Hello there. I hope you’re all keepinng safe and well, and that you had a nice break over Easter, with plenty of chocolate goodies or whatever you like to indulge on.
I think we’ve all earned a few treats at the moment, given that things have felt very strange since we went into lockdown on 23 March. Like everybody else, I was very anxious about the situation at first, and it’s still going to be a concern for a while, because all of the changes to our lives are a lot to get used to. But I know that we’re doing it for the right reasons, to save lives.
I do also feel that my mother and I have been adjusting as well as can be expected, we feel relatively relaxed at the moment. It also helps that I’m not checking news and social media updates as often as I was initially, and I’ve muted certain phrases and blocked various accounts to make browsing social media a calmer experience. Things like that certainly make a big difference to one’s mindset.
I’m already a homeworker too, so that’s made things easier. Although, as it happened, I didn’t fully go back to work straightaway, because by chance I had already booked the first 2 weeks of lockdown off to use up my annual leave quota (after an illness last year meant I couldn’t use as much holiday as I’d hoped). Granted, I couldn’t use that holiday time to go anywhere nice, except the local park, but the time was very useful to ensure that Mum and I were stocked up and could start settling into this temporary new way of living. So it’s only been the last couple of weeks that I’ve started getting into a proper routine again (and even then Easter ensured that I had 2 four-day weeks).
But of course, many people have far more important, difficult and stressful jobs than I do. So if you’re a key worker – including employees and volunteers in the health service, social care, retail sectors and local authorities, among many others – then thank you!
It’s a very uncertain time, and we don’t know how long this will last, but I want to keep myself occupied as best I can. There are certainly lots of options for things to do – and if you need any ideas, check out my special Lockdown Resources page – so I’ll try my best not to get bored. Indeed, it feels like time is moving more quickly again, after the month of March felt like a year. Maybe it’s because I was already used to homeworking and spending a lot of time at home, and because I’m finding plenty of ways to stay busy and entertained.
So with that in mind, here’s my first lockdown post about the things that have been keeping me occupied. There are 3 videos to go with this – for weeks 1-2, week 3 & week 4 – because with more free time I’ve been able to produce videos a bit more frequently, at least for a little while. So I hope you enjoy looking through this selection.
- Childhood Memories
- Mac Catalina Upgrade
- Apple Arcade
- Amazon Echo Game – Escape The Room
- Online Theatre – Phantom Of The Opera
- TV Comedy
- TV Drama
- Podcasts & Music
Grocery Deliveries & Other Support
I don’t plan to discuss the virus much at all, but it is only right to acknowledge that many visually impaired people have been finding the situation difficult, especially when it comes to essential tasks like shopping, as discussed by BBC News, BBC Breakfast, the Daily Mail and Emily at Fashioneyesta, among others. Let’s hope blind people can be given priority access to online delivery services, because it will make their lives a lot easier and safer.
And of course many other disabled people are struggling too. It’s only because I’m visually impaired myself that I focus on that aspect. The government has pledged its support for disabled people, but it’s clear that a lot still needs to be done. In any case, I hope everybody is able to get the help they need in some way e.g. through family, friends, neighbours, online services, charities, local mutual aid groups, etc.
Audio Description Awareness Day
This week I published a blog post and video about the newly established Audio Description Awareness Day, which was set up by Juan Alcazar and others. In my video I shared some previously unseen interview footage that I recorded as part of my consultation with the producers of the short film How To Be Human, when they were developing the audio described version.
So do go and check all of that out, and get involved with the audio description challenge that Juan outlines in his video, where you can show an audio described film or TV show to someone who isn’t familiar with it. And another great post that’s also worth reading is. is 8 Myths About Audio Description by Veronica With Four Eyes.
Nystagmus Network Quiz
This past week I had a go at an online quiz run by the Nystagmus Network, which they do every Saturday at 7pm on Virtual Quiz Events. It’s an automated game where you answer multiple-choice questions across 6 rounds (3 rounds on general knowledge, plus a round on sport, another on film & TV, and one on music). You get 20 seconds to answer each question, and the quicker you answer the better, because if scores are tied at the end then your overall time will determine your position. And it was fun. Mum and I played together, and I knew more answers than I expected to, so we were very pleased to end up in 4th place.
Each quiz costs just £3 to enter. The Nystagmus Network quite rightly get the biggest share of the funds (£19.80 on this occasion), while some money is set aside for the top 3 contestants (the winner this time got £3.30). So it’s not a high stakes game, there’s no serious pressure involved. It’s just a fun way to raise a bit of money for a very worthwhile charity, and every little bit soon adds up. So I encourage you to give it a go!
Advert – Caring For Disabled Children
I’ve also published a guest post that has 10 Top Tips to Care for Disabled and Special Needs Children. It is a paid advertisement post, and I’m extremely picky about accepting such content, but I believe it fits well with the disability and visual impairment themes of my blog, and has a lot of useful, concise information for parents in particular, who form a significant part of my audience. Indeed, one parent has given very positive feedback on the post already, as have a few other people. So I hope you find it interesting.
Nothing else I mention in this Favourites post is sponsored, this is the only advertisement.
There is, quite rightly, a lot of fundraising going on at the moment for charities and good causes. It would obviously be impossible to mention every single one that’s out there, but here are some that have come to my attention recently. If you’re able to donate to any of them, they would hugely appreciate it. There are some cool musical treats amongst them too.
Captain Tom Moore
I naturally have to start with the biggest star of the week, indeed of the year! Everyone is now surely aware of Captain Tom Moore’s sponsored walk, an endeavour that has made international headlines and caught the hearts of millions. In advance of his 100th birthday at the end of the month, Captain Tom has walked 100 laps of his garden, and is still going while the money keeps pouring in.
Mind you, I say ‘pouring in’… it would be more accurate to say there’s been a tidal wave of donations recently! As soon as he appeared on the news, the total skyrocketed at such a fast pace that it was nigh on impossible to keep up with it. As such, it will probably inaccurate by the time you read this, but at the time of writing he’s raised over £28 million (plus at least £5 million in Gift Aid)! That’s already £1 million more than when I filmed the video for this post just 2 days ago, although it was rising much faster than that during its peak period last week. It’s absolutely astonishing, but also very well-deserved. And who knows where it will end!
On top of that he’s received tens of thousands of birthday cards, had the honour of opening the new Nightingale Hospital in Harrogate, inspired people from 6 to 90 years old to do their own fundraising challenges, and topped the charts with a beautiful rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone, which he recorded with Michael Ball & the NHS Voices of Care Choir, all singing from their homes.
So thank you Captain Tom and Happy 100th Birthday for later this month! Be sure to follow Tom for the latest updates on Twitter, Youtube and TikTok, and also keep up with the latest news stories about him too.
- RNIB: Urgent Appeal – Many blind and partially sighted people are finding it very difficult to cope at the moment, for a variety of reasons. By donating to RNIB’s urgent appeal you can make a big difference, by enabling them to support those who need it most. So please do give what you can.
- The Big Cheer Up by the charity Amaze Sussex is encouraging people to share jokes and funny videos, using the hashtag #BigCheerUp, to help lift people’s spirits while raising funds for disabled children and their families. See the launch video by Angela Barnes for details.
- The 2.6 Challenge is filling the gap left by the absence of the London Marathon, which last year raised over £66 million for thousands of charities, many of whom are now struggling. So on the 26th April this year – when the marathon would have taken place – they’re asking people to take on a fundraising challenge relating to the number 26 or 2.6. It could be running 2.6 miles, doing 26 repetitions of a particular form of exercise, doing an online workout with 26 friends, or any other creative idea you might have.
- The Revitalise5 Challenge is fundraising to keep disabled people safe at their Sandpipers centre in Southport, as well helping the NHS. And they’re asking people to do a challenge relating to the number 5 – which could be 5 shoulder presses, 5 minutes of skipping or dancing, painting 5 pictures, flipping 5 pancakes, etc. It doesn’t need to be sports related, it can be anything, and there are lots of ideas on their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. Once you’ve decided what your challenge will be, you need to post photos or a video of ourself doing it using the hashtag #Revita5, then donate £5 (or whatever you can) on the Revitalise website, and lastly nominate 5 family and friends on your social media to do the challenge as well. So have fun with it!
It comes as no surprise that a lot of very creative people have been producing charity songs, uplifting music and amusing parodies in response to the current situation, far too many to list here. So I’ve put together a playlist of some of my favourites that I’ll be updating regularly. But here are a few examples of notable releases that are raising money and awareness for great causes:
- Brian May & Kings Daughters: Get Up – Queen guitarist Brian May has teamed up with a group called Kings Daughters to produce this very catchy and cheerful song. It features many people who have recorded themselves doing the dance moves, giving it a lovely feeling of togetherness. 10% of each purchase is being donated to mental health charity Mind, whose support is more critical than ever for many people at this difficult time. The song is available from various outlets. See the Queen Online article, along with interviews on the Youtube channels for Kings Daughters and Brian May, to find out more.
- Stay At Home Choir: Vivaldi’s Gloria – The newly formed Stay At Home Choir posted this powerful rendition, complete with a BSL interpreter, on their Youtube channel. The group is run by just 2 people, and they have various projects they’re working on to bring the musical community together. So they would appreciate any donations to support their work.
- West End Stars: Do You Hear The People Sing? (from Les Misérables) – This is a powerful cover of a song from les Misérables, performed by 70 stars of West End theatre from their own homes. They’ve produced it as a tribute to the NHS, and in support of the Acting For Others fundraising campaign.
As I haven’t been able to go out anywhere exciting, I’ve been posting some memories from my childhood instead. So this week I published a diary of my school trip to Snowdonia, while on Instagram I’ve posted photos from Snowdonia, France, Hampton Court and Duxford Air Museum, with a few more photo sets to come. So do go and check all those out, and don’t forget you can also see videos of my travels on my London and Travel playlists.
Mac Catalina Upgrade
I’ve finally upgraded my Mac computer to the Catalina operating system. I always wait for a little while after new versions are released, as there’s usually no immediate rush, and it gives them a chance to iron out any major launch issues. And for the most part, not much has changed that affects me greatly with this release. The installation was quick and painless as well. But there are a few things that have particularly caught my attention for one reason or another, good or bad.
In terms of accessibility, I’ve always used the Invert Colours feature heavily, as it’s much easier on my eyes to have dark backgrounds with light text. And in Catalina, like the iPhone, this has been given a ‘smart’ upgrade, so it will invert text and backgrounds while keeping images and videos in their proper colours.
However, it doesn’t work well everywhere. In the Music app, for example, it causes the sidebar to have unreadable dark text on a dark background. I can fix that by also selecting Increase Contrast, but then just causes the music listings to have a bright and glary white background instead. Another alternative is the operating system’s new Dark Mode, but that doesn’t help everywhere either. It doesn’t transform things like websites, for example (unless they’ve been specifically designed to support Dark Mode), so they often still have white backgrounds.
So for me the simple solution has been to tick the Classic Invert box (keeping Increase Contrast activated as well), which basically restores things to how they were before. It means images and video also get inverted, but the keyboard shortcut to switch inversion on and off is really simple, so I don’t mind using that. But I have enabled the dark or night mode that’s built into some websites, particularly Twitter and Youtube, which allows me to turn off inversion while I use them.
The most exciting new accessibility feature in Catalina, however, is Voice Control. It’s not something I personally need, so I’ve only had a brief play with it so far. But it looks very interesting and I’m going to explore it further. It may, for example, be a very useful way to enable Mum to use the MacBook laptop we also have. In conjunction with Voiceover I can imagine it being very useful for some visually impaired people. And it’s also going to make a big difference to people with dexterity issues who can’t use a keyboard and mouse easily or at all. So I may talk more about that feature at a later date.
No More iTunes
Catalina sees a major overhaul in how media files are organised, dividing them up between dedicated Music, Podcasts, Books & TV apps. And for the most part, that works fine. All of my files were successfully moved to their new homes automatically, without any obvious issues. And the Music app is pretty much the same as iTunes, but without the clutter of the other elements. I had to reconfigure the view the way I like it, but that was fine. Likewise, I can use the Podcasts and TV apps easily enough as well.
The big problem, however, is with audiobooks. These have been badly shoehorned into the Books app, meaning you no longer have the ability to edit any of their information or see the individual tracks that make them up. So if, like me, you have a large and carefully maintained collection of audiobooks, including many ripped from audio CDs, it makes their organisation much more difficult. It’s also clear from the various threads I’ve seen that many other people are frustrated with Apple’s new way of doing things, as there are other major issues beyond just the one I encountered.
Suggested workarounds include using apps called Plex and Prologue, or importing books back into the Music app with their own genre and playlist, or just moving files into the Finder and organising them there – and it’s the latter that I’ve chosen to do. I looked up the media folder locations and copied all the audiobooks into a separate directory, before deleting them from the Books app. Each book was already in its own folder, luckily, but with randomly generated folder names, so I’ve had to manually rename them all. But now I’ve done that, I can organise them much more easily than the Books app allows.
So those are my immediate first reactions to Catalina – apart from one more aspect that I’ll mention in the next section. On the whole it’s fine, and my experience of using the Mac hasn’t changed too much as a result. But the new way of managing audiobooks seriously lets it down, and if you’re yet to upgrade your Mac I would investigate it very carefully first. Let’s hope Apple hears all the feedback and fixes it one day.
I’ve done very little gaming for a long time, because I’ve had plenty of other things to distract me. But now I have the opportunity to get back into it more, I’ve started to experiment with them again.
In particular, I’ve been exploring another big new feature of Catalina on the Mac – Apple Arcade. It gives you access to a library of 100 games for a monthly subscription of £4.99, without any adverts or in-app purchases, and you can play the games across all your Apple devices. So I’ve signed up for the free trial, that lasts for a month, to see what I think.
The first game I decided to play was Spyder, where you control an intelligent mechanical spider that has to sabotage evil plans by an organisation called S.I.N. The controls are simple enough – the W, A, S & D keys move the spider, Space allows you to interact with things, and by holding down Ctrl you can use the mouse to move the camera around (although the camera angle does default to certain positions as you navigate the levels). On other devices the controls will naturally be different.
The graphics are beautiful, and you can move around the environments with a fair degree of freedom. Being a spider, you can climb up, over and under things as well as walking across them, which you need to use to your advantage a lot of the time. There are of course limitations too, with surfaces that are too slippery or dangerous or blocked off, so your progression through each level is ultimately linear. But within each space, you still have a wide degree of movement, and often need to explore it thoroughly to find items and answers to puzzles. Each time you complete a task, the next one is immediately given at the bottom of the screen, while arrows and distance markers are regularly provided to indicate where you should be heading next.
Although there one or two points where I got a bit stuck, I never had to look for any help online to figure things out, so I was pleased with myself when I completed the 6th and final level. Once I got used to how to play – and the first level is a very good tutorial for that – I quickly got into it. You can also play through the levels again after you’ve finished the game, as you get a bonus side-quest to do along the way, which I won’t reveal here. I had a brief look at it in the first level, and it’s a nice addition, but I didn’t fancy going through the entire game again just for that. It will add good replay value for some people though.
Obviously a game like this is going to be very difficult if you’re visually impaired. My sight is fortunately good enough to focus on it, although I had to be careful not to do too much, as playing games does tire my eyes after a while. And the text for each task at the bottom of the screen is quite small. But for others with more severe slight loss, it’s not going to be accessible. I suspect a lot of the Arcade games will have that issue. But I personally enjoyed playing Spyder, and I’m looking forward to trying some of the other Arcade titles, which I’ll review in future posts.
What The Golf?
The next game I tried was What The Golf?, which takes crazy golf to the next level, by adding all sorts of twists to make it unlike any game of golf you’ve ever played before. Far from just hitting a ball around strange courses, you have to whack all sorts of objects around to hit flags, knock over cats and trees, score goals, race against sheep and lots more. It’s very inventive and funny and the graphics are cute.
It did get to a point, however, where it was just too visually difficult for me to keep up with the levels, because of the speed in which you have to do things in some cases, especially as some elements are quite small. So I didn’t complete the game, but I got quite a way through it.
The third and final game I’ve played on Apple Arcade is Tangle Tower, which is a point-and-click murder mystery game, and by definition it therefore requires a reasonable degree of sight to navigate. And I’ve enjoyed it. It has a very colourful and artistic style to the visuals, there’s a lot to uncover (because you have to explore everything and talk to everyone), the puzzles are good at making you think, and there’s good humour between the 2 detectives that you accompany through the game. I like the fact that all the spoken words come up as easy to read text as well. So that’s a nice way to pass the time.
Amazon Echo Game – Escape The Room
Seeing as my original plans to visit a couple of escape rooms this year had to be abandoned, this Alexa game looked like a fun alternative. And I enjoyed playing it. The commands are very basic, but the puzzles really do make you think, so it’s a great way to test your brain.
There are a variety of different environments, all of which are free except for the spaceship, which is a larger space that costs £4.99 to unlock (or £4 if you’re a Prime subscriber). The purchase fee also unlocks unlimited hints across the other rooms (as without paying you can only ask for 1 hint per room). I did need a few hints in the big spaceship level, but I got through it. And I successfully completed the other levels, only asking for a hint in one of them when I had a bit of trouble.
The solutions to puzzles aren’t always in the most logical of places (the toolbox in the garage was the sticking point I needed the hint for), so just remember to examine everything and consider every detail of what you hear, even if it doesn’t seem relevant. I found it was very useful to type up notes as I went along. And don’t feel bad if you need to ask for a hint either, in some cases it’s very understandable. So overall it’s a fun game, and I might also try the sequel, Escape The Room 2, at some point.
Online Theatre – Phantom Of The Opera
Since lockdown began there’s been a new channel on Youtube called The Shows Must Go On, where an Andrew Lloyd Webber musical is being posted every Friday night at 7pm GMT for 48 hours, so you can watch it in full over the weekend. And in return for posting the shows free of charge, viewers are encouraged to donate to the NHS Charities COVID19 Appeal, and arts causes in the UK, USA and Australia. It’s a fantastic idea – although the shows aren’t audio described of course – and productions so far have included Joseph And The Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and Jesus Christ Superstar.
And the most recently they’ve posted the 25th anniversary Cameron Mackintosh adaptation of The Phantom Of The Opera, starring Ramin Karimloo, Sierra Boggess and Hadley Fraser, which was performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2011. It was only made available for 24 hours in the UK due to rights issues, and 48 hours elsewhere (but you can also rent or buy it online, or get it on DVD & Blu-ray).
I had originally booked to see Phantom in person next month, but with that plan now out of the window, this was my perfect opportunity to see it for the first time. And it was incredible, I’m so glad I got to see it at long last. Now I know what all the hype is about, and it’s absolutely justified.
Everything about it is just amazing. Ramin and Sierra give outstanding performances as the Phantom and Christine respectively, as they both have amazing voices as they sing those wonderful songs, backed by the joyous sound of a full orchestra. And the show is visually stunning as well, with beautiful costumes and sets, and excellent choreography. It’s just pure delight for the eyes and ears, and gets very emotional in certain moments too.
Then at the end there was the added bonus of Sarah Brightman and four previous Phantoms giving a fabulous encore performance, along with an appearance from Michael Crawford, who many regard as the best Phantom. Michael sadly didn’t perform on this occasion, but still clearly loved being part of such a special occasion, just as much as the crowd adored him with their rapturous reception.
So I’m delighted I finally got to experience Phantom, even if it’s not in the way I expected for my first time. It just makes me want to see it in the theatre all the more, so that’s yet another thing to look forward to once life returns to normal.
And if you want to see another musical produced by Cameron Mackintosh, the staged concert of Les Miserables is now available to download, to raise money for actors, musicians and the NHS. So having never seen Les Mis before either, it looks like that could also be a good way of introducing myself to it!
The major comedy event over these past few weeks was Red Dwarf – The Promised Land, a brand new feature-length special of the sitcom. And it was brilliant. The extended length gave them a good chance to explore a story involving the race of feline beings that had evolved from Lister’s cat millions of years ago, placing the boys from the Dwarf in jeopardy along the way. There were lots of laughs, action and call-backs, and a very touching moment between Lister and Rimmer that reminds you just how much they care about each other despite their regular disagreements. The Cat has also evolved emotionally too, while still remaining true to the character. And Holly’s back, joy of joys! So I really enjoyed it, as clearly did many others on social media.
There are also some great extras to explore, as you can watch a behind-the-scenes documentary, deleted scenes and smeg-ups on UKTV Play (as well as rewatching the special itself of course), and hear some of the soundtrack on composer Paul Farrer’s Youtube channel (sadly not Howard Goodall this time, but the music was still fabulous). In the documentary it was interesting to see that Doug Naylor is keen to do more specials to examine other aspects of the series in depth, and lovely to know that the cast are also still keen to work on the show. So I’m hopeful that this won’t be the last we see of the Dwarfers, fingers crossed.
Have I Got News For You has returned for its 59th series and, given the current restrictions, it’s now effectively a video conference, with everyone taking part from their homes, and all brought together in a virtual studio created by a company called Electric Robin. It felt very strange compared to their normal shows, especially with no studio audience too, but it worked reasonably well. It was still funny, which is the important thing, and we need that kind of humour right now.
Russell Howard is also making a new Home Time show from the comfort of his own home, in much the same vein as Russell Howard’s Good News and The Russell Howard Hour. So he gives us his thoughts on recent news stories, talks to celebrities and frontline workers, and has musical guests. Some of his guests will be more of interest to me than others, so I won’t watch every episode in its entirety, but I enjoyed seeing Greg Davies in the first one. The show is being broadcast on Sky every Tuesday and Thursday, with a worldwide release the following day on Russell’s Youtube channel, and he’s generously donating his fee to NHS Charities Together & The Trussell Trust.
I’ve also been trying out the new sitcom Mister Winner on BBC2, starring Spencer Jones as a man who gets himself into all sorts of awkward and farcical situations, a bit like a modern Frank Spencer. It’s nothing amazing, but it’s quite funny. There’s also been a new episode of QI XL this weekend. And Season 18 of Family Guy has also returned on ITV2 as well.
The big new TV drama this week was a 3-part series on ITV called Quiz, adapted from the stage play of the same name. It’s all about the infamous episode of Who Wants To A Millionaire?, where Charles Ingram cheated his way to the jackpot. He’s always denied cheating, but he was convicted in court, and then was later convicted for an unrelated insurance fraud as well, so I personally find it very difficult to believe him!
And this dramatic interpretation was brilliant. Michael Sheen‘s portrayal of Chris Tarrant was uncanny in every respect, and while Matthew Macfadyen doesn’t look a lot like Charles Ingram, he still had his mannerisms down to a T. I also particularly enjoyed Aisling Bea‘s performance as one of the TV executives. But everyone was brilliant, and it was really engaging. ITV and Celador were good sports for letting themselves be sent up in this too, as they could easily have asked for certain lines to be removed to save face.
Some names and aspects of the story were altered for dramatic effect, but a lot of it was true, and it was fascinating. Even though I had already seen the Tonight documentary about it many years ago (and again last week, as it is fascinating), there was still much I hadn’t known.
For example, I never knew the story of The Syndicate (called The Consortium in real life), a group of fans who perhaps didn’t cheat as such, but effectively played the show at its own game, working together to study the quiz and the application process in fine detail, in order to maximise their chances of getting in the hot seat and winning a decent amount of money. It’s estimated they won about 10% of all the prize money awarded by the show, amounting to about £5 million between them. The Consortium didn’t help the Ingrams, but there were connections to them as explained in the drama, so it was still relevant.
It was also enjoyable to see the fallout from the infamous episode among the production team, and very intriguing to witness the court hearing. The defence lawyer was so good that there was a very real chance the Ingrams could have been found innocent. But of course, they were found guilty, and personally I still firmly believe that they are. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the show put doubt in some people’s minds, and I know the Ingrams are still trying to appeal the decision.
To find out more about the drama and Millionaire itself, check out the Final Answer podcast, where you’ll find 3 special episodes that were released to coincide with the drama last week. I’ve listened to all of them, and they’re full of interesting and surprising information. Also, on Twitter, James Graham has confirmed some of the amazing facts that were included in the drama. And Chris Tarrant has also been interviewed about the programme on Good Morning Britain and Radio X, and it’s interesting to hear his reaction to it.
If you want to make up your own mind about the whole affair, the real footage from the original recording has now been published on the official Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Youtube channel. The relevant coughs that formed a large part of the prosecution have been enhanced for clarity, but even if you didn’t have that, there is much to be considered about the way that Charles analysed and answered each question, and the reactions of his wife Diana in the audience.
There are also on-screen notes that appear throughout the video to point out important details, which aren’t spoken unfortunately. So if you can’t see, that’s what’s happening when all you can hear is the music bed, or when they rewind the tape to repeat a key moment. But even if you can’t see the text, you can still hear everything very clearly.
I personally just find it fascinating and hilarious how bad they were at it. If you’re going to attempt something so audacious, you don’t put the dimmest person in the hot seat. Regularly he would say that he’d never heard of certain answers and rule them out, only to then mysteriously go back to them a little while later and get the question right. And once you hear the coughs from his accomplice, especially when they get riskier in the later stages, it all falls into place. If they’d had the sense to quit while they were ahead, perhaps around the £32,000 mark or just slightly beyond, they might have just got away with it. But Charles Ingram’s greed made him push his luck and expose the whole scam.
But that’s my opinion – give it a watch and see what you think. And if you reckon you’re brainy, see if you can answer the questions too!
Also, as a quick final aside, well done to my nystagmus peer Richard Osman, who won £32,000 for charity on last week’s Easter special! We’ve been trying out his House Of Games show for the first time on BBC iPlayer too, which is a very easy-going, light-hearted quiz, where all the questions have a bit of a twist to them. It’s good fun, it’s worth a watch.
I’m also still working my way through the Blu-ray box set of The X-Files that I mentioned in my previous Favourites post, and am currently on Season 5. I’m also continuing to enjoy Season 5 of Outlander on Amazon. And Series 6 of The Flash has resumed too. The first episode on its return was part of the latest crossover story with 4 other shows set in the same universe. I haven’t seen the other shows, but I understood enough to enjoy it from The Flash’s perspective. It caused some big updates, meaning the rest of the series has a new story arc, so it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
Podcasts & Music
The Absolute Radio podcasts from the Dave Berry Breakfast Show and Hometime With Bush & Richie are keeping me entertained with their banter and comedy on weekdays. They’re always good fun.
Meanwhile on my Twitter and Facebook pages you can find me taking part in the 30 Day Song Challenge that VICTA have posted as part of their 20 ways to spend time at home and stay in touch, a list that also includes me among their list of recommended bloggers, so thank you VICTA for that! Once the challenge is done, I’ll post my full list of answers at a later date.
Finally, here’s a selection of other videos that I’ve been enjoying, which I haven’t already mentioned above.
- Extreme Dreams: The Lockdown Getaway – Dean Dunbar is a blind extreme sports enthusiast and a very good friend of mine. During the lockdown he’s sharing stories about his many amazing adventures, so please do go and check them out. You can also find out much more on his Extreme Dreams website.
- Fern Lulham: Online Dating When You’re Blind – Fern is a wonderful motivational speaker who, like me, has the eye condition aniridia. I first met her at the Aniridia Network conference when she gave a speech there, and she later interviewed me about the Naidex show for a radio programme. She does a lot of public speaking, and regularly posts Youtube videos. And a few months ago she had the honour of speaking at a TEDx event in Kingston Upon Thames, as you can see the video that’s recently been posted. It’s an interesting and inspiring talk in which she discusses her experiences of online dating, and shares what she’s learned about self acceptance, so it’s well worth a watch.
- Beno: London Underground Coronavirus Service – This is a fascinating look at how deserted the Tube is during the lockdown. It’s incredibly eerie to see the stations and trains so empty compared to what we’re used to. The only time it will be somewhat busy now is during the rush hour, when key workers are travelling. It’s very encouraging to see that everyone else is obeying the rules and staying away.
- Jay Foreman: Unfinished London – This is an excellent series of videos about the city, which are extremely well edited and very funny, as well as being highly educational. The latest video asks why does London have 32 boroughs? There are many other great videos on Jay’s channel too, he’s wonderfully creative.
- London Transport Museum: Hidden London Hangouts – As the name suggests, the museum’s Hidden London tours show you parts of the city that you’d never normally get to see. As those tours can’t take place during the lockdown, however, they’re doing the next best thing, with a series of interesting videos discussing a variety of different places. The first video looks at the history of Aldwych Station.
- Andrew Cotter: Olive & Mabel – This is so adorable. Without any real sport going on, commentator Andrew Cotter is now reviewing the performances of his labradors instead. He’s only done 2 videos so far – The Dog’s Breakfast and Game Of Bones – but given their popularity, we can only hope he does more, they’re great.
- Noel’s House Party: Unseen Studio Recordings – I mentioned Noel’s House Party last year in my list of childhood TV favourites, as it remains one of the greatest Saturday night TV shows of all time, with its wonderful mixture of games, gunge, Gotchas and general mayhem. And I wanted to mention it again because of Andy Pearman’s channel, which I’ve been following for months now. Not only has he been uploading complete episodes of the series (along with other programmes too), but more excitingly he’s gained exclusive access to some of the full studio recordings, so we can finally see what happened after the show went off air. His most recent upload gives us a behind-the-scenes glimpse from the final episode of series 3, with Mr Blobby causing even more chaos than the viewers at home saw at the time.
- Dave Gorman: Gormhub – Comedian Dave Gorman has launched a new Youtube channel where he’s currently posting clips and full episodes from Modern Life Is Goodish, and he hopes to upload some new material in the future too. So do go and check that out if you’re a fan of his, like me. He also has an older channel with clips that are well worth a look too.
- Who Said That? – This is a panel game hosted by Mark Olver. The first episode featured Mark Watson, Angela Barnes, Nathan Caton and Eleri Morgan and was pretty good. In each round, one comedian gets to pose a question, and the others all have to answer. The goal is then for the questioner to match the answers with the person who gave them. A simple premise and it works nicely.
- Mandy Dassa: Choose Your Own Adventure – Help resting actress Mandy make the most of her day by telling her what to do, in this interactive comedy sketch show. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort required to make a series like this, but it’s good fun, and she clearly enjoyed putting it together.
- Tim Vine Televisual – I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s worth mentioning again in the circumstances, as Tim Vine is very funny. Most of his videos are delightfully silly bitesize sketches, but he’s also posted a feature-length horror comedy film called Fearmoth that he made a few years ago. It’s a funny, daft, small-budget production, about a man with a fear of the dark who runs a lightbulb shop in a small town, and gets the blame when a giant moth attacks the residents. It’s not at all scary, it’s just silly with good humour, and it’s very generous of him to publish it for free. Some people are now hoping that he’ll also post his other film, Library Altitude Zero, which I’ve never seen before either.
- Only Fools In Lockdown – This is a fun new video from the cast of Only Fools And Horses: The Musical (which I really enjoyed last year), where Paul Whitehouse and friends have recorded their version of the theme tune from their homes, in tribute to the NHS heroes and other key workers.
- David Jason: Moral Support & Trigger’s Broom – Talking of Only Fools And Horses, the legendary David Jason has also put out a lovely message of support, with some special advice for social distancing.
- Jimmy Carr: Little Tiny Quiz Of The Lockdown – Comedian Jimmy Carr is posting a fun variety of questions every day to keep your brain busy. Some of them are visual in nature so won’t be suitable for everybody, but even if you can’t do those there are still plenty of other questions to have a go at.
- Taskmaster: Home Tasks – The Taskmaster’s assistant Alex Horne is setting fun and creative tasks for people to do at home, and then posting extensive compilations of everybody’s entries, with the show’s host Greg Davies picking his favourites. You can post your entries and follow those of others on Twitter using the hashtag #HomeTasking.
- Freddie Mercury: Finding Freddie – This is a very interesting set of video podcasts that are being released on a regular basis, talking about various aspects of Freddie’s life, so they’re well worth a watch. I also recommend following Queen guitarist Brian May on his Youtube and Instagram pages, for his Micro Concertos and other bits of chat that he’s posting frequently.
- Spencer Kelly: Periscope – Presenter Spencer Kelly from BBC Click has been doing live chats around 12:30pm every day, with good humour and interesting updates on his work. He and his team have also just posted a 20th anniversary special of the technology news programme, looking back at their best moments, which is interesting too.
- All The Stations: Don’t Panic Stations! – Railway enthusiasts Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe are doing regular live streams to keep them and us entertained, and they’re great fun. On Saturday evenings they’re online for an hour, and the most recent stream featured a London Underground quiz, which I didn’t score well on but still enjoyed. And on Wednesdays they’re doing a shorter half-hour stream for families and children (and big kids too), encouraging them to get creative.
And that’s it. There was quite a lot there, so I hope you found something amongst it all that interested you. Feel free to recommend anything you think I should check out.
In the meantime, until my next post, please follow the guidelines to stay indoors, protect your health service and save lives, wherever you are in the world. I hope you all stay safe and well!
4 thoughts on “Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 1-4”
Great post! I’m glad you enjoyed the Nystagmus Network’s quiz night. 🙂
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Thanks Amanda! Yes, it was fun! 🙂
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