of term to programmes on survival in the Real World: finding jobs and avoiding trouble. We start with "Lifeschool A-Z": advice to young people about issues that affect their lives. On Thursday, there is "Job Bank", 24 10-minute programmes looking at a wide variety of paid occupations, including some you had never thought of: what about Digital Media Developer, for example, or health and safety inspector? Finally, Lifeschool turns to sex education, drug education, and crime and punishment. And, like a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, the programmes can always be kept for use when you need them next term.


Discovery Channel Saturday, July 10, 2.30-3.30pm11pm-12midnight

This France-Canada co-production is a timely account of why stem cell research offers hope for curing a variety of diseases and even for replacing lost organs. It begins by considering the astonishing ability of the salamander to regenerate its tail after a close encounter with a hungry predator, followed by the even stranger case of the hydra, a "living fossil" that has two methods of reproduction and can grow new heads or other organs without any apparent difficulty. It is in a Genevan laboratory that we find scientists researching the stem cells that lie behind the creature's self-replicating talents. The science is clearly explained, though in a slightly annoying transatlantic accent.

Decline and Fall

BBC Radio 2 From Friday, July 2, 9.15-9.30pm

This evening sees the start of Evelyn Waugh's first and funniest novel, read by Rik Mayall. Sent down from university for indecent exposure (not entirely his fault, it must be said), Paul Pennyfeather heads for Llanabba Castle and the world of private education, in the days before teachers required training and vetting, or a knowledge of any curriculum, national or otherwise. Those who have trouble getting a class to buckle down to work may like to try Paul's technique, which is to announce that a prize will be awarded to the longest essay, regardless of merit.

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