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ERA’s Top TV Picks 13th – 19th July 2019

Welcome back to our TV Picks of the Week! As expected, there are plenty of programmes on this week to celebrate the moon landing, so physics, history and astronomy teachers are in for a treat. However, there are also quite a few broadcasts for journalism and media studies that could be really useful!

Saturday 13th July

  • Moon Launch Live
    Channel 4, 8pm – Recommended for… Physics, Astronomy, and History
    The focus of this first moon landing related programme is the television coverage of the mission, from preparation to that one giant leap.
  • TV’s Black Renaissance: Reggie Yates in Hollywood
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Film Studies, Sociology, and PSHE
    Reggie Yates travels out to the US to find out more about the rising popularity of programmes written, produced, and acted almost exclusively by people of colour. Meeting with brilliant creatives and actors such as Mahershala Ali, Lena Waithe, Caleb Mclaughlin, and Justin Simen, Yates talks about the importance of these shows in opening up the discussion about racism all across the world.

Sunday 14th July

  • Groundhog Day
    Paramount Network, 6:50pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and English Literature
    This Bill Murray classic has been enjoyed by millions, and for good reason. The trope of repeating the same day over and over day could make for a good example on what creative writing students can to to vary their narrative structure.
  • The Horizon Guide to Space Shuttles 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… Physics and Engineering
    The first slot of BBC4’s space programming for the evening charts out the history of NASA’s Space Transportation System, exploring the ups and downs of their work via archive footage.
  • Neil Armstrong: First Man on the Moon
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    This one is pretty straightforward – it’s a biography of the first man on the moon, talking about how he transformed from a boy living during the Great Depression to the man at the forefront of space exploration.
  • Louis Theroux: Surviving America’s Most Hated Family
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Religious Studies, Psychology, Media Studies, and Journalism
    It’s always interesting to return to the specific focus of a documentary. Here, Theroux returns to the Westboro Baptist Church, whose actions and outlooks are reviled across the world. How much has it changed in the thirteen years since he last visited – has there been any improvement, or has it, if anything, gotten worse?
  • Poldark
    BBC1, 9pm – Recommended for… English Literature and History
    The drama returns here for its final series. It’s historical accuracy has sometimes been debated (as we discussed in our article here), but it could still be a valuable as an insight into Cornish tradition.
  • The Sky at Night: the Moon, the Mission and the BBC
    BBC4, 10pm – Recommended for… History, Science, and Journalism
    James Burke and John Zarneki join presenter Maggie Aderin-Pocock to explore the pressures of the space race and the scientific and engineering advances that came out of it.

Monday 15th July

  • Horrible Histories 
    CBBC, 5:30pm – Recommended for… Science and History
    Horrible Histories always make for great resources, but this week, it’s also on topic. Surprise surprise, they’re exploring the moon, with spotlights on Yuri Gagarin’s dad and Georges Méliès, among other things. Guest starring Dara O Briain.
  • Hail, Caesar!
    Film4, 6:50pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and History
    This bizarre but entertaining comedy takes place during the 1950s as a fixer struggles to keep Hollywood’s reputation in tact due to a series of scandals. Includes Alden Ehrenreich as a western actor stepping out of his comfort zone, a musical number by Channing Tatum, and George Clooney being kidnapped by communists. What more could you ask for, really?
  • Stargazing: Moon Landing Special
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… History, Astronomy, and Physics
    Dara O Briain pops up for a second time today, this time alongside Brian Cox, Hannah Fry and Kevin Fong as they visit a space facility to discover more about future plans for space travel. They talk to astronaughts who have already gone out into the great expanse as well as seeing a rocket engine test first hand.
  • Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag 
    ITV, 10:45pm – Recommended for… Journalism and Religious Studies
    Covert filming here uncovers the awful truths of the Xinjiang province of north-west China, where over a million Uyghur Muslims are being held in detention camps. Be warned, there will be surveillance footage and interviews that may be upsetting, so this is probably better used at a HE level.

Tuesday 16th July

  • Chasing the Moon 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History, Physics, and Astronomy
    This series once again focuses on the space race, but being a six-part series, you can imagine that it’s very in depth.
  • The Day We Walked on the Moon
    ITV, 9pm – Recommended for… History, Physics, and Astronomy
    Featuring interviews from a lot of people involved in the mission, this one-off documentary tells the story of the Apollo 11 astronaughts and their mission.
  • Inside the Social Network: Facebook’s Difficult Year 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Computer Science and Business Studies
    Horizon went behind the scenes at Facebook HQ during last year’s scandal. They’re transmitting their discoveries now, from what went on during the investigation to what the company is doing to remedy its issues.

Wednesday 17th July

  • Robinson Crusoe on Mars
    Film4, 4pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and English Literature
    This one does what it says on the tin, really. It’s a retelling of the classic story, but set on Mars. This could be really interesting in terms of teaching students how to manipulate and rework a story, even shifting the genre.
  • The Invention of Boris Johnson 
    Channel 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Politics, Media Studies, and Journalism
    Given his current bid for becoming PM, this examination of Boris Johnson’s character is particularly relevant. What’s interesting is that it digs through archive footage of the politician, discovering in the process how he has developed his public-facing personality.
  • Tomorrow’s World: the Unearthly History of Science Fiction 
    BBC4, 11:35pm – Recommended for… English Literature, Film Studies, History, and Astronomy
    Dominic Sandbrook explores the roots of the science-fiction genre and why we’re so fascinated by it.

Thursday 18th July

  • Britain’s Greatest National Treasures 
    ITV, 8:30pm – Recommended for… Geography
    Julia Bradbury and Trevor McDonald visit Britain’s top 20 beauty spots, from gardens, to monuments and architecture. A must for those interested in the geographical and cultural landscape of the UK.
  • A Cut Too Far? Male Circumcision 
    BBC1, 10:35pm – Recommended for… Religious Studies and Medicine
    Following last week’s programme on homosexuality in Christianity, this week we look at the tradition of male circumcision in Judaism, discussing whether or not that it’s outdated or actually beneficial for health.

Friday 19th July

  • CBeebies Stargazing: Mission Moon
    CBeebies, 5:15pm – Recommended for… Science
    Perfect for developing younger pupils’ knowledge of space, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Chris Jarvis join Robert the Robot to explain the wonders of the universe.
  • First Night of the Proms 
    BBC2, 7:30pm (carried on on BBC4 from 8:30pm) – Recommended for… Music
    The orchestral music event of the year is back, giving music students the chance to sit down and catch some live performances on the small screen.