Robin Buss's pick of the week
BBC2, Wednesday, March 23, 2-6am
The Easter holidays are looming and the school broadcasting schedules tend to run down a little. The exception is GCSE revision which, far from slowing, is now getting into full swing. This week, we have modern languages: chatting and writing in German and Spanish about everyday life, family, friends and the wider world of tourism and travel. The GCSE websites include sample exercises with advice on how to answer specific questions... Pasaran! (as they don't say in Seville).
www.bbc.co.ukgcsebitesizegerman and spanish
C4, Monday-Tuesday, March 21-22, 11.10am-12noon; Wednesday-Thursday, March 23-24, 10.15-12noon.
First shown in December last year, then earlier this month, Bricking It is a six-part series for 14 to 19-year-olds on the world of work. It is based on a project involving 20 older teenagers who were given six months to transform an empty warehouse in Woolwich into a luxury riverside flat.
Under the guidance of Dr Phil Ashton, they acquired the necessary skills in plastering, wiring and carpentry, while learning to get on together as a team. This, as you might expect, proved to be the hard part, and the whole project offers plenty of material for discussion about life skills and relationships.
C4, Tuesday, March 22, 5.35-6am
This animated film, from Michael Foreman's historical fiction, tells the story of one young man going to war in 1914 in one of the so-called "pals'
battalions"; he writes home to describe the Christmas truce, in which, on some sections of the front, British and German soldiers met in no man's land to play football and swap cigarettes. Designed for primary history (ages 9-11), and also available on video, it may surprise you with the power of animated drawings to convey emotion. Try not to cry in front of the class.
The Mix: Wagner's Ring
C4, Tuesday, March 22, 4.30-5am
How about reducing the five operas of Wagner's "Ring" cycle to a half-hour animated film for five to 11-year-olds? All that stuff about Rhinemaidens, Valkyries, Siegfried and the twilight of the gods? Well, gotterdAmmerung, they've gone and done it. All the best tunes are there, and quite a bit of the plot. At the least, you've got to award it "A" for effort.
BBC2, Friday, March 18, 9-9.50pm
In January 1607, a massive wave swept up the Bristol Channel, flooding large areas of Somerset and Monmouthshire and killing some 2,000 people.
Storm surges are common in the region and it has always been assumed that this was just an exceptionally large one. However, geologist Simon Haslett has a surprising theory and calls in Australian expert Ted Bryant to help demonstrate that this was actually a tsunami. Using contemporary documents and studies of the geology, they offer a good argument that this was a unique event (so far) in British history showing us, along the way, how to muster historical evidence -which is why the programme could be valuable for use in secondary history.