Schools television

11th February 2000 at 00:00

Schools have always ranked well behind hospitals and police stations as settings for television dramas. Reach for the Moon, a new six-part serial from LWT starting tonight, shows that there is no reason why this should be the case.

Paul (Jonathan Kerrigan) and Annie (Saira Todd) are teachers who find themselves reunited at the school on the Isle of Wight where they had been pupils - and childhood sweeethearts - 10 years earlier. Unfortunately, Paul has got engaged to someone else; you can fill in the rest.

The school is run by a splendidly disenchanted head, played by Richard Hope, who reacts to one intense conversation outside his door by saying:

"If I wanted daytime soap in my office..." He has clearly chosen the wrong school, because everything that happens at The Flowers is the stuff of soap opera, making this juicy material for media studies, and entertaining viewing for teachers whose professional lives may seem to be lacking in emotional drama.

Reach for the Moon. ITV. February 11, 9-10pm. SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT.

afive-part English unit for 14 to 16-year-olds, Dockers centres on a schools version of the Channel 4 drama about the struggle of the sacked Liverpool dock workers to win back their jobs.

The script grew out of a series of workshops writer Jimmy McGovern held with the men involved in the dispute and their families. These workshops are the subject of the fist two programmes, which show how their raw material was transformed under McGovern's guidance - and with his riper expletives beeped out to avoid embarrassing the target audience (or their teachers).

As well as allowing us to meet the dockers and watch as they come to terms with their experience, these first two films provide a gripping analysis of the process by which real-life stories can be shaped into fiction, and they illustrate the difference between the "truths" of history and of drama.

The last three programmes consist of what the team eventually wrote: the film, Dockers, starring Ken Stott and Chrissy Rock. The five-part series is now available on video.

The English Programme: Dockers. Channel 4. Thursdays until February 17. 11-11.30am. BEST OF THE REST.

Using the idea of pop-up books and cards, Stage One teaches five to seven-year-olds some of the principles of mechanical design.

In weeks to come, the programme will explore other basics of engineering and technology as it shows how to build a go-kart, make stuffed animal puppets and prepare food for a party. Animated film sequences illustrate the theme of each programme with a story; and this, in the first week, supplies the subject for some of the pop-up pictures. Really does make you want to do it yourself.

Stage One:Design and Technology. Channel 4. Tuesdays (repeated Fridays)to March 7. 11.15-11.30am. ROBIN BUSS

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