Hughes apparently pitched the idea for American Visions (Sun BBC2) to the BBC directly after The Shock of the New 16 years ago, but, as he told Radio Times this week, they weren't interested... "until the BBC woke up to the fact that its MTV-ish treatment of the arts wasn't working, so they dusted off the old dinosaur of the didactic mini-series, and here I am again."
As didactic old dinosaurs go, Hughes and his series are good value. Australian without being David Bellamy-ish, Hughes is forceful without getting in the way. His thesis begins with the victorious American revolutionaries eschewing all things British, and embracing the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome. It was meant to be a gesture towards democracy. The irony is that both Athens and Rome were empires, and both were based on slavery.
I took an instant dislike to this week's Screen Two, Look Me in the Eye (Sat BBC2), and then very slowly began warming to it. Writer-director-editor (now that's what I call an auteur) Nick Ward is obviously steeped in 1960s British cinema - and Antonioni's Blow-Up in particular, and his film is ravishing to look at, with cold, hard-edged colours, and a pale-skinned, raven-haired heroine (Caroline Catz) of great beauty. What I disliked was the hackneyed tale of romantic obsession; what I eventually warmed to was Ward's own obvious obsession with the film's real subject - the visual image itself.
TV is Dead, Long Live TV (Sat BBC2), could more accurately be titled TV is Dead, Long Live the Internet. Comparing the birth pangs of television over 60 years ago with those of the Internet today, this Horizon Special suggests that interactive technology is the way forward. Today's kids don't want to passively consume television in the way of their parents. Just wait till they grow up and get demanding jobs.
The sell on this week's Video Diaries (Sat BBC2) is "Ghostbuster - the Real Thing", and the half-promise is that veteran psychic investigator, Maurice Grosse, will capture a ghost on his camcorder. I won't spoil the outcome for you, suffice to say that the chipper 76-year-old Grosse, with his slightly bedraggled RAF- style moustache, is a TV natural.
Talking of ghosts, lead singer of 1970s glam rockers The Sweet, Brian Connolly, hardly looks able to finish a sentence, let alone play Butlins, Bognor Regis. Don't Leave Me This Way (Sat C4) catches up with Connolly, a man who had 14 heart attacks in 24 hours and lived to sing "Wig-Wag Bam" again.
If you happen to be sitting around tonight yearning for vicarious excitement, then Alastair Stewart is your man. Stewart, whose solemn tones are supposed to lend an air of edification to Police, Camera, Action!, performs the same trick for Fire - Live! (Sat ITV), with cameras hanging around fire stations all over the country waiting for some poor sap to fall into a bonfire or set the curtains alight with burning chip fat. It used to be called ambulance chasing.Reuse content