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Television: pick of the week

A Victorian Mystery. Mondays, March 1-29, 10.50am-11.10am

The present links with the past in this five-part mystery story for seven to 11-year-olds which reveals how cruel life could be for children in Victorian times.

As well as providing work in literacy and history, the programmes can be used as a basis for discussion on rights and responsibilities in the citizenship curriculum.

The series will be available next term on video (pound;34.99), as will pupils' booklets to accompany it (pound;11.99 for five), both from BBC Customer Services, tel: 0870 830 8000.

Beckett on Film. C4. March 1-5, between 10.40am and noon

Some of the dramas from C4's broadcast of the entire Samuel Beckett canon are being repeated for schools over the week.

Starting times depend on length: the shortest plays have the virtue of extreme brevity (Breath and Catastrophe, being shown on March 2 and 5, from 11.55am to noon). By contrast, Endgame (March 1) and Happy Days (March 3) take up the full 80 minutes.

The first of these, directed by Conor McPherson, features compelling performances from Michael Gambon and David Thewlis in an existential tale not unlike Sartre's In Camera.

Most of Beckett's characters are trapped in some kind of limbo where they manage, despite their situation, to create a life for themselves out of language. Designed to capture the imagination and exercise the minds of bright 14 to 19-year-olds.

GcsEASE:Holidaymaker. C4. March 3 to 10, 9.30am-9.55am

4Learning's series for applied GCSE turns to travel and tourism, with these six programmes in which students are set different challenges in organising holidays.

In Programme One, for example, Claire has to find a short break for a group of students and decides to send them surfing in Newquay. As it turns out, she is lucky with the weather, so everyone has a good time (despite the accommodation not turning out as expected).

Afterwards, presenter Russell Amerasekera analyses the choices Claire has made. In Programme Two, Debbie-Anne has the very different task of bringing a French family to Britain on a seaside break, making sure that Maman, Papa and the kids are amused. The practical tasks are well set out and analysed.

Historians of Genius - In Their Own Words. BBC4. Mondays, February 29 and March 2, 9.30pm-10.20pm

The idea is to bring the work of classic historians to life by presenting their words as though they had been written as the script for a broadcast by a TV historian.

Simon Russell Beale does Gibbon's Decline and Fall and Bill Paterson gives us Thomas Carlyle's French Revolution as the writers themselves would have done if someone had invented television a couple of hundred years earlier.

How will Schama, Starkey and co stand up to the comparison with these splendid precursors?

Nile. BBC2, Fridays, from February 27, 9pm-9.50pm

There should be material in this new, colourful, lavishly produced BBC series for various parts of the syllabus, as the films follow Africa's great river though the history of Ancient Egypt, discovering the role of the Nile in agriculture, and meeting the humans and animals who now inhabit its banks.

Full listings can be found at:;NIPgt; shtmlwww.channel4.comlearningmainprogrammestv_schedule.htm

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