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ERA’s Top TV Picks 16th – 22nd November 2019

Welcome back to our TV Picks of the Week! Business studies teachers might be particularly pleased with this week’s broadcasts, but there’s plenty for everyone, including politics and archaeology programmes.

Saturday 16th November

  • James May’s Big Trouble in Model Britain
    BBC4, 7pm – Recommended for… Business Studies
    James May returns with this programme following a year in the life of Hornby Hobbies, exploring how it’s trying to stay afloat in a technology-dominated world and how effective these efforts have been.

Sunday 17th November

  • The Taff: the River that Made Wales
    BBC4, 7:30pm – Recommended for… Geography
    This three-part series explains various facets of the Taff, in this episode discussing how the previously-polluted river was cleaned up and how this has affected local wildlife.
  • The War of the Worlds 
    BBC1, 9pm – Recommended for… English Literature
    This long-awaited adaptation (seriously, I wrote an article on it last autumn) of H. G. Wells’ science-fiction novel stars Eleanor Thompson and Rafe Spall as a couple who are caught up in the middle of an alien attack in Edwardian England. If you’re wondering how you can incorporate TV adaptations of novels into your lessons, why not check out the article I mentioned earlier?
  • Reggie in China 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Computer Science, Business Studies, and Economics
    In the first episode of this three-part series, Reggie Yates travels to China to find out more about how the growing technology industry there has transformed previously more rural areas of the country, visiting a former fishing village called Shenzhen. He also gets to road test some of the latest gadgets being developed and finds out more about the work culture there.
  • The Worlds of Ursula K Le Guin 
    BBC4, 10pm – Recommended for… English Literature
    Le Guin was an author who was ahead of her time in many respects, with her science-fiction novels making a huge impact on the genre. Here, we get the chance to find out more about the worlds that she created, in a documentary that was ten years in the making. Contributions from leading authors such as Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman may also provide further insight into Le Guin’s novels and their impact.

Monday 18th November

  • Vienna Blood
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Psychology
    This new drama, based on Frank Tallis’ books, seems to be, generally speaking, a straightforward crime series set in Vienna in 1906. However, our main character, Max (Matthew Beard) is one of Freud’s students, and applies his theories to help solve murders. It probably won’t be all that accurate, but it could make for a good debate-starter.
  • One Child Nation
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Geography, Sociology, and Politics
    This docu-film investigates China’s one-child policy and the impact that it’s having on the country’s population and what this may mean for its future.
  • Home Free
    Channel 4, 10pm – Recommended for… Health & Social Care and PSHE
    This two-part series follows a group of young people with learning disabilities who are moving away from home for the first time into supported living arrangements. Here, we get to follow their journeys as they become more independent and the ups and downs that come with it.
  • Bollywood: the World’s Biggest Film Industry
    BBC2, 11:15pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and Business Studies
    Anita Rani travels to Mumbai to find out more about the Bollywood film industry, which employs around a quarter of a million people from across India. Perfect for those studying films existing outside of the Hollywood bubble.

Tuesday 19th November

  • Johnson v Corbyn: the ITV Debate
    ITV, 8pm – Recommended for… Politics
    With the general election fast approaching, this debate between the two leading candidates may be essential viewing for those interested in current affairs.
  • Boom, Bust and Bankers
    Channel 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Business Studies and Politics
    This one-off documentary follows the day-to-day running of London’s Broadgate financial complex. We get to see various aspects to the complex here, from its construction under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s to the lives of those working there now.

Wednesday 20th November

  • Back to the Future
    Film4, 6:40pm – Recommended for… Film Studies and Physics
    This film is essential viewing for any sci-fi fan, but from an educational perspective, catching this is a great opportunity for those studying the film and/or genre for film studies. Also, why not debate the film’s take on time travel from a physics perspective? We’ve got a handy article here about using pop culture in teaching and how it can be an engaging way to get a discussion going!
  • Digging for Britain
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Archaeology
    This new series of the programme sees Professor Alice Roberts visit various archaeological sites across the UK and report on some of the discoveries being made there.
  • The Nightcrawlers 
    National Geographic, 10pm – Recommended for… Politics
    This dark documentary is probably better suited to HE, as it investigates the 5,500 (official) drug-related killings in the Philippines since the election of Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. There are a number of vigilante groups taking out drug dealers and suppliers, and there are suspicions that the police are involved, but no one knows with certainty. Here, a team of photojournalists try and find out more about what’s really going on and how deep into the system it goes.
  • Everyday Miracles: the Genius of Sofas, Stockings and Scanners
    BBC4, 11:50pm – Recommended for… Engineering, Design & Technology, and Art & Design
    This is a simple but interesting-looking programme which explores the design innovations and techniques that led to the invention of everyday household items.

Thursday 21st November

  • What Makes a Murderer 
    Channel 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Psychology and Criminology
    Another one probably best used with HE students here – we get to see a number of convicted murderers undergo a psychological investigation in an attempt to find out more about why people kill.
  • The Secret Life of Sue Townsend (Aged 68¾)
    BBC4, 10:30pm – Recommended for… English Literature and English Language
    The creator of Adrian Mole is the subject of this documentary, narrated by Julie Walters. Sue Townsend left school with no qualifications, yet went on to become one of the most popular British authors of all time – here, we find out how her life led her to writing and what inspired her to keep going on her publishing journey.

Friday 22nd November

  • Sound of Song: the Recording Revolution
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… Music
    Neil Brand takes a look back to the first ever song recording, noting how it evolved over the coming years, and the impact of the microphone on music as people knew it at the time.
  • Country Music by Ken Burns
    BBC4, 9:30pm – Recommended for… Music
    The first two episodes of this nine-part series about the history and evolution of country music can be caught tonight. As the title suggests, the documentary is presented by Ken Burns, and pulls together photographs, videos, and interviews between the narration to tell the story of country music and its impact on culture.
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