Isolation diary: Watching TV

I don’t usually view TV during the day, apart from the rolling news, and that hasn’t changed since we have been in isolation. We don’t watch any news, on any media, after 7pm and by 8pm we are ready to sit on the sofa and relax with light entertainment.

Having been brought up on the Radio Times I do like the the weekly rhythm of watching my favourite programmes as they are broadcast.

So that means Would I Lie To You on Mondays. I don’t care how many repeats I watch, the inspired combination of Lee Mack, David Mitchell and Rob Brydon is guaranteed to keep me laughing throughout.

Then we always enjoy The Great Celebrity Bake Off on Tuesdays in aid of StandUp4Cancer. Once they had worked though this year’s episodes, Channel 4 started showing repeats. Yesterday’s offering with Lee Mack (again) was priceless.

Wednesdays bring us the The Repair Shop on BBC1. This was a show my husband had spotted when it was in the early evening slot and it well deserved being promoted to prime time. It combines gentle family stories with the real skill and artistry of the craftspeople who repair much loved objects.

On Thursdays we abandon broadcast TV for the weekly National Theatre at Home offering. This week it will be Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in Antony and Cleopatra. These productions were all originally shown live from the National for event cinema, and are now made available for one week only on YouTube.

On Fridays we look forward to BBC1’s Have I Got News For You, which has now found its form again having floundered a bit with the unfamiliar technology during the early weeks of lockdown.

Around these fixed features we weave box sets. At the moment we are halfway through Normal People, which is a delight. Before that Alex Garland’s Devs kept us intrigued. And I am following Dynamo: Beyond Belief for its mindbending illusions. At the weekend we often watch full-length films on Netflix.

The only soap I follow is The Archers. Ambridge is, famously, the only place in the UK which is not in lockdown. The pub is open, couples meet, split up and get back together again, a wedding is being planned – at least it was until the end of last week when the recorded episodes finally ran out. One long running storyline was finally resolved just in time, but another one, on the serious issue of modern slavery, has been left hanging. Scripts have been hastily rewritten so they could be recorded under lockdown, and we can expect rather too many monologues when we finally get to hear them at the end of the month. In the meantime we are being treated to key episodes from the archives.

I have left the best to last – Gogglebox on Friday evenings on Channel 4, the perfect format for lockdown. It has carried on exactly as before. Jenny and Lee, Phil and Sophie, Mary and Giles, the Malones with their cakes and rottweilers, are all still pontificating on TV programmes and the world in general.  My ultimate episode would be one in which they are filmed watching themselves – on Gogglebox.



Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames, where she is still very active with the local party, and is the Hon President of Kingston Lib Dems.

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  • R A Underhill 7th May '20 - 8:15am

    The biggest party ever was on VE Day. Two days actually. Access to colour film was crucial. Some employees of Kodak had some.
    PM Winston Spencer Churchill made the announcement from Downing Street.
    The terms were “unconditional surrender”.
    I have seen the film about the legless Douglas Bader
    which I must have seen before because I remember the scene where he throws a group of files into a waste-bin, unread. He never wanted a ‘ground job’, despite his disability, for which there was no provision in Kings Regulations. He was shot down over France and became a prisoner of War. The Germans (not all Nazis) asked for a replacement leg, which the RAF provided during a bombing raid, leading to multiple escape attempts.
    I saw the end of a film about General Rommel, in which a subordinate asks whether he was being posted to the Eastern Front. He had been part of a plot to assassinate Hitler and was at risk of a trial under Nazi standards of justice. The plotters had assumed that their bomb would succeed and had planned for governing after the death of the Fuhrer, implicating large numbers of people who had not been involved, but were considered as competent for subsequent government.

  • R A Underhill 7th May '20 - 8:39am

    I also saw a film about a double agent, (there was only one) often suspected, but usually failing in practice. He was a British criminal facing 20 years in prison who escaped to the Channel Isles (occupied by Germany) and told the Germans that he wanted to work for them. They eventually awarded him the Iron Cross and gave him money and several expensive goods, including a yacht which he used in Norway. He fell in love with a blonde member of the Norwegian resistance. They took numerous photos of people coming and going at a “safe house”. After the war she assumed he was dead, he married someone else and returned to his pre-war life-style, including doping dog races.
    Bletchley Park had intercepted his communications and followed the story avidly. The Germans had parachuted him into East Anglia with instructions to sabotage an aircraft factory, which was faked so that it would appear credible by aerial reconnaissance, which it did.

  • R A Underhill 7th May '20 - 10:34am

    Today my wife has received an unexpected parcel from the government. It contains one loaf of sliced white bread, one tin of instant coffee, a packet of Typhoo tea and two litres of semi-skilled milk.
    There are tins of meatballs in tomato sauce. We do not have a dog.
    There are also 30 ml sachets of shampoo, two toilet rolls and 20 gm of vegetable soap.
    She is over 70 and wants the sender/s to know that they should have considered this help a long time ago. The van driver drove away before we had time to say that we did not need another.
    The website for the government knows our postcode.
    The website for the county council is not user-friendly.

  • R A Underhill 7th May '20 - 10:48am

    The unexpected parcel from the government contained instructions for frozen food, although none was included.

  • Yeovil Yokel 7th May '20 - 11:11am

    “There are tins of meatballs in tomato sauce. We do not have a dog”. I don’t know if you meant that as a deliberate witticism, R. A. Underhill, but when I read that I spat hot tea over my keyboard. Nice one.

    It sounds like you’re both POW’s receiving Red Cross food parcels – any plans to tunnel your way out of the lockdown?

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