Television preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND

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The Independent Culture
Where were you when Scott and Charlene got married? Or when Pauline finally realised the identity of Michelle's baby's father? If your reply is a sniffy "elsewhere", then chances are that you a) think Neighbours are the people who live next door, and b) won't be tuning into C4's "Soap Weekend" (Sat and Sun).

This is a two-day wallow in the doomed esperanto of Eldorado, the first- ever epsiode of Dallas and a 1963 visit to Coronation Street, not to mention samplers from Mexico, Ireland and Jamaica. The cream of UK Gold, in other words, with a bit of travel thrown in. A small gem tucked away within is The Real Coronation Street (Sun C4), Rob Rohrer's film about a real row of houses in Salford called Coronation Street. Echoes abound of Jack, Bet Gilroy and Mike Baldwin - but the non-soap world looks a good deal grimmer.

Storyline supremos at EastEnders decided to visit HIV on Mark Fowler midst the 1987 panic about heterosexual Aids ("Don't Die of Ignorance"). In reality, nearly 90 per cent of new British Aids cases are gay men, as was a former partner of playwright Howard Schuman. His response to that death is his unblinking, unsentimental and often very funny Screen Two: Nervous Energy (Sat BBC2), which knocks the Karposi Sarcoma off other recent and more tentative Aids dramas.

Alfred Molina is brilliant as the Schuman figure, an American radio journalist in London, whose dying lover, Tom, decides on a last, manic visit to family and friends in Glasgow. Strange as it seems to have Glaswegians bandying Jewish humour ("So now you're an expert on HIV," Tom tells his know-all father), it makes you realise that it's the lack of humour that makes the traditional po-faced Aids drama such purgatory, for all the wrong reasons. A drama highlight of 1996, without a doubt, with focused, unobtrusive direction from Jean Stewart.

Comedy of sorts - in hindsight at least - in The Wilderness Years (Sun BBC2), the story of the Labour Party's last 16 years in opposition and disarray. The agent of destruction is clearly identified as Tony Benn, with his attempt to impose democracy on the party using Stalinist methods. The first programme ends with Michael Foot adopting anything and everything that Conference threw at him (imagine if the Tories did that), and the Gang of Three gathering sheepishly on a doorstep in Limehouse. Sitting near them at the infamous Wembley conference of 1981 is one Robert Kilroy Silk. Oh well, Labour's loss was television's gain.

The Affair (Sun BBC1) is a one-off, join-the-dots drama recounting the disastrous aftermath of an affair between a middle-class Englishwoman (Kerry Fox) and a black GI (Courtney B Vance), stationed over here in World War Two. Her husband, returning unexpectedly from Atlantic convoy duty, has him arrested for rape, and persuades Fox to substantiate the the charge.

"What is a man?", asks Heart of the Matter (Sun BBC1), during which the founder of the UK's Men's Movement calls feminism "a pathological response to developments in society". I don't want to worry Yvonne Roberts, but she's wearing an identical small smile of triumph to the one on Tony Benn's face during the Labour Conference that ousted Jim Callagan in 1980. Tony Blair could teach the UK Men's Movement a thing or two: New Men, New Britain.

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