TELEVISION / Reviews of the week

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The Independent Culture
Producer Molly Dineen talks to the animals - and their keepers - in THE ARK (9.25pm BBC2), an intriguing four-part documentary on London Zoo. In the news again after the New Year incident in the lions' den, the Zoo is struggling with an annual pounds 1.7m overspend. In 'Survival of the Fittest', Dineen's camera monitors the reactions of staff and management to the announcement that one in three keepers will have to be made redundant. The curator Dr Jo Gipps has the unenviable task of subjecting staff to interviews for jobs they already hold, and then telling them whether they have kept them. The sea-lion keeper is bitter about the process: 'People drop you in it; animals don't . . . you haven't got to answer 20 questions from an animal.' Nervously pacing up and down before his final interview, another keeper likens the process to being summoned before a firing squad.

After fielding criticism for programmes perceived as down-market, Carlton Television has tonight come up with an indisputably serious work. By focusing on the celebration of the first birthday of Phuong from the Mekong Delta, THOI NOI (10.40pm ITV), directed by Michael Grigsby, aims to show us how Vietnam has grown up in the 20 years since the Paris Peace Agreement was signed.

(Photograph omitted)

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