Pick of the week
Sundays, April 8, 9pm, and April 15
This is not the first time that Dickens's great picaresque novel has been adapted for the screen - there was the 1947 film directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, and previous television versions include the film record of the Royal Shakespeare Company's stage version, which was one of the opening programmes for Channel 4 in 1982.
Its popularity is easily explained - it is a great story, with all the classic Dickensian elements of comedy, satire, horror, melodrama and pathos.
This two-parter by Martyn Hesford, directed by Stephen Whittaker, has a strong cast: James d'Arcy as Nicholas, Charles Dance as the villainous Ralph Nickleby, Lee Ingleby as poor Smike, and Gregor Fisher and Pam Ferris as Mr and Mrs Squeers, the grotesque couple who run Dotheboys Hall, the Yorkshire school that occupies much of the first episode. Hesford has made up for lost time since he left his Salford school after failing GCSE English literature, and produced what promises to be a reasonably faithful adaptation. It might even inspire one or two students to get better grades in the subject than he did.
Best of the rest
The Ascent of Man
From Friday, April 6, 8-8.50pm
A repeat of seven episodes from one of the finest documentaries ever made for television, Jacob Bronowski's account of the history of science, first broadcast in 1973.
It starts with the development of chemistry, from alchemy to atomic theory, and contnues next week with mathematics, described by a charismatic personality whose intellectual passions could be felt simmering beneath a surface of almost pedantic didacticism.
Art that Shook the World
Saturday, April 7, 6.50-7.40pm
Andrew Graham Dixon launches this series with an examination of Monet's "Impression: sunrise", the painting that gave its name to the most influential art movement of the 19th century. The later popularity of Monet with the confectionery industry may obscure the originality of his work.
However much we may find Monet's painting of Le Havre appropriate for the top of a chocolate box, its depiction of a modern, industrial port would have struck Monet's contemporaries as anything but pretty.
It was not only paint that shook the world: next week, we have Tom Paulin on Ulysses, then Renny Bartlett on Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin, and Germaine Greer on the Psalms. If they all manage to be as interesting as Graham Dixon on Monet, the series deserves to produce a little shudder of its own.
Best on radio
Wednesday, April 11, 4-4.30pm
Laurie Taylor talks to Professor Richard Hoggart about his contribution to cultural studies, his career at Birmingham University and Goldsmiths College, and his new book of essays, Between Two Worlds, as well as his thoughts on social workers, academics and modern literature, not all of them benign.
There are no schools programmes broadcast over the Easter break