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Television: pick of the week

Essential Poems BBC2 Friday, February 14, 7.30-8pm

A five-part series presented by Daisy Goodwin that starts from the assumption that no one reads poetry anymore and believes that this is because we see it as "beautiful but remote", not part of our everyday lives. The answer is to make poetry more "relevant" - and what could be more relevant to February 14 than love, which also happens to be the subject of plenty of poems. Actors, including Ioan Gruffudd, Damian Lewis and Liza Tarbuck, recite short lyrics by poets ancient and modern, in resolutely modern settings - the mobile phone is a favourite accessory.

John Clare meets his first love in the supermarket, Andrew Marvell sets out to woo his coy mistress on the office fire escape - you probably get the idea. Think of movie director Baz Luhrmann's Romeo and Juliet. An anthology of short pieces, classified by themes ("seduction", "unrequited love", and so on), any of which could be extracted and slotted into a lesson where appropriate.

Making It C4 Wednesdays, to March 26, 11.55am-12noon

This series of five-minute films is primarily intended for design and technology with seven to11-year-olds, but could be used in a variety of contexts with a much wider age range to inspire writing and art work, or even as a filler with no other purpose than to hold the attention and delight the eye. Each mini-documentary, with unobtrusive music and no dialogue, shows a child making something. This week, Lauren and Craig make pinhole cameras (with a warning against using photographic materials without adult supervision, of course). Later, we see children gardening, cooking saltfish and ackee, designing a dress and tying a fly for fishing.

Nothing more to say - the films speak for themselves.

Extra 2 C4 Fridays, to March 21, 10.35-11am

Taking its inspiration from the US sitcom Friends, Extra is a series for language-learning built around a couple of French or German girls, their boyfriend and an American visitor. The second French series ends today but all four episodes are being repeated for overnight recording on March 5, on C4, 4-5.40am. The German Extra 2 starts next week and is being repeated on March 12, 4-5.40am. The French friends are Sacha, Annie and Nico, who live somewhere not far from the Champs-Elysees, though they don't go out very much, and tend to speak quite slowly, in loud, clear voices, with a lot of repetition. Their American friend Sam is likely to burst into the apartment with a mask on his face and shout "Haut les jambes!" This is his idea of a joke and they soon put him right about the difference between legs and hands. Meanwhile, it has to be said that his French has improved since series one and your GCSE pupils' knowledge of the language should do the same - even if Extra is not your tasse de the.

Motherland: A Genetic Journey BBC2 Friday, February 14, 9.05-9.50pm

Though the ancestors of the modern inhabitants of the West Indies were taken to the Caribbean many centuries ago as slaves, genetic analysis may allow scientists to trace the region in Africa from which they originated.

As part of a project involving 230 members of the British Caribbean community, the film follows a man and two women from Britain as they try to trace their African roots.

Full schedules: www.channel4.co.uklearningmainprogrammesspring2003.cfm www.bbc.co.ukschoolswhatsontvindex.shtml

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