Open Eye: Open minds, open cities

New Saturday documentary series goes beneath the surface of three of Britain's great cities

Open Minds, the new magazine-style series from the OU, returns to prime-time television this month. Offering a Saturday morning entertaining work-out for the mind, television viewers now have a real alternative to kids' cartoons to kick-start the weekend. Ranging across big ideas about health, the environment and urban living, Open Minds represents mind-candy with vitamins.

With presenters Anita McNaught and Dan Rowland, the three programmes leave the studio sofa behind to get beneath the surface of city living in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

Each Open Minds includes documentaries on living and working in the cities of Mexico City, London or New York and puts the use of modern drugs in medicine under the microscope. New Poet Laureate Andrew Motion interprets poems by Betjeman, Wordsworth and Larkin and comedian Jo Brand and author Kathy Lette talk about their favourite books.

In another regular feature, OU lecturer Stephen Regan takes a relaxed and entertaining look at Britain's most famous beds, including Queen Victoria's at Osborne House (with a plaque to Prince Albert) and the Great Bed of Ware which could easily accommodate 50 people.

The first programme comes from Glasgow, the 1999 City of Architecture. Looking beyond the established reputation of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Open Minds assesses the achievement of the city's 'lost genius', the architect Alexander Thomson.

The Glasgow visitor is now welcomed by the energy of a creative renaissance rather than industrial no-go zones and an alcohol-fuelled 'Glasgow kiss'. This programme looks at how a city re-invented itself.

When Catholic monk Brother Walfred set up a football team in Glasgow as a fundraising venture in the 1880s he could have had no idea that he was inadvertently beginning one of the fiercest battles in football. As yet another city football executive has to resign following secret sectarian celebrations, OU social scientist David Goldblatt explores how the Rangers- Celtic rivalry became so deep-rooted and looks at the work being done to rid the relationship of bigotry. Scottish academics and fans of the 'Beautiful Game', Charlie Johnstone and Ian Weddle chart the great Glaswegian footballing chasm.

Direct from the changing skyline of the Cardiff Bay development, the September 18 Open Minds tests opinion on the radical harbour-side changes. David Goldblatt visits the bohemian Butetown to meet the 'Medicis of Cardiff' and we get the low-down on new Welsh film-making. The presenters take a ride on the railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff and track its importance in the history of the Welsh capital.

In this programme, OU chemist Mike Bullivant looks at the story of the controversial anti-impotence drug Viagra which started life as a new treatment for angina. He talks to researchers at Pfizer who developed the drug as well as to MS patient Ivan Jackson, a human guinea-pig who tested it during clinical trials.

As the peace process begins again, Open Minds from Belfast on September 25 looks at the murals which cover the city's walls, but also digs deeper to present fresh insights on a remarkable city. This programme investigates the city's linen industry and the new entrepreneurial energy coming out of the thriving Chinese community. We find out how Belfast's close business community is using the new concept of knowledge management to benefit the bottom line of growing companies.

Mike Bullivant turns his attention to Beta Interferon, a valuable but expensive treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. Some health authorities will prescribe the drug but others refuse, thus turning health care into a postcode lottery for patients. MS patient Alex Fraser and her mother Pauline talk about the difference the drug has made to their lives. Alex's consultant Mohammad Shariaf can prescribe the pounds 10,000- a-year drug to only five patients even though he has 100 on the waiting list.

Launching the OU on screen this autumn Open Minds takes the lid off Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast. Look inside and enjoy.

Glasgow 09:05am 11 September

Cardiff 09:05am 18 September

Belfast 09:05am 25 September

www.open.ac.uk/bbc/openminds

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