ITV's mini-dramas were an isolation treat, while a Channel 4 documentary brought us a sobering dispatch from the NHS frontline
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We’re all getting used to these new jobs, and in the absence of any large-scale TV productions, so are the nation’s actors, as Isolation Stories (ITV, Mon-Thu, 9pm) proved.
Aside from the Hello!-style thrill of seeing inside celebrities’ homes – why hasn’t Eddie Marsan painted his kitchen walls? What shade of green is that in Darren Boyd’s living room? – these 15-minute mini-dramas were a triumph of ingenuity and minimalism.
All the footage was filmed at home by the actors and their families, co-ordinated by award-winning writer Jeff Pope.
The main theme was isolation, with heavily-pregnant Sheridan Smith as single mum-to-be Mel and Eddie Marsan marooned at home, post-marital split, with two teenage kids, both self-isolating in isolation with headphones and YouTube.
The third in the series, Mike and Rochelle, was the best, with Boyd as Mike and Angela Griffin as his therapist, giving comfort via Skype.
Boyd was excellent as the highly-strung, self-absorbed actor: “I look out the window, and the zombie apocalypse is happening... don’t tell me I’m going off the deep end because I’ve worked in the theatre surrounded by luvvies!”
But it also emphasised that we are not totally alone. There’s a neighbour, a stranger to say hello to over the garden fence, we just need to reach out and connect. Like these dramas, it’s not perfect, but it’ll do for now.
This week’s NHS Heroes: Fighting to Save Our Lives (Channel 4, Weds, 9pm) will have left you in no doubt that those caring for our sick, elderly and infirm deserve more than a weekly round of applause.
Luke, from Blackpool, was one of the medics who recorded their experiences on the Covid-19 frontline for this Channel documentary. Their testimony was powerful in its stark simplicity, and drove home the fact that people like him, and the thousands of staff across the NHS and in social care, are literally putting their lives on the line for the rest of us.
And it also made clear that these doctors, nurses, porters, pharmacists, care assistants and dozens more will feel the effects long after we are back at work, and going to the park for a picnic, or heading to the gym.
Because this will leave a huge mental health problem behind it, and it's one NHS bosses and the Government cannot ignore. Luke, feeling the strain, told us: "It's upsetting to think about any relative dying alone, but when you see so many in this situation, it's heartbreaking."
The lockdown may ease soon, but as Luke and his colleagues showed us, we have a responsibility to them now, to be sensible.
Any cricket fans missing the start of the season should turn to The Test (Amazon Prime) for a fix. Following the Australian cricket team, it’s a surprisingly intimate and emotional fly-on-the-wall doc.