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TV and radio


Arena: Akira Kurosawa BBC Knowledge, Saturday, February 2, 9-9.50pm

After the international success of Seven Samurai, the director Akira Kurosawa was accused by critics in his own country of being "un-Japanese", as though there were something disloyal about work that could be understood by foreigners. He had already been criticised as a traitor to his class for making films in the first place. Yet it was the more "Japanese" of his works, starting with Rashomon in 1950, that were most popular in the West.

This is the second part of a fascinating documentary tracing the career of one of the most important film-makers of the 20th century. Based on archive footage, film extracts and interviews with Kurosawa, his family and his colleagues, it reveals much about Japanese society, from the adjustments of the postwar era to the confidence that arose from economic success in the Sixties and Seventies.

By the latter decade, Kurosawa's work was out of fashion, he had failed in an American co-production, and with his first colour film. It was partly thanks to the support of Hollywood admirers, including George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, that his career revived. (Followed by Seven Samurai, 9.50pm-midnight).


Star Maths, Part 4 C4, Thursdays, 10.50-11am

Solving down-to-earth problems in an out-of-this-world context is the premise of this animated series for eight to nine-year-olds, as Sam and Amber learn to survive on a distant planet with the help of elementary maths. Currently, they are adding and subtracting, as part of amusing 10-minute stories which deal with a topic per programme.

Tony Robinson's Local History Search C4, Thursdays, 11.40am-12noon

This week Tony Robinson is in industrial South Wales, before going on to look at transport and defence. As always, his presentation is lively and clear as, with local schoolchildren in tow, he hops from one site to another, questioning, explaining and interrogating experts - and teaching how the facts of history can be teased out of fragments from the past. All four programmes, for seven to 11-year-olds, will be on video in March.


Timewatch: Jubilee Day BBC2, Friday, February 8, 9-9.50pm

Timewatch travels back to 1977, to recall how we marked the Queen's Silver Jubilee - and in many cases did so with an unexpected amount of enthusiasm. Some of those who were there recall the street parties, the bunting, the bonfires, what went right, and wrong, and a jubilee night concert by that other Queen, the rock group. An amusing piece of social history.


Bookclub Radio 4, Sunday, February 3, 4-4.30pm

J G Ballard joins a group of listeners to talk about his autobiographical novel Empire of the Sun. Based on his experiences as a boy in Shanghai under the Japanese occupation during the Second World War, this is a strikingly unsentimental account of the effects of war on the sensibilities of a child.

Robin Buss

Full educational programme schedules can be found online at ng2002.cfm

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