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Schools television


As the negotiations for peace in Northern Ireland continue to teeter on the brink, there is a laudable new series from Channel 4 which offers us all a timely reminder of the need for dialogue and compromise. School Ties has been designed to support the portentous-sounding Education for Mutual Understanding and Cultural Heritage in Northern Ireland.

It's a three-part comedy drama about two mutually antagonistic school groups - one Catholic and one Protestant - who are suddenly forced to find some common ground between them, when they embark on a joint project. "If they understood each other a bit better, they'd be less suspicious of the other side," says one of the teachers with commendable lucidity.

But the students are having none of it. There's a long hard slog ahead before they become diplomats.

School Ties Channel 4 Thursdays, 10-10.20am


It's not often that what you do for a living can directly improve what you do in your spare time, but in the case of 16-year-old Mark Humprhey, it certainly does. During the week, he spends his time hunched over horses' hooves as he learns the backbreaking skills of farriery. Come the weekend, he is to be found in a more elevated position on horseback, booted and spurred, as a member of the Nottingham Jousting Association.

This is a second run for the Techno: Making It series but this programme is worthy of mention for its novelty value alone. It follows Mark as he has his first suit of armour made to measure.

There's lots of mileage here - and not just for Craft, Design and Technology.

Techno: Making It BBC2 Tuesday, 11.55-12.15pm


The History Channel is hitting its stride nicely now, producing a balance of general interest and curriculum-led programmes, May being a particularly fruitful month.

It brings a first chance to see the results of the Channel's partnership with the Imperial War Museum in a week of programmes which hail from the museum's archives.

There's Duel in the Desert, which chronicles the epic desert campaign waged by generals Rommel and Montgomery - and which proved vital to the outcome of the Second World War. Mission Berlin is the story of Allied bombing raids over Germany, which should provide some uncomfortable resonances with what is happening today in the skies over Kosovo.

Less sombre are the series on Ancient Mysteries and Lost Civilisations. Both will look at some of the most enchanting and enigmatic of historical legends - from Ancient Greece, to the Crusades and the Quest for the Holy Grail.

From the Archives of the Imperial War Museum From Monday, May 10 to Friday, May 14 at 7.00pm Ancient Mysteries Weekends from May 1 at 8pm Lost Civilisations Sundays from May 16 at 6pm


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