Saturday, 7.30pm, BBC Knowledge This is a travelogue about the Gulag archipelago, as British comedians Ed Byrne and Andy Parsons drive the ‘‘ road of bones’’ across Siberia. It was built by Joseph Stalin’s slave labourers, a million of whom died of disease and starvation, cold and exhaustion. Their bodies were left to form part of the road’s substratum. The stuff of stand-up this is not. The pair visit long-abandoned camps where the road gangs subsisted — lived is too generous a description — and they pass through towns abandoned when the heating failed, the external pipe network froze and thousands had to flee. It all adds to the impact of Byrne and Parsons’s drive across the toughest, coldest country in Siberia in a 15-year-old Nissan Safari. (The manufacturer should be pleased — the four-wheel-drive did not miss a beat). Even though the pair were not as alone as presented (who was filming them dig themselves out of snowdrifts, hmm?) it is clear the cold of this country quickly kills, that drivers die when engines fail or vehicles are bogged. And a back-up crew does not diminish the danger of narrow mountain roads, nil visibility in snowstorms and confronting enormous vehicles beyond stopping as they glide over the ice. Byrne and Parsons appear sensible, sober blokes who know when it is no time for jokes, awed by the landscape and the fate of the people who trod their road before. to chronicle the lives of parents as their children grow up, and childless men and women who wonder what they are missing. They talk, and dance, about their expectations and experiences and how the latter do not live up to the former.You don’t need to know anything about dance to appreciate the scenes from life the performers present — an anguished father failing to cope with a troublesome child, a young couple tentatively exploring sex. But it is the monologues they interpret, read offstage, that make the piece. They are the sorts of conversations we have all been part of, but stripped to the essence and interpreted by the dancers they are confronting far more than comforting. This is no idealised version of family life, or its absence. A father laments the way children’s experiences are over-analysed, ‘‘ SWAT analysis in Grade One.’’ A woman talks of yearning for motherhood: ‘‘ At 30 you are looking for the perfect man, at 35 you’re looking for a man and by 40 you want a child and you don’t care about the man.’’ A mother, upset and angry, lectures her pregnant teenage daughter: ‘‘ Stretchmarks are a badge of honour.’’ And a dad talks about the challenges and demands of an autistic son. There is nothing ordinary about these ordinary lives. where communities wade in to slaughter these ‘‘ intelligent social animals’’, for food, they say. Not if Paul Watson and his sea shepherds, who hate the idea of hunting these whales, have anything to do with it, but pilot whales are not an endangered species and the locals hate the idea of being bossed about. This episode sets up a confrontation, a replay of a stand-off in 1986. This time antiwhaling activist Watson is intent on tactics that avoid outright fights. The sea shepherds deploy sonar buoys that confuse the whales and stop them finding shallow waters. Watson’s command ship, the Steve Irwin, is equipped with a helicopter and ultralight aircraft as well as fast rubber duckies for close contact with opponents. He also commands an ocean-going trimaran for quick response, named for long-time supporter Brigitte Bardot. But his highly committed international crew (I heard three Australian accents) is probably his greatest asset. The program gives the locals a chance to make their case (who was the woman with the Australian accent who wants Watson to leave the locals alone?), but it seems certain later episodes will focus on direct conflict. Watson’s motto, ‘‘ Justice takes precedence over the law’’, does not provide much room for compromise and the people of the Faroe Islands just want him gone.