Of Alfred Hitchcock's movies, few have been as discussed and disseminated as Vertigo (Pearl, 9.30pm). The story of an acrophobic former detective's obsession with the woman he is hired to follow, is believed to most reflect the director's complex personality, particular his relationship with, and regard for, women. Hitchcock's clear desire to make over women (let's face it, nearly all of his heroines were created in the same mould) is embodied in James Stewart's obsessive character (thought to most match Hitchcock's) and his role in the plot (which, for once, I shan't give away); the traditional Hitchcock woman (a cool blonde whose whorish side is hidden beneath a sophisticated exterior) is clear in Kim Novak. In fact, Novak replaced actress Vera Miles, who had appeared in Hitchcock's The Wrong Man. He had hoped to make a star of her through Vertigo, but when she married and became pregnant she was no longer made of the same malleable play dough. ('I lost interest. I couldn't get the same rhythm going with her again,' he said. Though he did cast her in Psycho as Janet Leigh's sister.) But while the labyrinthine plot and personalities in Vertigo make it one of Hitchcock's most complex and stimulating, the haunting photography makes it one of the most gripping visually. The way the dizzying sensation of vertigo is created - the camera work known as the 'dolly-out, zoom-in shot', a technique which was then a first - has meant my acrophobic father has never been able to sit through the entire film. Despite being nearly 40 years old, the film suffers little from age, nor from repeat viewing. Even more than most of the master's movies, it benefits from repeat viewing. There's little competition over on ATV with Steven Spielberg's 1941 (World, 9.40pm), a comedy about the panic in LA after the attack on Pearl Harbour, which relies on the 'bigger-is-funnier' school of film-making for laughs rather than a taut script. Though it stars some experienced comic actors, Dan Aykroyd, John Belushi and Christopher Lee, who perform in a number of valuable vignettes, they are overwhelmed by the large picture, which tends to swallow them up. I shall continue to watch regularly but I do wonder how daft Chicago Hope (World, 8.40pm) will get. The problem with so many such dramas is the producers tend to forget what made them popular in the first place. Hospital-based series, such as the superior ER and Britain's Casualty, thrive on the tension of the workplace, on the pace of action, on the trauma, just as legal dramas need tense courtroom scenes. Look at LA Law. It started out with battles in court and boardroom and ended up with battles in bed. Tonight, in Chicago Hope, three armed Peruvian guards accompany an Indiana Jones-type anthropologist and a huge metal box into the ER admitting area. It is, as you might expect, a mummy that Grad applied to perform virological tests on. By World War I, Britain had established the largest empire in history, ruling (can you believe) one quarter of the world's population. After World War II, the colonies were awakening to a weakening protector and began seeking independence. Dozens of colonies severed ties with the empire; others fought for and won self-government. Only Hong Kong retained the status quo. The second part of Hong Kong: End Of An Era (Pearl, 8pm) asks why. Have the British been selfish or is it because Hong Kong people failed to fight for their own rights? The show juxtaposes the situation here with those in Malaysia and Gibraltar.