Robin Buss's pick of the week's television
The Foolish Wise Ones Teachers' TV, Monday, September 19, 11.30pm-12.30am
This BBC Horizon documentary is being shown as part of Teachers' TV Autism Week. It looks at the phenomenon of so-called "idiots savants", who have an astonishing talent in one field. Tito's Story, earlier on the same evening, is about an autistic boy who shows a remarkable understanding of his own condition.
Other programmes in the season look at how to identify children with autistic spectrum disorders and how to manage them in the classroom and at home.
Sweet Sixteen C4, Monday-Thursday, September 19-22, 9.55-10.20am; Friday, September 23, 9.55-10.45am
Castleford, in West Yorkshire, is the setting for this five-part series following a group of 16-year-olds as they square up to life after school.
The town has provision for sixth-form study and the nearest further education college is 6.5km away, so for most people here the only prospect after GCSE is work - not that there is much choice of jobs. However, the youth of Castleford seem resilient enough. The boys dream of playing rugby for the Castleford Tigers or joining the Navy. The girls have ambitions ranging from singing and drama to studying law - and above all, finding their independence. The school-leaving age is a time for confronting hard realities about work and relationships, so the series should provide good material for discussion in careers and PSHE.
C4, Monday-Thursday, September 19-22, 10.45-11.10am; Monday, September 26, 11.35am-12noon Perhaps the young people of Castleford would like to consider going into business on their own. If so, these five films could serve as a warning, as well as an inspiration. The five young entrepreneurs (four men, one woman) are mainly in the media, doing web design, and so on, but the group also includes a fast food merchant and a farmer who wants to raise water buffalo in Scotland. None of them is having an easy time of it and most find that running your own business means making way for a partner. Let's hope that those big humps on the road to success turn out to be learning curves.
Hardeep Does C4, Monday-Friday, September 19-23, 9.30-9.55am
... but will your students? Hardeep Singh Kohli is a stand-up comedian from Glasgow who goes out on the street to investigate attitudes to race, sex, religion, family, and pets. There was a time when the British didn't talk about politics, religion or (God help us) sex, and Hardeep's attitude to domestic animals shows how times have changed. Loving pets is something Hardeep doesn't do. The bounder!
The Space Race
BBC, Wednesdays, September 21 and 28, October 5, 9-10pm
After the Second World War the superpowers, Russia and America, glared at each other across Checkpoint Charlie and wondered whether to press the nuclear button. However, since that would mean mutually assured destruction, they sublimated their hostility into other forms of competition: such as getting to the Moon. This four-part series tells the story of the space race from Sputnik to Apollo and beyond. It was co-produced by Americans and Russians, under the watchful eye of the BBC.
So is the Cold War really over? This is nostalgia for me and modern history for your A-level students.