| 11.9°C Belfast

Lindy McDowell

Cooking, quizzes and the private life of pigs: Coronavirus lockdown TV is a complete turnoff

Lindy McDowell


James Martin

James Martin

Bradley Walsh

Bradley Walsh

Another ‘B’ move: Boris is stuck is his own bubble

Another ‘B’ move: Boris is stuck is his own bubble


James Martin

Television. Of all the resources you might have assumed would be there for us in these our days of lockdown and going up the walls, television should have been high on the list.

Sadly, no. Our old oblong-faced friend in the corner has let us down badly.

With a genuinely captive audience, TV (or rather the people in charge of scheduling) seems to have assumed that what we're looking for are countless, endless shows about how you can make meals from "storage cupboard ingredients" ie things that nobody normal has ever had in their cupboards. Ever.

Why do they think we need this? Shops are open, Deliveroo is operational so who needs to know how you can make a cheese omelette without the eggs and the cheese when you can just order in a pizza?

I can't speak for the entire viewing public but I think it's fair to say we've now had more than our fill of James Smug Martin, Jamie Patronising Oliver and Paul Hollywood, a man who oozes self-love like a Victoria Sponge leaking its cream filling.

Also quiz shows...

Here's the question Bradley Walsh should be asking - why do TV bosses think we're so utterly, ravenously obsessed with quiz shows?

The Chase, The Family Chase, Celebrity Chase, Beat The Chasers (I'm just surprised that in the current food-obsessed schedules they haven't thought of Eat The Chasers) and all those other multiple choice options.

Pointless, Celebrity Pointless, pointless Pointless. It's too much. It's not Tenable. It's reached Tipping Point.

Switch on at prime time and what you want in these bleak days is televisual escapism. Relief from dire reality and coronavirus Q&A specials.

And what do you get?

The Private Life of Pigs.

Okay, this was on BBC 4 not necessarily known for tacky frivolity. Even so. The Private Life of Pigs!

Seriously? Do pigs even have private lives? Isn't there an issue about invading porcine privacy?

What happened to what happens in the sty should stay in the sty?

But no excuse for the rest of us to live like pigs. We can be sewing, crafting, fixing. Keep Crafting and Carry On with Kirstie. Blue Peter for bored (very bored) adults.

Your Home Made Perfect. And all that other great stuff ... The Great British Sewing Bee, The Great British Menu, The Great Celebrity Bake Off.

It's not great is it?

Stuck within four walls with our dearest and (unavoidably) nearest what might help is a little less information, a little more diversion.

This is not about ignoring or underplaying the awfulness of what's been happening in the country but people really do need a bit of respite.

A wee bit of uplift. And no, Channel 5, enlightening as it well might be, Sewermen is not what immediately springs to mind.

Fly-on-the-wall we can take; fly on the sewage pipe, not so much.


Bradley Walsh

Bradley Walsh

Bradley Walsh

Television's problem is a drama dearth. One that's unlikely to be resolved any time soon since Covid has put the cosh on filming. But come on, there must be something gathering dust in the archives that would cheer us up a bit.

There are a few new shows - of dubious quality.

Van Der Valk has returned. This was a cop show from years ago featuring Dutch detective Commissaris Piet Van Der Valk who, conveniently for viewers, conducted his business entirely in English albeit with a Dutch accent to signal that he was, well, Dutch.

The new Van is played by Marc Warren who is a fine actor but in this show has a very English accent. As have the rest of the cast. Why they bothered to set it in Amsterdam I've no idea.

I like the put down from one TV critic: "If this is a success Marc Warren's a Dutchman."

But at least that's entertainment. It's fiction. Drama. Escape from reality.

And if ever there was a time we needed an escape from reality...

Bizarrely TV's response to this demand is an overdose of worthiness, recipes, wall-to-wall quizzes and intrusive insight into the confidential affairs of Mr Porker.

We need an escape from TV.

Even a balaclava can’t mask this problem

Headline of the week - Stormont to Discuss the Wearing of Masks. No. Not those ones.

We're talking PPE which, outside of making your own, may be tricky enough to get your hands on. Unlike paramilitaries who could just cut the sleeve of a jumper and make two eyeholes, a medical mask requires some skill to fashion.

I tried to order some online. The order was accepted. Delivery date? (They informed me of this after I'd paid) Late July...

Aisle games make me supermarket weep

A further irritation of social-distancing. Supermarket tail-gating. I'm in an aisle with my trolley squinting at produce trying to work out sell-by dates without touching stuff when I spot another shopper standing two metres behind.

I move a couple of feet. She moves a couple of feet. I move a bit more. She moves a bit more. She's glaring like I'm holding her up. Why won't she just pass on the outside? There's room. Am I supposed to walk the length of the aisle to let her past? We need rules about this sort of thing.

The Boris Bubble has me all in a lather

As we know Boris Johnson is a great man for a bit of alliteration. Boris bikes, Boris buses and now, this week, the Boris bouncing baby boy.

True, his proposed billion-pound Boris bridge 'twixt here and Scotland across Beaufort Dyke's - depositary for dumped Second World War munitions and radioactive waste - is presumably on the long finger now that the Government has more down-to-earth funding priorities.


Another ‘B’ move: Boris is stuck is his own bubble

Another ‘B’ move: Boris is stuck is his own bubble


Another ‘B’ move: Boris is stuck is his own bubble

But then, this week, talk surfaces of yet another B - the Boris Bubble.

The idea, as far as I can work out anyway, is that as lockdown restrictions are relaxed a little we will be allowed to socialise with up to 10 friends in a "bubble".

I say "as far as I can work out" because I'm not sure how or even if this will work.

For a start there's the obvious question of who one has in one's bubble.

A bit like a wedding invitation list it's not so much who you'll ask as who you'll dare to leave out.

And how do you police this, Boris? If I have nine bubble friends around one night what's to stop me having a different nine round the next? Is there going to be a bubble registration process?

Presumably Boris will be relying on the honesty and public-spiritedness of the bubble participants to ensure they don't take advantage.

But even if people play by the rules there has to be a danger of bubble cross-infection.

If everybody has their own bubble - thereby widening the chances of encountering a carrier - surely this increases the chances of everybody getting smit.

And then we're all in soapy bubble.

Belfast Telegraph