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ERA’s Top TV Picks 6th – 12th July 2019

Welcome back to our Picks of the Week! There’s a really wide range of programmes for teaching and learning coming your way this week, though biology and astronomy teachers are in for a special treat!

Saturday 6th July

  • NASA: Triumph and Tragedy: One Small Step for Man
    BBC4, 7pm – Recommended for… Astronomy and Physics
    This two-part documentary explores America’s presence during the space race through archive footage and interviews with some of the people involved.
  • London’s Great Bridges: Lighting the Thames 
    Channel 4, 7pm – Recommended for… Archaeology, Art & Design and Construction
    A new, privately-funded project to light up the bridges that cross the Thames to make one huge public art display has recently been put forward. Here, Charlie Luxton meets up with designer Leo Villareal to find out more.
  • Race to the Death: Rome’s Charioteers 
    Channel 4, 8pm – Recommended for… Ancient History
    Chariot racing is one of the most well-known Roman sports that we know about, but what did these races actually entail? That’s what this documentary aims to uncover, with reenactments and an exploration of Rome’s most successful racer, Scorpus.

Sunday 7th July

  • Apollo: Missions to the Moon
    National Geographic, 2pm – Recommended for… Astronomy and Physics
    Another moon related programme here (no surprises there), this time focusing on all 12 crewed Apollo missions and their impact on the space race. It uses actual footage from the time, too, so that might be an extra incentive.
  • Women’s World Cup Finals
    BBC1, 3:30pm – Recommended for… PE
    With last week’s England vs USA semi-final pulling in a record-breaking number of viewers, this final is sure to inspire plenty of ladies interested in the sport.
  • War in the Blood 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Biology and Medicine
    This one-off documentary follows two cancer patients, 18-year-old Mahmoud and 57-year-old Graham, as they trial a new type of therapy known as CAR T-cell therapy.
  • Sound of Musicals with Neil Brand 
    BBC4, 11:50pm – Recommended for… Music and Drama
    Brand examines how the style and format of modern musicals has been influenced by their predecessors.

Monday 8th July

  • Ghosts of the Deep: Ancient Shipwrecks
    More4, 9pm – Recommended for… History and Geography
    Here, we follow a team of scientists as they try to uncover the reason why the Black Sea, which was previously a freshwater lake, became the sea that it is now. They also investigate why there are over 40 well-preserved shipwrecks can be found off the coast of Bulgaria.

Tuesday 9th July

  • Charles I: Downfall of a King
    BBC4, 9pm – Recommended for… History
    In this three-part series, Lisa Hilton takes a look at the rapid demise of Charles I over the course of just 50 days and the effect that this had on the outcome of the civil war.

Wednesday 10th July

  • Eight Days: to the Moon and Back
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Astronomy, History and Physics
    This latest moon-landing related documentary provides us with an interesting twist. As well as showcasing footage from the mission, we also have access to audio files of the astronaughts, which are lip-synced up to recreations of the scenes by modern actors. If nothing else, it’s worth watching for the innovative approach at least.
  • The Left Behind 
    BBC1, 10:35pm – Recommended for… Politics and Psychology
    This one looks like it’ll offer a very dark reflection of our society and the rise of extremism in the UK. It follows a teenager who, while working on a zero-hours contract, is rapidly radicalised by far-right extremists in a small Welsh town.

Thursday 11th July

  • Mad Cow Disease: the Great British Beef Scandal 
    BBC2, 9pm – Recommended for… Medicine and Biology
    This documentary primarily follows Annie McVey, a woman who lost her daughter to the human variant of mad cow disease when it broke out in 2000 due to a food scandal. Through a series of home videos, we can see how her daughter’s condition deteriorated while the team also looks at the reasons why such an outbreak was allowed to happen.
  • Why Can’t We Sleep?
    ITV, 9pm – Recommended for… Medicine and Biology
    We can all relate to not being able to sleep at some point or another, but did you know that around 16 million adults in the UK claim that they suffer from insomnia? A team of scientists set out here to discover why it is that so many of us have trouble sleeping (or staying asleep) and what effect this has on the rest of our well being.
  • Blood and Gold: the Making of Spain with Simon Sebag Montefiore
    BBC4, 10pm –  Recommended for… History and Spanish
    This series sees Montefiore dig down deep into Spain’s past to see how the country that we know today was formed. In this first episode, he starts with its beginnings as a province of Carthage though to the Córdoba Caliphate.
  • Too Gay for God? 
    BBC1, 10:35pm – Recommended for… Religious Studies
    This documentary follows ordained deacon Rev. Jide Macauley, an openly gay member of the Church of England who wants to marry his boyfriend. However, this is not recognised under the church, which is deeply distressing for him. Here, he talks about his story and about the Church’s attitude towards the LGBT community.

Friday 12th July

  • Les Misérables 
    Paramout Network, 9pm – Recommended for… History, French, Film Studies, Drama and Music
    This 2012 adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel starring Hugh Jackman, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne (among others) is a great way to introduce the story or the French Revolution, which is the backdrop for this tale. Need guidance on how to incorporate it into your teaching? Take a look at our article on using adaptations in teaching!