Preview

RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND Message to Love Sat 9pm BBC2 In Advance of the Landing Sat 9.20pm C4 The Real X Files Sun 9pm C4 Runway One Sun 9.25pm BBC1 Fine Cut: Kings of the Ring Sun 9.30pm BBC2
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The Independent Culture
"I have piloted many space ships," says one cheerful nonagenarian, resplendent in a coronet and a gold lame cape to make even Dame Barbara Cartland blush. Her name is Ruth E Norman (although her friends call her Archangel Uriel), and she presides serenely over the Unarius Educational Foundation, whose aim is to educate us earthlings while Ruth and her chums wait for full-scale alien landings.

Yes, we're deep into C4's Sci-Fi Weekend, and In Advance of the Landing (Sat) charts the cults, societies and individuals preparing to roll out the red carpet for any passing little green men. This is interspersed with vox pops on questions like "What would happen if a flying saucer landed?". "I'd wet myself," says just about the only representative from planet Earth to make it onto the programme.

Much more interesting is The Real X Files (Sun C4), which looks at how the CIA and other agencies came to decide that parapsychology, and in particular the practice of "remote viewing", was to be taken seriously. Remote viewers were extra-sensory folk drafted in to spy on the enemy by astrally visiting their top-secret sites. Yes. Their controller would simply give them a set of map references (although random numbers were shown to be just as efficacious), and off they'd go, without leaving their bodies. It's claimed remote viewing was used to "visit" the US embassy in Tehran during the hostage crisis and Iraqi Scud missile sites... and to locate Colonel Gaddafi before the bombing of Tripoli. Well, it's not 100 per cent accurate.

"We put this festival on with a lot of love, you bastards," shouts the organiser of the 1970 Isle of Wight pop festival, whose 25th anniversary is marked by Murray Lerner's dry-eyed Message to Love (Sat BBC2). The organiser's message was to those trying to break down the fence to join the 600,000 cavorting along-a Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Jethro Tull, The Doors, Free and the rest. Happily (unless guitar solos from Ten Years After are your cup of herbal), this is only partially a performance film, and as a record of a time and a place it's far more entertaining than the movie of Woodstock.

How do you make a genuinely popular comedy drama about Irangate? Writer Barry Devlin has based his two-part Runway One (Sun, Mon BBC1) around a rumour that, during the Irangate guns-for-hostages affair, American planes refuelled at Dublin's Shannon airport. His winning answer is to investigate the whole shebang through the eyes of bungling Irish policemen Peter Capaldi and Andrew Connolly. Mercifully entertaining stuff.

The boxer Jack Dempsey was told before one of his fights to hold off his opponent "because the public don't like one-round boxing matches", and, as compensation for last weekend's Mike Tyson/Peter McNeely fiasco, Fine Cut has come up with a handsome history of the heavyweight division, Kings of the Ring (Sun BBC2). My favourite is Gene Tunney, friend of Hemingway, who said: "A succesful boxer should have two aims in view: to avoid punishment and to make money." Needless to say, he wasn't popular with the punters. It was Max Schneling's manager Jo Jacobs, by the way, who coined the phrase "We was robbed".

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