Robin Buss's pick of the week

4th March 2005 at 00:00
Life Stuff: from the Top. C4, Monday-Friday, March 7-11, 10.20-10.45am (Friday, 11.10-11.35am)

The first programme in this series for 14 to 19-year-olds on work and careers features fashion designer Bruce Oldfield, who has achieved considerable success from a reassuringly rocky start. "How do you know at 18 what you want to do?" he asks.

The son of a British mother and a West Indian father, he was brought up in foster homes in the North-east and, after leaving school, attended teacher training college. However, his experiences at a secondary school, where he encountered unmanageable pupils, uninspiring colleagues and cold tea in the staffroom, were incentives for a career change. With a bit of pushing he got into art college in London, then went to Central Saint Martin'sCollege of Art and Design. He comes across as decent and inspiring - a loss to education, in fact.

Media StudiesReading Media Texts. BBC2, Thursday, March 10, 4-6am

We start with a new unit for 13 to 16-year-olds called "The Life and Times of BBC Radio 1", which goes behind the scenes to find out how Radio 1 operates and considers the station's place in the field of modern radio broadcasting. This is followed by three 20-minute programmes on "Reading Media Texts", which analyse the language of display advertising, the moving image and interactive media to show how meaning is conveyed through them.

If you forget to set the video for this second programme, a cassette is available from BBC Learning.

Timewatch: Murder in Rome. BBC2, Friday, March 4

Pushkin remarks, in his poem "Yevgeny Onegin", that during his school days at the Tsarskoe Selo lyceum he would happily read Apuleius (author of the bawdy novel The Golden Ass), "But for Cicero there was little room". He should have seen this week's Timewatch, which shows Cicero in 80 bc taking on the apparently hopeless case of Sextus Roscius on a charge of parricide, with the lawyer likely to share his client's fate if he loses. Winning the case involved attacking the dictator Sulla, who probably lacked a sense of humour over such matters, which made the defence's task look like a "lose-lose" situation. It was not surprising, then, that Cicero was the only lawyer willing to take on Sextus Roscius.

The Timewatch reconstruction has all the excitement of a modern courtroom drama and provides material for classical studies, history and citizenship, as well as ample reason for any teenage Pushkin to think again about reading boring old Cicero.

European Roots. BBC4, Friday, March 4, 10-11pm

The Norwegian Hardanger fiddle has four strings, plus two or four "sympathetic" strings under them, which are not played, but vibrate, giving a special sound to the instrument. The third in this four-part series on music from Bosnia, Holland, Norway and Hungary traces the origins and folklore of an instrument that was once banned from churches and believed to be inspired by the devil. Nowadays, it is used for music ranging from pop and folk to classical and avant-garde - composer Edvard Grieg adapted tunes played on it for the piano in his Norwegian dances, for example.

The film is overly long (half an hour would have been enough), but it gives an attractive insight into the culture of a European neighbour.

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