Channel hop

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 March, 2011, 12:00am

As the effects of Japan's natural and nuclear disasters continue to unfold, it is heartening to see that help is forthcoming from Hong Kong; some of us have opened our homes to family and friends from the affected region and many retailers are raising relief funds.

Taking a retrospective view, the earthquake that rattled Shenzhen and Hong Kong in November now appears more menacing than its 2.8-magnitude rating suggested, and it's hard not to ask yourself, 'How would I cope in the circumstances?'

How to Survive a Disaster (right; TVB Pearl; Tuesday at 9.30pm) provides helpful ideas on escaping fires, floods, crashes and any number of man-made or natural disasters. It seems reasonable to consider strategies now, says one safety expert, because 'in the event of an emergency situation, you need to do things right the first time'.

What we like about this Horizon programme is its pragmatic and simple approach. You won't find alarmists spewing accident or disaster statistics, nor hardened survivalists talking about digging ditches or hoarding water. Interviewed are ordinary people who have survived extraordinary events, who focus on what they could remember doing right that helped them get to safety.

The programme argues that chaotic and threatening circumstances notwithstanding, the greatest danger a would-be survivor faces usually comes from him or herself. To find out how reactions to peer pressure and friendly fire syndrome can lower survival chances, and how time distortion and tunnel vision can raise them, tune in for this timely tutorial.

The formidable forces of nature inspire awe as readily as they wreak havoc. As we gear up to pay respects to the third rock from the sun for Earth Day and Earth Hour, there's a chance to revisit a couple of award-winning nature documentaries, airing back-to-back on BBC Knowledge. Planet Earth (Thursdays at 9.05pm) and Wild China (Thursdays at 10pm) represent the best of today's nature cinematography, from panoramic to micro view, painstakingly collected, edited and spun into a breathtaking visual display of Earth's extremities.

Wild China, in particular, illustrates the symbiosis that exists between humanity and Mother Nature through studies of tribal and farming life in the Li River region and the hills of Guilin, Shangri-La, Tibet, along the borders of the Great Wall, and, in the final episode, coastal southern China, within which Hong Kong and its water fowl, the black-faced spoonbill, make an appearance.

Finally, Crime & Justice season on BBC Entertainment concludes with Criminal Justice (Sundays at 9pm). The dark, five-part drama delves into a world of control and desperation. Joe (Matthew Macfadyen; Pride and Prejudice, Spooks) is a successful London barrister, husband to frail housewife Juliet (Maxine Peake; Shameless) and father to 12-year-old Ella. The image of domestic bliss unravels when Joe's suspicion of Juliet causes her to melt down and lash out, with terrible consequences. Throughout her ordeal with the law and social services, Juliet's apparent psychosis and trauma undermine the validity of her story, as both aggressor and victim. If you are looking for a subtle psychological portrait of a damaged family, look no further.