Robin Buss's pick of the week

17th February 2006 at 00:00
CUTTING CLUBTHIN CLUB C4, Tuesday, February 21 and Wednesday, February 22

These two one-hour programmes for PSHE follow a similar pattern of profiles of adolescent girls with a tendency to self-harm, either through cutting themselves or anorexia.

In one or two cases, there is some indication of the underlying cause: one self-harmer, for example, lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 12 and seems to have difficulty expressing her grief.

On the whole, the documentaries are descriptive, rather than analytical, and give an extraordinary insight into the sub-culture of the girls involved.

This is particularly true of the anorexics. Both films stress the role played by dedicated websites in the lives of the self-harmers who are relieved to come across others who share their obsessions. However, the websites, particularly the "pro-ana" ones, can reinforce the behaviour, for example by preaching that anorexia is a lifestyle choice, offering galleries of "thinspirational" photos of models and film stars. These films provide a sympathetic account of self-destructive impulses that most people find hard to understand.

THE TROUBLE WITH... BBC3, Friday, February 17, 9-9.55pm

Three new programmes in this gripe strand, one giving journalist Carole Malone the opportunity to have her say about the ill-effects of over-indulgent, liberal parenting; and another offering a platform to comedian Robin Ince who has it in for the old, especially those who refuse to sit quietly in their senior citizens' homes and wait for the inevitable.

Behind both these moans, however, there is some serious reflection on the state of society, which might provoke a reaction from the more senior citizens in your English or PSHE group. This week, the series starts with gay culture: writer Simon Fanshawe thinks there are too few respectable partnerships in the gay community.

DRAMA WORKSHOP BBC Radio 4, Fridays, February 24 and March 3, 4.10-4.20am

Nine to 11-year-olds return from half-term to a new two-parter in this series, inspired by the pointillist painter Seurat. It starts with "The Bathers", where the class plays the figures in the scene and the painter himself as he prepares to put it on canvas. Other activities include miming the painter's gestures as he paints an imaginary self-portrait and inventing biographies for figures in his work.

LIONHEART: THE CRUSADE Discovery Civilisation Monday, February 20, 8-9.30pm

The Discovery Civilisation channel is devoting a week to history, including repeats of Channel Four's Time Team. The emphasis elsewhere is on warfare: this feature-length documentary contrasts Richard the Lionheart, battling for the Christian side, and his Muslim opponent Saladin.

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