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TV and radio

Pick of the week

Fred Dibnah's Building of Britain BBC2, Monday, February 18, 8.30-9pm

Fred Dibnah continues his series on British architecture, investigating the political will and engineering skills that went into building the castles of North Wales: Harlech, Caernarfon and Beaumaris. The first, perched above the town, has foundations sunk into solid rock. Edward I's conquest of Wales and the building of his castles is well documented. Dibnah puts together a comprehensive account of how and why these massive structures were set up.

Best for schools

Arrows of Desire Channel 4, Fridays, from February 8, 10.10-10.35am

This new series about English poetry, designed for pupils from 11 upwards, starts this month with the first four of a planned 12 programmes. The formula is simple: a poem is read, with phrases quoted on screen, and illustrations, after which poets (Tom Paulin, Clare Pollard, Jamie Mac-Kendrick, Kate Clanchy) reflect on it in clips that offer useful soundbites on how the poem works and where it comes from. This week, the poems are by Louis MacNeice, Robert Frost, Edward Lear and William Carlos Williams. Beautifully simple, unpretentious and open to a variety of classroom uses, these first four programmes will be available on video next month.

The Chat Room BBC2, Friday, February 22, 3.30-4am

A discussion hosted by Ailsa Pearcey about people with learning disabilities, with the emphasis throughout on abilities. Through drama, documentary and role-play, it aims to stimulate debate among seven to 11-year-olds on issues in the PSHE curriculum, starting with Down's syndrome.

Best on radio

Sunday Feature: the Frankenstein project Radio 3, Sunday, February 17, 5.45-6.30pm

Richard Holmes, whose life of Percy Bysshe Shelley was recognised as a masterpiece when it appeared in 1974, is the author of this documentary exploring the creation and background to Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, with dramatised excerpts from the book. Percy, Mary and her stepsister Claire Clairmont set out in 1816 on a journey through Europe to the villa that Byron had rented on the shores of Lake Geneva. There, on warm June nights, they stayed up late inventing ghost stories; it was after one of these sessions that Mary was terrified by a vision of Frankenstein and his "hideous phantasm". Her story, published two years later, would acquire the status of a popular myth. It throws light on scientific thinking in her time as well as resonating in our own, in debates on the ethics of some areas of scientific research.

Robin Buss

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

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