TELEVISION BRIEFING / Redundant pursuits

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The Independent Culture
IN 'Cole on the Dole', a PUBLIC EYE SPECIAL (7.40pm BBC2), the former BBC political editor John Cole quits Westminster for the country at large. His mission: like some latter-day, expense-account George Orwell, to put a human face to 1990s-style unemployment. Cole's odyssey takes him to Scotswood on Tyneside, where they count unemployment in generations, not years; the threatened coal villages of South Yorkshire, where they are fighting not to go the way of Scotswood; and Stevenage in Hertfordshire, Thatcherite boom-town turned Majorite basket-case. Released from the need to be impeccably impartial, Cole allows himself a degree of comment (current Government initiatives are 'sticking plasters applied to cancer'), but as a national consciousness- raiser, this was never going to be The Road to Wigan Pier. For, as Cole says, there aren't many working people left who don't lie awake at 4am pondering the uncertain future of their careers.

ARENA (9pm BBC2) has wrapped a snappy history of Soviet space culture around the story of cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, stranded in space by the collapse of Communism back down on earth ('Comrade Tom to Ground Control' was a typical British newspaper headline of the time). Krikalev's home videos are a must-see.

(Photograph omitted)

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