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Schools Television


Hidden History: Tommy Martin

BBC2 Knowledge

Monday, September 189-9.30pm

The start of the Olympic Games offers an opportunity to reflect on the role of sport in education and society.

One of those competing in Sydney will be British boxer Audley Harrison who narrates a Hidden History profile of the black boxer Tommy Martin, "The Deptford Bomber", against the background of the British Boxing Board of Control's colour bar between the wars. It will come as a surprise to many people to learn that a promising young boxer could effectively have his career blocked by the Board's ruling that only boxers of white parents could compete for British titles.

This blatant injustice was opposed by the boxing press and by most spectators, but remained in force until the late 1940s. By that time, Martin, who had been forced to fight mainly abroad, was at the end of his boxing career. The benefit of the change in the ruling went to a later generation of black boxers, notably Randolph Turpin.

The programme is being shown in a themed evening as part of BBC Knowledge's Black History Season, which starts at 8pm with Windrush: A New Generation and ends with the Reputations documentary on Martin Luther King. Between these, Henry Gates Jnr looks at the cultures of Africa and there is a profile of Andrew Ramroop, a leading Savile Row tailor.


Animated Tales of the World

Channel 4

Mondays, from September 189.45-10am This new series of stories for Book Box, for seven to 11-year-olds, consists of 13 animated films of folk tales, originally suggested by broadcasters from different countries and cultures. They were then animated by artists from other countries, using a variety of techniques, with the aim of showing one culture through the eyes of another.

The first, The Magic Paintbrush, is a Chinese tale about a poor boy who is given a brush that makes whatever he paints with it come to life. The film was directed by the Russian animator Valeri Ugarov, but the pictures and music use a Chinese traditional idiom. The following week's film is an English story, Cap O'Rushes, also directed by a Russian, Galina Beda; and then The Tree with the Golden Apples, which comes from Holland. It is followed by stories from countries as far afield as Alaska, Wales, Pakistan and Norway.

These are delightful and imaginative films whch will have a number of classroom applications. More than that, they will introduce children to a universal tradition of storytelling.


Agenda: What Is Knowledge?

BBC World Service

September 16, 6.30pm repeated September 17, 7.30am

This week's Agenda confronts Professor Felipe Hernandez Armesto, Professor Diane Middlebrook and Claire Fox with the question: "What is knowledge?" Initially, each of the participants in the debate approaches the problem from his or her own angle. Professor Hernandez Armesto is concerned with distinguishing between know-ledge and truth; Professor Middlebrook, professor of literature at Stanford University, California, is keen on the notion of "adjudication" - "the personal nexus through which the information is passing"; while Claire Fox, of the Institute of Ideas, looks at the question of knowledge in the light of recent debates in this country about the status of certain academic disciplines and courses. Is the distinction between knowledge and information or skills becoming blurred?

Eventually, the participants move towards some kind of consensus about the danger of relativity: for Fox, this means the idea that all "knowledges" are equally valid and that a university degree in cookery is just as good as one in philosophy. For Hernandez Armesto, the danger is a postmodern belief in the relativity of truth: "uncertainty has been the dogma of our times".

Not surprisingly, the discussion ends with no answer to the original query, but a lot of new questions. Perhaps that's what knowledge is all about.

* Another voice, TES, page 20


Channel 4

Wednesdays, from September 209-10pm

Jealousy may be one cause of divorce, but envy is often an outcome, as the first part of this new documentary series from Channel 4 demonstrates.

Jane and Graham are breaking up and, as far as Jane can see, Graham is getting by far the better deal, with a new woman in his life and no responsibility for the children.

"He gets to do all the nice things and I get the homework and the disciplining," she says in one of the mediation sessions that form the subject of this and the other three films.

The argument of the series is that, in divorce, mediation is usually less painful than litigation. It is also more likely to take the children's interests into account.

Robin Buss

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