Schools television


Design is about control, says Janice Kirkpatrick, writer and presenter of this clever little series from BBC Scotland. Every week she takes a familiar object and shows what has gone into designing it, how its shape has changed in time and what the differences signify.

On June 12, she gave a potted history of the written word, from hieroglyphs to computer graphics, with excursions into cryptography, medieval manuscripts and the Internet. All this gave her the opportunity to travel to the National Security Agency in Washington, Wells Cathedral library and a modern monastery where the monks design websites. It's always agreeable to see a presenter getting around and enjoying herself.

Next Monday, her search for the meaning of the chair takes her to Japan, where they traditionally don't have any, and to an American penitentiary, where the inmates make them but are not allowed to sit on them. She finds a "hall chair", deliberately designedto be uncomfortable so that footmen would notfall asleep on it or unwelcome visitors be encouraged to stay.

In Japan, she also learns a good deal about the significance of the placing of mats and the arrangement of guests around the table, in what could be the starting-point for some fairly relaxing work in English or general studies, once exams are over.

Designing Our Lives BBC2 Mondays, 7.30-8pm


This is a series designed for 16-plus or adult beginners in German who want a start or a aster in the language. It takes the form of a serial about a trainee at the Foreign Office who comes to work in Cologne and tries to get to grips with German.

The emphasis is on simple personal interaction and everyday phrases, so it could also be just what is needed to get ready for a summer holiday visit to Germany.

Deutsch Plus (1-4) BBC2 June 19, 2-4am.


The weekday BBC Radio 4 magazine programme, You and Yours, this week joins the BBC's TimeBank initiative, which aims to harness the skills and enthusiasms of volunteers in the service of charities and community projects.

Those who wish to get involved pledge their spare hours to a"time bank", and are then matched with a local project that needs their help. You and Yours starts with a mere eight volunteer hours in the bank but aims to accumulate enough over the week to build a children's playground.

Other schemes include a special edition of Charlie's Garden Army on BBC1 on June 23, in which the Gardener's World water-feature expert Charlie Dimmock joins up with local recruits to redesign the garden at a Kent home for severely disabled children and adults.

Woman's Hour will broadcast a drama about volunteers working for the Samaritans, and Quiet Revolution (Radio 4, June 21) will report on a project to restore a monastery in Manchester.

For more information, visit the BBC website at

You and Yours Radio 4 June 19-23, 12noon-1pm.

Robin Buss

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