PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 February, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 February, 2001, 12:00am

New Killer Diseases

World, 10pm

Just because we are in the 21st century and medical science has progressed to a point where a cure has been found for most known diseases, it does not mean we are no longer threatened by new plagues. Gloomy and morbid this documentary may sound, it does raise a valid point: we are living in a world of Aids and the Ebola virus and about 1,500 people will die from infectious diseases during the time it takes to watch this programme. According to this production by Britain's Channel 5, 30 new infectious viruses have been discovered since 1973, including the biggest scourge of all: the Aids virus, which is passed through sexual contact, blood transfusion and intravenous drug use. Thought to have been initially transmitted by animals, it has so far killed 16 million people. And older diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza are still claiming millions of lives each year. Globalisation has made the world smaller but also increased the risk of infection decimating populations. And if science doesn't find a way to control the new super-viruses, the next may be the last. A thought-provoking programme not for the faint-hearted.


Pearl, 8.30pm

Tonight's episode of Superhuman, like the programme above, also deals with infectious diseases, in a world where existing antibiotics no longer work. Here, it is suggested the future may lie in deliberately infecting patients with viruses that seek out and kill particular bacteria - thus turning killers into cures. One segment of the programme follows a three-year-old girl infected with chicken pox. When she is running a high temperature, her body is apparently 'turning up the heat' to combat the virus. Although it causes discomfort for the child, the raised temperature is actually helping rid her body of infection.


Pearl, 9.30pm

How funny you find this 'thriller comedy' depends on how dark your sense of humour is - after all the executive producer is Quentin Tarantino of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction fame. Angela Jones (the cab driver in Pulp Fiction) plays a woman who is obsessed with violent crimes and has the morbid job with the post-forensic Cleaning Service. Her obsession with gore is the story's sole motivating force, yet we're never led to understand it. It's just a gimmick. Also starring William Baldwin (above with Jones )(1996).


Discovery, 7pm

This informative (if not scary) series on air travel (remember previous episodes on air rage and the risks associated with flying?) continues with tonight's show taking a look at the '21st Century Airliner'. It's bigger, it's better and it zooms through the sky carrying 300 passengers. The Boeing 777 is an aircraft that has three million parts, all apparently functioning in perfect harmony. Travellers have more room and their own personal television monitors, and can relax in seats that recline to a complete horizontal position. What's more, this hi-tech machine can fly without a pilot while overhead compartments and washroom doors shut without a sound. One wonders whether the programme will mention just how much passengers will be charged to fly in one.