TV and radio

5th January 2001 at 00:00

Reality television went down pretty well last year, so why not more of the same? This month BBC2 is putting 12 people through the Confidence Lab, (see feature, page 12) in an attempt to overcome their self-doubts about work, relationships and venturing outside the front door.

After Big Brother, Channel 4 needs nothing to boost its confidence in the genre, so this month alone it is dropping 12 women into the jungles of Brunei to see how they cope (Jungle Janes), and inviting five men and five women to live as members of the opposite sex (Boy Meets Girl) to highlight the cultural element in definitions of gender and to show how much of our behaviour as males or females is learned.

If this is too much reality to bear, BBC1 and BBC Radio are taking part in a joint season on mental health in Britain, On the Edge, which includes a series of reports for Newsround about children's mental health.

Other programmes in the season look at depression, anger and happiness.

There is a promising line-up of drama, with C4's adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy and BBC1's Rebel Heart, a four-part serial set in Ireland in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

Next month, C4 threatens to hit us with Teachers, a drama about a group of young teachers. First reports suggest it will do little to enhance the image of the profession, but we can only wait and see.

Talking of which, Grange Hill (BBC1) returns for another series. And, for still younger viewers, there is a revival of Bill and Ben (aka the Flowerpot Men - in case you weren't around when they last popped up, 30 years ago).

This month, Radio 4 is marking the centenaryof Queen Victoria's death with a season of dramas and documentaries, including Tales from Thackeray and Victorian Love Stories.

In A Revolution in Five Acts, Ian Hislop examines five important pieces of 19th-century legislation, while Jolyon Jenkins's The Disease Detectives starts with a documentary on the Broad Street pump, the key to an early triumph of epidemiology.

Victoria herself features in the Woman's Hour drama Young Victoria and a vital part of her legacy to European politics in Victoria's Children.

Mid-January sees the start of two new series for primary schools on C4, More Adventures from the Writing House and Just Write, as well as the second part of Star Maths. There is also a further batch of Animated Tales of the World.

At secondary level, Geographical Eye Over Europe (C4) invites 11 to 14-year-olds to examine the effect of the Continent's geographical trends on people's lives, while World Physical (BBC2) is a new series on physical geography for 14 to 16-year-olds, which looks at climate changes, landscapes and ecological topics from around the world.

BBC2 has two new units for GCSE English: Reading Media Texts and Priestley Shorts, being shown overnight on January 11. And American Voices is a new history series for the same age group, later in the month.

Revision has an important role in BBC2's provision for 15 and 16-year-olds. Look out for English GCSE Bitesize Revision on January 7, 13 and 14, Mathematics Bitesize Revision on the following weekend, and a new science unit, Short Circuit, in February.

For full reviews of these and other new programmes nearer transmission, watch this space.

Robin Buss

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