Television choices: How to build a better future with Sellotape and science


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The Independent Culture

TV pick of the week: Tomorrow's World: A Horizon Special

Thursday 9pm BBC2

The zeitgeist being what it is – dystopian, pessimistic and even downright apocalyptic – this science documentary is a timely reminder that humanity is still striving, indeed at an unprecedented pace. In the US alone there have been more patents since the millennium than were lodged in the entire planet during the 40 years that preceded it. Liz Bonnin investigates particularly lively areas – space, biotechnology, and nanotechnology – to bring us the latest developments, including the first private moon race, the so-called Google Lunar X PRIZE, and the ultra-strong, ultra-conductive material graphene, first discovered by a Nobel Prize-winning Manchester University team using Sellotape and a pencil. Ingenious.

Arne Dahl: The Blind Man – Part One

Saturday 9pm BBC4

Top Swedish financiers are being bumped off on a nightly basis and the Estonian mafia are suspected. Or is it to do with a golf club where the victims are all members? This new Scandi-crime import (Arne Dahl is the name of the author on whose books it's based) is no The Killing, but it is fun once you get used to the creaky camerawork. Irene Lindh stars.

Toughest Place to Be a Fisherman – The Return

Sunday 9pm BBC2

You may recall the Cornish fisherman Andy Giles's visit to a coastal village in Sierra Leone, where the fishing is done from a dugout canoe but whose survival was under threat from illegal trawlers. Since the original programme, a new patrol vessel has been donated by the Isle of Man – transforming the lives of local people – and Giles is back.

The Prisoners

Monday 9pm BBC1

"I guess I'm not your typical Holloway inmate," says middle-class Emma, on her third prison stretch for the shop-lifting that pays for her drug addiction. In fact, she is highly typical – re-offending and returning to Holloway being the pattern for the women, including Jayde, featured in this documentary that follows them both inside prison and on the outside.

Later Live – with Jools Holland

Tuesday 10pm BBC2

Holland's peerless series moves from the now-defunct BBC Television Centre to a new studio in Maidstone, Kent, which may not be so attractive to visiting artists, but will only be a short-ish hop to Holland's country house should he throw an after-show party. Suede play tracks from their first album in 11 years, joined by Laura Mvula, Cat Power and teen rockers the Strypes.

Mad Men

Wednesday 10pm Sky Atlantic

The penultimate season of Matthew Weiner's masterpiece arrives shrouded in cigarette smoke and its usual secrecy – just days after tomorrow night's US premiere. All we're being told of this opening double episode is that Don (Jon Hamm) spearheads a new campaign, Roger gets some unsettling news and Betty takes in a house guest. The year, it is thought, is 1968.

Isaac Newton: the Last Magician

Friday 9pm BBC2

Sir Isaac Newton is seen as an enlightened rational man who brought science into the modern age. Using Newton's own papers and the words of his contemporaries, this film also reveals a secretive and difficult dabbler in alchemy and the occult. He was, said the economist John Maynard Keynes, having read Newton's papers, "profoundly neurotic".