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The Independent Culture
It's official - national politicians are about to go the way of the dinosaurs. Arthur C Clarke says so on a live satellite link from his home in Sri Lanka to the Science Museum in London, a means of communication he prophesised over 50 years ago. Tony Blair? John Major? Who cares? International business certainly doesn't.

Clarke appears on Simon Hoggart's new three-part series The Hollow State (Sat BBC2) looking into the globalisation of the economy. What this means in practice is that a businessman from Telford can manufacture supermarket carrier bags in China from polythene produced in Malayasia on machines made in Denmark. These are then imported to Britain for use in a supermarket in Telford. Where it all leads is anybody's guess - and we'll have to wait three weeks for Hoggart's - but it certainly puts the concerns of Eurosceptic MPs into perspective. Rather like a brontosaurus worrying about fleas.

After such profoundly materialistic concerns, the centuries-old debate (if that is the right word - Galileo might demur) between science and religion seems strangely arcane. Heart of the Matter (Sun BBC1), has a Joan Bakewell-stirred debate, featuring, amongst others, religion-bashing scientist Richard Dawkins, Baroness Mary Warnock and (why does one think "inevitably"?), David Starkey. Is no moral maze deemed worth exploring nowadays without Starkey's scowling contributions?

Starkey calls human beings "pattern-making" creatures. He obviously hasn't listened to many 20th century orchestral composers. Neither have I (an early encounter with Olivier Messiaen left me bruised), but I will now, after the first part of Simon Rattle's ambitious new series on 20th-century composers, Leaving Home (Sun C4). The outgoing musical director of the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra calls his first programme Dancing on a Volcano, which refers to Alban Berg's comment about the carnival crowds in Munich on the night of the Reichstag fire of 1933.

Rattle has already come under attack from an unlikely alliance of highbrow modern music critics and Albert Hall flagwavers aghast at his ignoring great British composers like Elgar and Vaughan Williams. But he makes it clear from the start that his brief is the abandonment of tonality, not a general overview. He makes a perfectly relaxed guide, albeit given to generalisations and the odd cliche. On the Vienna of Mahler "As always, decay smells sweet". Does it?

Fine Cut has an admirable film, Divided Memories (Sat BBC2) exposing so-called "retrieved memories" - and the arrogant, absolute self-belief of the therapists who are persuading more and more people that they were abused as children and have since forgotten about it. It seems the longer one is in "therapy", the more lurid the memories - and a surprising number pop up in Satanic abuse scenarios. Meanwhile, innocent parents are losing jobs and families.

And lastly, whatever happened to Neanderthal Man (and, no, he isn't to be found playing for Wimbledon FC)? Equinox (Sun C4) has an intriguing mystery story that suggests he might have come into fatal contact with a race of people with more advanced communication skills (that's us, by the way). Simon Hoggart would probably say he is alive and well and living in the Palace of Westminster.

The big picture


Sun 10pm C4

Despite Ian McKellen's absurd bald wig in the part of Profumo, this is a slickly-made version of his affair with showgirl Christine Keeler (Joanne Whalley-Kilmer) which helped bring down the Conservative Government in 1964. Michael Caton-Jones's direction is stylish, and he is well-served by a strong cast featuring John Hurt as the louche osteopath Stephen Ward and Bridget Fonda as Mandy "well, he would say that" Rice-Davies.

The big race

World Half-Marathon Championship

Sun 4.05pm, 4.35pm, BBC2

There is no doubting the pluck of Liz McColgan (above). The gritty Scot defied medical opinion to win this year's London Marathon. The former world 10,000 metres champion did not fare so well in the humidity of the Atlanta Olympics, but she was suffering from an insect bite that day. In Palma, Majorca, tomorrow afternoon she is seeking to regain the IAAF World Half-Marathon Championship she won in 1992. Don't bet against her.