Today's Television

Gerard Gilbert recommends Bookmark Sat 9.05pm BBC2
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Any other week and Professor Stephen Hawking on the Big Bang would have to have been a highlight, but we're living amid the debris of own very own big bang at the moment, and the ongoing ripple effect has played havoc with the TV schedules.

The details of her funeral are all listed below, and I will only try and point out non-Diana related material here. The best of the rest, as it were, is headed by an excellent Bookmark (Sat BBC2) on the poet Stevie Smith, whom everyone remembers for her poem, "Not Waving but Drowning". Smith spent most of her life in Palmers Green, in deeply suburban north London, commuting every weekday for 30 years into literary London, but returning each night to her Pooterish existence with an adored maiden aunt. Aysha Rafaele's artfully constructed film is studded with the most wonderful characters - terrifically articulate and insightful old women, including a deliciously fruity former friend and colleague out of the margins of some Ronald Searle cartoon. Draped over a sofa with a glass of wine and cigarette holder, she refuses to discuss Smith's sexuality, before doing just that.

John Romer is back, striding about the Middle East in a very silly Panama hat (what is it about middle-aged Englishmen that, as soon as they hit foreign shores, they have to deck themselves out in these ridiculous accoutrements?). His subject this time is, to let the title speak for itself, Byzantium: the Lost Empire (Sun C4). The Roman Empire, as Romer points out, never really did fall in the Gibbon sense, it just relocated to what was then a quiet corner of the Greek Empire. The Emperor Constantine, a fairly bloodthirsty chap, but a Christian and a scholar, oversaw the move in about 330AD. It's all very interesting, despite Romer, whom I find an annoyingly florid presenter, given to David Bellamy-like gestures and boring yet over-egged descriptions. Byzantium, for example, is a "magic, spicy word". Yes, but...

Ian Hislop goes back to school with a new history of education, Ian Hislop's School Rules (Sun C4), which begins, for no apparent reason except its shock value, with 1962 footage of Burgess Hill, an establishment which prided itself on having no rules. Instead of a natural order asserting itself, kids merely took to bicycling around the classroom, smoking themselves to death (one shot shows a teacher helpfully lighting up for a what looks like a nine-year-old straight out of a Giles cartoon). And then it's back to the beginning - Matthew Arnold for the public-school pupils, school boards for the poor - the cane for both. It'll come as a surprise to those who thought that student radicalism was invented in the 1960s to witness footage of the 1911 schoolchildren's strike.

If you missed the first film in Full Circle with Michael Palin (Sun BBC1), either because you were watching the Diana story unfold, or because you were unaware it had been shunted on to BBC2, it is being repeated again. This, to recap, has Palin circumnavigating the Pacific Rim, starting in Alaska. You know the score. Very, very familiar, but quite fun.

The Antiques Inspectors (Sun BBC1) was completely knocked out by the Diana coverage last weekend (weren't we all). This is The Antiques Roadshow by other means, and features Carol Vorderman busing experts around the country to visit some of the homes we can only imagine on Roadshow. A pretty enough reproduction, but not worth a great deal. I'm sure you will treasure it nonetheless.

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