TV and Radio


KIDS. Saturday, July 1, 11.05pm

HOLLYOAKS: the Naughty Bits. Wednesday, July 5, 11.50pm

THE FACTS OF LIFE. Sunday, July 9, 9pm

The Channel 4 season Generation Sex, which continues this week, is built around the fact that this country has Europe's highest rate of teenage pregnancies. The persistent belief that more effective sex education in schools is the answer is examined by next Sunday's documentary, The Facts of Life.

It traces the history of sex education since the 1920s, which turns out to be more to do with ornithology and entomology than with human reproduction. The activities of birds and bees are fairly uncontroversial (unless you live in the Bible Belt of the United States), so teaching how they perpetuate their species has proved a useful excuse for not teaching how we perpetuate ours. It seems to have had little effect either way on the behaviour of teenagers.

The programme uses clips from the Health Education Authority's animated film, Road to Health (taking the wrong road led the unwary traveller into the dark forest of venereal disease), and from Growing Up, a 1970s sex education series which for the first time used real people to put sex in the context of a relationship. John Mortimer and Mary Whitehouse are among those who remember how they learned the so-called "facts of life"; and the overall result is a wry look at a story of hesitation, timidity and embarrassment - British sex education probably being, in that sense, an accurate reflection of the British experience of sex from adolescence onwards.

The television drama, Hollyoaks, appears to have had its own sex education project going over the years (soap opera being a good resource for teaching about relationships and emotions). So far, regular viewers have seen Max and Chlo agonising over having sex for the first time and Cindy's teenage pregnancy, as well as venereal disease, rape, incest and abortion. A film about the making of Hollyoaks explores this territory on Wednesday as part of Generation Sex. Why subtitle this film "The Naughty Bits", making it sound like a Carry On comedy?

First there is an opportunity to see Larry Clark's documentary-style drama, Kids, about a group of New York teenagers and their under-age sex lives. This tale of a girl trying to find the promiscuous young teen who has infected her with HIV mightput sensitive youngsters off sexfor life (which is, presumably,not the point of sex education). At least there was something poetic about those analogies with birdsand bees.

FUTURE TENSE. Discovery Channel. From Monday, July 3, 7-7.30pm

Future Tense, a 13-part science documentary series on the Discovery Channel, is worth sampling. It looks at sience as it affects our daily lives: the food we eat, the games we play, how we communicate, how we reproduce, usually considering each topic from three distinct perspectives.

The first programme is about bacteria and viruses, and starts in a hospital in Georgia, in the former USSR, where researchers are experimenting with "friendly" viruses that devour harmfulbacteria. Then, in Dupont, USA, scientists are developing artificially spun spiders' silk, and in Aberdeen they are experimenting withbacteria which may be able toreturn contaminated land to profitable use.

Foods, human fertility and transport are coming up soon.

DO WHAT YOU LIKE WITH HIM: the Unreal Life of Sherlock Holmes. Radio 4. Saturday, July 1, 8.02-9pm

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the death of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and everyone seems to think that is excuse enough for a party. However, not much use is being made of the opportunity to examine the works that do not feature his most famous creation. So this looks like being Sherlock Holmes Week on radio and television, starting on Radio 4 with a history of stories about Holmes which were not written by Conan Doyle.

Nick Utechin tells us that more than 16,000 of these pastiches have appeared in literature and film, or on stage, television and radio. Occasionally, they subvert the original character - for example, suggesting that Holmes was Jack the Ripper, or that Watson was the brains of the partnership.

The season continues on Radio 4 with a look at Conan Doyle's life; with a programme by Ruth Dudley Edwards on Dr Joseph Bell, the admitted model for Holmes; and with a play by R J Gallagher, Vidocq and the Last Right, presented as a kind of oblique tribute to the sage of Baker Street. Poor Doyle is only freed from Holmes for the week's Book at Bedtime, which is his historical novel, The Adventures of Brigadier Gerard, set in the Napoleonic wars.

SHERLOCK HOLMES IN WASHINGON. BBC2. Monday, July 3, 10.50-12.30pm

You can tell by the title of Sherlock Holmes in Washington, the first of this week's season of Sherlock Holmes films on BBC2, that it was not adapted from anything written by Sir Arthur. As in the other four films, Holmes is played by Basil Rathbone, here being sent to Washington during the Second World War to unmask an enemy agent; next Friday's film, Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Weapon, also shows the great detective helping to defeat the Nazis. So that's how we won.

As a group, they illustrate a stage in the development of the Holmes myth and, in the case of the two war films, its exploitation for propaganda purposes, suggesting some possible uses for English and media studies.

Schools television listings return on September 8

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