Robin Buss's pick of the week
Shakespeare: The Animated Tales BBC2; Wednesday, October 5, 2.30-6am; Thursday, October 6, 5.30-6am; Friday, October 7, 2-6am
This is Shakespeare Month on the BBC with a season of plays on Radio 4 from the middle of October. There will also be contemporary versions on BBC1 of The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing, Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Specifically for schools, in the overnight slot, BBC2 is showing the National Youth Theatre production of Tom Stoppard's abridgement of The Merchant of Venice (BBC2, Thursday, October 8, 4-5.30am), together with documentary footage of rehearsals, plus interviews analysing the plot, themes and characters. There are also Shakespeare Shorts to look out for in these three days and a film about the Globe.
In addition, we have 30-minute animated versions of 10 plays. This series, now well-established in schools, was made as a pioneering collaboration between the Welsh fourth channel, S4C, and Russian animators. Much of the resulting work was visually stunning. The 30-minute scripts by the late Leon Garfield retain some of the original text and the series provides a good introduction, especially for younger students.
Black History BBC2, Fridays, October 7-21, 11.40-12noon
October is also Black History Month, starting with these three new programmes for 7to11-year-olds on the contribution of some extraordinary people to black and Asian history and culture. As well as history, the series could have applications for geography and provide the starting-point for written work.
How Sport Shook Up the World C4, Monday-Wednesday, October 3-5, 9.30-9.55am (repeated November 29-December 1, 10.45-11.10am)
Cricket is back in the news after England's victory in a very sporting series against Australia; but not so long ago the game was the focus of violent political controversy. The cancelled South Africa cricket tour of 1970 led to a 22-year ban which is thought to have played a small, but significant, role in ending white majority rule. In this three-part documentary, poet Benjamin Zephaniah examines why sport is so often tied up with politics, despite the efforts of sportsmen and politicians to keep them separate.
Postcards: Bangladesh BBC2, Fridays, October 7-21, 11.10-11.20am
This neat strand for primary geography started with Kenya (the last two parts of which go out on October 3 and 10), and now turns to Bangladesh. We learn how the country's people have adapted their lives to the annual floods and how they are working to provide safe water for drinking.
The Improbable Mr Attlee BBC4, Saturday, October 1
BBC4's season, The Lost Decade, recalls British history from 1945 to 1954 in documentary, archive and feature films from the period. It starts with the colourless prime minister, Clement Attlee. In 1945, he scored a surprise victory over the eminently colourful Winston Churchill and proved the good sense of the British electorate by governing rather well.
Programmes in the season cover a variety of topics, but most should be worth viewing as material for older students of postwar history.
Full listings can be found at:
* www.bbc.co.ukschools * www.channel4.comlearninglistingsC4index.jsp