Why television is the best January pick-me-up

With Call the Midwife, Wolf Hall and Catastrophe on our side, it's a whole lot easier to stay perky until pay day, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

January is one tough month. It’s long, it’s dark and it has literally no redeeming qualities.


December has twinkling fairylights and February has red roses, but January? We are still a little overweight, but no longer have the excuse that we are carrying a few extra mince pies around our middles. Literally no one has any money. And, if you were foolish enough to take on ‘Dry January’, by now you’ve swapped clear-headed and smug for thoroughly fed up.

And it’s not even over yet. These last few days, which are (probably) scientifically proven to be the most depressing of the entire year, are the toughest bit. So thank heavens, and John Logie Baird, for TV – and UK broadcasters for some helpful scheduling. 

Chilly weather, sniffles, that post-Christmas melancholy – TV can cure it all. This January has proved that the box has restorative powers. 

A trip to the sunny shores of Death in Paradise’s Saint Marie (Thursdays, 9:00pm, BBC1) is a start to lift you out of that slump – it’s surely as good for your vitamin D count as an hour on the sun lounger – but TV can also remind us why our miserable Januarys aren’t so bad after all…

With Channel 4’s Catastrophe, the clue is in the title. Sure the schlepp to pay-day is strenuous, but I bet you your week hasn’t been as bad as Sharon’s.

Sharon Horgan plays a version of herself alongside American comedian Rob Delaney in her new sitcom (Mondays at 10pm). It’s the best thing that’s been on TV this year (yes, I know we’re only 26 days in). After half an hour in their company the pair already feel like old, hilarious, friends. But with unplanned pregnancies, cancer scares and horribly awkward dinner parties, I’m suddenly hugely glad my January’s been boring and uneventful. 

The return of Call the Midwife provides a little perspective for our January blues, too. We might be facing an impending Monday morning when we sit down with the midwives, but with storylines about child neglect, prostitution, stillbirth and child migrants, moaning from the comfort of our sofas somehow feels a little churlish. 

And then there’s Wolf Hall (Wednesday, BBC1). Hilary Mantel’s worthy adaptation is great TV with an impressive cast list, but it’s also dim, dark and gloomy. There’s illness, death and an awful lot of political back-stabbing going on.

Sure, you might not be a fan of the sun setting just after lunch – or the bitchy office politics you have to put up with –but the 16th century this is not. We have central heating, lightbulbs, the internet and TV.


When you think about it, things aren’t that bad, now, are they?