Turn on, tune in, stay home… Event lines up 100 indispensable TV, film, radio, books, games & podcasts to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown
- Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?
Frank Skinner in fabulous form and more riveting Radio shows
1. Cracking castaways, from Hitchcock to Beckham
Over 2,000 Desert Island Disc shows are available online, featuring conversation and the musical choices of great names from sport, science, politics and showbusiness. Take your pick from Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen Hawking to Mary Berry and David Beckham. bbc.co.uk/sounds
2. Just an everyday story…
The Archers has been broadcasting uninterrupted since January 1951. The Ambridge villagers are currently dealing with the aftermath of a devastating explosion at the Grey Gables hotel but the show is always topical, so fans can expect a coronavirus storyline soon. Daily episodes and the Sunday omnibus are available for 30 days after broadcast. bbc.co.uk/sounds
Tim Bentinck, aka David Archer from the long-running radio soap. The Ambridge villagers are currently dealing with the aftermath of a devastating explosion at the Grey Gables hotel but the show is always topical, so fans can expect a coronavirus storyline soon
3. No sport? Oh yes there is
In the absence of any sports fixtures tune in to Radio 5 Live Sport Specials. BBC Sounds has 686 of them available, ranging from an interview with the late Manchester United hero Harry Gregg and a Busby Babe who survived the Munich air disaster, to the current debate over the prospect of women drivers in Formula 1. bbc.co.uk/sounds
4. How to rebuild a shattered world
Sian Williams’s fascinating radio documentary is about mental strength – where it comes from, why it matters and how it can be nurtured to survive personal trauma and rebuild a shattered world. The broadcaster made an academic study of it following her own experience of breast cancer. bbc.co.uk/sounds
5. Find out why Frank Skinner’s an award-winner
Comedian Frank Skinner’s three-hour Saturday morning show on Absolute Radio is condensed into this weekly podcast. Its guest list, humour and chat have earned Skinner a Radio Academy Award and made it the most popular podcast on UK commercial radio. Hundreds of episodes dating back more than a decade are available. planetradio.co.uk
Comedian Frank Skinner’s three-hour Saturday morning show on Absolute Radio is condensed into this weekly podcast
6. The women of rock (and a few men too)
You can’t get to a gig, so listen to Absolute Radio’s music documentaries including: (Not) Just A Girl – about women in rock; You’ve Gotta Roll With It – the history of Nineties Britpop; and Inside Abbey Road, marking the 50th anniversary of the world’s most famous recording studio. Find them in the Podcast section of planetradio.co.uk.
7. Talk on the wild side
Try award-winning presenter and bestselling author James O’Brien’s one-on-one conversations with names such as Ricky Gervais, David Cameron, Prue Leith, Sharon Horgan, Tony Blair and Paloma Faith. More than 40 are available. globalplayer.com
8. Double-0 heaven
The opening of the new Bond movie may be postponed but you can enjoy Toby Stephens as 007 battling it out with international assassin Scaramanga in a Radio 4 production of The Man With The Golden Gun. John Standing is the voice of M, Janie Dee is Moneypenny and Cuban-American star Guillermo Diaz is the baddie. bbc.co.uk/sounds until April 13.
9. An audible education
Melvyn Bragg’s In Our Time has been educating Radio 4 listeners on history, philosophy, religion, culture and science since 1998. Subjects range from the Epic Of Gilgamesh to The Gin Craze to the mathematical problem of P v NP, which, despite its complexity, made the top ten in a listeners’ vote to mark Bragg’s 750th programme in 2017. bbc.co.uk/sounds
10. Tune in to a literary classic
The Mill On The Floss, George Eliot’s novel about miller’s daughter Maggie Tulliver and her brother Tom, encapsulates the themes of desire, betrayal and moral conflict. This ten-part series, narrated by Anna Maxwell Martin, marks the 140th anniversary of the author’s death. It starts on Radio 4 on April 6 and will be available on BBC Sounds for five years after broadcast. bbc.co.uk
Bono, Springsteen and a galaxy of music legends to light up your day
11. 2020’s first great album
If you’ve lost the habit of listening to entire albums, now is the time to recapture it. The first great album of 2020, released in January, was the danceable Hotspot by the Pet Shop Boys. spotify.com, apple.com/uk/music
John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen. Legend sings, his wife’s on the piano (literally!)
12. Don’t miss these two ravishing, soulful treats
In more recent weeks, Nathaniel Rateliff has returned, with the soulful album And It’s Still Alright, and later this week comes the ravishing Revel In The Drama by Ren Harvieu (see review here).spotify.com, apple.com/uk/music
13. Something to calm those troubled waters
The best old-and-new album is the majestic Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, reissued for its 50th anniversary. spotify.com, apple.com/uk/music
14. The Boss in Hyde Park – for 3½ hours!
For an entire evening’s entertainment, tuck in to Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in Hyde Park, London, in 2009. I was there and it was immense. And, Springsteen being Springsteen, it lasted three-and-a-half hours. spotify.com, deezer.com, amazon.co.uk, play.google.com, tidal.com, youtube.com
15. When wonder woman reimagined ‘Imagine’…
If there was a Grammy for the best musical performance of this crisis, it would surely go to the Italians singing on their balconies, putting music to its most vital use, connecting and consoling us. If there were a Grammy for the worst performance, it might go to Gal Gadot, aka Wonder Woman, on Instagram. She somehow persuaded her famous friends to make mincemeat of John Lennon’s Imagine. youtube.com, search for ‘Imagine Gal Gadot’
16. Bono’s new ballad
Bono from U2 responded to this weird new world with a very decent new song, Let Your Love Be Known, a Lennon-ish piano ballad inspired by the singing Italians and uploaded ‘about an hour after it was written’. He has since turned it into a more polished number, now called Sing For Life, featuring will.i.am and Jennifer Hudson. rollingstone.com, search for ‘Sing For Life’
17. Neil’s still a gem at 79
Why write a new song when you can tweak an old one? Neil Diamond, now 79, gave up performing in 2018, following a Parkinson’s diagnosis, but he’s back, sitting by the fire with his golden retriever to deliver a topical version of Sweet Caroline. All together now: ‘hands, washing hands…’ twitter.com/NeilDiamond
The best old-and-new album is the majestic Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, reissued for its 50th anniversary
18. I CAN DO ANYTHING…
There are plenty of interesting covers to go round. Norah Jones turns Guns N’ Roses’ Patience into a rough-edged piano reverie, and it’s lovely (youtube.com, search for ‘Norah Jones Patience’). Marcus Mumford has a crack at You’ll Never Walk Alone: like Bono, he leans towards the Lennon-ish, which makes sense for a song that now belongs to Liverpool (youtube.com, search for ‘Mumford Walk Alone’). Ben Gibbard from Death Cab For Cutie sings a Lennon tune – ‘not Imagine, because that song has suffered enough’, but the piercingly relevant Isolation. nme.com, search for ‘Ben Gibbard Isolation’
19. Legend sings, his wife’s on the piano (literally!)
Working from home? If you’re a pop star, that means streaming a mini-gig from your sitting room. Brian Wilson has done one, and so has Coldplay’s Chris Martin, but the best I’ve seen is by John Legend, who opens with the great Stevie Wonder song Love’s In Need Of Love Today. Legend’s wife, Chrissy Teigen, joins him on the piano – sitting on top of it, wearing a towel, as you do. On Legend’s Instagram, @johnlegend
20. We’ll meet again – you decide where and when
Britain’s oldest pop star has just turned 103. For her birthday, Vera Lynn released a short new video of We’ll Meet Again. She knows that better than anyone, having lived through the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918-19. youtube.com, search for ‘We’ll Meet Again 103’
Tim de Lisle
Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop and nine more perfect podcasts
21. Footie chat with the game’s lankiest player
With the sporting world at a standstill, now’s the moment to soak up That Peter Crouch Podcast, a brilliantly laddy and cheerful show. He and two co-presenters intersperse football chat with jokes and insights into the sport, covering everything from what happens at half-time to the transfers season.
With the sporting world at a standstill, now’s the moment to soak up That Peter Crouch Podcast , a brilliantly laddy and cheerful show
22. A tale that really chimes
S-Town, made by the team responsible for the award-winning Serial podcast, explores the life and times of a clock-maker from Alabama. It’s packed with twists and dizzying reveals, but is memorable for its moving portrait of an enigmatic loner longing for connection.
23. Diary of a failure
Elizabeth Day had the idea for her podcast, How To Fail, when she had a break-up at 39 and wished that failure was something that was talked about more readily. On each episode she asks a celebrity to reveal when they have really messed up. Past guests include Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Nigel Slater and Andrew Scott.
24. Current affairs made crystal clear
Don’t be fooled by The Daily host Michael Barbaro’s unprepossessing manner – this New York Times current affairs podcast stands head and shoulders above the competition. Barbaro breaks down complex stories into bare essentials.
25. A trivia avalanche
On every hour-long episode, of No Such Thing As A Fish, four researchers from QI huddle around a mic to revel in trivia. You’ll emerge radiating facts. Who would have thought, for instance, that rejected names for storms include Noddy, Baldrick and Branch Wobbler?
26. History made simple
You’re Dead To Me is a history podcast presented by Greg Jenner for people who aren’t interested in history. Each 45-episode explores a particularly fascinating period or historical personality. Kick off with the episode on young Napoleon.
Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company, is still churning out its surprisingly good show, The Goop Podcast
27. Outrageously funny Liz
Liz Jones has entertained readers of The Mail on Sunday’s YOU for 20 years with her brilliant column, and her new podcast, in which she and her friend Nic put the world to rights, is just as outrageously funny. In the latest episode they’re in lockdown together discussing whether the coronavirus will spark a baby boom or a divorce boom.
28. Compelling refugee tale
Intrigue: Tunnel 29 is a thrilling, ten-part BBC series that reveals the astonishing true story of a group of young men who helped refugees flee from East to West Berlin by digging a tunnel under the Berlin Wall.
29. A sobering story of greed, ambition and lies
The Dropout charts the gripping rise and fall of Silicon Valley darling Elizabeth Holmes, who became the youngest self-made female billionaire thanks to her company, Theranos. It’s a story about greed and self-deception – and one of the best series around.
30. Let Gwynnie soothe your soul
Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s lifestyle company, is still churning out its surprisingly good show, The Goop Podcast. Tune in to hear Paltrow and her mellifluous chief content officer, Elise Loehnen, interviewing people they admire, from tech gurus and scientists to ‘healers’ and ‘seekers’. It’s good fun and (say it quietly) not as bonkers as you’d think.
You can listen to podcasts on a laptop, tablet or phone. Just search in your browser for the name of the show
Box sets to binge watch, from Luther to Hill Street Blues
31. Addictive legal drama
In Damages, Glenn Close plays ruthless New York trial lawyer Patty Hewes opposite Rose Byrne as her protegée Ellen Parsons in this legal drama. The plot hurtles from one switchback to the next and Close is utterly commanding. All five seasons on All 4
32. Eighties cop show that hasn’t dated
Hill Street Blues ran for seven seasons in the Eighties and helped transform the TV landscape, linking the simplistically plotted Seventies cop show with the smartly scripted crime shows of the Nineties. It’s a trailblazer of a show that feels surprisingly undated. Daniel J Travanti heads the cast as Captain Frank Furillo. All 4
33. Haunting detective tale you can’t stop watching
In The Missing, dogged French detective Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo) is the fulcrum of two gut-wrenchingly visceral child-abduction cases. Compelling and haunting, these make for addictive binges, boosted by a cast including James Nesbitt, Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey. BBC iPlayer, both series available from Tuesday
34. Watch again the show that made Idris a star
The troubled detective classic, Luther, is all about Idris Elba as murder detective DCI John Luther. Its plotting is occasionally bonkers but the show has a big heart and, best of all, a powerhouse performance from the immense Elba – complex, soulful and just a little bit sexy. Ruth Wilson plays his nutbag nemesis/flame Alice Morgan. All five series, BBC iPlayer
The troubled detective classic, Luther, is all about Idris Elba as murder detective DCI John Luther
35. Compulsive cold war saga
A pacy geopolitical spy thriller set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Deutschland 83 & 86 are stylish, mischievous and a lot of fun. Jonas Nay stars as Martin Rauch, a naive East German border guard who is recruited by his aunt to spy for the Stasi in the West German army. In the sequel, our reluctant hero finds himself back in the field after exile in Angola. Walter Presents/All 4
A pacy geopolitical spy thriller set against the backdrop of the Cold War, Deutschland 83 & 86 are stylish, mischievous and a lot of fun
36. Slick Swedish crime drama
Hanna Svensson has it all going on as the nerveless detective at the centre of Before We Die, for starters having to arrest her own son for drug dealing. On top of that, her lover is then kidnapped. Both seasons of the thriller, described by Ricky Gervais as ‘one of the best police dramas of all time’, are available. Walter Presents/All 4
37. Cerebral cops tracking killers
Two seasons of Mindhunter, set at the dawn of forensic science and serial-killer profiling in late Seventies Virginia. The drama revolves around a cracking central partnership between Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as a pair of FBI agents attempting to climb inside the heads of monsters. Netflix
38. Claustrophobic thriller
Harlan Coben’s mystery The Stranger is relocated to the north of England in an eight-part thriller. The life of a lawyer (Richard Armitage) is turned upside down when a stranger imparts some devastating news about his wife (Dervla Kirwan). From there, the waters get muddier and muddier as secret piles upon secret. An eminently bingeable thriller. Netflix
39. Modern-day western
Timothy Olyphant gives it both barrels in Justified as the old-school US marshal reassigned to his home town in this massively underrated crime show. Based on an Elmore Leonard short story, it’s a cool, seductive, modern-day western, and without doubt one of TV’s best-kept secrets. Amazon
40. Chilling tale from Stephen King
An instant cult hit based on Stephen King’s crime mystery The Outsider, which starts out with a seemingly straightforward case of a murdered 11-year-old boy. From there, the beguiling story unexpectedly shifts gear into an unusual hybrid of moody police drama and supernatural horror. Stars Ben Mendelsohn and Jason Bateman. NOW TV, until April 8
Classic Hancock and risqué Ricky: comedy gold
41. Katherine Ryan: Glitter Room
Katherine Ryan may be the queen of the TV panel show, but the Canadian comic is even better live. In Glitter Room, the self-styled ‘man-repellent fashion hag’ is strong on sexual politics, championing the rights of single mothers and kicking the patriarchy at every opportunity. Netflix
Katherine Ryan may be the queen of the TV panel show, but the Canadian comic is even better live
42. Ricky rips up pc world
Five stand-up specials across 15 years showcase Ricky Gervais at what he does best: pushing the taste barriers, and then some, cutting loose with a dazzling disregard for political correctness. ‘Animals’, ‘Politics’, ‘Fame’ and ‘Science’ on All 4, ‘Humanity’ on Netflix
43. We need to be talked to by Kevin
Abrasive Glaswegian Kevin Bridges keeps a low profile on TV these days, so everything about this 2018 set, Kevin Bridges: The Brand New Tour feels fresh. He’s got PTSD from just watching the news, and ‘God is in over his head’, so there’s plenty to relate to right now. BBC iPlayer
44. Spot-on satire
The Beeb’s superbly self-satirising mockumentary W1A is at times so painfully accurate it almost transcends humour. Hugh Bonneville plays hapless Head of Values Ian Fletcher, with memorable roles for Jason Watkins as the Director General’s toadying assistant and Jessica Hynes as a nonsense-spouting PR consultant (‘Let’s nail this puppy to the floor’). BBC iPlayer
45. Absolutely brilliant
Crack open the Bolly as you enjoy Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley in their finest comic hours in Absolutely Fabulous as scatty PR agent Edina and ex-model Patsy. Jane Horrocks is tip-top as brainless PA Bubbles. All five series + five specials, BBC iPlayer
46. Riotous sitcom
In Friday Night Dinner Simon Bird and Tom Rosenthal play squabbling brothers who visit their parents (Tamsin Greig and Paul Ritter) every Friday evening. Comedy carnage ensues, with no little help from eccentric neighbour Jim (Mark Heap) and Wilson the dog. All five series, All4
47. Royal spoof
C4’s highly irreverent Royal spoof The Windsors stars Harry Enfield as floundering Prince Charles and Haydn Gwynne as Cruella de Vil Camilla, with vacuous Beatrice and Eugenie (Ellie White and Celeste Dring) stealing the show. Apparently, Prince William is a fan. All three series + specials on All 4
C4’s highly irreverent Royal spoof The Windsors stars Harry Enfield as floundering Prince Charles and Haydn Gwynne as Cruella de Vil Camilla
48. Sublime L.A. send-up
In Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld producer Larry David plays a fictionalised, intensely irritated version of himself going about his daily business in LA in this sublime cringe-fest of a US sitcom. If you’ve not seen any of the episodes before, you’re in for an absolute treat. All ten seasons, NOW TV
49. Classic British comedy
Hancock’s Half Hour is perfect make-do, stick-it-up-’em British comedy from that lugubrious old hangdog Tony Hancock and his esteemed cohorts Sid James, Kenneth Williams and Hattie Jacques. Ninety episodes available at radioechoes.com (free to stream)
50. Laughs in your living room
In The Stay At Home Festival, stand-up shows are performed live from the comics’ homes, with Robin Ince and Josie Long set to perform this Monday, Al Murray on Tuesday and John Hegley on Wednesday. Last week’s shows from Jo Brand, Sara Pascoe, Mark Gatiss, Les Dennis and Stephen Merchant are also available to watch. comicshambles.com/stayathome
Movie treats you don’t need a cinema to enjoy
51. Catherine the great
Catherine Deneuve is on top form in The Truth, which should have been in cinemas now but instead can be streamed from Curzon Home Cinema. She plays an ageing and self-aggrandising giant of French cinema about to publish her memoirs. Juliette Binoche and Ethan Hawke star, and the enjoyable drama plays out in an authentic mixture of English and subtitled French. curzonhomecinema.com
Catherine Deneuve is on top form in The Truth, which should have been in cinemas now but instead can be streamed from Curzon Home Cinema
52. A bit too close to home?
With a dreadful topicality, new movie Vivarium – available on most digital platforms – is about a young couple trapped in a suburban house that they literally cannot escape. Whatever Tom (Jesse Eisenberg) and Gemma (Imogen Poots) do, they always end up back at No 9. A little derivative, but nicely visualised. play.google.com
53. Arriving so soon?
Universal reacted with impressive speed to the sudden closure of most British cinemas, moving three of their most recent releases – The Invisible Man, The Hunt and Emma – on to digital platforms within days, where they will soon be joined by the family-friendly Trolls World Tour. Download prices are £15.99, which sounds steep until you remember that you’d probably be buying two to four tickets at the cinema. Emma is the pick of the bunch. skystore.com, play.google.com, amazon.co.uk, uk.chili.com
Anita Ekberg in La Dolce Vita. Desperate to watch an old favourite but not sure where to find it? Type in the title at FindAnyFilm and it will track down the Blu-ray, DVD, or download
54. Three sparkling Netflix gems
Remember when we all groaned at the prospect of watching Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, all three-and-a-half hours of it? Well, we’re not groaning quite so loudly now. It’s still on Netflix, where you might also want to catch up with Dolemite Is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy. The Two Popes – the brilliant picture that won Oscar nods for Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce – is there too. netflix.com
55. The deadly virus story it’s ok to enjoy
Social media is full of appropriate films to watch while we’re all self-isolating. Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, from 2011, is the all-too-realistic story of a deadly virus that suddenly sweeps the world. Digital downloads widely available. apple.com/itunes, amazon.co.uk, skystore.com
56. The search for your favourite movie is over
Desperate to watch an old favourite but not sure where to find it? Type in the title at FindAnyFilm and it will track down the Blu-ray, DVD, or download. findanyfilm.com
57. Lights, Camera… Inaction!
Always wanted to sound a bit more knowledgeable about film? The BBC has Mark Kermode’s three-part series Secrets Of Cinema running on BBC4 and BBC iPlayer, while on BBC Sounds there’s Matthew Sweet’s exploration of existential angst in cinema – Lights, Camera, Inaction. bbc.co.uk/iplayer, bbc.co.uk/sounds
58. Going for a song
For what the distributors describe as ‘a limited time’, Military Wives with Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan is being made available on all the main premium on-demand sites. The funny, moving but ultimately uplifting tale of Army wives who form a choir while their husbands are away in Afghanistan is pretty much perfect for these difficult times. amazon.co.uk, skystore.com
59. And now for something completely different
For those in search of something a little different, MUBI and BFI Player are worth a look. The former is a curated subscription streaming service with current highlights Steven Shainberg’s Secretary and Park Chan-wook’s Vengeance trilogy. BFI Player combines recent new releases with art-house classics, such as Betty Blue, Maurice and La Dolce Vita. mubi.com, player.bfi.org.uk
60. Enjoy this joker with your eyes closed
Last month, Hildur Guonadottir deservedly won the Oscar for Best Original Score for Joker. If you’ve forgotten what that haunting, mournful music sounded like, remind yourself with the original soundtrack. amazon.co.uk
61. Is it as good as the book?
Always wanted to be the person who grandly opines, ‘Of course, it’s not as good as the book’? Now is the time to get ahead of the game. Agatha Christie’s Death On The Nile, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, A J Finn’s The Woman In The Window, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl and Frank Herbert’s Dune will stand you in good stead over coming months, in preparation for when the forthcoming adaptations finally hit the cinemas. waterstones.com
62. She’ll put a spell on you
A new adaptation of Roald Dahl’s The Witches is currently due out in October. If that’s too long to wait, downloads of the 1990 version starring Anjelica Huston are available. Better still, track down the audiobook version read by Simon Callow. Sheer joy. amazon.co.uk
63. How they cornered Hollywood’s predator
Still wondering how Harvey Weinstein is now beginning a 23-year sentence for rape and sexual assault? Two powerful books help provide the horrifying answers – Ronan Farrow’s Catch And Kill and She Said by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey. waterstones.com
Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver. In an age of digital streaming, the lockdown doesn’t have to be an obstacle to viewing your favourite movies
64. Leaving the house? Don’t be a donkey, says Arnie
One of the unexpected joys of this period has been the sight of film stars popping up on social media to share brief tidings of quarantined joy. Personal favourites to date include Arnold Schwarzenegger telling us to stay at home, with the help of a pet donkey and pony, and Dame Judi Dench telling us to ‘keep on laughing’ while playing with some very silly pop-up dog-ears. twitter.com
65. Oh, brother, now that’s a Hollywood memoir
Diane Keaton was never going to write a conventional Hollywood memoir. Brother & Sister tells the moving story of her relationship with her troubled younger brother, Randy, who battled drink, divorce and mental illness, and is now suffering from dementia. waterstones.com
A user’s guide to the body and a family mystery in these brilliant books
66. For the love of literature…
When Lucy Mangan was little, she devoured Enid Blyton, C S Lewis, Francine Pascal and many others, and this memoir about her early excursions into literature is a love letter to those books. An enchanting, nostalgic, comfort read about the stories that stay with you for a lifetime.
67. Exploring the world beneath our feet
Hamish Hamilton £20
If the past few weeks have felt a little like a metaphorical journey into the underworld, nature writer Robert Macfarlane can tell you what going underground is really like. In this lyrical exploration of what lies beneath, he ventures into subterranean facilities and cave systems all over the world.
68. How an an old shoebox told an extraordinary tale
House Of Glass
Fourth Estate £16.99
The discovery of a shoebox full of old family photographs and mementoes sent Hadley Freeman on a journey of discovery about the extraordinary experiences of her grandmother Sala and Sala’s three brothers during the most turbulent years of the 20th century. It’s a captivating story of human resilience.
A Claxton Diary by Mark Cocker. If you’re stuck in the house for days on end, immerse yourself in the natural world with Mark Cocker who, every day, walks from his Norfolk cottage down to the river, and then records what he has seen and heard: barn owls, grasshoppers, moths, shrews… his writing transports you there
69. Ribald revelations
Lady In Waiting
Hodder & Stoughton £20
Friend of the Royal Family and lady in waiting to Princess Margaret, Lady Glenconner displays resilience of a different kind in her memoir about the astonishing ups and downs of her aristocratic life. We visit palaces and brothels, cock fights and coronations.
70. A philosophical take on staying in
Lessons In Stoicism
Allen Lane £9.99
Tough times are nothing new. This brief book is a wonderfully clear, crisp introduction to the ancient philosophy of stoicism, espoused by, among others, Epictetus, a former Roman slave, and emperor Marcus Aurelius. Stoicism is currently enjoying a revival and research suggests that following its tenets could have mental health benefits.
71. Can’t get out to enjoy spring? try this…
A Claxton Diary
Jonathan Cape £16.99
If you’re stuck in the house for days on end, immerse yourself in the natural world with Mark Cocker who, every day, walks from his Norfolk cottage down to the river, and then records what he has seen and heard: barn owls, grasshoppers, moths, shrews… his writing transports you there.
72. Bryson’s body politic
It might occasionally be vulnerable to nasty new viruses but the human body is a truly incredible thing. Bill Bryson’s ‘owner’s manual’ examines every amazing inch of it from the head – 1.2 billion copies of this book could be stored in a piece of brain the size of a grain of salt – to the feet, which contain 52 of the body’s 206 bones.
73. Learn science in solitude
The World According To Physics
Princeton University Press £12.99
OK, you’ve done biology, what about another key science? Particle physics – how hard can it really be? Broadcaster and quantum physicist Jim Al-Khalili is a superb guide to the fundamental principles of quantum theory, relativity and thermodynamics.
74. Make a clean sweep
Hinch Yourself Happy
Michael Joseph £12.99
Cleaning can be soothing, claims Mrs Hinch, the Instagram influencer with over three million followers. This seems a good time to put that to the test. The book promises ‘step-by-step guides to hinching (cleaning) your home’.
75. The finale of mantel’s Tudor trilogy
The Mirror And The Light
Fourth Estate £25
Time to catch up with the book that everybody’s talking about: the final instalment of Hilary Mantel’s majestic trilogy about Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s fixer. Weighing in at 900 pages, it covers – spoiler alert – the final four years of Cromwell’s life and opens just moments after Anne Boleyn’s has been prematurely ended.
Tour the finest galleries and other treats for art lovers
76. How to explore the V&A when the doors are closed
The museum may be shut, but a fascinating six-part BBC series, The Victoria And Albert TV Show, takes us behind the V&A’s closed doors, introducing us to many of the curators and conservators. bbc.co.uk/iplayer
77. Browse the Beardsley catalogue
For some exhibitions, perusing the catalogue in the gift shop is actually a richer experience than seeing the show. As is the case with the publication for Tate Britain’s current Aubrey Beardsley exhibition – which you can order online at most bookshops. waterstones.com
78. Take in a virtual show
The Google Arts and Culture app offers virtual tours of 1,200 institutions worldwide. The Metropolitan Museum in New York, Uffizi Gallery in Florence and British Museum in London are just a few of the great spaces to roam. artsandculture.google.com
For some exhibitions, perusing the catalogue in the gift shop is actually a richer experience than seeing the show. As is the case with the publication for Tate Britain’s current Aubrey Beardsley exhibition – which you can order online at most bookshops
79. Moving pictures!
The National Gallery’s YouTube channel has hours’ worth of content, including a host of lectures and talks, curator guides to different masterpieces and films of Old Master paintings being restored. youtube.com/user/nationalgalleryuk
80. Tour the Vatican
The Vatican Museums offer the highest concentration of artistic riches on Earth – and you can take a 360-degree tour online. Go see the Sistine Chapel today and you won’t even have to queue. museivaticani.va
Elton’s centre stage for the best audiobooks
81. This is your story
Elton John 11hrs 47mins
Funny, outrageous, moving, Elton John’s brilliantly entertaining autobiography, Me, has everything you want in a rock ’n’ roll story. That he’s still standing is little short of a miracle.
Funny, outrageous, moving, Elton John’s brilliantly entertaining autobiography, Me, has everything you want in a rock ’n’ roll story
82. A timely reminder of life in lockdown
A vigorous reminder that we have faced fearsome foes before – and overcome them. Britain’s War: A New World 1942-1947 is fantastically detailed but its driving narrative thrust never flags. A stunning achievement.
83. You know you want to…
Leo Tolstoy 61hrs 6mins
You’ve been planning to read War And Peace for years. If not now, when?
84. Tales from the front line
David Nott 10hrs 55mins
Nott is a British surgeon who has worked in some of the world’s most dangerous war zones, from Sarajevo to Syria. In War Doctor he tells his extraordinary story. After you’ve listened to his book, go to bbc.co.uk/sounds and listen to his episode of Desert Island Discs.
85. A cracking tale of family affairs
Marian Keyes 17hrs 3mins
The Caseys of Dublin are a glamorous, successful bunch, or so it seems. But scratch beneath the surface and it’s a different story, and when one of the clan starts telling a few home truths, everything starts to unravel. Grown Ups is an escapist family saga, narrated by the author.
All available on Audible
Games that beat crosswords hands down
86. Charming word play
Word Stacks is a strange hybrid of Tetris and Scrabble. The charming puzzle game sees you swiping to find words in a stack of blocks.
87. Design your own railway
Now most of us are no longer commuting, puzzle game Mini Metro, about designing a suburban rail system is perfect escapism. Beautiful both to look at and to listen to.
88. Fun escapist fantasy
Zen sandboarding game Alto’s Odyssey sees you surfing over beautiful two-dimensional deserts. A great way to get away from it all.
89. How to rule the world
World-building simulation game Tropico is a well-loved classic. Expect lots of road-building and political satire.
90. Enter, pursued by a bear
Word-search game Alphabear 2 sees you tapping on tiles to complete words as large bears grow in the middle of the grid.
All iOS and Android, free
For theatre fans when there is no theatre…
91. The west end comes to your living room
Listen to Johnny Flynn and Kit Harington blazing away in the recent West End hit True West, Sam Shepard’s brilliant, funny play about two brothers and a Hollywood producer. audible.co.uk
92. Burton at his best
Sit back and let the music of narrator Richard Burton’s voice wash over you, in Dylan Thomas’s gorgeous Welsh radio play Under Milk Wood set in a fictional town by the ‘fishing-boat bobbing sea’. Available to order on CD at amazon.co.uk
Sit back and let the music of narrator Richard Burton’s voice wash over you, in Dylan Thomas’s gorgeous Welsh radio play Under Milk Wood
93. Much ado about lockdown…
Catherine Tate and David Tennant played Beatrice and Benedick, the bickering couple whose dislike turns to love, in a lovely West End version of the Shakespeare comedy Much Ado About Nothing. Watch it – along with The Crucible and Hamlet – online at Digital Theatre. digitaltheatre.com
94. Watch the bard online
In The Show Must Go Online, on YouTube, casts are reading a new Shakespeare play each week, in the order they were thought to have been written. So the series kicks off with The Two Gentlemen Of Verona, with the cast performing via video link. youtube.com
95. The play’s the thing… to read
Read Tom Stoppard’s latest West End play, Leopoldstadt, which was doing roaring business until the theatres shut. It’s about a Jewish family in Vienna seen across several decades. If you liked The Hare With Amber Eyes you’ll love it. Published by Faber & Faber, concordtheatricals.co.uk
A symphony on your sofa or these classical greats at home
96. Spotify’s classic collection
Spotify’s classical section has a host of top-notch performances: for instance, Tasmin Little performing Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending with the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Sir Andrew Davis. Elsewhere new streaming service Primephonic is specifically skewed towards classical music and there you can find the likes of Anne-Sophie Mutter as the soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto, accompanied by the Berlin Philharmonic conducted by Herbert von Karajan.
New streaming service Primephonic is specifically skewed towards classical music and there you can find the likes of Anne-Sophie Mutter as the soloist in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto
97. find the orchestra online
The London Symphony Orchestra has cancelled concerts at London’s Barbican but every Thursday and Sunday will be showing concerts from its archive on its YouTube channel. Similarly, the Royal Opera House is doing online broadcasts.
98. Glyndebourne revisited
Between 1972 and 1980, Southern TV filmed a range of Glyndebourne operas, when the opera house was in its prime. These Glyndebourne Classics are available on DVD, enabling you to see great opera as the composers intended. euroarts.com
99. Roll over to Beethoven
Why not get to know the man whose 250th birthday it is this year? Naxos, Warner Classics and Deutsche Grammophon have all recently issued complete sets of his works, which can be ordered. And John Suchet has a new book: Beethoven: The Man Revealed.
100. Tune in for a classic fix
You can hear yours truly on Classic FM between 5pm and 7pm on Sundays. Why not also sample the music encyclopaedia that is Rob Cowan on Saturdays (7pm-9pm)? And Andrew Collins’s movie music in the slot just before him? A great introduction to serious music.
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