Television: pick of the week

21st November 2003 at 00:00
Writing Academy BBC2, Mondays, November 24, December 1, 11.30-11.45am

Sixteen children take off for a week at the Writing Academy in this series for nine to 11-year-olds on how to write stories. Each programme leads up to work with a different focus; this week, the subject is humour, which can derive from exaggeration, jokes, misunderstandings and contradictions.

There are lots of materials to inspire the storytellers on the Gloucestershire farm where the Academy is based, and a real-life writer, Jacqueline Wilson, drops in to explain that humour can derive from painful and embarrassing situations as well as from slapstick or fun. At the end of the week, the judges arrive to analyse the pupils' work. A highly motivating series, with a particular emphasis on encouraging boys to write fiction.

Making It C4, November 26, December 3 and 5, 5.45-6am

For overnight recording, 10 new films in this delightful series of five-minute shorts, meant as an inspiration for design and technology, expressive arts and English, to stimulate all kinds of reactions. This new set has a slightly different slant from earlier films in the series: they are set in Brazil, where Luca, Meto and others reveal aspects of their daily lives and achievements.

Oliver Cromwell: Warts and All BBC1, Tuesday, November 25, 9-10pm

The prequel to Charles II tells the story of Britain's only revolutionary dictator, the man who did away with the monarchy, gave us a constitution (hurrah!) and tried to abolish Christmas (boo!). Richard Holmes and Ronald Hutton supply the boos and hurrahs, demonstrating how the events of the Civil War can still arouse strong feelings and how relevant the debates of the time remain.

Arena: Dylan Thomas BBC2, Saturday, November 22, 10.10-10.25pm

It is 50 years since Dylan Thomas succumbed to fame and whisky while on a visit to New York. Was he a wonder or a windbag? Either way, he remains the poet most likely to work for the English teacher who hopes to copy Michelle Pfeiffer's example in Dangerous Minds and turn a class of inner-city toughs into aesthetes. Arena will help you make up your mind about his worth and reveal some of the reasons for his continuing appeal.

The National Trust: The Beatles BBC4, Sunday, November 23, 8-9pm

This series on the work of the National Trust turns to a subject that might generate some interest (or even heat) in the classroom: should the Trust take over John Lennon's Liverpool home and, if so, what should be done with it?

Full listings:;NIPgt; shtmlwww.channel4.comlearningmainprogrammestv_schedule.htm

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