Television: pick of the week

The Fab Lab CBeebies, weekdays 6.45am, 10.45am and 2.45pm

Mrs Whistle has a dog called Prof. Apparently, she sees nothing unusual in the fact that he wears a pair of spectacles on the end of his nose and spends a lot of time in the garden shed, which he has turned into a secret laboratory, with flower pots, test tubes and a computer terminal.

Small children can grow up to be a lot sharper than Mrs Whistle by watching this puppet science show as it follows Prof into his Fab Lab. Here he meets the pixies Trixi and Dixi, and wises them up about what goes on in the world around them. They find out how ants talk to each other, for example, and whether plants are afraid of the dark.

To answer the second of these questions, Prof gets Dixi to put his sunflower seeds in a cupboard, while Trixie leaves hers on the window sill. The result of the experiment demonstrates that happy plants may need more than just soil and water.

Not news to some of us, perhaps, but real science for the under-fives.

Wild World BBC2 Saturday-Sunday nights, 3-5am; Sunday-Monday nights, 2-7am; Monday-Thursday nights, 12.30-5am, from June 23

This summer, in the graveyard slot usually occupied by schools programmes, BBC2 is broadcasting some of the best work of the BBC's much-admired Natural History Unit.

Alastair Fothergill, producer of The Blue World, guides us through a showcase that will take the viewer from the life just outside the door, in Backyard World, to our impact on the environment (Changing World) and off to the poles, in Frozen World. There is a linked website ( that will be open throughout the season, running nightly on a loop until schools and OU programmes return in the autumn.

Arena: Kurosawa BBC2 7-8 pm Saturday, June 22

The second part of this two-part biography of the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa looks at the difficult years in which he fell out of favour with his home audience and found it hard to raise the money to make films.

Japanese attitudes to Kurosawa were always ambivalent. On the one hand, many people were proud of his achievement in winning international audiences and awards; on the other, there was a feeling that films about Japan, which were so popular in the West, could not be authentic (on the presupposition that true Japanese culture is bound to be impenetrable to foreigners).

Friends, family and critics talk about the director and, with the supporting clips from his films, give us the feeling of really getting inside the work. Eventually, with Ran, Kurosawa came to be regarded, even in his own country, as a venerated master of his art.

Details of schools programming will return in the autumn term.

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