Robin Buss's pick of the week

17th March 2006 at 00:00
Planet Earth: Mountains

BBC2, Saturday, March 18, 6.30-7.30pm

This five-part series, one of the largest projects ever undertaken by the BBC Natural History Unit, is being broadcast on Sundays and repeated on Saturdays until April 8. Tomorrow's episode is one of the most dramatic, set in the high peaks of the Himalayas and the Andes, where it spies on the animals that manage to survive in these challenging environments: geladia baboons, pumas, grizzly bears, snow leopards and giant pandas. Looking at rocks and glaciers, volcanoes and avalanches, it also touches on the fundamental question of how the surface of our planet was formed. Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, every episode concludes with a 10-minute section on how each film was made, which could be useful for media studies.

Planet Earth Shorts

BBC2, Thursday, March 23, 5-6am

A schools' version of the Natural History Unit's spring blockbuster, designed for use in geography classes for 11 to 14-year-olds. These shorts come in three parts, covering climate, physical processes and sustainability, and are available on DVD from BBC Schools' Broadcast Recordings (tel: 08701 272 272O).

A Picture of Britain

BBC2, Thursday, March 23, 4-5am

Another spin-off from the mainstream output, this is a special schools'

version of David Dimbleby's thoughtful (and at times quite personal) reflections on the way in which artists have interpreted the British landscape since the 18th century. Primarily intended for 14 to 16-year-olds studying geography, this version has clear potential for other curriculum areas, particularly art, history and English. The original series was complemented by an exhibition at Tate Britain, and the Tate website ( has a useful teachers' pack to download and examples of school projects from around the country inspired by the series.

World Environmental Change

BBC2, Monday, March 20, 10.40-11am

A programme from the BBC Primary geography strand, for seven to 11-year-olds, looking at how people in various regions of the world influence their environment. This is a repeat of the first part, on forests, which contrasts the lives of inhabitants of a forest area in Poland with those of Indians in the Amazon rainforest. A further two parts, on wetlands and the coast, are due to follow next term.

The Scottish Wars of Independence

BBC2, Tuesdays to March 28, 10.30-10.50am

This new series for 10 to 12-year-olds started last week with the story of William Wallace, examining the society of his time. The second part looks at Robert the Bruce, and asks questions about the meaning of Scottish identity and the nature of political independence. In part three we find out how the stories of Wallace and the Bruce are promoted by the heritage industry and, from there, consider the wider question of historical truth.

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