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SATURDAY

Working History (4pm R4) is that rarest of luxuries, a history programme that doesn't treat the past purely as a subset of current affairs, but observes it as something interesting for its own sake. Over the next six weeks, archaeologist Roberta Gilchrist and historian David Anderson join John Slater to look at how interpretations of history change, focusing on issues such as the 17th-century witch-burning craze.

Other means of exploring the past are one of the themes of A Short History of Time (6pm R2), a free-form compilation of bits and bobs relating to time machines, timepieces, Time Lords and other time-related things, held together by Jon Pertwee.

SUNDAY

Station Island, also known as St Patrick's Purgatory, which sits in Lough Derg, Donegal, has for centuries been a place of pilgrimage. Seamus Heaney's poem Station Island (5.45pm R3), which the Nobel laureate introduces and reads this afternoon, is an account of a visit to the island by a young poet, drawing parallels between the vocations of the poet and the pilgrim.

MONDAY

Two grim entertainments (we're using "entertainment" in the Graham Greene sense here): Shelagh Stephenson's Monday Play, Five Kinds of Silence (7.45pm R4), based on a real-life murder case, tells the story of two daughters (Lesley Sharp and Julia Ford) driven by years of insane discipline and sexual abuse to kill their father. Tom Courtenay is perversely sympathetic as the father; the bleak material is handled with intelligence and energy.

Later, The Forgotten Disaster (9.35pm R5) recalls the calamity at Burnden Park on 9 March 1946, when 33 spectators died in the crush during an FA Cup match between Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City.

TUESDAY

Aspects of colonialism are explored in two programmes: Passage to the Promised Land? (9pm R2) looks at the experience of West Indians who have settled in Britain in the last 50 years. Heading in the opposite direction, Night Waves (10.45pm R3) uses a new exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery as the starting-point for a discussion of Dr Livingstone and the mythology of empire.

WEDNESDAY

Having previously told the story of Scotland's only blues bagpiper, Sydney Anglo uncovers another forgotten corner of jazz history in Great Spy, Lousy Tapdancer (8.20pm R3). Heinzie Doppeldrek led a small combo broadcasting morale-boosting concerts to German troops during the Second World War. Initial contempt among Allied monitors for his apparently incompetent tap-dancing turned to amazement when they realised that he was tapping out coded messages about German tactics. Yeah, and if you'll believe that...

THURSDAY

Forget the tiger economies: according to this week's Soundtrack (7.20pm R4), the smart money is following the bear. In "Bucks in the USSR", Imogen Edwards-Jones meets the expatriate moneymen who have gone to Russia to make a killing in what is potentially one of the world's richest economies. As always, listening to unconstrained capitalism makes you wonder whether socialism doesn't have a few things going for it.

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