The show must go on: we need to be entertained by television more than ever in these troubling times

It's not all doom and gloom out there, says Helen Daly

Saturday Night Takeaway

If we want to laugh, if we want to cry and if we want distraction from what’s going on in our lives – we turn to TV.

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Whether it’s still the big screen in the corner of the room – or increasingly the laptop, the tablet or the phone, the medium of television is something that touches most of our lives most days.

We are living in dark and unprecedented times on account of the coronavirus pandemic which has turned our lives upside down. Most of us have swapped our office desks for our kitchen tables and nights out have been replaced by self isolation in our own homes. Rolling news is becoming bleaker by the day.

We don’t know what the future will hold and how long we will be in this uncertain situation for, but what we do know is that we need home entertainment, in whatever form, more than ever. And thankfully for all of us, the entertainment industry is finding a way through this period.

It’s hard to avoid the recent swell of events like Glastonbury and the Eurovision Song Contest being cancelled on top of delays to huge movie releases like James Bond’s No Time to Die and Black Widow. But in these troubling times, come desperate measures. Production teams and broadcasters – who know how important it is to cheer up the nation – are going above and beyond to make sure our television lives are as smooth as possible.

It would be easy for everyone to give up and just let the news take over, but the likes of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, which relies so heavily on its live studio audience, are busily putting together a solid hour of entertainment for us this weekend which will be sans-audience. It’s going to be tricky, but if anyone can do it, Ant and Dec can.

Chat show host in the States, Conan O’Brien, will continue with his show, albeit from home, on his iPhone. Again, another seemingly impossible mission, but O’Brien is clearly aware of how much we need stability and entertaining formats and is thankfully willing to compromise on picture quality just to get his show out there.

While live shows are doing their best to continue, it’s down to the rest of telly to rally together and make sure our schedules are jam-packed still.

Good old soaps, which have been airing for almost 60 years in some cases (Coronation Street), would have undoubtedly been the worst hit. With the likes of Emmerdale and Hollyoaks airing every day, they had to take action. But instead of taking the easy option out, all soaps have simply reduced the number of episodes they will put out every week to ensure they can stay on the schedule for longer. And as of 19th March 2020, Coronation Street and Emmerdale are even continuing to film.

Coronation Street wedding
The show goes on for Coronation Street (ITV)

It’s a bold and brave move, but it means we will get to see EastEnders, Corrie, Emmerdale, and Hollyoaks for the foreseeable future. An attempt at stability in this tumultuous time should always be applauded. As for Neighbours, which is currently celebrating its 35th anniversary, they’re still planning on putting our five episodes a week.

And then there’s streaming. Next Tuesday (24th March), as we all grow more accustomed to life indoors, Disney+ launches in the UK, bringing feel good entertainment from the masters of ‘Cheering Everyone Up’. There, we will be able to devour the likes of The Mandalorian, the Lion King and the entire Marvel Universe to our heart’s content – and that’s not to mention those nights binging through all of the Disney Princess movies to perfect our high notes.

Plus there’s Netflix, who will always be a go-to for many when we’re stuck indoors. Season three of Ozark is just around the corner, insane documentary Tiger King is due to land this week and the entire back catalogue of classic Great British Bake Off is still there, ready for a rewatch.

On top of all of that, some film studios have come to the unexpected decision to put out some huge movies earlier for physical and streaming release. The likes of Frozen 2, Birds of Prey and Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker will all be available to watch earlier than previously thought, making self isolation seem a little easier.

Furthermore, the BBC announced an enormous and extensive list of measures on 18th March to help inform, educate and entertain the nation during these difficult times. Alongside virtual church services and more podcast content, the BBC will be making educational resources available for school kids who now have to work from home. They will also be putting classic series like Spooks and The A Word on iPlayer for us to binge through, on top of all the Doctor Who rewatches we’ll be doing alongside the rest of Twitter.

It can be easy to get lost among the bad news we’re hearing not just every day, but every hour and minute. Coronavirus and all the developments we’re hearing about are scary. We need light relief more than ever.

Thankfully, with our incredible entertainment industry across the globe, the show – quite literally – will go on. It’s not all doom and gloom, there’s positive news out there and that trusty telly has a world of great content ready and waiting to tear you away from rolling news.

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So, allow yourself to get distracted by a binge-worthy series… we won’t tell anyone.