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What’s in – the ultimate guide to fun at home

Sticking to your sofa this week? Step this way for my curated guide to the best streams, theatre, shows, festivals and kids activities to ramp up the fun.


Don your best festival garb (glitter, wellies and a drink in each hand) for Radio 1’s Big Weekend 2020 which is going ahead as a virtual event. Pop stars, including Sam Smith and the Jonas Brothers (above), will be performing from their homes and home studios (ideal for all you nosey parkers out there), plus you can watch past performances on BBC iPlayer. Other acts announced include HAIM, Ellie Goulding, Mabel, Naill Horan, Rita Ora and Armand Van Helden (22 – 24 May). 

Meanwhile, pop-rock band The 1975 are finally dropping their new album, Notes on a Conditional Form this week after postponing the release date. With a whopping 22 tracks on the album, it’s perfect fodder for rocking out during your unlimited exercise sessions (22 May). 

If pop’s not your cup of tea, London Symphony Orchestra is streaming concerts from its archives every Thurs (7.30pm) and Sun (7pm) on its YouTube channel. This week you can hear the sweet sounds of Shostakovich Symphony No 6 followed by Steve Reich Quartet and Sextet. 

And finally, clever clogs like Lambert Jackson Productions and the Theatre Café are live-streaming to keep you entertained and their West End performers in work. Their Leave a Light On program is a series of music shows streamed live from The Theatre Café for a small fee. This week’s line up inlaces Six the Musical star Jarnéia Richard-Noel. Full line up here

LOCAL OPTION: Fan of Foals? The four-piece Oxford band have launched a series of 12 short films over on their YouTube channel, called FBC Transmissions. The weekly episodes show unseen material, backstage footage and cut scenes from the band’s documentary Rip Up The Road. 


Always wanted to go to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show? Well now you can – for free (kind of)! The massive garden show is going online for the first time ever this year with behind the scenes tours of the country’s best flower nurseries, plus advice from top garden designers to help you jazz up your own back yard. There’ll also be daily interactive Q&As and, for kids, a School Gardening Club (18 – 23 May). 


Want to watch a National Theatre production for free? Er, yeah! Over on the theatre’s YouTube channel this week you can see The Barbershop Chronicles. Directed by Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani, the play is set across a single day in barbershops across the world. The show is available to watch until 21 May. 

Like Macbeth? You’ve got two options this week starting with the Dutch National Opera’sLady Macbeth of Mtsensk. The performance is sung in Russian, but there’s the option to add English subtitles. 

And then, over on the Globe Theatre’s YouTube channel you can watch a 90-minute performance of Macbeth created especially for young people 11+. The show’s promising violence, blood, balloons and confetti (a slightly odd mix, if you ask me) so should be a hit with teens, plus it’s a great way to sprinkle a little culture into their lockdown schedules. 

Swan Lake

For ballet buffs, Matthew Bourne has made four of his award-winning productions available to watch online for the first time ever. You can rent any of the shows (take your pick from Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Cinderella, The Car Man) for £5.99. Alternatively, you can buy the show for £9.99 to watch on repeat. 

LOCAL OPTION: The Corn Exchange in Newbury may be closed for the foreseeable (*sob*) but the venue is keeping the creativity flowing with digital projects and workshops. This week’s highlights include the Facebook premiere of the dance film Clothes To Cover by James Cousins Company and the PillowTalk storytellers will be presenting #dreamOUT – a short tale to engage kids, plus three activities to do at home. You can donate to the theatre here.

TV & Film

The Great British Bake Off meets Gardener’s World in The Big Flower Fight, coming to Netflix this week (18 May). Ten pairs of florists, garden designers and sculptors compete to create the brightest and boldest flower creations. Sticking with the floral theme, you can also watch coverage on this year’s digital Chelsea Flower Show throughout the week on the BBC on new programme Your Chelsea Flower Show

For your weekend watching, head over to Netflix where you can find new crime comedyThe Lovebirds (22 May). Looks like a goodie to offer some much-needed light relief. And then, hop over to Amazon Prime video where you can stream Oscar-winning Rocketman, an epic musical about the life of Elton John, starring Taron Egerton. If you haven’t seen it already (erm, where have you been?), it’s a must-see and is available from 22 May.

LOCAL OPTION: Has anyone spotted Ross Kemp lurking around Berkshire recently? He was filming at The Newbury Pub for his new TV show about Covid-19, Ross Kemp and Britain’s Volunteer Army, which is premiering on Monday on BBC One – and The Newbury owner Pete Lumber appears in the first episode. He’s been busy making hand sanitizer for local emergency services and key workers. GO PETE!


CBeebies just not cutting it? This weekend take part in Play At Home Fest, a weekender of family fun, organised by renowned child psychologist Dr.Amanda Gummer. The line up includes comedy from Shappi Khorsandi and The Giggle Doctors, plus dance classes, workshops and more (23 – 24 May). 

Kids love to colour? Check out online creative hub, the Isolation Creation Club. The platform was started by sisters Polly and Hetty (aged nine and six), after they created a colouring book and distributed it to local kids in their neighbourhood – sweet! You can download the book online, plus other scribble-worthy activities. 

Museums & Galleries

The Science Museum may be closed but it’s using the power of, erm, science to bring the exhibitions to you with virtual tours, online games and fun kids activities. The collection is also available to view online, with over 325,000 objects and items, many of which you can view virtually in 3D

If Renaissance, Baroque and Impressionism is more your bag, then head straight for The National Gallery‘s website. The gallery has teamed up with Google Street view to create a virtual tour of the exhibition rooms (watch out for people caught nose-picking on camera). And then the Tate Modern is offering a virtual tour of the new Andy Warhol exhibition(above) complete with a commentary from curators Gregor Muir and Fiontán Moran.

Hastings Contemporary in East Sussex wins the award for the most creative way to tackle lockdown with real-time tours around the gallery using a super-techy telepresence robot that patrols the exhibitions. And then, over at cool contemporary gallery Kettle’s Yardin Cambs, you can see snapshots of the exhibitions taken by webcam of the museum. 

LOCAL OPTION: Want a snoop around an artist’s studio? Then you’ll want to head over to Open Studios 2020 website. This year the huge art festival has moved online to exhibit the artsists’ work that would have been on display at The Base in Greenham Common.

Find more ideas here

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