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Television choices: Channel 4's The Mill is a different class of costume drama


TV pick of the week: The Mill

Sunday 8pm Channel 4

Costume dramas tend to focus on the rich folk in large houses – or the struggling middle classes in Jane Austen adaptations – so it's intriguing to note a new interest in working class history, as manifested in BBC1's The Village and now this new drama series based on the historical archives of Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire – and filmed there, in what is now a National Trust property. The year is 1833, children as young as nine are working 12-hour shifts at the factory, but the so-called "white slaves of England" are about to take their lives into their own hands as outsiders with new ideas enter their world. Kerrie Hayes and Matthew McNulty lead the cast in John Fay's grim drama, which manages to skirt trouble-at-mill clichés.

When Björk Met Attenborough

Saturday 7pm Channel 4

Sir David Attenborough guides the Icelandic singer around London's Natural History Museum and teaches her about the evolution of singing in the animal kingdom. It's all to do with the new app launch of Björk's 2011 album Biophilia, her project to synthesise music with nature and "change the way we hear and make music".

Caligula with Mary Beard

Monday 9pm BBC2

Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, to give Rome's third emperor his proper name, would have been horrified that posterity knows him by his childhood nickname, Caligula, which Mary Beard translates as "bootikins". Tutored in depravity by his uncle Tiberius, Caligula is the subject of various lurid myths – but were any of them based on fact?

Kumbh Mela: the Greatest Show on Earth

tuesday 9pm BBC2

Agoraphobics would have done well to have avoided Allahabad in India this February, as 100 million Hindu worshippers washed away their sins in the Ganges. The largest gathering of humans on the planet happens every 12 years, and this focuses on British pilgrims, including an ex-lawyer who felt something was "missing" from her life.

That Music Show

Friday 10pm Channel 4

A quarter of a century after the demise of The Tube and 13 years since Chris Evans' TFI Friday, Channel 4 gets an end-of-week music show at last – or at least a pilot for one. It's a mash-up of Later... with Jools Holland and Never Mind the Buzzcocks, a pop quiz interspaced with live performances – here from Primal Scream and AlunaGeorge. Nick Grimshaw hosts.

How to Get a Council House

Thursday 9pm Channel 4

Following Why Don't You Speak English?, here's another provocatively titled Channel 4 documentary – this one looking at the lack of social housing in Manchester and the London borough of Tower Hamlets. Mike, a former banker, lives with his family in a one-bedroom flat and has bid 400 times for social housing. A potential six-year wait is on the cards, however.

Celebrity MasterChef

Wednesday 8pm BBC1

The least satisfactory of the MasterChef varieties returns with an opening heat with the comedian Katy Brand, the singer Heidi Range, the businesswoman Jo Wood and Janet Street-Porter. Their tasks include recreating John Torode's Chinese duck noodle soup and wontons without seeing the recipe, and providing lunch for the acrobats of Cirque du Soleil.