Chiefly words

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 December, 1999, 12:00am

Tonight's Pearl Report (8pm) inspires as much confidence as is possible in the circumstances. The current affairs programme has been following the major services as they complete their millennium-bug drills, and producer Patricia Lai feels reasonably confident that the roll-over to 2000 can happen without a major hitch.

During the past few weeks she has been witnessing tests carried out by the police, Airport Authority, Civil Aviation Department, MTR and CLP Power. She also reports on preparations carried out earlier by the Hospital Authority.

But though there is reason for confidence, no one interviewed is 100 per cent sure that the bug will not strike, with the hours that lie ahead being an uncharted experience for computer technology.

As a result, 14,000 police officers will be on duty to not only control crowds but deal with any Y2K emergencies. There are other contingency plans in place if things go wrong, but they will not be divulged until any crisis strikes.

Earlier this month the Pearl Report noted Tung Chee-hwa's increasing remoteness from the media and the people. Producer Claire Penketh has since been surprised that he does still occasionally accept interview invitations. In part two of the programme, the Chief Executive is among those offering predictions and wishes for the new millennium. It is the least we can expect of our leader.

His thoughts are, not surprisingly, optimistic while Emily Lau Wai-hing is predictably negative. More original may be the views of film-maker Fruit Chan, fashion designer Barney Cheng, and the children from the KELY support group.

One thing certain is that life will go on as usual for the likes of the wallowing, bubble-blowing Ludwig. Natural history programmes, like any television, need subjects with real character, pleasant or unpleasant, to hold our attention. Man's Heritage: Africa's Hog Heaven (Pearl, 8.30pm) has it aplenty in Ludwig the piglet.

For many viewers, this will be the first they have heard of the largest cousin of the domestic pig, Ludwig's father weighing in at a mighty 230 kilograms.

The family lives in the wildlife haven of Kazinga in Uganda, which the giant forest hogs share with the Uganda kob - an unusual antelope - lions, elephants, hippos and buffalos. Like many African wildlife programmes, this follows them through the yearly cycle of rain, drought and procreation.

Britain, which boasted the great designers of the early Industrial Revolution, cannot yet be written off as a force in more modern design, as illustrated in Designers For The World (World, 8pm). Among works to be admired are those of Julian Brown, who designed a particularly colourful soft-drink can compressor.

Several leading Japanese, European and American companies are also relying on British designers, for instance for Minolta cameras, Volvo cars, and Apple computers. The spirits of George Stephenson, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Josiah Wedgwood may still live on, after all.