What'sin store

11th September 1998 at 01:00
From the desperation of drug addiction to the origins of three classic horror myths: Robin Buss rounds up this autumn's schools broadcasts.

The autumn term in schools broadcasting offers the usual mix of old and new, with a strong line-up of new programmes for English from Channel 4 and an emphasis on personal development from the BBC.

But before term starts in earnest, there are last year's results to deal with: the Student Choice campaign (on BBC2, Radio 1, 4 and 5 Live, as well as the Internet), to help students get the best out of their A-levels, continues until the end of September with a free helpline on 0800 101901.

This is the National Year of Reading, so the BBC has a series of short films called Books for Babies (BBC1 and 2, from October 24), to help parents encourage pre-school children to enjoy books. Another BBC initiative, DynaMo (from October 2), uses television and the Internet to offer primary children and their parents help with the core skills of literacy and numeracy.

Then, for the youngest children at primary school, BBC2 has Watch: Ourselves (from Tuesday, September 29) intended to promote self-awareness; and Watch: The Song Catcher (Tuesdays, BBC2), an introduction to basic musical concepts, linked to a story about the Song Catcher's magical bag.

Meanwhile, on Channel 4, there is a new maths series, The Number Crew (September 22 to December 3) and, for Stop, Look, Listen (September 22 to October 23) five biographies of famous people: engineer George Stephenson, lifeboat woman Grace Darling, telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell, nurse Mary Seacole and astronaut Neil Armstrong.

Still with Channel 4, there is another Book Box special, an animated version of The Odyssey (September 21 to October 14) and an introduction to poetry: Off with McGough (September 22 to October 22, ages seven to 11); while maths for this age group is catered for with Eureka! Maths from History (September 22 to October 9) - in what sounds like an entertaining exploration of how the Romans got their roads straight and how the Greeks counted from 1 to 10.

Avoiding addiction is the subject of three programmes for different ages from BBC Education on BBC2. The first, aimed at nine to 11-year-olds is Focus: Substance Misuse (from November 4), a sad acknowledgement of the need to warn children of this age group against using illegal drugs, as well as alcohol and tobacco, within the context of personal choices.

For 11 to 14-year-olds, Turning Points (from September 24)consists of three drama documentaries showing the effects of drugs on people's lives; and, for 14 to 16-year-olds, Lifeschool (from October 15)discusses drug addiction - from what makes people take drugs in the first place to how addicts can try to escape their habits.

Landmarks: Time Lines (from September 21), links historical periods to changes in lifestyle, in order to introduce concepts of chronology to nine to 11-year-olds.

Back on Channel 4, TheComplete Cosmos (ages 11-16, September 25 to December 4) uses animation and colour photography to give a graphic introduction to astronomy, while Top! 2 (ages 11-14, November 4 to December 4) continues the series for beginners of French, German and Spanish with a language-learning game show.

Science and religious education are covered by two BBC programmes: Short Circuit (from September 21) - blood, cells and periodic tables are among the new topics for the term - and Belief File: Issues (from September 22), which draws on BBC archive materials to debate topical questions within the contextof belief systems and personal choices.

The two new series in The English Programme on Channel 4, both for 14 to 16-year-olds, are Passwords (September 21 to October 19), followed by Behind the Scenes at the RSC (November 2 to 9). The first features a choice of poets from the new GCSE English Literature Anthology, and the second follows the making of productions of Measure for Measure and The Tempest, with access to the RSC's workshops, wardrobes and rehearsals.

Finally, the BBC's English File (ages 14-16, from November 6) seeks the origins of three classic thrillers in The Birth ofHorror, which uses clips from films and documentaries to show how those familiar myths Frankenstein, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and the Hound of the Baskervilles came into being.

TES Friday magazine's schools television listings return onSeptember 18. Schools broadcasts begin on Monday, September 21 and continue until Friday, December 4, with a break for half term (BBC2 will run repeats). The listings page will not appear during this week.

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