TELEVISION / BRIEFING: Gratefully received

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The Independent Culture
ARENA (9.30pm BBC2) eschews the obvious story about the Grateful Dead - the 'Dead Head' fan phenomenon - for a less well- known angle: the band's generous support for neglected British classical composers. 'The Grateful and the Dead', directed by Jeremy Marre, traces the history of the band's Rex Foundation, set up after bassist Phil Lesh chanced on a bootleg tape of classical music and spotted a gap in the market. Over shots of hippies passing round a joint, he contends that the funding of otherwise overlooked composers is 'a continuation of the spirit' of the 1960s counter-culture. The Foundation also supports groups fighting Aids, drugs and homelessness. As the Dead's Jerry Garcia puts it: 'If you have to call the Grateful Dead for assistance, you're definitely falling between the cracks of the major charities.' The only problem the Foundation now faces is how to continue operating anonymously.

ABSOLUTELY (10.30pm C4) may not be the most high-profile sketch show, but it is one of the funniest. Tonight it returns for a fourth series featuring all the familiar characters: Don and George (soon to star in their own spin-off series), the Scottish Nationalist McGlashan (who proposes a competition to track down Jimmy Hill and hit him full in the face with an Arbroath Smoky), anorak-wearing Calum Gilhooley, the beige-clad Nice Family, and Little Girl.

(Photograph omitted)

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