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Summer's lease

The summer term kicks off with a big hole where the Channel 4 listings should be. This is because the station is playing slave to the General Election and its aftermath and will not return to the serious business of schools broadcasts until May 12.

So what have they got that will be worth the wait? New for Book Box (Mondays 9.45-10.00am) is a wacky story from the creator of cross-dressing supernova Mrs Doubtfire, Anne Fine.

"Bill's New Frock" covers similar ground when young Bill wakes up to find that he has turned into a girl, and aims to prepare seven to 11-year-olds for a lifetime of lunatic gender constraints.

The Celtic fringe comes to the fore with Bus Stop (Mondays 9.30-9.45) which undertakes a whistle-stop tour of Wales. Secondary geographers get to visit the big country in Scotscapes (Tuesdays, 11.45-12.00), while Down to Earth (Wednesdays, 9.30-9.45) examines the richly-textured fabric of Irish communities.

And so on to Radio 3, which offers a particularly exuberant selection of performing arts programmes for primary age groups. Dance Workshop (Thursdays, 3.40-4.00am) twirls its way through Asian folk dance, using traditional and chart-topping Bhangra music to cover such routines as the Sambalpuri chain dance and the Dandia ras stick dance.

The Music Box (Tuesdays 3.00-3.15am) has a hatful of topical summer subjects for its musical games and activities such as chasing daisies and picnics. The Song Tree (Tuesdays 3.30-3.45am) meanwhile, joins Pinnochio on his adventures.

New on BBC2 there is a Look and Read Special (Mondays 10.50-11.10am) featuring the swashbuckling cartoon hero Captain Crimson, who needs help from young viewers (ages seven to nine) before he can accomplish his missions.

Also for young children is Words and Pictures (Wednesdays 9.45-10.00) which has a bright, new mix of songs, poems and sequences to help children in the early stages of literacy.

For secondary viewers there are new additions to Science in Action (Thursdays 1.25-1.45) which aims to add a bit of pzazz to experimentation with the help of gases, air pressure, microbes and forces. Shake, stir and stand well back.

If all goes well, you may consider a career as a lab technicnian, or maybe a hairdresser. A whole new vista of professions opens up in Job Bank (Fridays 1.00-1.20) including florist, prison officer and stable hand. Something for everyone in fact.

Last of all, if the current farrago of political punditry and propaganda leaves you feeling bemused and bewildered an Election Special from In the News (Radio 3, Wednesday, April 16 at 3.00am) aims to clarify the muddy waters. Peter Snow and James Naughtie will be joining to the regular team to look at the process behind party politics and the origins of democracy. A concept we may all need to remind ourselves of, over the next few weeks.

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