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TV and radio

Pick of the week. The Century of the Self. BBC2, Sundays, from March 17, 8-9pm.

A persuasive documentary on the growth of the consumer society starts by examining the figure of Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, who decided to apply his uncle's ideas on the subconscious to the field of mass communication. His early ventures in public relations (a term he invented, in preference to "propaganda") included persuading women that they would be empowered by smoking; the consumer society was one that maintained production by appealing to irrational desires rather than real needs.

Josef Goebbels was, understandably, a big fan of Bernays and his theories; so was the automobile industry. Industrialists soon got the idea that free-market capitalism was the same thing as democracy. Terrific archive film provides convincing back-up to the arguments of the series.

Turner: the man who painted Britain BBC1, Sunday, March 17, 7-8pm Writer Tim Marlow presents this docu-drama about the life and work of the painter: out and about as he tours the British Isles, recording its landscapes while using increasingly daring techniques to capture effects of light; at home in the Royal Academy, where the "varnishing days" were not only an opportunity to touch up paintings before they were exhibited to the public, but also enjoyable social occasions, when Turner was the life and soul of the luncheon table; and in his more private moments, with his mistress, the owner of a boarding house in Margate.

The Trench BBC2, Friday, March 15 and 22, 9-10pm Twenty-four Yorkshire volunteers relive the experiences of men of the Tenth Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment in France in autumn 1916. They learn about gas masks, mud, repairs, sentry duties, latrines, trench foot and the bitter cold of a night in the open. Everything that happens to them is based on personal testimony and ample documentation. It makes The 1900 House look like a holiday in Disneyland.

Best for schools Blast 2 - Sk8 Fest BBC2, Friday, March 22, 3.30am Part of a BBC project set to run over the summer, these documentaries are designed for 13 to 19-year-olds looking for opportunities to develop their creative skills. The first film goes to Rugeley, Staffordshire, where Matt Bowden is organising a skateboarding and skating competition as the focus for a festival of music, art and dance. But not everything goes smoothly. Teenagers can find information on getting involved in similar activities at Best on radio The Anti-Renaissance Show Radio 4, Saturday, March 16, 3.30-4pm Terry Jones is a lifelong fan of the Middle Ages and is keen in this series to show that it was not the dark and dismal period we often assume. "People want to believe in progress, and the Renaissance is a comforting myth," he says. Here, he argues that medieval culture was made for and by the people, while the Renaissance "was one big ego trip, mainly for the nouveaux riches".

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

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