TELEVISION PREVIEW

Assignment Sat 7.15pm BBC2 Auf Wiedersehen, Pet Sat 9pm C4 Peter York's Eighties Sat 9.30pm BBC2 The Tourist Sun 8.10pm BBC2 The Gulf War Sun 9.05pm BBC1
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The Independent Culture
The scent was first in the air late last year. Loon pants, platform soles and Slade were all safely in the mainstream, and punk had had its fittingly moth-to-the-flame moment of remembrance. There is only one last epoch to be disinterred before the millennium catches us all in its headlights - the 1980s - and it's our good fortune (and probably no accident) that the whiff was first detected by the refined nostrils of Peter York, and distilled into Peter York's Eighties (Sat BBC2). Just imagine. It might have been Eve Pollard, who appears draped adoringly on one of York's bespoke shoulders in the accompanying publicity - or Emma Ridley. Why not? I'm sure light bulbs are going on over at GMTV as we speak.

So, OK, a question. What have Alfred Sherman, The Institute of Economic Affairs, Steve Strange and The Blitz Club got in common? All were pioneers of the 1980s, according to York's thesis - the New Right and the New Romantics, whose individualist creed shaped the decade - and rescued Britain from the "grotty Seventies" (Robert Elms) of strikes and bad dress sense.

The Gulf War very much belongs to that uneasy vacuum we call the 1990s. This week marks the fifth anniversary of the opening of Operation Desert Storm, and a whole new vocabulary of warfare: smart bombs and surgical strikes; innocuous megadeath for pre-watershed viewing. The campaign is remembered in The Gulf War (Sun BBC1), a new four-part series with a self important World at War score and an impressive line-up of key players - from Colin Powell, "Stormin' Norman" Schwarzkopf and King Hussein of Jordan, to Mikhail Gorbachev, Hosni Mubarak and a ripely insane Margaret Thacher. No surprises that when "Belgrano Margaret" first heard that two Iraqi oil tankers had broken the allies' blockade, she demanded they both be sank at once. Wiser heads prevailed.

The population of Kuwait is just under one million - the same number of people, as it happens, as were killed in the Hutu genocide in Rwanda in 1994. It's a small African country with no strategic importance and, despite the UN having declared a war-crimes tribunal, justice is dragging its feet. Assignment's film, "Cursed be Closed Eyes" (Sat BBC2), looks at three individuals trying to make sure those responsible are brought to trial.

The Tourist (Sun BBC2) is a slow, sly documentary series looking at the history of tourism. Once, you might have been able to wander lonely as a cloud in the Lake District, but these days you'd be more likely to be run over by a lycra victim on a mountain bike. Those in search of real virgin lands lump their rucksacks to Gobi Altai in south-west Mongolia.

Briefly back again to the 1980s, and a very different universe to the one stalked by Peter York and fellow style councillors: the second series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (Sat C4) starts a re-run. It's not quite as good as the first, but this was the best blend of drama and comedy outside of Coronation Street - a show it regularly challenged in the ratings. Gary Holton, who played cockney womaniser Wayne, died halfway through filming - although you wouldn't know it by the way scripts and episodes were rejigged. The folk who controlled the images we received of the Gulf War would have been proud of that.

The big picture

A Winter's Tale

Sat 12mdn't BBC2

A Winter's Tale - that's Conte d'hiver to you Francophones - is Eric Rohmer's beautiful, pellucid reworking of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale (just a swift change of article, guv), in which French coiffeuse Charlotte Very (above) meets the love of her life (Frederic van den Driessche) on holiday, but bungles a hasty exchange of addresses. She mooches around in the wintry city, juggling unsatisfactory boyfriends and hoping that her man will return. A sensitive, witty romantic fable.

The big match

Chelsea vs Newcastle

Sun 2.55pm BBC1

The big question for Chelsea, as they aim to knock out the Premiership leaders in this third-round FA Cup match, is whether Ruud Gullit will be fit. The Dutch wizard was stretchered off during Chelsea's defeat of QPR on New Year's Day, having exacerbated a sciatic nerve problem. But that didn't shut him up. A few days later he was railing about how only three Premiership players were good enough to play in Italy. One of them being Les Ferdinand (above) of Newcastle, this season's joint leading League scorer - who might be itching to put the boot in.

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