What’s On?

What’s on the telly tonight? Good news, you can avoid Covid Crisis and indulge in Covid Comfort. Whether you need relaxation or intellectual stimulation, television can help.

University Challenge is back and I managed to answer quite a few questions, perhaps they are going easy on us in the first round, usually I can’t understand half the questions let alone answer more than three. It is obviously pre-recorded; nobody in a post Covid world is going to sit cosily in teams of four putting their heads together to decide on the answer.

There are many programmes we must enjoy before the pre-recorded stock runs out. Great British Sewing Bee is fabric fantasy, whether you like making clothes or wearing them. The winner, Clare Bradley, turned out to not only be brilliant at sewing, but is also a hospital respiratory consultant and since her win has been helping to save Covid patients. Could there be a post Covid sewing bee? No one allowed to touch the material or each other’s sewing machines, no hugging and congratulating. But perhaps they could do a glamourous slant on making facemasks and scrubs, as long as they only have one contestant at a time…https://metro.co.uk/2020/06/24/great-british-sewing-bee-2020-declares-winner-intense-finale-

All the cookery programmes will have the same problem in future, no one allowed to taste the food, no one will know what the food smells like with their masks on, no presenters hanging over the cook’s shoulders asking how they are getting on. I have never followed cookery shows as it’s too painful to see all that lovely food that we can’t eat. But in lockdown Cyberspouse has been watching them all. There are two main types of shows. Master chefs compete against each other to create beautiful banquets or delicious deserts that are works of art; pudding porn, perfect creations that are then mercilessly stabbed and rent asunder by the judges, who alone enjoy heavenly melting moments. Then there are the celebrities we have never heard of who can’t cook and are sent on an emotional roller coaster, baking perfect pastry or told they have to cook twenty octopuses ( or is it octopi ) for the guests at a posh hotel.

But some programmes are with us in real time. Nature and gardens brought into our living rooms by presenters on their home patch, alone, no irritating chatting with fellow presenters, giving the viewers their undivided attention. Gardener’s World brings calm and peace on Friday evenings. I know every day is the same as a carer in a pandemic, but I like to pretend it’s the end of the week. Monty Don wanders around his own large garden, with trailing dogs, digging and potting. But my favourite parts are viewers’ home videos, enthusiastically showing us an endless variety of inventive gardens of all shapes and sizes, bringing us all sorts of useful tips – and I thought I was obsessive about saving water… some don’t even have a balcony, let alone a garden; apartments filled with plants so you feel you are in a jungle. One young chap even had endlessly circulating water running down the wall into a fishpond.


Drama has not been forgotten. Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads have been given a new production with a few new tales; monologues are perfect for social distancing and his characters move us as they gradually reveal their often surprising stories. There has also been a good selection of new short plays with actors having equipment delivered to their own homes, presumably with a few instructions. Filming themselves and conveniently often married to other actors, thus providing a cast of two.

Radio has always been a lifeline since our mothers’ and grandmothers’ day for housewives, mothers and anyone at home all day and I’m sure it was for many confined during Covid. Cyberspouse has listened to Woman’s Hour every day and BBC Radio 4 has three serialised books before lunch. But there is one drama that has let me down. I have been listening to the Archers ( the world’s longest running soap? )  on and off since I was in the womb and I thought Ambridge was a real place in a real county, Borsetshire. Imagine my confusion when farming life carried on as usual, The Bull still open for drinkers, while the rest of England was in total lockdown, everyone isolated. No one in Ambridge even mentioned there was a world wide  pandemic. Opinion was divided on Archers Facebook fan pages and among listeners emailing ‘Feedback’, some were glad of the escape from Covid while others like me thought it ridiculous. Eventually they ran out of recorded episodes and there was the first ever break in transmission, followed by a relaunch of a different type of soap. Endless monologues by any actors who knew how to work the recording equipment at home. For the first time, all those characters we love, or love to hate were expressing their own feelings, creepy or what. Soap operas by their nature are written in the third person, we have to wait till a character opens their heart to another character for insights and we like it that way.


For fiction in real time drop in to my Friday Flash Fiction – tiny tales of ordinary folk in a pandemic.

Have your viewing and listening habits changed since the pandemic? What have your Covid comforts been?

20 thoughts on “What’s On?

  1. TV didn’t come to Australia until 1956 and was unaffordable to most for years after that but I remember our family sitting around watching the radio. 😉 Ah, memories of Dossier on Demetrius, The Green Door, Hopalong Cassidy, our own Smoky Dawson, our own country-based serial Blue Hills (ran for 27 years and no-one was allowed to speak when it was on),The Goons etc etc

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Doug, my favourite Australian programme when I was a child was the Amazing Adventures of Ten Town – those children who built their own town and never went to school or saw their parents. When we were emigrating to Australia I thought I would get a pony and be like them!


  2. Don’t know if they soap operas across the pond, but there are some programs during the daytime. My wife was watching one the other day, and there was a couple in bed. I asked my wife about this and she said that they’re substituting with the real-life spouse in some of these scenes because of the virus.

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    1. I don’t follow our TV soap operas, but I think they are having big problems. I love the idea of soap opera stars having to borrow their own partners. At least spouses could not be jealous of who was ‘in bed’ with their beloved!

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  3. I’m a 3rd generation Archers fan (so listened since in the womb too). The monologues aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but I think preferable to repeats. We’ve discovered the Buffy the Vampire Slayer reruns on E4 which we loved first time around. I’ve also subscribed to Netflix and Apple TV+ to get some relief from endless COVID 19 coverage on mainstream TV.

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    1. When my daughter posted a clip to all the family of her baby in his high chair bouncing in excitement to the Archers theme tune I said ‘4th generation Archers’ fan!’ but my son said ‘oh no – I can’t stand that tune! ‘ Sounds as if you have Covid Comfort covered at your home Jackie.

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  4. We watch as little as ever – keep meaning to play Talking Heads, loved the old ones. Have to agree with the Archers nay-sayers – sorry, it just doesn’t work. Can barely be bothered with the Sunday omnibus.

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  5. Like you I was glad to see University Challenge back again. I can only usually answer some of the music questions and maybe a few of the literature ones. Thanks for adding this to ‘Click & Run’.

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