Ten Months of Telly, My Top Ten and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’

I’m going to hold my hands up and admit to having watched an awful lot of telly over the last ten months. I don’t think I’m alone here as we haven’t exactly had many other avenues open to us for entertainment since the virus hit our shores, but…, you still feel a bit guilty about perhaps not having spent your time engaged in something more productive.

I have a little side table next to my spot on the sofa with a basket of handy things like glasses for distance (the telly), glasses for close-up (sewing), hand cream, scissors, and most importantly, a notebook & pen set. At the start of lockdown last March I decided to keep a record of all the dramas we were watching, just to keep track, and quite shockingly we seem to have completed 53 seasons of all manner of things. Crikey I thought, that’s one a week on average, until I realised that it’s happened over only ten months which makes the average even higher. Again, I don’t think I’m alone, and all down to the way we watch things nowadays, binging on something in a single week, as opposed to over a period of a few months.

What our mums used to tell us, but so far so good

I’m still wondering when we’re going to run out of new things, as most of what we’ve watched must have been made before the first lockdown, but so far not much sign of it. Mr WIAA is fed up of me saying, ‘You couldn’t do that nowadays,’ or, ‘Do you think we’ll ever be able to do that again?’ when we see mass gatherings of happy people, just going about their lives as we all used to do.

But hey, here is my list taken from that now very dog-eared little notebook. I have highlighted my Top Ten in bold in case you haven’t yet seen them and trust my judgement. Some were on Netflix, some on Amazon Prime and the others on the BBC iPlayer, so most still easily accessible.

Outlander S5, Better Call Saul S5, Westworld S1, Belgravia, Killing Eve S3, Life On Mars S1&2, Unorthodox, After Life S2, Upload, Space Force, White Lines, The Woods, Noughts and Crosses, The Fall S1-3, Hannah S2, The Luminaries, Game Of Thrones S8, Schitt’s Creek S1-6, Normal People, Annika, A Suitable Boy, The Rain S2&3, Strike, The Affair S1-5, Us, The Singapore Grip, Ratched, Life, Roadkill, The End of the F**king World S2, The Crown S4, Queen’s Gambit, Small Axe, Industry, Black Narcissus, Bridgerton, Traces, The Sepent, The Teacher, Lupin.

Last time I got all science-y around here and wrote about that feeling we get when we hear certain songs from our youth, and how they can still elicit such strong emotional responses all these years later. It’s called a neuronic command and it seems our brains never forget those songs we obsessed over during the drama of our teenage years.

I don’t know about you, but I also experience neuronic commands when watching certain coming-of-age films or drama on television. None more so than when I watched last year’s BBC adaptation of the Sally Rooney novel Normal People (one of my Top Ten mentioned above). The Sligo in the drama felt very like the rural Aberdeenshire I grew up in, and many of the storylines resonated. I went to a school that punched above its weight in terms of academic success for its pupils and many of us from what I would call a working class culture headed off to university. Not always easy to assimilate though and I strongly identified with the male character Connell. No, not easy when you find yourself straddling two worlds but not really fitting into either.

One of the songs used in the drama was this one, Love Will Tear Us Apart, performed by Nerina Pallot. I don’t think I would be giving too much away in terms of spoilers if I said it was a perfect choice.

Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division:


Love Will Tear Us Apart was written by the band Joy Division, its lyrics inspired by lead singer Ian Curtis’s marital problems, struggles with epilepsy and mental illness. As the band’s popularity grew, Curtis’s condition made it increasingly difficult for him to perform and he occasionally experienced seizures on stage. The single was released in June 1980, a month after his suicide, aged only 23.

Joy Division, Ian Curtis on the left

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I’ve ended on a bit of a downer haven’t I whereas my intention was to highlight all the great telly we’ve had at our disposal during these tough times. Inevitably, if it’s been well-made, some of this telly will make us cry and that’s certainly happened to me at times, although there has been much laughter too (Schitt’s Creek a definite recommendation).

What’s been your favourite thing to watch over the long, long period of lockdown and restrictions? Do any of my choices match your own? I’d love to hear from you, and as you know by now, I always reply.

Until next time…

Love Will Tear Us Apart Lyrics
(Song by Ian Curtis/Peter Hook/Stephen Morris/Bernard Sumner)

When routine bites hard,
And ambitions are low,
And resentment rides high,
But emotions won’t grow,
And we’re changing our ways,
Taking different roads.

Then love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Why is the bedroom so cold?
You’ve turned away on your side.
Is my timing that flawed?
Our respect runs so dry.
Yet there’s still this appeal
That we’ve kept through our lives.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

You cry out in your sleep,
All my failings exposed.
And there’s a taste in my mouth,
As desperation takes hold.
Just that something so good
Just can’t function no more.

But love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.
Love, love will tear us apart again.

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days - I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 50 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team Bacharach and David - The opening line to that song was "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping that by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

30 thoughts on “Ten Months of Telly, My Top Ten and ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’”

    1. Thanks for the heads up. We’ve just finished Lupin which is French and are now watching another excellent French drama, Call My Agent. Will we ever run out of new things? It’s not looking like it!

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  1. A lot of overlaps with viewing habits here at Medd Towers. Normal People was an astounding drama wasn’t it? Daisy Edgar-Jones is an amazing actress.
    And I must thank the Queen’s Gambit for getting me playing chess again.
    If you’ve not seen them already I think you’d like the Neil Brand and Mark Kermode telly programmes that dissect films and film scores. Excellent shows both.

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    1. I suspected many of us would have watched the same things. Normal People really affected me, and yes, the actors in it were amazing, especially Daisy. Connell’s chain necklace now has its own social media page!

      Loved Queen’s Gambit although I’ve never learnt how to play chess. I was in awe of these people’s brains and how they could process so many moves. Great music too that evoked the era.

      I do catch Mark Kermode sometimes but usually by accident – Does he have a regular slot and on which channel/platform? Always enjoy his programmes. I’m old enough to remember when Barry Norman started out!

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  2. Ozark starring Jason Bateman and Laura Linney is worth watching. I first saw Bateman in the comedy show “Arrested Development” but in Ozark he plays a financial adviser who launders drug money for a Mexican cartel. Julia Garner as Ruth Langmore is a standout actress in the series.

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    1. I’m all up to date with Ozark but not on my list as we must have watched it before the first lockdown. A very clever premise and yes, Julia Garner was the standout actress. I didn’t realise until watching the show that The Ozarks had become a playground for the rich. It usually gets depicted in film as being something else.

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  3. Watched Breaking Bad from start to finish during lockdown 1 and rewatched Line of Duty until Netflix pulled it.
    Queen’s Gambit was fantastic but though Ratched was rubbish!
    Just catching the end of the last series of Spiral, It has been brilliant

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    1. Breaking Bad is one of the best series ever but I’ve watched it right through twice already! Yes Queen’s Gambit was fantastic but we also liked Ratched from a period drama point of view – Amazing decor and clothes.

      Not heard of Spiral – Will have to take note.

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  4. I suppose I’m in the minority here, because my own TV viewing has decreased, if anything, over the past 10 months due to a combination of overwork, exhaustion, and Louise hogging the sofa to watch RuPaul’s Drag Race or its ilk.

    I have seen a good few of your recommendations above though. Saul is a constant friend, The Queen’s Gambit was excellent, Ratched was very enjoyable melodrama until it jumped the shark.

    Lately I’ve found myself drawn to comedy in an effort to cheer myself up. This Country was gentle but well-observed, owing much to The Office. The jury’s still out on Staged – it’s a clever and timely premise, but feels like a cut price version of The Trip (without the pretty scenery), played by actors rather than comedians. The Samuel Jackson episode was brilliant though. Currently discovering (at last, after many recommendations) the joys of The Detectorists.

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    1. I now feel guilty at having had all this time to watch telly when others have been totally overworked. We are still working but not leaving the house much which ups the number of hours you have free of an evening.

      Probably a wise choice to steer towards comedy at the moment. I have seen a few bursts of Staged but as you say, it feels like a lesser Trip, and not as funny. C is a great fan of the Detectorists and set in her neck of the woods I think.

      Will we run out of new quality things to watch? Not sure, but in the grand scheme of things, not the biggest problem we have at the moment.

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  5. Total onboard with Better Call Saul…it’s taken time to gather pace but that doesn’t detract from the pleasure you get from it.
    Schitts Creek is a great laugh…you just have to give yourself over to it.
    Many others that I can’t recall but thoroughly enjoyed.

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    1. The next season of Better Call Saul is to be the last but don’t think they’ve even been able to start filming it yet so we may have a long wait. I loved the Saul character in Breaking Bad and he hasn’t disappointed in the spin-off show.

      When I look at my list I think of the season I watched it in and we definitely watched Schitt’s Creek over the summer. Very funny and really quite ground-breaking in many ways. Got really emotional at the end. Eugene Levy is no longer the dad in the American Pie movies, he is now Johnny Rose.

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  6. Netflix and Amazon have been a proper job – otherwise it’s back to back repeats of Mrs Brown Boys.
    Like most others I’ve managed the whole of Line Of Duty, Luther, and several other Police Procedurals.
    End of the F**king World is on my “to watch” list, but it seems there might actually be something worthwhile happening on ordinary telly.
    Traces (you mention above) was good but I felt it was hurried at the end.
    Finding Alice on ITV is watchable, and a new series of Marcella is about to hit the screen.
    And a final thought – it’s now an old faithful I suppose, but Death In Paradise on BBC1 is still a good watch.

    Top tunage by the way – something about that Narina Pallot version that lifts the song somehere else. Bit like the version of Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood on the titles of Traces

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    1. We enjoyed Traces but as you say it did feel a bit rushed at the end. Best bit was spotting landmarks in Dundee as we had a wee holiday there a couple of years ago and feel as if we now know it well. Worst bit but suddenly realising the old guy playing the main character’s dad was Gregory from Gregory’s Girl! When the actors around our age are starting to look old, so must we. (He did play quite a cool dad though.) Thanks for sharing the title track as I would have forgotten about it – It was very good.

      Yes, we’re getting our fix of Caribbean sunshine by tuning into the new series of Death In Paradise every week but still not sure about the new DI. Shame Ardal O’Hanlon left as I think he has been my favourite to date.

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  7. My favorite watching material during this lockdown situation has been catching up with the tale of “Outlander” (even though I have read the entire series, and this is a film version that pretty faithfully follows the books,) and going back to the very beginning of the US series “NCIS” (hey, I’m male, I can only take so much of those “romaticy” things!) And I’ve begun at the very first of the “Star Trek” family with Shatner, Nimoy, Kelly , Nichols and company. There are now so many series that I shall probably be occupied with just those for a year or two.

    There are songs that just the mention of which will bring to mind other songs with similar titles. “Love Will Tear Us Apart” immediately brought to mind, “Love Will Keep Us Together,” by the “Captain & Tennille” (https://youtu.be/_QNEf9oGw8o) for some reason.

    Quirky.

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    1. Glad you’ve enjoyed Outlander as it all starts off in my neck of the woods and for Highlanders like myself it’s obligatory viewing. Some of the tourist shops in town have life-size Sam Heughan cut-out figures in their windows and I have an Outlander Locations map in my holiday let.

      Going right back to the very beginning of Star Trek indeed – Who knew back then, watching Captain Kirk and Mr Spock in black and white, that it would become such a phenomenon.

      As for the Captain and Tennille song, I meant to write about them when ‘the Captain’ died the other year but one of those tributes I never got round to. Love eh, it either tears you apart or keeps you together and around 80% of songs have been written about one or the other conditions.

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  8. Great post Alyson and a great summary of the past year. I, too, am a fan of Normal People and felt that the music choices helped move the story along. The Irish seem to produce a great music supported film every 20 years or so. The Commitments and Once come to mind.

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    1. I have fond memories of The Commitments – Great music and some really funny lines in that one. As for the film Once, not one I’m familiar with so thanks for the heads up. Having just looked it up it looks as if I’d like it.

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  9. Hi Alyson. Probably more like Rol. Being locked in has made our lives in this house more difficult. If I have free time, I am listening to or reading about music. Having said that, we have watched a few things, and the Queen’s Gambit is probably about the best of anything new we have seen. At the beginning of the lockdown, we let our 14-year-old pick something we could watch as a family. (That feels like years ago already.) He chose Stranger Things, and we watched one episode a day every day for 25 consecutive days. He loved it. Right in the wheelhouse of someone that age. Unfortunately, having lived as a 14 year old at exactly the age being depicted (around 1984), I found myself looking for little things I felt the show got wrong.

    Because our time is so limited in front of the TV, the Mrs. and I are gravitating to 30-minute shows where we can squeeze in an episode before bed from time to time. We have watched the entire run of Still Game (Netflix just gave us a handful of “new” episodes (from 2018, actually) a few weeks ago that was a nice surprise since we had recently seen them all. Like most programs, the quality petered out in the later seasons, but the early seasons were a lot of fun. The second to the last episode had Clare Grogan and the Bluebells guest spots! Now we have moved on to Mum which we can see on Britbox. Do you know this show? Wondering if it is/was popular.

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    1. I’m now feeling guilty as the way our lives are at the moment, with my mum in the care home, DD with the boyfriend and only us running our little business from home, the pandemic has not impacted our time the way it might have done had it come along a few years ago. Then again a few years ago I doubt if home-schooling would have even been possible or indeed working from home – Would have had to be a totally different outcome.

      That said we still only sit down to watch a couple of hours of something an evening, but that still seems to have mounted up to the list included above. Queens Gambit was pretty amazing wasn’t it and I was reminded of how it used to be on mainstream news, whenever a big game was going on. The Bobby Fischer, Garry Kasparov days. We loved Stranger Things which was recommended by my daughter and watched it when it came out – I know what you mean about the little things they got wrong though. For me, they never quite got the hair & clothes quite right but easy to overlook as it was so good.

      The very last episode of Still Game was quite something and a poignant ending. (Can’t believe you understand the accents but then again…).

      Mum is excellent and was certainly well received. Thought Peter Mullan’s character was just perfect and loved his smiley eyes. Have seen him in other more threatening/scary roles so was great to see him play this mild-mannered chap. The theme song Cups by Lulu and the Lampshades was brilliant.

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  10. I guess I’m one that hasn’t had as much time for television as you have, but still managed to watch some. My wife and I try to watch a few things together, but she spends more time during the day watching while doing odd chores. So, it is hard to start a TV series together as we don’t have extended periods of time to watch them together. One of us will get antsy and want to watch ahead. I did watch Queen’s Gambit and enjoy it. I enjoy chess and read the book about 10 years ago. It was well done. Often, we will watch movies instead of TV series since we then don’t have to commit to so many episodes. So, limited series are much more digestible. We did watch Valhalla Murders, which was ok but not great. We had visited Iceland several years ago so it was fun to watch for the location. Also saw the Night Manager, a series with Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie based on a LeCarre novel. That was very enjoyable. She watched Bridgerton like you and enjoyed it. One final one we enjoyed together was Upload, a sweet comedic/drama/romance sort of program. Thoughtful and well done. I’d highly recommend.

    As for the Joy Division song….I’ll never forget going to a large outdoor goth music festival at an old airstrip in Germany many, many years ago. Somehow, one of our group had that song one a tape or something that we played in our tent. It sort of became our battle cry for the weekend. Peter Murphy with Bauhaus headlined. We drank from fake Viking horns….it was an interesting, but memorable, experience!

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    1. There seems to be consensus that Queen’s Gambit was one of the best things of last year. As for Upload, yes on my list and something recommended by my daughter. Kind of scary in a way – Is this the shape of things to come?! We watched the Night Manager when it came out and also excellent. The clever title sequence seems to be being copied by everyone nowadays though. Very stylish and set in a villa near my sister-in-laws pad in Puerta Pollensa – If we ever get back there, will have to have a wander and see it for real.

      A goth music festival and fake Viking horns as drinks receptacles. A memorable weekend indeed.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh, this absolutely confirms that we need to get Netflix! Had heard nothing but good things about Queen’s Gambit already and now to see this supported in the comments here is making me feel I’m very much missing out on something superb, especially with the soundtrack and fashion as well. I have chess in my family – my grandfather on my dad’s side was some kind of champion at it apparently. My dad loved to play too (no surprise there) but somehow I missed out on ever learning… so I should definitely add this to a list of things to do before I die!
    Lovely to see ‘Annika’ in your selection too.
    And, although I have absolutely no more free time than before all this I think we’ve watched more TV this last year as well (various music progs particularly with Sky Arts coming up trumps now, films on Talking Pictures, and odds and sods on Now TV like old episodes of Man Alive, etc.) It’s like comfort food, I think.

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    1. To be honest it was DD that got Netflix a few years ago as that’s how the young watch telly nowadays but thanks to her we’ve been able to watch a lot of quality drama over those years. So much so we definitely watch a lot less conventional telly as there just isn’t time for both. So much of conventional telly is now reality rubbish however so good we have these quirky channels like Sky Arts and Talking Pictures. We used to watch a lot of films on telly but latterly I was saving them for the local cinema (miss it terribly).

      I’m not surprised your super smart dad was a chess player as was his dad before him. I would like to think I could learn but I just don’t seem to have one of those brains that can project forward a myriad of moves and remember them.

      Annika, thanks to you, was a lovely throw back to the days of our youth and so much of it resonated. I remember is affecting me at the time just as Normal People did later on. Those pesky neuronic commands, we’ll never be free of them however long we live.

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