And so to Moscow, as Paul Lashmar and his Timewatch (Sun BBC2) team do what every other TV historian has been doing for the last four years, it seems, and have a good poke round the Soviet archives. It's buried treasure, the last jigsaw pieces to fit into our picture of the 20th century, and Lashmar goes looking for solutions to unanswered questions about the Korean War. What was the extent of Stalin's involvement (massive), and was it true that American POWs found their way to the Soviet Union? Let's put it this way: they certainly never made their way out again.
Wired World (Sun C4) comes on all 1990s media techno-nerdish (Wired magazine is apparently unhappy about the title), but is in fact little more than that very 1980s product, The Media Show, with skates on. The first programme has reports on Kazakhstan's first home-grown TV soap opera (financed by Britain, it promotes capitalism in the area), militia media in the United States (videos include Secrets of a Successful Sniper) and a South African sitcom about a black family living next door to a white family (don't mention Love Thy Neighbour). An item on London's 24-hour gay and lesbian radio station Freedom FM is The Media Show all over.
An unusual drama co-production finds the BBC Community Programmes Unit getting together with the Justice For Overseas Domestic Workers campaign. The result, A Secret Slave (Sat BBC2), tells of the plight of a Singhalese domestic worker imported into Britain by a rich Dubai family - and then given unlimited hours for no pay. When she has the audacity to complain, a bonus arrives, in the shape of a thick lip, a few loose teeth and a bruised rib. Or, as The Home Office lawyer puts it: "They have a whole different cultural tradition about staff."
If you want to witness the genesis of Robbie Coltrane's character in Cracker, then there's a chance to see again Al Hunter's 1991 drama Alive and Kicking (Sun BBC1), in which Coltrane's unconventional drug therapist cures Lenny Henry's smackhead smack dealer with a dose of street wisdom and the power of football. Look out for a pre-stardom Jane Horrocks as a tart with a heart of melted-down syringe needles.
When The White Room (Sat C4) launched last year, the wisdom was that it was going to go the way of all the new music shows that have tried, with increasing desperation, to emulate the success of The Tube. It surprised all with its stripped-down toughness and its vigorous door policy. A new series begins tonight, with Blur and Robert Palmer headlining.Reuse content