TV and radio

Robin Buss

Pick of the week

* Plague, Fire, War and Treason Channel 4 From Monday, October 15, 9-10.35pm

This exemplary historical documentary examines how the Great Plague affected one London street. Thanks to the parish records, kept by Henry Dorsett, we know a lot about the inhabitants of Cock and Key Alley in Saint Dunstan's. With dramatisations, expert commentary and original documents, the film reconstructs the history of the street during the dreadful events of 1665. We also learn about the materials on which our knowledge is based and the wider context of London in the Plague year. We are spared none of the horrors of the disease, so it may not be suitable for the squeamish. Otherwise, this is the first in a four-part series that should offer invaluable material for GCSE and A-level history.

* Best for schools

Music Workshop: A Midsummer Night's Dream Radio 3 Friday, October 19, 4-5am

Songs with an Elizabethan flavour form the basis of this musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, designed for nine to 11-year-olds. The songs (also available on CD or audio cassette) can be used on their own or incorporated into a production of the play, based on Paul Miller's script in modern English.

Best of the rest

* An Indian Affair Channel 4 Sunday, October 14 and 21, 8-9pm

Maria Misra explores the complexities behind the trial of Warren Hastings and the "morality gap" that existed between the England of Jane Austen and an India where the British often adopted local customs, took local wives and showed a corresponding respect for indigenous culture. The tolerant, multicultural society of Warren Hastings's time would not survive into the Victorian age.

* Angelina Ballerina ITV Daily, from October 13, 3.30-3.45pm

Angelina is a ballet dancer in Mouseland, a country which, in this charming animated series, based on picture books by Katherine Holabird and Helen Craig, bears a certain resemblance to Fifties England. Angelina has been given the role of the Princess, but will she manage to fly across the stage on a single wire?

Best on radio

* Reel Histories Radio 4 From Saturday, October 13, 3-4pm

Five years ago, in a book called Past Imperfect: History According to the Movies, historians merrily unpicked film versions of their pet period. Listening to experts rubbishing entertainers is much like joining the crowd at the Colosseum, so it is appropriate that Ridley Scott's Gladiator should be the first film to get the thumbs up in this new series where, among other things, we learn that turning the thumb up (not down, as in the film) was the signal for the gladiator to be killed. Hail and farewell.

Robin Buss

Full educational programme schedules can be found esautumn2001.cfm

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Robin Buss

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