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Robin Buss's pick of the week

Life Stuff: Consumer Power

C4, Monday-Wednesday, January 31 to February 2, 11.10-11.35am.

The first programme in this three-parter looks at what goes into a bar of chocolate - something that most of us buy because we like the brand image.

For example, Nestle sells Yorkie on its masculine chunkiness, Rolo because we think it's naughty but nice, and the new Smarties bar to the inner child lurking in all of us. Life Stuff takes a bite of this, then visits farmers in West Africa whose incomes are at the mercy of fluctuations on the international market: a fall in price may mean that their children can't go to school. So, what can we do about it? Quite a lot, in fact. If we pay a little more for fair trade products this not only gives a guaranteed return to the primary producers, but also brings pressure on the large companies to bother about something other than our inner child and the sexiness of their truffles. It's called consumer power.

Around Scotland: Scotland in the 1960s

BBC2, Monday, January 31, 10.30-11.30am

This three-part unit, covering home life, school and social change, uses archive film and personal testimony to evoke life in Scotland during the 1960s, and ventures beyond the usual cut-off point of the last war.

Designed for 10 to 12-year-olds doing environmental studies and citizenship, it is supported by a website at with fun things to do for the students and not-too-boring notes for their teachers.

Sticks and Stones

C4, Friday, January 28, 9.55-10.45am

So Solid Crew's Asher D (he was the one who spent seven months in a young offenders' institution for carrying a firearm) explains why he is trying to reclaim the term "nigger". Is it possible, as he says, to be against racism and still use the n-word? As he cavasses opinions on the subject, he finds something of a generational split, with older friends and family more likely to be shocked by the term. The starting-point for discussions on both language and racism.

English Express: Soaps

BBC2, Monday, January 31, 11.30-12.10am

Soap operas are the most popular form of television drama: open-ended stories with a huge cast of characters who come and go according to the meandering of the storyline or the termination of the actors' contracts. In this two-parter for 9-11-year old English pupils, Les Dennis and Lesley Davis start by looking at how the plots and characters are developed and then, in part two, create their own soap, called Suds - with Les Dennis playing all the characters.

Jazz Britannia

BBC4, Friday, January 28, 9-10pm

Humphrey Littleton, George Webb, Chris Barber, Stan Tracy and Acker Bilk talk about their part in the British traditional jazz revival of the 1950s and remember some of those who have not survived to wrinkly old age. This is the first of a three-part documentary, with lots of archive film on the Soho scene (which looks even more sleazy in black-and-white) and soundtrack music. It promises to provide entertaining and informative material on the social history of the past 50 years, as well as an echo of Britain's unique contribution to a musical genre.

Full listings can be found at:

* www.channel4.comlearningmainprogrammestv_schedule.htm


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