This BBC Horizon special on the coronavirus offered some scientific comfort in these troubled times

These are troubling times. The Prime Minister is in hospital, the country is in lockdown, and I am considering the introduction of corporal punishment in my ‘home school’.
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So you might have thought that Horizon: Coronavirus Special (BBC2, Thursday, 9pm) would have turned unease into worry, and worry into outright panic.

As you would expect from the Horizon strand, this looked at the Covid-19 pandemic from a scientific viewpoint, tracing its origins and transmission, and looking at the ways scientists across the world are trying to find new drugs to combat it.

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Presented by mathematician Hannah Fry and doctor Chris van Tulleken, this pop science show wasn’t nerdy and overcomplicated, nor was it simplistic and juvenile. It simply gave you known facts and didn’t speculate about anything else.

Dr Hannah Fry presented a Horizon: Coronavirus Special on BBC2Dr Hannah Fry presented a Horizon: Coronavirus Special on BBC2
Dr Hannah Fry presented a Horizon: Coronavirus Special on BBC2

It put the pandemic in context, gave you some clue as to how it spread, and also indicated why the lockdown now in place across a quarter of the world’s population might be working.

It looked at testing, before moving on to the incredible work scientists are doing on finding vaccines and anti-viral drugs.

And that’s why – for me, at least – it didn’t leave me fearful, it left me feeling strangely comforted. The idea that thousands of clever people around the globe are using their expertise to help stop this really did help quell the cabin fever of lockdown.

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It didn’t say it would be easy, or that we can relax, it simply said science is on our side. As one researcher said: “The race is not against each other, it’s against the virus and getting something out there that will save lives.”

And that – for now – is enough. Meanwhile, stay at home, protect the NHS, save lives.

Alma’s Not Normal (BBC2, Tuesday, 10pm) was a sitcom pilot which looked at the world through a cracked mirror. Created by and starring stand-up Sophie Willan, it was dark and very funny.

Feeling a bit lonely in self-isolation? Join one of the many Twitter TV tweetalongs in which people watch the same TV show in their own homes. Creating community by hashtag, it’s great fun.

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