TV and radio

12th January 2001 at 00:00

* Timewatch, BBC2, Fridays from January 12, 9pm

The new series of Timewatch, BBC2's flagship history strand, includes a much-needed re-evaluation of Henry VIII's chancellor, Sir Thomas More. It reminds us that this hammer of heretics was not altogether the humanist Man for All Seasons and prisoner of conscience depicted in Robert Bolt's play.

But the series opens tonight in more recent times, tracing the history of the Empire State Building, and continues on January 19 with the story of Heinrich Himmler's attempt to replace Hitler and make peace with the Allies. Both these films benefit from the availability of archive material and live testimony. In fact, Timewatch itself demonstrates how film can be used as historical evidence and how our perception of the past has been altered by the movie camera and the tape recorder.


* English File, BBC2, Thursdays, 2-4am

What part do the designer, the actors and the director have in interpreting the text of a play? One of this term's units for English File helps to answer this question by studying extracts from theatre, cinema and television versions of J B Priestley's An Inspector Calls. Among the contributors are some of those responsible for the current revival at the Garrick, which offers a good example of a non-naturalistic interpretation, with its imaginative staging and shifts in time.

The other new unit for English File analyses the making of an episode of BBC1's hospital-based drama, Casualty. The aim of both units is to make students aware of the ways inwhich the media convey meaning.

* Look and Read: Zzaap and the word master, BBC2, Tuesdays from January 16, 11.30am

Inevitably, there is more "look" than "read" to Zzaap and the word master, a series for computer-literate primary pupils that seeks to improve their other literacy skills.

Sucked into a computer and wandering around in a game that has been taken over by a virus, with only a blue-winged bug (Zzaap) to guide them, Paul and Josie have to deal with confusing words such as "crouch", "touch" and "boulder", and a rock face (or is it a rock with a face?) that sprouts puns. Not everyone's idea of a good time, perhaps, but this is a useful series, provided the viewer is familiar with computer games.


* Nature: wind, Radio 4, Monday, January 15, 9-9.30pm

How better to evoke the invisible force of wind than through radio? This is a sound journey and a scientific one, exploring the role of wind in the cycle of life, as a disseminator and destroyer, carrying seeds to colonise new homes and diseases to destroy them.

Sound recordist Chris Watson describes the effect when the wind carries the cries of seals on the Isle of May, and entomologist Martin Warren recalls that in 1999 Hurricane Floyd brought 400 monarch butterflies to Britain.

And, throughout the programme, the wind is rising, from a gentle breeze to a raging gale.


Full education programme schedules can be found online at: programmesspring2001.cfm

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