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ERA’s Top TV Picks 1st – 7th December 2018

Welcome to our weekly round-up of some of the best TV broadcasts for teaching coming your way this week! Film Studies and Art take the helm this week with an abundance of great programmes, but fear not, there’s plenty of other brilliant resources across the board.

Saturday 1st December

  • About a Boy
    ITVBe, 9pm – Recommended for… English Literature
    Looking to jump-start your GCSE students’ interest in Nick Hornby’s novel? This adaptation, starring Hugh Grant, Toni Collette and Nicholas Hoult could provide a good base layer of knowledge about the plot and its themes.
  • Darcey Bussell: Dancing to Happiness
    BBC 2, 9pm – Recommended for… Dance and Sport
    Current Strictly judge and former Royal Ballet dancer Darcey Bussel goes out to investigate the usefulness of dance for not just physical health, but also mental health and well-being.
  • Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation
    Channel 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Film Studies
    Tom Cruise’s fifth outing as IMF agent Ethan Hunt sees him trying to eradicate an organisation called the Syndicate. Skyfall may be on your A Level syllabus, but why not check out this other iconic spy thriller as a point of comparison within the genre?
  • Creed
    ITV2, 7:50pm – Recommended for… Film Studies
    Picking up the Rocky franchise is Michael B. Jordan, who plays aspiring boxer Adonis Johnson, son of Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone)’s ex-rival. Balboa trains him up, but will it be enough for Adonis to beat his opponent? A popular choice on the Film Studies A Level syllabus, this is a great opportunity for students to catch the film again.

Sunday 2nd December

  • Tomorrow’s World: Spider-Man Special
    BBC 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Media Studies and Biology
    We get a flash from the past in a re-run of Tomorrow’s World episode about Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. The team chat to the directors and stars, as well as investigate the science behind the superhero’s iconic powers, exploring their plausibility in the real world.
  • Secrets of British Animation
    BBC 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Art and Design
    This intriguing documentary looks into the history and development of animation styles over the years – from silhouette artist Lotte Reiniger, who ran from the Nazis, to the modern-day work of Ardman animation studios, the creators of Wallace and Gromit.
  • Animation 2018
    BBC 4, 10pm – Recommended for… Art and Design
    Following up on the previous programme, Osbert Parker presents 13 of the best new animated films from the UK.

Monday 3rd December

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
    Film4, 6:20pm – Recommended for… Physics, Art and Design, Sociology
    Bear with me, here. At first glance, this superhero flick starring James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender and Jennifer Lawrence might not seem like a particularly obvious choice for teaching, but there are plenty of themes and scenes that could be useful. The tension between mutants and humans, which often manifest in anti-mutant protests, is a perfect reflection of human prejudice and sociology, whereas a particular scene involving the super-speedy Quicksilver (Evan Peters) could be great for sparking a physics or maths debate.
  • Food Unwrapped
    Channel 4, 8:30pm – Recommended for… Catering, physics
    In this latest episode, Jimmy Doherty tries to harness the fizziness of certain drinks to power a rocket, while Matt Tebbutt investigates whether or not kale really is really all it’s cracked up to be.
  • Nadiya’s Asian Odyssey 
    BBC 1, 9pm – Recommended for… Catering, Geography
    In the first episode of this two-part show, Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain begins her food journey to Cambodia, Thailand and Nepal, making fish paste in Cambodia, tasting professionally-cooked insects in Thailand, and learning how to make a curry paste that is special to a local Muslim community.

Tuesday 4th December

  • Rise of the Clans
    BBC 4, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    Presenter Neil Oliver looks into the history of Scotland’s ancient clans, providing a mockumentary-style outlook on reenactments of famous battles. This week’s episode focuses on Robert the Bruce, who led the clans in guerrilla warfare against the English.

Wednesday 5th December

  • World’s Weirdest Homes
    Channel 4, 9pm – Recommended for… Architecture and Engineering
    Habitable giant sandcastle? Check. Floating farm? Check. Billionaires and scientists? Check. Charlie Luxton checks out these bizarre and clever structures which have popped up around the world.
  • North Korea: Life Inside the Secret State
    Channel 4, 10pm – Recommended for… Politics and Journalism
    North Korea is notoriously secretive, the lives of its citizens controlled by the state. However, members of the Dispatches team have managed to get into contact with a handful of individuals, who open up here to reveal what life is like under the rule of Kim Jong-un.
  • Draining the Sunken Pirate City
    Channel 5, 10pm – Recommended for… History, Archaeology, and Media Studies
    Pirates – an almost sure way to capture a student’s attention. In this documentary, Dr Jon Henderson explores Port Royal, a pirate city that now lies in ruins beneath Kingston Harbour. If you’re teaching about the late 17th Century, why not look into this and compare it to popular representations of pirates and their world?

Thursday 6th December

  • The Secret Life of Farm Animals
    BBC 4, 8pm – Recommended for… Agriculture, Biology, and Animal Care
    Lambs are the focus of this week’s adorable series about farms up and down the country. This episode looks into their highly sociable nature and how this develops over time.
  • Gravity and Me: the Force that Shapes Our Lives
    BBC 4, 10pm – Recommended for… Physics
    Prof. Jim Al-Khalili returns to investigate gravity and how it affects us, recreating Galileo’s experiment for measuring gravity and attempting to find the place on Earth with the weakest gravitational pull.

Friday 7th December

  • Tom Jones’s 1050s: the Decade that Made Me
    Recommended for… Music and Welsh
    Welsh teachers, rejoice! If you’re looking to give students a starting point for writing a profile on a Welsh celebrity, then this documentary into Tom Jones’ past is certainly a great way to learn about the singer’s past.