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TV and radio

Pick of the week


BBC2, Tuesday, January 309-9.50pm

The BBC's factual programme of the week is this three-parter on the natural history (and prehistory) of a region that is still largely wilderness.

As the final part argues, the Congo may have been where humans first evolved, while in the second, Gavin Thurston investigates sightings of what some believe may be a long-lost dinosaur; just plausible because of the remoteness of the area where it is supposed to live.

The wow factor is high: marshlands the size of Wales, more elephants than east Africa, lots of chimpanzees, gorillas and, presiding over it all, a river so wide that in places the fauna on one side is significantly different from that on the other. And, for a behind-the-lens account of how the films were made, you can watch Congo on Location (BBC2, January 28, 5.10-5.35pm).

School spotlight

Chez Mimi. C4, Tuesdays, 10.15-10.30am

Madame Mimi is concierge of a house in the Rue de Silly where the inhabitants include an inventor called Monsieur Catastrophe, a waiter called Zinzin and a certain Dr Blague.

A set of notices above her desk (Pas de Bruit, Pas de Fetes) and frequent cries of "ooh, la, la!" help keep order in Madame Mimi's eccentric establishment as we learn from one of her friends how to make a family tree. The first stages in French (this series is for nine to 12-year-olds) need not consist solely of dull excursions to the market and the Bureau de Poste. The same vocabulary i covered here in afar more enjoyable way, with puns, gags and clowning. The only danger is that some viewers may think that this is how the French actually behave.

Geography in Animation and Flightpaths. BBC2, Thursday, February 1, 2-4am

This series of geography programmes for 14 to 16-year olds, going out in block transmission for recording overnight, is remarkable for its use of dramatic aerial photography, three-dimensional graphic models and computer imagery to highlight the changing face of a variety of European landscapes.

The topics covered include coastal erosion, river hydrology, ground water hydrology and climate, including features that might explain the climatic changes responsible for last year's flooding in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.

Best on radio

The Year 1901. Radio 4, from January 29 3.45-4pm

Robert Lacey, co-author of The Year 1000, examines how the world has changed over a mere 100 years. In this first programme, he talks to fellow historians about the impact of technology on everyday life in the Edwardian era, through inventions such as the underground railway and the typewriter.

Later, the Boer War, consumerism and early legislation on immigration will be among the topics discussed in this portrait of British society at the start of the 20th century.

Full education programme schedules can be found online at: programmesspring2001.cfm

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