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22 April 2020

Tim Haigh is a critic, reviewer and broadcaster. His podcasts are posted at

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Radio gaga

In need of cheering up, Tim Haigh scans the schedules for a little light relief

AT THE time of writing there is only one story in the news. TV current affairs is 24 hour Coronavirus coverage. There is a daily press conference with some hapless minister being made to look uncomfortable by Laura Kuenssberg and Robert Peston (nice spare room, Bob. But you should have stuck a bookcase in the background). Every panel show is on Zoom, and chat shows now consist of two unnaturally cheerful presenters sitting at either end of a couch beaming at an empty studio. Who knew that the end of the world would be The One Show sans guests? We look back wistfully to the years when we talked of nothing but Brexit as a kind of golden age. Thank goodness, there is always BBC Radio 4 to take our minds off the national obsession and keep us sane. Here is today’s schedule.

9:00am. Start The Week … the way you’re going to go on. Talking about Covid-19.

10:00am. The Long View: The Black Death – Covid-19 might seem like an unprecedented problem, but we’ve encountered plagues before. Jonathan Freedland cheers us up.

11:00am. Woman’s Hour – Are women disproportionately contracting Coronavirus? If not, why not?

12:00pm. Open Country – Closed.

1:00pm. In Our Thyme – Melvyn Bragg discusses the history of the herb and its significance in shaping civilisation.

2:00pm. The Archers: Rob Tichener develops a new cough and a mild fever.* (*Rob Tichener stopped being a story in 1932 but that was the last time anybody knew what was going on in Ambridge. Except for the fire. But that has nothing to do with coronavirus. So it’s Rob Tichener.)

2:15pm. Afternoon Drama – La Peste, by Albert Camus, in a new translation by Matt Hancock.

3:00pm. Gardener’s Question Time – Coming from a Garden Centre that is closed because of the Coronavirus lockdown. The team serenely ignore current events and give topical tips on growing things.

4:00pm. Law In Action – How far can the police go in enforcing lockdown?

5:00pm. The Moral Maze – Why do we hear so little about Covids 1 through 18?

6:00pm. A Good Read – All three guests choose La Peste, by Albert Camus.

6:30pm. Thanks A Lot, Milton Jones – Coronavirus is your fault.

7:00pm. Front Row – A round up of cancelled shows

8:00pm. More Or Less – The Coronavirus death toll bulletin.

9:00pm. The Reunion – We think not.

10:45pm. A Book At Bedtime: La Peste, by Albert Camus, read by Michael Gove.

11:00pm. Costing The Earth – The Chancellor gives an exact account of the price of shutting down the economy.

11:45pm. The Shipping Forecast – Including Sailing By two metres apart.

12:00am. Thinking Allowed – But no touching.