Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND

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The Independent Culture
For those of you worried about the relentless march of time leading to a gradual descent into wrinkliness, there is comfort on offer. The BBC launches its "Coming Of Age'' season this weekend, hoping to find out what "old age" will mean to future generations. You can almost smell the fear of impotence from the middle-aged suits who commissioned this. Grey Sex (Sun, BBC2) is an endearing, moving and at times hysterical film focusing on the libidos of the over- sixties. Just because you've got a bus pass doesn't mean you have to forego the pleasures of the flesh. But you may need a little help. Ian Lyon, married to Joan for 50 years, demonstrates, without embarassment, a threatening looking plastic vacuum pump which improves his erection. Joan positively twinkles at its approach. Never patronising in tone, this film allows its ageing subjects dignity and the freedom to be frank about a topic that to some is as taboo as necrophilia.

Far less edifying and likely to depress what life remains out of you, is Ray Gosling's new six-parter The Middle Ages (Sat, C4). Gosling, a man who takes lugubriousness to new depths, interviews a selection of forty somethings about their lives and aspirations. His speciality this week appears to be reducing grown women to tears. Probing rudely into their late motherhood, errant husbands or failures to achieve, he hangs around like the Grim Reaper of hormone replacement therapy, ready to sneer at every hot flush. Not the ideal guest for your 40th birthday party, but some poor woman let him in.

Helping a slightly younger clientele deal with their age crisis is the latest part of Dancing In The Street (Sat, BBC2). "No Fun" traces the growth of punk on its energising journey from Jonathan Richman via Television, Talking Heads and across the Atlantic into the safe hands of Malcolm McLaren. There's that interview with the Sex Pistols when the air of the Today studio turned blue, and some great footage of the acned ones head-butting beer cans on their American tour. In today's interviews, Steve Jones and John Lydon (Rotten, as was) positively glow with health, strategically positioned by swimming pools or objets d'art. There always was a lot of money in bondage trousers.

If you like your music laced with a touch of sentimentality, then Danny Boy - In Sunshine Or In Shadow (Sun, ITV) is for you. Tracing the history of the famous Irish air, this intelligent film draws on some high profile interviewees for its analysis. Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Sinead O'Connor and Shane McGowan, his teeth glistening fetchingly, all provide interpretations. You may shed a genuine tear or two with boxer Barry McGuigan as he recalls his father's rendition, sung before his son's title fight, and the love that it expressed. Look out also for lovely MP John Hume in a dashing pink shirt.

And so to The English Wife (Sun, ITV). Appearing like an oasis in the parched summer schedules, this two-hour drama is a dry disappointment. Newcomer Geraldine O'Rawe is hopelessly out of her depth as a nanny who falls among skulduggery and passion in the French countryside, while Zoe Wanamaker is wasted away as her employer. A terrible script isn't helped by the excruciatingly langorous direction.

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