TV and radio

25th June 2004 at 01:00
Robin Buss's pick of the week

Ask the Authors Animated Epics

BBC2, Monday and Wednesday, June 28 and 30, 5-6am and 2-6am The term is drawing to a close, but the BBC Learning Zone carries on through the long hot nights with a mix of programmes, several of which might be worth recording. Between now and September, there will be language-learning opportunities on Tuesdays to begin or brush up your Spanish, French, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, German, Japanese and Chinese (in that order).

And on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, up to the end of term, the Learning Zone offers programmes for English and PSHE, followed in July and August by travel programmes (with a bit of language) and the "Alternative Takes" season, in which teenagers chat about sex, drugs and rock'n'roll.

On Mondays, meanwhile, the channel is transmitting material on reading skills, careers and starting work. Ask the Authors consists of two half-hour programmes: the first features Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Morpurgo discussing their books in front of an audience of young readers; the second is devoted to the work of Maya Angelou.

The Animated Epics is a repeat of three animated films: Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and Moby Dick. The Canterbury Tales, shown first in modern English, then in Middle English, is a three-part adaptation with the framing story of the pilgrimage in puppet animation, and six of the tales in different styles and media.

The last of the three, Moby Dick, is painted on glass. As a whole, Epics provides an imaginative introduction to these canonical works.

Further information at:


Discovery Science, Saturday, June 26, 6-7pm

One of the favourite dreams (and, more often, nightmares) of science fiction is the smart robot: the idea of mechanical beings rebelling against their creators dates back to the first use of the word "robot" in this sense, in Karel Capek's play RUR (Rossum's Universal Robots). Technology has come a long way since 1921 when Karel Capek was writing, and intelligent machines have developed in ways that he could not have imagined. This documentary goes to the cutting edge of robotic technology to find out about robots with feelings. Where will it end - with Jeeves, or Frankenstein's monster?

Afternoon Play: The Bride's Chamber

BBC Radio 4, Friday, June 25, 2.15-3pm

A jolly little ghost story for the end of term, on radio - an excellent medium for haunting tales. Dickens' The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices, adapted by Michael Eaton, imagines the writer and his friend Wilkie Collins (apprentices of their mistress, Literature) on a tour to Cumberland and stopping at an inn where they hear a chilling tale. Gawn Grainger and Alan Cox play the writers; Jack Shepherd is the apparition in The Bride's Chamber.

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