THIS week marks the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War, which is being honoured and remembered with a series of programmes reflecting the then and now.
The BBC’s four-year commemoration of the conflict has so far been nothing short of impressive, bringing to life the reality of fighting at the front and its impact on those at home with little-known or long-forgotten facets of the struggle which involved all levels of society -- whether it was the vital part played by women in the war effort, or how the railways coped with the challenges of transporting thousands of troops to the frontline.
Monday’s anniversary coverage started at Glasgow Cathedral with the Prince of Wales honouring the contribution of Commonwealth servicemen while later in the day younger royals -- the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry -- attended a ceremony of remembrance at a Belgian military cemetery. Later in the evening Westminster Abbey became the focus of a candle dimming service -- a reference to the oft-quoted remark by Sir Edward Grey, who was Foreign Secretary from 1905 to 1916, that the lights were going out all over Europe.
Fast forward 100 years and death and destruction is still around, although anyone watching TV would think they were in a different world where battle is usually played from a podium watched over by a selected audience and a battery of TV cameras.
This backdrop lends itself effortlessly to ‘Child Genius’ (Sunday, Channel 4) as gifted youngsters undergo Mensa-style tests, which give a quick boot-up to the IQ during Sunday evening viewing when most of us are dumbing down for the week ahead.
The questions, let alone the alone answers, elude me, but not the enduring image of 10-year-old piano prodigy Curtis ( who has already completed the first year of a university course) being driven to school by Mum while he sits in the back of her car eating a plate of baked beans off a plate with a knife and fork. I thought I had seen everything on the school run, but this one took the cake.
And there’s plenty of that for the next 10 weeks as the heat gets turned up in the fifth series of ‘The Great British Bake Off,’ which makes its BBC1 debut tonight after moving over from BBC2,
As before, the smiley duo Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins jolly things along as the lucky 12 contestants -- chosen from 16,000 applicants -- try to steer clear of soggy bottoms and sunken middles to impress cake queen Mary Berry and star baker Paul Hollywood to stay in the kitchen.
And for desserts there’s another course on the menu on Friday when Jo Brand hosts ‘The Great British Bake Off: an Extra Slice’ (BBC2) as she and three celebrity fans discuss each week’s episode, as well as mulling over unseen footage from the show.