Television: PICK OF THE DAY

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The Independent Culture
HISTORY In Search of Myths & Heroes (9pm BBC2)

This opener for the new series finds Michael Wood (right) trekking around the Middle East and Africa - among other places, he visits Eygpt, Eritrea and Ethiopia. He's hot on the trail of the Queen of Sheba who, he reveals, tends to be worshipped as a queen or dismissed as a femme fatale - check out Gina Lollobrigida in the 1959 biopic, Solomon and Sheba, for evidence of the latter. Rather than become bogged down in trying to decide the truth of the matter, Wood subtly shows how the same myth can serve different cultures in different ways, although they all seem to agree she was a woman of fierce independence. Future subjects include King Arthur and Jason of Golden Fleece fame.

FILM Coogan's Bluff (12mdn't ITV1)

Clint Eastwood's (below) late-flourishing career as both actor and director could well draw new fans to his earlier work. This film marked his move from the Wild West to the mean streets of the city. Playing a laconic sheriff from Arizona, he tracks a murderer in New York. Stylish, gritty, and tautly directed by Don Siegel, it's a treat.

DRAMA The West Wing (7.40pm C4)

Like President Bush, President Bartlet (Martin Sheen, above) has just embarked upon his second term. Unlike George W, Jed Bartlet is a left-leaning leader with a liberal agenda. In tonight's episode, Air Force One develops a problem with its landing gear and is forced to remain in a holding pattern.

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