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ERA’s Top TV Picks 18th – 24th May 2019

Welcome back to our TV Picks of the Week! We’ve got a whole host of great recommendations for teaching and learning here today, covering topics from the War of the Roses to Saturday Night Fever. Yes, you read that correctly.

Saturday 18th May

  • The Return of the Flying Scotsman
    BBC4, 7pm – Recommended for… History and Engineering
    The historical engine took to our railway tracks once again in 2016, and this short documentary charted its journey.
  • Britain’s Most Historic Towns
    Channel 4, 8pm – Recommended for… Geography and History
    The first episode of this series exploring the history of Britain’s oldest towns begins in Dover, focusing in particular on its role in fighting off the Nazis during World War II.
  • BBC Young Dancer 2019: the Grand Final 
    BBC2, 8pm – Recommended for… Dance
    The finalists of the ballet, South Asian, contemporary, and street dance (plus a wild card!) compete to win the title of BBC Young Dancer 2019. With beautiful routines assured, this will be perfect to inspire budding dancers!
  • Who Killed the Princes in the Tower? 
    Channel 5, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    The War of the Roses saw plenty of death and betrayal, but the murder of Edward VI’s sons is among the most infamous. Here, Dan Jones looks back in time to question whether it was really Richard III who killed the princes.

Sunday 19th May

  • Kew’s Forgotten Queen 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History
    Emilia Fox travels around the world in this fascinating documentary about Marianne North, a Victorian botanical artist who traveled across the world on twice in an attempt to paint every living plant in existence.
  • Gentleman Jack
    BBC1, 9pm – Recommended for… History and Sociology
    This adaptation of the story of Anne Lister (AKA Gentleman Jack), who took control of her uncle’s estate after his passing, stars Suranne Jones in the titular role. Lister was famous for being very progressive for her time period, not bowing to male-dominated conventions or dressing in only clothes that were deemed appropriate by society. She was also credited with being the first ‘modern’ lesbian, so it seems that her life story will be both fascinating and a great study on Victorian attitudes in comparison to our own.
  • Life is a Circus 
    BBC4, 10pm – Recommended for… Dance, Drama, and PSHE
    It seems that this documentary will be treading a thin line between lighthearted footwork and gritty documentary as the programme pulls together a group of homeless people and follows them over a year as they create and perform a piece of theatre work. The camera crew also turn their attention to finding out more about the realities of sleeping rough.

Monday 20th May

  • Thatcher: a Very British Revolution 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Politics
    Love her or hate her, most will agree that Margaret Thatcher’s time at No. 10 was a memorable one. This documentary explores her political career and the decisions that she made, from her beginnings as the education secretary all the way through to the end of her time as Prime Minister.

Tuesday 21st May

  • Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby 
    BBC2, 7pm – Recommended for… Business Studies
    Cameras go behind the scenes of some of the world’s most extravagant hotels, discovering more about the decision-making processes that brought them to such a high level of esteem and what it takes to run them on a daily basis.
  • Rhythms of India 
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Music, History, Geography, and Religious Studies
    Sarod player Soumik Datta travels to India on a journey to find out more about Indian musical culture over the centuries. Beginning in Kolkata, he visits all sorts of locations, from temples to palaces, all the way to Chennai, where finds out more about how singer TM Krishna has stirred up a lot of controversy among religious circles.

Wednesday 22nd May

  • Victorian Sensations with Hannah Fry
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… History and Engineering
    The first episode of this series exploring various aspects of the late 1800s sees Dr Hannah Fry discovering more about the invention of the x-ray, the bicycle, and the prototype for an aircraft on her visit to the Isle of Wight.
  • Workers or Shirkers? Ian Hislop’s Victorian Benefits 
    BBC4, 10pm – Recommended for… History, Economics, and Sociology
    You might be seeing a trend here. The second of BBC4’s Victorian-based programmes this evening highlights figures such as Helen Bosanquet and Edwin Chadwick, whose opinions helped to shape our attitudes towards the modern welfare system.

Thursday 23rd May

  • Neanderthals: Meet Your Ancestors 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… Biology and Computer Science
    In the wake of the discovery that the Neanderthals were our distant ancestors, Andy Serkis meets with researcher Ella Al-Shamahi, who is going to attempt to create a 3D avatar of what a real Neanderthal would have looked like using Serkis’ face and body.
  • The Secret Life of the Zoo: Underwater Special
    Channel 4, 8pm – Recommended for… Biology and Zoology
    The team look below the surface of Chester Zoo this time as they find out more about its aquatic residents. Chalk bass and Mexican lake salamanders all make an appearance in this one-off episode.

Friday 24th May

  • Unreported World 
    Channel 4, 7:30pm – Recommended for… Geography
    Paralympian Ade Adepitan heads over to the Republic of Congo, where the Baka tribe living in its rainforests are becoming increasingly threatened by the intervention of armed ‘eco-guards’ who are making them fear for their lives after their hunting grounds were turned into national parks.
  • Saturday Night Fever: the Ultimate Disco Movie
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Dance, Music, Drama, and Film Studies
    John Travolta’s moves in this classic film are iconic, but why exactly is that? The man himself joins Barry Gibb and Bruno Tonioli to celebrate the film, discussing its creation and legacy, which has endured to the modern day.