Television preview: Recommended viewing this weekend

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The Independent Culture
There's more to royalty than velvetry and fine rags, as Fergie would have put it in this week's edition of Hello! had she been acquainted with Mark Twain's children's classic The Prince and the Pauper (Sun BBC1).

Twain's book, which imagines what might have happened had the Tudor princeling, Edward, become mistaken for his spitting image, a cockney commoner (and vice versa), is the latest children's classic to be adapted for the Sunday tea-time slot. It comes from the same team who made Little Lord Fauntleroy, and, as in that nicely-judged drama, the juvenile lead is cute without being cloying. And just because it's a children's drama, it doesn't mean that the sets are made of cardboard and the expenses have been spared on the costumes - which is just as well when you realise the potential for overseas sales. Little Lord Fauntleroy went on to win an Emmy in America, and the BBC will hoping for something similar here. Keith Michell, by the way, reprises his most famous role - and, if anything, his Henry VIII has got more life- like with age.

The big ITV drama of the weekend is - surprise, surprise - a police drama. With echoes of the Colin Stagg affair, Kiss and Tell (Sat ITV) is a mostly absorbing (but slightly ludicrous) tale which has a policewoman going undercover as a "lonely heart" in order to catch a suspected wife-killer, played with nice ambiguity by Peter Howitt. Actors Daniel Craig (Geordie from Our Friends in the North) and Nicola Stephenson (lipstick lesbian, Margaret, from Brookside) are among the forces of law and order, and the spirit of Prime Suspect hovers nearby.

Talking of Our Friends in the North, the drama's writer, Peter Flannery, is one of those taking part in The Road from Jarrow (Sat BBC2), a personal odyssey through the last 60 years of British history by Mrs Thatcher's former press minder, Sir Bernard Ingham. The agenda is broadly Thatcherite, and, if you can swallow that, this is an ingeniously structured history lesson. It follows the marchers' steps from Jarrow to London, and takes in the Church of England's role in politics, unemployment, Methodism, social mobilty and the transport revolution before they have even reached Ripon. Sir Bernard's robust Yorkshire vernacular isn't half as shocking as David Hockney's. Hockney - ho, hum - is posed by the side of a swimming pool as he pays tribute to the subject of this week's The South Bank Show (Sun ITV), the English painter Howard Hodgkin. Hodgkin's brightly coloured abstractions will be parked at the Hayward from next month, but, as he tells Melvyn Bragg, he is expecting a rotten press from the colour-phobic British art press.

He would have got an even lousier reception from the Pilgrim Fathers, as Robert Hughes explains in his continuing series, American Visions (Sun BBC2). This week, Hughes reaches back to the "radical bareness" of the 17th-century protestant colonisers, who, if they had not been such a God- fearing lot, might have embraced the aesthetic beauty of pure mathematics. This week's Equinox (Sun C4) does the job instead, taking us through pi (as in 3.141 etc; a pair of Russian emigres in New York has worked it out to eight billion decimal places - and they look like they have), fractals and string theory. String theory? It's probably the answer to everything - so there.

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