January is basically over (hooray!) but lockdown is here to stay.
Thankfully, one of the very few upsides of so much time stuck indoors is that we’re all a little bit better at dealing with it. By which we mean, we’ve worked out the perfect TV shows to help you through it all.
Instead of going for hard-hitting dramas or gruesome true-crime documentaries, now is the time to delve into shows that are a little more soothing to the soul.
Whether reality television, travel programmes or sitcoms are your bag, there’s a heartwarming option to get you through the next month...
The Repair Shop (BBC Two and iPlayer)
The Repair Shop does exactly what it says on the tin. Members of the public bring in items which have fallen into disrepair and a team of experts restore them to their former glory.
Now in its sixth series, the show has seen all sorts of objects attended to, from huge pieces of furniture to wedding rings. Whatever their size though, one thing the items have in common is that they’re always much-loved family heirlooms with wonderful stories behind them. While it’s seriously heartwarming, this show does come with a warning: There will be tears. But they’ll be happy ones, we promise.
The Great Pottery Throw Down (Channel 4 and All4)
One of many Great British Bake Off-inspired programmes, The Great Pottery Throw Down sees a group of wannabe potters battle to impress the judges, Keith Brymer and Rich Miller. Like Bake Off, the show can get surprisingly tense but overall, it’s an undeniably calming and soothing watch.
Series four is currently airing on Channel 4 at 8pm on Sundays and you catch up with the episodes you’ve missed on All4.
Parks And Recreation (On Netflix from Monday 1 February)
The Amy Poehler-fronted hit series ran for an impressive seven seasons in the States, with the finale airing in 2015. The mockumentary sitcom follows Leslie Knope (played by Poehler) who works for the Parks department in the small town of Pawnee but harbours ambitions for something greater.
The show was initially conceived as a spin-off from The Office US before creators Greg Daniels and Michael Shur realised its full potential. Watch out for an increasingly impressive roster of guest stars – including the President himself, Joe Biden.
Long Lost Family (ITV and ITV Hub)
Long Lost Family is perhaps the most emotional show of the bunch, but the payoff at the end of each episode is well worth it. Davina McCall and Nicky Clarke are currently fronting the 10th season which reunite family members who, for various reasons, have been completely separated for years. You’ll need the tissues at the ready, but we promise it’s worth it.
Pooch Perfect (BBC One and iPlayer)
The first of many slightly bonkers mid-pandemic commissions, Pooch Perfect is essentially a makeover show… for dogs.
The show features 16 professional dog stylists (yes that’s a real job) who transform their pets in weekly challenges. Get ready to “awwww” a lot and if you’ve a wannabe dog owner who hasn’t yet welcomed a pet into your home, Pooch Perfect will have you on the phone to the nearest rehoming shelter in no time.
Junior Bake Off (Channel 4 and All4)
There are a fair few months to go until the next grown-ups series begins filming but Channel 4’s kids version is just about to reach its finale. The young bakers take on challenges just as the adults do (though they’re obviously not quite so complex) and Harry Hill does a superb job of judging while GBBO fan favourite Liam Charles and pastry chef Ravneet Gill are the judges.
Queer Eye (Netflix)
Netflix’s reboot of Queer Eye For The Straight Guy is one of the streaming service’s best ever moves and even if you’ve seen them already, all five seasons are endlessly watchable.
For the uninitiated, each episode sees the Fab Five - Jonathan Van Ness, Karamo Brown, Antoni Porowski, Tan France and Bobby Berk – surprise someone with a full makeover of almost every aspect of their life. Of course, each participant has an emotional reason for being chosen and (unlike the original) the show hammers home the important point that beauty is more than skin deep.
RuPaul’s Drag Race UK (BBC iPlayer)
On the surface, a fierce battle to be snatch the Drag Race crown may not seem like a heartwarming watch, but the current series is proving to be exactly that. Yes, there’s sniping and (mostly good-humoured) catty comments, but the queens also show their softer sides by supporting each other when things get tough and providing sequin-covered shoulders to cry on.
They’re also unafraid of speaking openly on personal topics, candidly opening up about struggles with self-confidence, difficult upbringings and, in the most recent episode, what it’s like identifying as non-binary.
Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing (BBC iPlayer)
An oldie but a goodie, Mortimer & Whitehouse: Gone Fishing follows Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse as they journey around the UK and, well, go fishing. The show was born from a conversation the pair had after Mortimer underwent heart surgery and struggled to return to his former self.
Offering to support his pal, Whitehouse invited him to go fishing and as they spent time together, the duo correctly realised their antics would make a brilliant show. Each episode sees the pair visit a different location but it’s not really about the fishing, the real draw is their candid conversations about health, life, death and everything in between.