Television: pick of the week

20th June 2003 at 01:00
American Voices. BBC2 Tuesday, June 24, 2-4am

A fascinating piece of oral and visual history, a tapestry made up of Americans talking about their experiences and those of their parents, designed for students in the 14-16 age group. It starts on Ellis Island, with "Immigrant America", as first-generation Americans and their children recall their arrival in the early years of the century. The following three parts deal with the 1920s, the Depression and the New Deal. The series ends with "Black America". Since history is the topic of the week in the overnight broadcasts for BBC Schools, this leads in neatly to Wednesday night's five-part series for 13-14-year olds, on "Black Peoples of the Americas" from the slave trade to the civil rights movement; plus a short item on South Africa and apartheid.

Nazi Germany. BBC2 Thursday, June 26, 2-4am

The term's work ends with this five-part series on the ever-fascinating topic of Nazi Germany. The secret of Adolf Hitler's improbable success is the subject of the opening film, while parts two and four examine everyday life for Germans under his rule, and how the Nazi regime channelled the energy and enthusiasm of young people. "The Master Race" looks at the least acceptable side of Nazism and the final part recalls German opposition to Hitler. All in all, a fairly comprehensive survey of this topic for Modern World History.

Edward and Mary: The Unknown Tudors. Discovery Channel Wednesday, June 25, 8-9pm

Though Henry VIII was responsible for separating the English Church from Rome, his children, Edward, Mary and Elizabeth, were left to fight it out for the conscience of the nation. Dr David Starkey tells the story of the first two of these, the Protestant Edward VI, who last week bequeathed his throne to the hapless Lady Jane Grey, and his half sister, the Catholic Mary, "a queen driven by conscience and by faith", who was to earn one of the more interesting sobriquets in English history (later handed on to a cocktail of vodka and tomato juice). Bloody Mary's attempt to turn back the course of history failed, but she gave it a good try. Dr Starkey recounts the events with relish and with his usual slightly mannered delivery, though he does manage to unite stress with meaning. Contemporary documents, portraits, pleasant landscapes and silent re-enactments fill the screen when Dr Starkey chooses to remain invisible, and the whole adds up to a stimulating and colourful piece of history.

Whine Gums. BBC2 From Sunday, June 22, 10.30-10.45pm

Performance poets, including Benjamin Zephaniah and John Cooper Clark, speak their poetry in a variety of styles and locations, in this series devised by Henry Normal and Steve Coogan. The locations are urban, the emphasis is more on performance than poetry, and the wit sometimes strained; but the series is worth taking as an anthology to be plundered as needed for illustrations, examples and models.

Robin Buss For full TV listings go

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