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Schools television


Hope and Glory is not strictly a pick of this week since it doesn't start till next, but as this is the last listings page of the summer, we have to mention it now or not at all.

The six-part series stars Lenny Henry as a dynamic super-head, the kind Tony Blair hopes will soon be lining up to knock nine bells out of ailing schools.

It is something of a departure for Henry, who is best known for his exuberant stand-up routines and the herculean efforts he makes on behalf of Comic Relief. He plays Ian George, an inspector who has "named and shamed" Hope Park comprehensive. But instead of taking up a new job in government, he decides instead to take on the school himself and turn it round.

As part of his research, Lenny Henry visited Ashburton School in Croydon, which came out of special measures in February and whose headteacher, Richard Warne, acted as a consultant to the series. "As a teacher you're like a surrogate parent, it's a huge responsibility," says Henry. "When I do a show, it's an hour and a half once a day. A teacher is doing a show all day. Every class is a different performance."

His fellow performers include Amanda Redman, Clive Russell and Peter Davison, and the series is written by Lucy Gannon, whose credits include Soldier Soldier and Peak Practice. This series, she says, "is about heroic teachers and making a difference. About people whose profession is a vocation which demands commitment and sacrifice". Which should come as no surprise to those in the profession, but it's nice to hear someone else blowing the trumpet for a change.

Hope and Glory: Wednesdays on BBC1 from June 23 (see TV guides for times)


It's been an easy target for mockery for years, but Morris dancing is one of the last remaining slivers of our ancient cultural past.

At a time when Britannia is nothing if not cool, groups of men wearing flowery hats, bells on their braces and hankies on their walking sticks are not going to find themselves in the salon of No. 10. So Folk Dance is a welcome reminder that, as with most things, there is so much more here than meets the eye.

This programme takes a dance and explains the moves. It is a part of a tradition we should work hard to preserve.

Folk Dance: Friday on BBC2 10.30-10.50am


It is a popular function of modern art to shock us into indignation and screams of horror. Channel 4's series This is Modern Art is a revealing and humourous approach to the subject, led by Matthew Collings.

This week he begins with the father of all shockers, Goya, and progresses to Gilbert and George who admit "We always want confrontation - we want (people) to remember our pictures". En route there is Tracey Emin, contemplating her own work, as well as one that's guaranteed to scare the horses, Munch's The Scream, along with Francis Bacon and, of course, Damien Hirst.

This is Modern Art, Sundays on Channel 4, 9-10pm

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