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Darragh McManus on radio: Soothe the savage beast inside with a virtual art tour



Brian Dobson

Brian Dobson

Brian Dobson

The Covid-19 crisis ramped up another gear, with the Government announcing "unprecedented actions to respond to an unprecedented emergency". Brian Dobson, on Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am), summed up the new paradigm: "A nation staying at home and an economy in cold storage: we're embarking on a massive exercise in national survival (with) the most severe peace-time restrictions ever seen in social and business activity."

Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 7am) broke down this "extraordinary", "incredible" and "remarkable" situation. Dr Brendan O'Shea, of Trinity College School of Medicine, welcomed the new measures, saying: "They're very important. It's at times like this, society decides what we really care about, and this is about caring particularly for the most vulnerable."

We'll come through it together, of course, although it might be a difficult journey for the next few months. Not so much physically as psychologically - we're so used to modern life, which is busy-busy-busy with constant (over)stimulation, that a period of quiet might be hard for some to process.

Fortunately, unlike for previous generations, there are tonnes of things out there now, easily accessible by everyone, to console, distract, entertain or help us along the way. Arena (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7pm), for instance, looked at virtual technology which makes it possible now to tour the great art galleries of the world.

Art historians Sarah Wilson and Jessica Fahy recommended some of the best tours online, explaining how for some of them, it's your basic wander around the room, while for others you can click on particular paintings for a closer look. And art, as we all know, soothes the savage beast, whether digitally or in the flesh.

Meanwhile, radio will continue to prove its worth as - for my money - the single greatest method of mass communication that will ever be invented. There's such a wealth of fantastic material out there, waiting to be discovered.

Best of all, it's not all about the coronavirus; you can escape all that dread, stress and heavy gloominess. Out of the Ordinary (BBC Radio 4, podcast, uploaded Mondays), for instance, is a fantastic show about…well, lots of things. That's part of what makes it fantastic.

The show blurb describes it as "a documentary series uncovering stories from the left field, presented by Jolyon Jenkins", but that doesn't do it justice.

The show is clever, often funny and wildly imaginative: ranging across everything from the likely size of aliens, ice-swimming and altered states of consciousness, to perpetual motion machines, whistling as an art form and trepanning (drilling a hole in your head - really). Great fun.

Indo Review