A year of lockdowns: The things that made life at home bearable

Alistair Mason, PA
·3-min read

With the public stuck at home through most of the year, people have had to find their amusement where they can.

As we reach a year of lockdown, here are some of the things that kept life bearable.

– Must-see TV

I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel
Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You was one of the hit shows of lockdown (Yui Mok/PA)

Last March the nation was greeting each other on Zoom calls with the words “Hey all you cool cats and kittens” as the Netflix documentary series Tiger King became the show everyone was watching in lockdown.

With nowhere to go for large parts of the year cultural events were largely limited to the TV or laptop screen, and that meant a resurgence of the appointment to view, with terrestrial shows like I May Destroy You on BBC, ITV’s The Quiz and Channel 4’s It’s A Sin uniting the nation around the virtual water cooler.

Elsewhere, streaming shows like The Crown, The Queen’s Gambit and The Last Dance became big hits for Netflix, while the serendipitously-timed launch of Disney+ last March brought with it Star Wars spin-off The Mandalorian and, later, Marvel oddity WandaVision.

– Gaming

For many it has been a year of gaming. The family-friendly Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a well-timed release in March of last year to keep Nintendo Switch owners amused in the early days of lockdown, while zombie sequel The Last Of Us Part II was a must-play on the PlayStation 4. In the latest lockdown, though, it has all been about next generation consoles, after the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 were released at the end of last year. The only problem has been getting hold of one – lockdown boredom has made for very high demand, and the manufacturers have not been able to keep up, leaving many gamers frustrated.

– Baking

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Away from the relatively high-tech world of next generation games consoles and Netflix, there was also a return to more traditional pastimes.

Perhaps chief among them was baking – indeed, there was a period in 2020 when it was impossible to turn on Facebook or Instagram without seeing a picture of a friend or relative’s attempts at banana bread or sourdough.

Such was the uptick in home baking that it caused a shortage of flour last spring.

Relatively plentiful supplies on supermarket shelves during the latest lockdown may suggest the trend has run its course for many.

– Meal kits and takeaways

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As restaurants and pubs hastily pivoted to takeaway operations during the first lockdown, ordering in became a method to treat yourself while supporting local business for those who could afford to do so.

As the year progressed, more and more food outlets began to produce meal kits to allow their customers to continue to experience restaurant-quality food at home.

From pizzas to burgers to fine dining, it turns out there is nothing you cannot produce in your own kitchen with a little nudge from the professionals.

– Sea shanties

Perhaps the most surprising trend of lockdown proved to be sea shanties.

The close-harmony nautical folk songs proved to be the perfect genre for a TikTok trend which saw users repeatedly layer their own vocals on top of others’ videos.

And this was one social media trend to break through into the mainstream, making a star of Nathan Evans – the Scottish postal worker whose version of Wellerman started it all.

He has now made multiple TV appearances and reached number two in the UK singles chart.