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Schools television


Every so often, television does something extraordinary. Billed as the "biggest thing on TV in 200 million years" Walking with Dinosaurs, from the BBC science department, is a truly astonishing series. It appears like any other natural history programme. You are half way into birth, reproduction and death before the enormity of what the programme-makers have achieved really hits you. These are not meerkats or albatrosses, they're dinosaurs and they look so realistic that you half expect David Attenborough to be sitting in a hide a few feet away with a seraphic look on his face.

Set against a backdrop of the most luscious, prehistoric-looking scenery in Chile, North America and New Zealand, the dinosaurs have been meticulously researched and created by model makers, animatronics creators and compositors, watched carefully at every step by an army of palaeontologists. The result: scaly hides that ripple, creatures that defecate, scratch, play, run away and hide, and eat each other. It is riveting. They may not be really real but for a new take on life and living processes this series is unmissable and and the wow! factor stratospheric.

There is a website linked to the series ( dinosaurs) and a scaled down version for children, Dinosaur Detectives which begins on October 11, and will take in the Natural History Museums in London and New York, as well as fossil beds in Australia and South Africa. A documentary showing how the series was made is on October 6 at 8pm.

Walking with Dinosaurs BBC1 Mondays(for six weeks) 8.30-9.00pm


Chefs are famously grumpy but the one in Off Limits: Talking About Justice is not just unpleasant, he's a liability. Off Limits this term looks at the legal pitfalls young people may find themselves in after they leave school. This chef has two helpers on work experience. In between bullying them, he fails to supervise them when they do something reckless like wield a big, sharp knife. The lawyers are brought on to advise when one eventually upends a tray of hot fat all over himself. Other programmes look at police powers to stop and search and domestic conflicts. The series is aimed at 14-17-year-olds and the only support materials are on the Net (http:learning.channel4 .comnetnotes). A video of the series costs pound;14.99.

Off Limits: Talking About Justice

Channel 4 Fridays 10.00-10.25am best of the rest

Romeo and Juliet has had more than its share of reinterpretations. Radio 3, gambling that we can never have enough of it, is releasing its version, with Sophie Dahl and Douglas Henshall.

Director Peter Kavanagh wants to show the lovers as "the villains of the piece". He believes they are a danger to society and need a hefty bout of psychotherapy and counselling to sort them out, not that it will do them any good, of course. Plenty of support material is available for schools including audio cassettes (pound;8.99) and CDs (pound;14.99), plus a talk by Sir Richard Eyre.

The Sunday Play: Shakespeare for the Millennium, Romeo and Juliet Radio 3 Sunday 7.30-10.25pm

Janette Wolf

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