21st September 2001 at 01:00
When I Was Twelve

BBC1, Wednesday, September 26, 9-10.15pm

Dominic Savage's previous documentary drama, Nice Girl, was about the life of a young couple with a baby on a dreary south Wales housing estate. When I Was Twelve turns to the problems of a younger age group, once again using unknown actors, developing the characters in a series of workshops and improvising the script during filming.

The film is the story of Chloe (Holly Scourfield), who runs away from home, first with the boy across the street (Jody Latham), then, after she has been brought home by the police, with the girl next door (Ashley Thewlis), neither of whom proves a reliable companion.

Essentially, this is a morality tale, warning against the dangers of drugs, crime and prostitution that threaten homeless young people, and based on Savage's research into the lives of runaways, some even younger than Chloe. But there are lessons, too, about the relation of drama to real life in Savage's technique for developing the characters and the narrative.

Best for schools

What If?

C4, Thursdays, 9.50-10am

This new strand for seven to 11-year-olds looks at a different subject each week from a slightly unusual perspective.

Last week, we had Mary Shelley's Frankenstein retold as a 60-second movie; this week, we see maths problems from the point of view of a market stall holder and an interior decorator, working out prices or getting the right amount of paint to cover a wall.

But the most original feature of the series is its close link with GridClub, Channel 4's website designed for this age group, which offers the opportunity to join clubs, use the virtual library and participate in a variety of activities: sending messages, taking part in debates and obtaining information (find out more at

Watch: Barnaby Bear

BBC2, Thursdays, 11.35-11.50am

Barnaby and his mum venture across the Channel by ferry to Roscoff, in northern Brittany, in this series teaching five to seven-year-olds the elements of geography. The bear explores the ferry, learns a few French words and finds out about time differences. This term the intrepid teddy has not only an activity pack, with posters for the classroom wall, but also his own website ( bear), suggesting a variety of activities for pupils and supporting the key stage 1 geography curriculum.

Best for kids

Eureka TV

BBC1, Mondays, from September 24, 4.20-4.35pm

Much like a children's version of Tomorrow's World, Eureka TV aims to make science and technology fun. It promises high-tech products, ingenious inventions, unusual animals and fun experiments, all intended to astound and amaze.

In the first programme, presenters Kate Heavenor and Fearne Cotton test the claws of a mantis shrimp and show how to put a paperclip through a balloon without bursting it - an invaluable party trick, surely?

Robin Buss

Full educational programme schedules can be found online at co.ukprogrammesautumn2001.cfm

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