What to watch in lockdown: real-life edition

Clair Woodward
4 min readOct 14, 2020
Photo by Sukhveer Hans on Unsplash

The three of you who HAVE read War and Peace, or caught up on all those Best Foreign Film Oscar-winners in lockdown can bugger off now. I meant to, too, but being an unemployed arts and entertainments editor does frazzle the brain somewhat, and not having to watch anything for work has meant that I’ve somewhat found my natural level in the things I have watched, read or listened to.

I’ve happily ignored any of those lists of those things that you “should be” partaking in, as they’re mostly just what’s new, and what SEO says will get hits (#EnolaHolmes, #Fleabag). I sit on the sofa and graze on nonsense as I am too old to care about other’s opinions as I have confidence in my own. And I don’t think Schitt’s Creek is all that. Don’t @ me.

So here’s MY list of what you should be enjoying if my pin-up boy Sir Keir gets his way and we get our circuit breaker lockdown soon.

Programmes about Nazis. I think I must have seen most of them, especially if they’ve got Guy Walters on, or are on the Yesterday Channel (or The Hitler Channel as I call it). The World At War also; someone should interview Jeremy Isaacs as he’s still around.

Chris Neill’s Woof. Easily the funniest, most companionable radio show of the moment. Chris is my friend, and once you’ve listened to the shows, he’ll be yours, too.

The Why Factor on the BBC World Service. Brilliant concept; answers the questions you idly ask yourself , like why do we text instead of talk, why do we enjoy the misfortunes of others? (The latter I really like)

Call My Agent! — the BEST THING on Netflix (left). Just watch it, new series dropping soon. Other things on the service I’ve liked are The Kominsky Method, A Fortunate Man, Dead To Me, The Devil’s Mistress, A Royal Affair and Bonfire of Destiny.

Hoarding: Buried Alive on Quest Red. Genuinely jaw-dropping TV.

Discovering….on Sky Arts. Clearly programmes made by the yard with a panel of better-than-average talking heads, that are a nice potted biography of big movie stars from the Golden Age.

Woody Woodmansey’s Spider From Mars. Of course, Bowie and that, but a proper muso book with a big heart.

David Myhr’s Lucky Day. ChangesNowBowie.

Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares USA. It is not necessary that I watch it, as I’ve already seen every episode at least twice (I hate conflict but I like watching other people have arguments). I put it on this list because it’s absolutely unavoidable on Channel 4 and its sister channels. The series began 16 years ago, and judging by this site, most of the restaurants are closed. Some of the participants are probably dead. This must be the most repeated series on TV.

Those funny little channels that are on Freeview or the Amazon Fire Stick. Things like Plex TV, which had a great documentary on it which has now disappeared — but it’s got some OK dramas and docs. Best is the largely unloved drama River, which I thought was great.

Charles Paris, played by both Francis Matthews and Bill Nighy. Sheer joy — and the older ones are not politically correct, and a bit more sexy. Compare and contrast, kids.

The free bit of the BFI player. The best rabbit hole to go down . The BBC iPlayer’s From The Archive section is great, but it needs a refresh for those of us who have seen most of it. I still can’t get enough of Civilisation and have learned loads from Kenneth Clark, who is so refreshingly unpatronising.

Sarah Water’s The Paying Guests. Never have I inhabited a book so fully. I felt I was living in that claustrophobic house in south London.

Great Lives on Radio 4. A library of educative biography.

Adverts aimed at the mature community. Apparently, we’re always popping in and out of each other’s houses, discussing insurance plans for our funerals, or taking out equity release plans. That’s when we’re not giving money to donkey sanctuaries, or needing Lord Botham to help with our creaky knees.

And this.



Clair Woodward

Journalist, editor. Writes about arts, entertainment, life. Follow and commission me — Twitter @clairywoowoo