TV and radio

20th April 2001 at 01:00
Pick of the week: Football's Dream Factory BBC1 Tuesday, April 24, 10.35-11.30pm.

On every touchline of every school playing field, it seems, there is a talent spotter with cheque book and pen at the ready, eager to sign up young players; too bad if the pound;50,000 prospect later decides he would rather be a ballet dancer. But the main thing is not to deny valuable talent a chance. "For too long it's been schoolteachers coaching kids," Alan Hansen says in this documentary. "You've got to leave it to the professionals." Just in case you thought it was all some kind of game.

* Best of the rest Art That Shook the World BBC2 Saturday, April 21, 7.20-8.10pm.

Andrew Graham-Dixon opened this series with a solid essay on Monet and the Impressionists. Barbara Bonney has a far tougher job selling The Marriage of Figaro; as she says at the start, opera is still considered entertainment for the elite. But Mozart's opera has a lot going for it: sexy theme, sexy music and loads of historical significance, all illustrated here, with commentary, extracts from stage performances and an aria or two round the piano. Bonney could well convince uncommitted viewers that the club of opera-lovers is worth joining.

* Blue Peter BBC1 Monday, April 23, 5-5.35pm.

Konnie Huq reports on the census, with particular reference to how it affects children, how the present series of British censuses began in 1801and other vital statistics. The programme also celebrates St George's Day, and two of its presenters learn how to do the tango. In fact, a crowded 35 minutes.

* Murder in Mind BBC1 Sunday, April 22, 9-10pm.

David Suchet plays Edward Palmer, headmaster of a boys' school, in the first in a season of psychological thrillers by Anthony Horowitz. At the height of a successful career, Palmer becomes involved in an incident outside school that results in the death of a young male prostitute; his attempts at a cover-up only lead him deeper into trouble. A couple of decidedly unsympathetic policemen start to hound him, he has a blackmailer on his tail and his daughter is prepared to resort to desperate measures - while the headmaster himself appears more and more like a pupil, saying:

"But, sir, please, sir, it wasn't my fault."

* Best on radio Afternoon Play: Census Radio 4 Friday, April 27, 2.15-3pm

There is more about the census in this chronicle, starring Donald Sinden as the Voice of History, which draws on the experience of modern census enumerators and the records of past headcounts, from the Domesday Book onwards. Of course, Britain is not the only country, or the first, to hold a census: the idea is as old as taxation. There was a Scottish census in the seventh century and, of course, Augustus Caesar decreed a memorable one around 2,000 years ago.

Robin Buss


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