Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 9-12

Hello again, I hope you’re continuing to keep safe and well. It’s been a strange few weeks for me. It started with the loss of my uncle over the Bank Holiday weekend, although fortunately he didn’t have the virus, and my mother and I are hoping to go to the funeral to support my aunt if the rules allow. And then of course we’ve had the Dominic Cummings scandal, which I’m not going to rant about, suffice to say there’s been a major misjudgement of the public mood by him and the government, they’ve lost a lot of trust and goodwill.

On the plus side, however, our lockdown has been eased in various ways, including the re-opening of non-essential shops, the compulsory use of face coverings on public transport, and the partial re-opening of schools. But many scientists feel too much is being done too soon – and if the experts are wary then so am I, because I trust their judgement the most. So I’m happy to continue staying locked down, because I have no compelling reason to go out anyway, and my priority is still protecting Mum by not bringing the virus home.

Best wishes to my friends and followers in the USA as well, all our thoughts are with you right now. Black Lives Matter, and those taking advantage of peaceful protests to cause destruction and misery have no respect for peace and equality. I sincerely hope that stability and civility is restored very soon. We should all be pulling together at all times, but it’s more important than ever during this pandemic.

Anyway, apart from all that, I’m doing fine and have been quite productive, and I’ve continued to find lots of pleasant distractions. So let’s get into my latest post about what I’ve been enjoying, and there are accompanying videos for week 9, week 10 and weeks 11-12. Apart from the Def Leppard box set noted in the music section, nothing else is sponsored or gifted here, and all opinions are my own. So I hope you find it interesting!



As a quick opening note, please be careful about the many scams flying around right now. I recently had a clearly fake email claiming I’d made a payment to Microsoft, and the excellent scambaiter Jim Browning (now with a million subscribers) responded to a fake Paypal email to expose the scammers. Meanwhile, Dave from The Kiffness nearly fell for a Facebook scam recently. And it’s always safe to assume that freebies forwarded via Whatsapp are fake, including the free Nando’s offer that got passed around recently. So there’s a lot to be wary of. For more on email scams, see my scam posts for examples and advice.


Upcoming Events

I’m taking part in a couple of big events later this month, both of which are free to attend on Zoom if you want to join in:

  • Aniridia Network Conference (21 June, 2pm-4pm) – This is appropriately taking place on Aniridia Day, and we’ll have a wonderful variety of guest speakers and opportunities for discussion. I won’t be speaking, I’ll just be helping with social media in the background. But if you have any connection to aniridia, do come and join us.
  • CXCon: The Accessibility Edition (30 June, all day) – This event will feature a variety of presentations and discussions about digital accessibility. And it’s the most significant event for me this month, because I’m on a panel of disabled people at 10:20am, with James Moore from The Independent, Vivek Gohil from Uncanny Vivek, and Matthew Johnston from Thoughtworks. We’ll be discussing the barriers we face with digital inclusion and the impact that has, in a half-hour pre-recorded chat, followed by a live Q&A on the day. So please do join us if you can!

And also don’t forget that Nystagmus Awareness Day is on 20 June, so do be sure to celebrate the day and help to educate others if you know about nystagmus.

Accessibility & Assistive Technology

Looking back at a past event, and Thursday 21 May was Global Accessibility Awareness Day. So I wanted to highlight some relevant videos and articles that have been posted recently. Please do check them out, especially if you’re not very familiar with accessibility topics and how disabled people are able to use assistive technology.


AbilityNet have been hosting a series of webinars, and are publishing the recordings on their Youtube channel, with recent presentations discussing:

Thomas Pocklington Trust have also made their first attempt at a webinar, called Accessible tech at home and work. If you enjoy it and want them to do more, do let them know. Their contact details and social media links are on their website.


Blogging & Social Media:


Twitter have announced that you can now use up to 1000 characters in image descriptions (up from 420), and short image descriptions are automatically provided for most animated GIFs. They’ve also said that a setting is no longer required to enable image descriptions, so it should be available automatically. But if you want to check, go to Settings & Privacy in the Twitter app or website, enter the Accessibility section, and turn on Compose Image Descriptions.

This all means the next time you upload an image to a tweet, you should see an option to add a description. Please use it. It’s extremely helpful, and will enable you to attract many disabled followers and their supporters, and additional customers if you run a business.

Pandemic Posts

As you can imagine, there have been various articles and videos looking at the impact of the pandemic on the lives of disabled people. Here are some of the latest:

It’s also worth noting that visually impaired people can now get priority supermarket slots by calling the RNIB helpline on 0303 123 9999.

Visual Impairment Videos

Here are some videos I’ve watched or become aware of that are well worth checking out, regardless of whether you have sight problems or not:

  • Climbing Blind – This is a really interesting BBC Four documentary about blind climber Jesse Dufton, and his aim to be the first blind person to lead a climb of the Old Man of Hoy in Scotland. He’s a great guy, and it’s a really impressive feat when you see the challenges that are involved in navigating up the structure!
  • Extreme Dreams: Lockdown Getaway – To remind you of another adrenaline junkie I’ve mentioned before, my good mate Deano from Extreme Dreams has posted what he thinks will be the last of his Lockdown Getaway series, sharing stories and footage of his many adventures. He’s achieved so many incredible things, so it’s well worth watching them.
  • Bird Nerd Sophie – On a much calmer note, Sophie is a friendly and positive blind lady with a love of parrots, and has a nice variety of videos on her channel about living with visual impairment, looking after birds, and other topics. So do check her out and subscribe to her Youtube and Instagram pages. She was kind enough to leave a few comments on my channel, so I’m happy to give her a shoutout in return.
  • Delagrande – This is another young blind lady called Demi, who makes videos and blog posts about her vision loss, beauty and fashion, daily life and more. She’s all over social media as well.
  • James Rath – This very talented blind filmmaker has launched a new project called Blind Abroad, where he explores travel, accessibility and personal stories from a disabled perspective. His Istanbul film is a really well edited and beautiful insight into his trip there. It was particularly interesting to see the part about an audio description app for the cinema that was similar to one I’ve tried before. It’s good to see that kind of technology still being worked on.

Of course, all of that represents a very small example of the type of content that’s out there by disabled people. Check out my Sight Loss & Disability playlists for many more videos by myself and others, and also my long list of disabled bloggers and Youtubers.


A Monster Calls

The Old Vic have now started posting full shows, and they began with A Monster Calls, which was online for a week until 11 June. I had previously seen this in person with my friend Claire, with audio description and a touch tour, back in August 2018, but I was keen to see it again.

It’s a wonderfully performed and deeply emotional play, based on a book by Patrick Ness, which in turn came from an original idea by Siobhan Dowd. It’s about a teenage boy called Conor, who is struggling to come to terms with his mother’s terminal illness. Responding to the boy’s mental anguish and behaviour around others, a monster visits him on various nights, telling him 3 stories, after which Conor must tell a 4th story, and it must be the truth. So yes, it is dark, and I would defy anybody not to be deeply moved by the end, as it’s very powerful and relatable. And yet it has light and humour sprinkled throughout too. It’s a beautifully heartfelt production about the love between a son and his mother, ultimately.

The acting is fantastic, particularly by Matthew Tennyson as Conor of course, and the staging is cleverly done, with entwined ropes used to create the monster’s tree, and all of the actors becoming observers and stagehands as they sit at the side of the stage during scenes they’re not part of.

The emotive music by Benji Bower also elevates it really well too. He gave a special interview about making the music to accompany the upload of the show, which gives a great insight into how it came together. He’s also released a lovely album of the score, which can also be heard on Spotify. And there was a very interesting pre-show talk as well.

So I loved seeing it again, and it did resonate with me. As I’ve said before, the reason I’m staying home in lockdown is so my Mum doesn’t go to hospital with the virus where I can’t visit her. Whenever her last day comes, I want to hold her to let her go, and this incredible play shows why it’ll be so painful yet so important.

It wasn’t audio described unfortunately, but I was able to see enough on my nice big TV screen. However, it’s great to know that The Old Vic are providing captions and audio descriptions for all of their live streams of Lungs, starring Claire Foy and Matt Smith. These are special socially distanced performances broadcast live from their stage via Zoom, with no set, minimal lighting, and as few people in the building as possible.

So it’s worth keeping an eye on The Old Vic’s website and Youtube channel, as there will be other interesting productions coming up, hopefully more of which will be audio described. They promised me that their streamed stage performances would be, which I had assumed meant their recorded shows as well, which would be awesome. But knowing they’re doing it for a live show is still brilliant, it’s great that they’re making the effort.

Other Venues

Apart from The Old Vic, a couple of other venues are also putting on audio described productions:

For more online theatre options, The Guardian have a nice list of what’s around at the moment (thank you to my friend Claire for spotting that), and you can find out about accessible online productions via the VocalEyes newsletters and the Official London Theatre website, both of which are updated regularly.

Future Access Concerns

It’s also vital that the arts continue to be accessible to disabled people when things reopen. And with that in mind, the audio description charity VocalEyes recently consulted their trustees and user panel members – including myself – about our access to museums and theatres at the present time and in the near future. So do check out these 2 articles, which include thoughts from myself and various others:

The theatre charity Graeae (pronounced “grey-eye) have also written an open letter to the Culture Secretary to safeguard the future of disability arts within the UK.


In recent weeks I’ve watched some museum-based content for the first time during lockdown, all of which was quite interesting.

  • British Museum: Pompeii Live – This was a very entertaining and comprehensive look at the British Museum’s 2013 exhibition about Pompeii and Herculaneum, presented by engaging and knowledgeable curators and experts. There’s also a brief video by QI about Pompeii too.
  • British Museum: Vikings Live – This was another archive film shared by the British Museum, all about their Vikings exhibition from 2014. Again it was really interesting, with a massive ship at the centre of the gallery, lots of close-up views of the wonderful objects on display, and even a re-enactment of a Viking burial at the end. The music was mixed a bit too loud though, even drowning out some of the narration in the intro altogether. But that aside it was still another wonderful tour.

For more Youtube video tours like these, see the museum videos playlist I’ve put together.


Lord Of The Rings: Reunion

Recently the cast of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy held a very special reunion in One Zoom To Rule Them All, and if you’re a big fan of the films it’s essential viewing. There are lots of laughs and some interesting insights as well, it’s great fun. And it features many of the actors including Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis (who recently read The Hobbit in an 11-hour live stream for charity) and many others. I won’t spoil any of the surprise appearances, of which there are many, so be sure to watch until the very end. But it’s abundantly clear how much they love being in each other’s company just as much now as they did when they made the films. So it’s wonderful to see them all back together like this.

Jumanji: The Next Level

I also decided to watch Jumanji: The Next Level online, the most recent film in the series that I hadn’t yet seen. It directly follows on from the previous film, Welcome To The Jungle, throwing our heroes back into the video game again (because Jumanji is no longer the board game it was in the original film). But the game has changed since last time, not only giving them a new quest, but also changing their virtual characters in fun ways too.

So while it treads familiar territory, there are more than enough new scenarios, updates to existing characters, and other new characters to meet, which ensures it works very well. All of the actors, including Karen GillanDwayne Johnson (The Rock) and Jack Black, are on great form again, and it’s a really funny film with some cool action sequences and great special effects. So I’m glad I watched that. And there is another sequel in development containing the same cast, so when they’re finally able to make that I’ll be looking forward to seeing it.

I’ve also now bought the Jumanji series on Blu-ray to keep, as they’re the sort of fun and humorous films I’d gladly watch again. I didn’t need to watch the films again quite so soon of course, but I have enjoyed going through the extra features on each one. Robin Williams is very funny in the gag reel and other special features on the first film, as are all the cast members in Welcome To The Jungle and The Next Level. You get a nice selection of extras for all of the films, covering all the important aspects of how they were made in a concise way, particularly all the fantastic special effects. In the original film they were very advanced for their day.

I also got the spin-off Zathura – A Space Adventure on DVD, as it’s not available on Blu-ray in the UK. The Blu-ray can be bought as a US import, but I don’t have a multi-region player, and I’m perfectly happy with just the DVD version anyway. It’s a nice film, but not as special as the main series.

The Walk

Thanks to a recommendation from Tina, one of my friendly followers, I rented The Walk on Amazon recently, which is based on the true story of Philippe Petit, a young French man who did a high wire walk between the twin towers in 1974.

It’s a fascinating story, and the stunt itself is beautifully visualised. If you’re squeamish about heights, then it might not be for you. The film is effectively divided into 4 parts, lasting about half an hour each – growing up and performing in france, planning the stunt, sneaking into the building and setting up the equipment with his accomplices, and finally the stunt itself. It’s very well put together.

There’s also a documentary called Man On Wire all about the feat. It was too difficult for me to keep up with trying to read the subtitles for the French speakers though, so I had to give up on it, but if that’s not an issue for you then you’ll find it of great interest. There have also been other documentaries about it as well.

TV Drama

In recent weeks I’ve finally found time to start back on my X-Files Blu-ray box set, which I had put on hold at the start of the lockdown. So I’ve finished season 5 this week, allowing me to get on to the first movie. Every season has one or two episodes that are below par and a bit boring, just like any long-running show, but on the whole it’s been exciting to go through them properly from the beginning.

Meanwhile, in terms of new shows, Season 6 of The Flash has now come to its premature end, as they had to stop short due to the pandemic. So Iris is still in trouble in the mirrorverse, and we’ll have to wait until Season 7, whenever they can film it, to see how she gets out.

TV & Online Comedy


My favourite series from the past couple of weeks has been Staged, featuring David Tennant and Michael Sheen, with their respective partners Georgia Tennant and Anna Lundberg, plus Simon Evans (who also wrote the series).

They’re all playing themselves, and the series focuses on Simon’s attempts to try and get David and Michael to rehearse together for a play while in lockdown. So they’re constantly communicating on Zoom, particularly David and Michael for the most part.

The two of them have a great chemistry together, and the arguments and distractions that plague the whole rehearsal process are very funny indeed. But all the other actors, including their partners, are fabulous too. And there are a couple of big, surprising guest stars as well, who I won’t spoil if you haven’t seen it yet, but they’re great sports and hilarious.

The series is being shown on BBC One over a few weeks, but all 6 episodes have been available on iPlayer from the outset, so I’ve binged watched them all, as they’re only 15-20 minutes each. There are some lovely shots of empty London and scenic landscapes in the scene transitions as well, which are interesting to see. And, if you can read them, it’s worth keeping an eye on the opening and closing credits of each episode as well, as they change to reflect events from one episode to the next, which is a nice touch.

Comedy Blu-rays

I’ve bought the Blu-ray of Red Dwarf – The Promised Land, their wonderful feature-length special, which I reviewed earlier in lockdown when it was first broadcast. It contains the documentary, deleted scenes and smeg-ups that were also made available on the UKTV Play website, along with an interesting additional feature that shows how it was set up and filmed in front of an audience. So I’m glad I’ve got that to bring my Red Dwarf collection up to date.

And I also upgraded from my old DVD to the new Blu-ray release of Police Squad!, the delightfully daft and hilarious series that spawned the Naked Gun films. Fortunately I can see well enough to enjoy many of the visual gags that fill every episode, in addition to loving the performances by the late great Leslie Nielsen.

Stand-Up Comedy

Jason Manford very kindly donated his show Muddle Class for broadcast on BBC One to give people a boost, and it’s still available on iPlayer. This show hasn’t been released on DVD, so this is the only chance people will have to see it, if they didn’t attend in person. And it’s brilliant. He’s on top form as always, and he has a lovely message of support for people at the end as well. He wants people to escape from the world and have a good laugh, and he achieves that easily.

I also tried out an improv set from The Comedy Store Live, called The Comedy Store Players Filmed Before Lockdown, featuring Paul Merton and Josie Lawrence among other members of the Comedy Store Players. Having been to the Comedy Store once before, I knew the sort of thing to expect, and I wasn’t disappointed. It was very funny, and the small fee I paid was worth it. Check out their website for the other stand-up shows they have coming up online.

Other TV Comedy Shows

I’ve been enjoying Comedians: Home Alone lately, which has short episodes of about 15 minutes each. This is a weekly series of short sketches filmed by many of our best known comedians from their homes during lockdown, and they work very well. They’re silly and fun, which is just the ticket these days.

Apart from that, many of the shows I’ve been watching regularly have now ended their current runs. Have I Got News For You and The Last Leg: Locked Down Under have been responding to all the latest events wonderfully as always, with lots of laughs while getting serious points across too. I was glad that they extended The Last Leg’s lockdown series to a 5th episode (as it was announced as 4 in the original press release), and I hope they come back again soon.

And we’ve now had the last of the online Taskmaster Home Tasks, for the time being at least, finishing with people making big faces out of objects in their home. It’s been wonderful to see so many creative and hilarious entries, this series has really given people a lift during lockdown.

Comedy Clips

Recent online comedy highlights for me include:

  • Who Said That? – This panel show has got into its stride very nicely. And host Mark Olver has been able to attract some big names, including James Acaster in Episode 7, who was very good as always, and Richard Osman in Episode 9, who has nystagmus like me so is always worth a mention. Plus it’s great to see lesser-known comedians being involved as well, there’s a nice mixture there.


As always, there are lots of musical delights to finish with, so hopefully there will be something in this long list of suggestions that you enjoy.

Parodies & Humour


  • Sing Out Choir: Hey Jude – I want to give a special shoutout to this group, which consists of adults from North London who have a learning difficulty and autism. They either submitted recordings online, or were filmed at a safe distance on their doorsteps, singing a lovely version of this Beatles classic. To understand how it came together, check out the behind the scenes video as well. You can also find out more about the Sing Out Choir on their website, Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. Thank you to Camilla for sharing the video with me, you all did great!

Theatre Stars


It’s been a great relief to see guitarist Brian May back online after his recent spell in hospital, which was more serious than we first thought. He’s posted a video about his medical adventures, given a sincere thank you to those who have supported him, and delivered a very important message that everyone should take heed of right now. In short, his message is don’t be afraid to get medical help if there’s something wrong with you. People are dying from strokes, heart attacks, etc by not reporting it out of fears relating to the virus, yet hospitals are able to treat you very safely now.

As a special surprise to help him feel better, a group of performers (including big names like Kerry Ellis) got together to perform a great cover of his solo hit Driven By You, and he was stunned by the gesture.

It does look like Brian is gradually on the mend, judging by the videos on his channel, but we all wish them the best for his continued recovery!

There’s also been another brilliant all-star collaboration called You Are The Champions by LSwFF (Live Streams with Famous Friends), featuring a host of notable artists including Paul Rodgers.

And thank you to my friend Tina for pointing out a few enjoyable instrumental covers of Queen songs, including The Show Must Go On by 2 Cellos, Another One Bites The Dust by Hauser and We Are The Champions by Lola Astanova. All of those artists have several other nice videos that are worth checking out too.

Other Artists

  • Madness: Two Mad Men and a String Quartet – This gig filmed from the safety of a lockup was a wonderful surprise. It features Suggs and Mike Barson, along with The London String Group, all socially distanced from each other. And on top of a great selection of classic Madness hits, they also performed new songs Theatre of the Absurd and All The President’s Men, plus a cover of Life On Mars.
  • Alice Cooper: Don’t Give Up – This is a great new song by the legendary Alice Cooper especially for lockdown. The video is quite cool, with screens forming a globe, and many more scrolling across the background, showing people holding up the words.


As something a bit different, I thought I’d share some live nature cams, in case they help you escape to a world of peace and serenity for a little while. There are many more out there if you search for them, but here are a few I’ve recently come across:

Captain Sir Thomas Moore

And finally, congratulations to fabulous fundraiser Tom Moore on his well-deserved knighthood! Check out his BBC Breakfast interview to see his reaction.

He hasn’t stopped fundraising either. He’s now set up The Captain Tom Foundation to help combat loneliness, support hospices and helping those facing bereavement. As if he couldn’t get any more awesome!


And that’s it. Well done if you made it to the end of that bumper crop of random goodies, I hope you found some things of interest in amongst all of that. Don’t forget to check out my Covid Resources page and my many lockdown playlists, as well as all my previous Favourites posts of course, for much more.

Until next time, I hope you all continue to keep well. Please stay safe if you’re going out and about more these days, and if you’re stuck at home I hope you’re getting everything you need. See you again soon!

Author: Glen

Love London, love a laugh, love life. Visually impaired blogger, culture vulture & accessibility advocate, with aniridia & nystagmus, posting about my experiences & adventures.

2 thoughts on “Lockdown Favourites – Weeks 9-12”

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