Schools television

5th May 2000 at 01:00
PICK OF THE WEEK

Teenager Joanna gets pregnant by her boyfriend Steve, they marry and five years later find themselves marooned in the post-industrial wasteland of Port Talbot in South Wales. He goes to work, she looks after the kids, and they spend the rest of their time in front of the telly with a couple of cans (his choice) or clubbing (hers). The most solid marriage would have a hard time surviving such boredom and frustration, and it is not hard to see where this accidental union is heading.

It goes there, in Dominic Savage's drama, step by step, with the relentless inevitability of a theorem; as Steve says, "one thing led to another". Savage is a documentary maker who seems unwilling to abandon the devices of factual television, particularly captions and direct addresses to camera, and has used improvisation with his actors rather than a formal script. None of this was necessary to convince us of the everyday reality of the situation that Nice Girl describes, but it encourages fine work from Joanna Griffiths, Steve Meo and Kate Jarman in the leading roles.

There are sex scenes, plenty of casual swearing and enough material to provide a term's discussion for personal and social education, in the country which now has the highest level of teenage pregnancies in Europe. This is a play with definite designs on a teenage audience.

Nice Girl BBC2 May 10, 9-10.15pm

SCHOOL SPOTLIGHT

The summer term is not usually a time for new series on schools telvision. This outstanding five-parter on the Tudors for seven to nine-year-olds is a repeat.

The programmes are fronted by two amiable young presenters, Mark Simkin and Marsali Stewart, who introduce questions that viewers have to solve in each unit. Why was there a knife in a Tudor schoolroom? What are the lines carved on this 16th-century beam? Visits to period houses and open-air museums, dramatisations and documentary evidence such as paintings and manuscripts mark the first steps in learning how to use historical evidence. A thoughtful and lavishly produced series.

Zig Zag: Tudor Life BBC2 Tuesdays from May 2 (rpt Thursdays), 11.20-11.40am. Available on video at pound;29.99 for a set including resource pack and teacher's notes. Tel: 01937 541001 to order

BEST OF THE REST

The BBC Natural History Unit clearly hopes to make a killing with this one. It takes the techniques used in Supersense and Walking with Dinosaurs a step further, using miniaturised cameras, computer animation and a bag of other tricks to convey the power of predators, from hawks to crocodiles, cheetahs and spiders.

A camera strapped to the front of a golden eagle gives the bird's view of the rabbit - it can spot a bunny from two kilometres away - and we join a gannet as it dives vertically towards its fish dinner at 60mph. You can see whose side Predators is on - and why. "Victims" would make far less enjoyable viewing.

Predators BBC1 From May 4, 8.30-9pm

Robin Buss


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