Robin Buss's pick of the week
Ancient Greece BBC2, Thursdays November 11-December 2, 11-11.30am
This new unit of four 20-minute programmes for seven to nine-year-olds introduces life and ideas in ancient Greece, with a balance between historical evidence and myth: the Olympic Games and Greek theatre feature among the topics. The programmes are available in a BBCVideo Plus Pack and the website has further information and activities, lesson plans for teachers and suggestions for exploring the topic further.
Emotional Literacy BBC2, Thursdays November 11-December 16, 10.30-10.40am
Even children with good social skills may benefit from the kind of discussion encouraged by this new series for PSHE:it is about how to manage feelings and empathise with others. The six programmes cover such topics as how to ask for things without sounding rude, how to assert oneself without being over-aggressive, how to control anger, how to persuade and negotiate. This series could have useful repercussions on many other areas of school life.
English Express: Own Goal BBC2, Mondays November 8-December 6, 10.50-11.20am
A five-parter for nine to 11-year-olds set in and around Leeds United Football Club, covering such topics as report writing, analysing plot and character, and notions of "realism". The drama, now available in a BBCVideo Plus Pack, also raises issues of friendship, loyalty, acceptance and ostracism.
Space Odyssey BBC1, Thursdays November 11 and 17, 9-10pm
The BBC's latest special effects blockbuster is a kind of Floating With Astronauts: Space Odyssey imagines the crew of a future spaceship on a mission to the planets where they meet conditions reconstructed thanks to evidence from the past 40 years of space exploration.
Their first stop is Venus, a particularly unpleasant place with a surface temperature of 500o centigrade and an atmosphere composed mainly of sulphuric acid. The two astronauts only just make it off the surface to continue the journey to Mars, then (next week) Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto.
David Suchet narrates a series that should manage to infiltrate some science into the narrative.
My Dad's the Prime Minister BBC1, Fridays from November5, 8.30-9pm
Another example of teaching by stealth - though it has to be said that this sitcom, while giving a rough idea of how politics works, is not likely to enhance the image of politicians.
Written by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman, it stars Robert Bathhurst as the hapless premier facing an uphill drive towards re-election, while his son is involved in a far more important poll for class president, his daughter is indifferent to everything except GCSEs, his wife is considering voting for the Greens and his cabinet is already applying for jobs in the City.
And stopping the campaign bus to give an old lady a lift to hospital may not have been the good idea that it seemed...
This is a well-spun satire on the age of Blair, which might entertain students of government and politics, and even teach them a little about the subject.
Listings can be found at: