World Cup and 24 in red button face-off

Pimp my TV programme

Geek TV What's bigger than Tom Cruise's ego and scarier than Gillian McKeith on X Factor: Battle of the Stars? Your Summer 2006 TV To-Do list.

There's Doctor Who to watch, Lost to watch, Big Brother to watch and pretend you don't, McKeith to peer at over your bleeding knuckles, 24 to watch, and some unavoidable men playing football. In fact, it'll be such a busy summer you're going to die of it.

"People are suffering schedule stress," warns psychologist Harry Witchel, who tested his theory by sticking electrodes into Lost fans and forcing them to miss an episode, the big bastard. The results, says Harry, were "dramatically stressful".

Here's a new ailment for Harry to study: format stress. It's bad enough that we might not get our Sky HD box in time for the Beeb's World Cup coverage. Now the sports geeks among us have to decide whether to watch it on the pub's big screen, or stay at home and play with our red buttons.

C4 boss Andy Duncan recently dismissed interactive TV as "clunky" - hence no interactive Big Brother this year - but that little button will be every football obsessive's best friend for the next few weeks. The BBC's interactive applications include assorted commentaries, switching between live games and a forum for your "messages" (translation: sweary death threats to the ref), and both BBC and ITV offer live stats, results, fixtures and news.

Oh yeah, and Sky has pimped 24 so you don't bugger off and watch the football. Jack Bauer addicts can now select an alternative start time for their Sunday-night fix - but only until the World Cup's finished. Then it's back to 9pm or bust, matey. Unless you've got Sky+.

If schedule/format stress leaves you wanting to pull heads off puppies, click here to singalonga Lordi and release your tension. Finland's rubbish Wizzard tribute was only in Eurovision by accident, you know. He'd been lined up for Doctor Who, but went off in a huff when the Cybermen got top billing.

Five to watch this week:

Saturday 27 May: The Science of Star Wars, Discovery Science, 6pm
Discovery shoves together its three recent docs about the robots, weapons and hot rods of Star Wars for a Saturday-night triple bill.

Sunday 28 May: Top Gear, BBC2, 8pm
It's only right and proper that Philip Glenister, aka Cortina-abusing DCI "Driving School" Hunt from Life On Mars, is this week's celebrity racer. Asked about series two of Life On Mars, Glenister says: "It's basically sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll." And Cortinas.

Sunday 28 May: 24, Sky One/Sky One HD, 9pm
Why don't they get Jack Bauer to advertise Pro-Plus? Winning combination.

Monday 29 May: Inside Spontaneous Human Combustion, Sky One/Sky One HD, 10pm
High-def look at people who go up in smoke from the inside. There was an ace QED doc on this years ago; read about it here.

Wednesday 31 May: How England Won the World Cup, Five, 8pm
In which Sven is strapped into a chair and forced to watch a mathematical analysis of Alf Ramsay's 4-3-3 formation. Legal note: The bit about Sven and the chair only happens inside our heads. ®

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