We all need a big cushiony telly show to fall back on. Like the pair of slippers after you unexpectedly went Christmas shopping in your work shoes. Like the cup of tea when your deadlines are making you cry. Like the hug off someone who matters when it’s cold and you wanted to look nice, not warm.
When I was a bairn (if we count 28 as still a bairn), I used to watch Disney films when I was ill. Not all of them. Pinocchio still gives me the willies and some of the newer ones are “too new” with the characters wandering about with low-slung trousers and mobile phones. No thanks. But Cinderella, Snow White (speeding past any scenes with the wicked queen/old hag fruit lady), The Jungle Book plus Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid from the more recent ones did the job nicely. When I was ill (cold, flu, pretending a sprained ankle is worse than it is), my mam wouldn’t allow me to stay IN bed. I had to sit ON the bed and not in pyjamas, either. She said you feel better if you’ve showered and put on clothes. She was right. She usually is. But I know that Baloo the bear and Sebastian the crab and whatever interchangeable princes were on offer would cheer me up, too.
These days, I normally resort to Friends. It’s always on Comedy Central. I have a backlog on my recordy box and a few years ago my fella bought the whole lot for me anyway. It’s short, familiar and makes me laugh. And it’s like having actual friends around but without having to brush your hair or put things into piles (tidying).
But I now have a new show that warms my cockles (if I’m just in a nightie and they’re cold). Liz Bonnin’s Animal Odd Couples is like someone rubbing your back. It’s like all of the clips you normally watch on the internet – LOOK! A dog likes a cat. LOOK! That badger is friends with that dolphin. LOOK! That mouse is sharing a sleeping bag with that lion. LOOK! Those chimps are holding hands. ON SWINGS. WHILE SINGING.
Sorry, I love the internet. Since I got my cats, I don’t look at clips so much. Like a teenage boy with a real live girlfriend. But I am always sucked into clips of unlikely animal friendships. And Animal Odd Couples is just that. I’m surprised I heard any of Liz Bonnin’s chat at all, above all of the “Aaaaaaaaaahhh”, “Oh my” and saying, “Look...” at no one.
At the end of the show, I picked up my cats and hugged them tight. They wriggled free and I know that’s because even the best of friends don’t squeeze each other while crying.
The Sarah Millican Television Programme is available at radiotimes.com/dvdshop