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ERA’s Top TV Picks 2nd – 8th November 2019

Welcome back to our TV Picks of the Week! History teachers, especially those interested in the Cold War, have an abundance of programmes coming up this week – however, those teaching subjects such as journalism and fashion design also have great things coming their way!

Saturday 2nd November

  • Goosebumps
    Channel 5, 4:20pm – Recommended for… English
    This adaptation of R.L. Stine’s book of scary stories is a sure way to capture pupils’ imaginations and encourage them to take up the books themselves – some of the stories can be quite creepy though, so you might want to judge this one based on your class(es)’ feelings towards spookiness!
  • Blackadder Goes Forth 
    BBC4, 10:50pm – Recommended for… History
    Ah, I hear the collective sigh of relief from history teachers everywhere. Yes, the BBC are re-showing the final season of Blackadder, which sees Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson in the trenches of World War I.

Sunday 3rd November

  • War Horse
    BBC1, 2:35pm – Recommended for… English and History
    Not even the last of this week’s book adaptations, this film based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel is both an interesting insight into the events of World War I and a masterclass in storytelling. Perfect for use alongside the study of the text!
  • His Dark Materials 
    BBC1, 8pm – Recommended for… English and Religious Studies
    Okay, this is the final book adaptation for the week, I promise. This long-awaited TV adaptation of Philip Pullman’s series boasts an impressive cast, including X-Men alumni James McAvoy and Dafne Keen, Luther‘s Ruth Wilson, and Hamilton star-and-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda. You probably already know the synopsis of Lyra Belaqua (played by Keen here)’s story, so if you’re looking to teach (or just introduce) the book to your class, this could be the perfect accompaniment. If you want some ideas on how you could use TV adaptations in teaching, take a look at our article!
  • Imagine… Philip Pullman: Angels and Daemons 
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… English and Religious Studies
    Following up immediately after His Dark Materials, we get an insight into the author behind the story, Philip Pullman. If you want to expand more on the anti-religious ideas behind the series, then this documentary might be for you, as it discusses a lot of aspects of Pullman’s life, including his strong criticisms of organised religion.
  • Stanley Kubrick: a Life in Pictures
    BBC4, 10:05pm – Recommended for… Film Studies
    2001: a Space Odyssey is a must on almost any film studies course, so this one-off documentary exploring the life of director Stanley Kubrick, also behind the adaptations of The Shining and A Clockwork Orange, may be a really useful addition to your teaching!

Monday 4th November

  • Meet the Bears 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Zoology, Geography, and Biology
    We may have seen a giant polar bear last night in His Dark Materials, but this Natural World programme, narrated by Hugh Bonneville, brings us back down to earth by exploring the lives of eight different species of bear from across the world.
  • A British Guide to the End of the World
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    This programme marks the beginning of a season of Cold War-based programmes on the BBC covering the entirety of the conflict, including the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989, and its repercussions beyond that. This particular programme focuses on the preparations undertaken by Britain to protect itself from potential nuclear attacks well as its mission to acquire some nuclear weaponry of its own. Includes archive footage captured at the time which really show off our hopes and fears that came with the Cold War.

Tuesday 5th November

  • How to Halve Your Supermarket Bill
    Channel 4, 8pm – Recommended for… PSHE
    Sometimes in life, you’re going to have to be a bit thrifty when it comes to food shopping, so introducing pupils to these sorts of tips and tricks could really be a useful bit of knowledge for their future. I don’t know how comprehensive this programme will be, but it might be worth taking a look at.
  • Dive, Dive, Dive! 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History and Film Studies
    We return to the Cold War here, as well as looking back to World War II, as Robert Llewellyn tries to uncover the reasons that films set aboard submarines during these periods have been particularly popular. Spoiler: some of it is to do with Walt Disney.

Wednesday 6th November

  • A Stitch in Time: Marie Antoinette 
    BBC4, 7:30pm – Recommended for… History, Fashion Design, and Textiles
    Amber Buchart finishes up this series of the programme based around historical fashion by finding out more about the clothing worn by French queen Marie Antoinette and how this reflected the time period that she lived in.
  • Britain’s Lost Masterpieces: Birmingham 
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… Art History and Art & Design
    This episode of the series sees Emma Dabiri and Dr Bendor Grosvenor travel to the Birmingham Art Gallery, where they try and determine the origins of two landscape paintings.

Thursday 7th November

  • Inside the Supermarket 
    BBC1, 8pm – Recommended for… PSHE and Business Studies
    The only non-history related programme tonight allows us access to behind the scenes of Sainsbury’s, finding out more about how the business is run, both from a marketing perspective as well as how they keep up with the competition from other leading supermarkets.
  • London Calling: Cold War Letters 
    BBC4, 8pm – Recommended for… History and Journalism
    If you’re after an evening of Cold War programming, then it begins here. This programmes shines a light on the BBC German Service’s programme, Letters without Signature, which allowed East German residents to write in anonymously to talk about what life was like under the strict communist regime. In addition to hearing some excerpts of the original broadcasts, we can also find here a number of interviews with people involved as well as previously unseen Stasi files and recordings on certain individuals.
  • The Fall of the Berlin Wall with John Simpson
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    Reporter John Simpson returns to Berlin, where he originally covered the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989. Here, he talks about he experience of being there at such a monumental point in time and what he thought Germany (and the world)’s future wold look like afterwards.
  • The Secret Life of the Berlin Wall 
    BBC4, 10pm – Recommended for… History and Politics
    The Berlin Wall really is the centre of attention tonight, isn’t it? Here, we’re hearing the personal stories of those who lived on both sides of the wall, in the process finding out more about the factors (other than the physical) that kept the two halves of Germany apart for almost thirty years.
  • Atomic: Living in Dread and Promise – Storyville 
    BBC4, 11:30pm – Recommended for… Physics and History
    We’re taking a slight departure from the Cold War here as we look back on the bombing of Hiroshima, talking about the science behind the atomic bombs and how nuclear power had developed in the years since.

Friday 8th November

  • Unreported World 
    Channel 4, 7:40pm – Recommended for… Journalism and Geography
    The new series of this award-winning documentary programme starts by exploring the aftermath of Hurricane Dorian in the Bahamas, talking to migrant workers who claim that the government are preventing the reconstruction of their homes.