Preview RECOMMENDED VIEWING THIS WEEKEND
Is This Your Life? Sat 9.30pm C4 African Sanctus Revisited Sat 11pm BBC2 Geiger Sweet Geiger Sour Sun 8.20pm BBC2 Red White and True Sun 10.40pm BBC1
It's now 100 years since Wilhelm Roentgen deduced the existence of X- rays - and 50 years since the inhabitants of Hiroshima and Nagasaki deduced the existence of the atom bomb. Geiger Sweet Geiger Sour (Sun BBC2) marks both anniversaries with an anthology of radiation's relationship with mankind (the title refers to US Army slang for that which is non-radioactive, compared with that which is about to eat your chromosomes alive). Many of the stages of this particular cross have already been well documented by television in recent years - the women who painted radium on the dials of luminous watches, thoughtlessly licking their paintbrushes as they worked; the Manhattan Project and all its offspring; The Cold War, Chernobyl and after. A victim of nuclear pollution from the Huntington plutonium plant in Washington State (a story that was told by Radio 4 earlier this year) drives past one of those kitsch reminders of the bomb-crazy 1950s - a diner calling itself the "Atomic Cafe". "What we didn't know at the time," she says ruefully, "was that the food in there really was atomic."
More anniversaries. Somewhat older than man's discovery of radiation is the British Red Cross, whose 125th birthday is celebrated in Red White and True (Sun BBC1), and those of you who are pub-quizzers might like to know that the International Red Cross was founded in 1860 by a Swiss businessman (hence the inverted Swiss flag), after he witnessed the Battle of Solferino, in which 40,000 soldiers on both sides were left to die of their wounds. The British branch was started in 1870 by Crimean War veteran Robert Lloyd Lindsay.
With heavyweight narration by Dirk Bogarde, this is strictly glossy-brochure territory, but in an undeniably good cause. We're marched through the organisation's roll of honour - from the Great War's "angels of mercy", through the Second World War's food parcels for PoWs, to arranging hostage releases in the Gulf War. The Red Cross are currently busy in the so-called safe havens of Bosnia and - not so many people know this - in the so-called no-go housing estates in Britain. Send your cheques today.
What, as the French philosopher might ask, is Jeremy Beadle? His encounter with Andrew Neil in Is This Your Life? (Sat C4) reveals the sort of "regular guy" you might meet at the office Christmas party, a practical joker inflated by his colossal viewing figures and the close attention of the tabloid press. It's all as one might expect, the most intriguing revelation being Beadle the social reformer, hating "injustice in every form". If Beadle's About ever took its final bow, he claims, he'd like to produce a show that provoked revolutionary thoughts in young people. I'm not so sure he doesn't already.
At one point during African Sanctus Revisted (Sat BBC2), composer David Fanshawe expresses the wish that instead of running around Africa tracking down hitherto unrecorded folk tunes, and then blending them into Western Christian choral works, he could be like other people. One easy move, David - get rid of that old school cap. It makes you look like Terry Scott extolling the delights of Curly Wurlys.
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- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
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