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2021 - Blog

Lockdown Exercising.

I wonder, When this mad, sad, frightening, tumbling world finally rights itself and we once again pick up the threads of happiness, if we’ll watch television in the same way ever again.

There’s a very strong Before Covid/After Covid undercurrent to just about everything I watch. Such as BBC4's recent, delightful Winter Walks (do find it on iplayer if you haven’t seen it), where well-known people head off alone with a 360-degree camera to record a walk through lovely countryside in Yorkshire and Cumbria.

Selina Scott, in the first episode, pottered around Wharfedale in the Yorkshire Dales. It was rather lovely and she was an easy-going and Charming guide. At the end she went into a pub, a cosy place with a small bar full of people.

"Eeek!" I thought, before I rushed to check... Yes, of course the series was filmed early last year before Covid restrictions were introduced. Phew.
I knew no production would take any risks but, there you go, what can you do. that niggling fear of crowds of strangers, even on my television screen, is always puttering away.

I don’t want to overstate anything, it’s not really a constant nervousness - I save that for the really important stuff, like whether it's safe to go out to buy a litre of milk.

But I feel an undercurrent of unease, a kind of visceral shudder, whenever I see anything filmed BC - Before Covid. There’s a wistfulness, too. When Scott walked into that bar, and when in another episode Simon Armitage stopped at a pub for a pint (in Robin Hood's Bay), who could help thinking, “Aah, I remember doing that“?

Though, frankly, even BC, I hardly - as Niles Crane once said of his brother Frasier about his days at the Cheers bar - "traded bons mots with the beer nuts set". I rarely set foot in pubs even when it was allowed, so they are beached in my imagination as places of horse brasses, inglenook fireplaces and ruddy-faced landlords and landladies polishing glasses.

But television makes me nostalgic for everything now - characters in dramas go into restaurants and I give a little sigh; or they go shopping, or they meet groups of friends or colleagues and I go a bit fuzzy round the edges.

It's been nearly a year now since we were sent home in a rush of fear and uncertainty as all that was normal fell away to be replaced by a dark, shapeless, deadly illness.

What we've all been through and continue to go through is just so profound, I find it difficult to imagine a world AC - After Covid. Not just in real life... Will I still wince when characters in crime drama sit in police interview' rooms (are they two metres apart? When was this filmed?).

How many months, maybe even years, will I fee! nervous about everything I watch, even stuff that was made, years ago? I can only assume we will all be forever altered by so many months accompanied by an enemy we can’t see.

But I do know that television, despite my jitters, remains a balm to me and I hope to you, too. Whether its through Winter Walks or Only Connect or Richard Osman's House of Games, we can all step away from fear, if only for while. And that's enough.

Stay safe, stay well.

Alison Graham
Radio Times 23rd-29th Jan 2021 - The Way I See It


Zoo's hippo birthday for rare species 

A ZOO has welcomed the arrival of an endangered pygmy hippo calf.


The calf weighed Just 1lb 14oz (5.4kg) when she was born last month and is now going on show to the public.

Born on April 17 at Edinburgh Zoo to parents Otto and Gloria, she now weighs 1st 4lb (8.4kg)

Jonny Appleyard, the zoo's hoofstock team leader, said: "Our new arrival is doing really well and Is growing stronger and more confident every day.

"As she is still so young, we are limiting opening hours and numbers in our indoor viewing area to give the calf and mum Gloria some time to get used to visitors. The first 30 days are critical for her development, so we'll be keeping a close eye on them both at this sensitive time and plan to name her in the coming weeks."

Pygmy hippos are native to West Africa where populations are rapidly falling through habitat destruction by loqginq, farming and human settlements, as well as being hunted for bushmeat.

Support for the species from the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS). which operates the zoo. Includes publishing the first ever genomic study of pygmy hippos through work in the RZSS WildGenes laboratory.

Plymouth Herald May 14th 2021