10 home-schooling TV picks

As many parents will not need reminding, millions of children are still being homeschooled because of the pandemic, with normal school routines unlikely to return for some time to come.

With this in mind we have put together a collection of shows based around some of the subjects we used to study at school.

Some are more loosely connected than others, as you are about to discover, but it’s a selection that’s by turns funny, informative, exhilarating and always entertaining. And available to watch now.

Design & technology

George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces - Channel 4 

For the last few months most of us have been confined to just the one space and chances are - forgive us if we’re speaking only for ourselves - it probably isn’t all that amazing.

So all hail the return of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces to Channel 4, in which the architect takes us on a tour of ingenious and inspirational builds, showing how small spaces are no barrier to big dreams.

The first episode of this new series features a tiny Victorian bakehouse with a real fire-breathing dragon over the door (the fire’s real, not the dragon). We’re hooked all over again.

What they say: ‘Superior to the other property shows because it isn't really a property show at all; it's a people show.’ Independent 

Film studies 

Never Surrender: A Galaxy Quest Documentary - Sky Documentaries

Cult sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest gets the ‘making of’ treatment it deserves in this insightful and entertaining documentary.

In the unlikely event you haven’t already seen it, Galaxy Quest is the 1999 fantasy comedy in which aliens mistake the cast of a Star-Trek style show for the real thing, and this programme talks to its makers and stars including Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen.

They discuss why the show’s appeal has lasted so long and remember their brilliant co-star, the late Alan Rickman.

What they say: ‘A lot of fun … very loving and insightful.’ Film Week


Great Paintings of the World with Andrew Marr - Channel 5

Andrew Marr likes art even more than politics and in this new Channel 5 series he offers viewers a beginners’ guide to art with some of the world’s most famous paintings.

It’s the next best thing to seeing them for yourself which, let’s face it, isn’t going to happen for some time to come.

The former political editor and enthusiastic amateur painter casts his eye over 10 paintings in all, beginning with the Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers.

What they say: ‘A lot of fun.’ The Arts Desk 



The Masked Singer US - ITV

It’s a new twist on the talent show format that surely no-one saw coming, celebrity contestants singing behind elaborate and extraordinary masks that have the whole nation asking: ‘Who on earth is that?’

The ITV adaption of the franchise (which began in South Korea) was won by Girls Aloud’s Nicola Roberts (AKA Queen Bee) and was one of the breakout hits of the year.

And while we wait for the second series, viewers can enjoy the US edition, featuring an all-star panel of Robin Thicke, Jenny McCarthy, Nicole Scherzinger and Ken Jeong. 

What they say: ‘Collectively, we love a good gimmick. And The Masked Singer has a great one.’ The Ringer 


Shipwreck Secrets - Yesterday 

Each week Shipwreck Secrets takes a deep dive into our maritime past.

Teams of marine explorers and investigators travel the seven seas to uncover the secrets of the world’s most fascinating wrecks.

The first series, currently airing on Yesterday, takes us from Japan’s ‘ghost fleet’ to the Dutch Titanic, via the biggest maritime mystery of them all, the Bermuda Triangle.

What they say: ‘More than 3 million shipwrecks are scattered across the world’s seabeds. This series dives into their stories.’ Daily Telegraph


Home economics 

Bake Off: The Professionals - Channel 4

If there’s one thing we’ve all been doing more of in lockdown then it’s baking, if the number of cakes and (mostly) sourdough loaves posted on Twitter is anything to go by.

Bake Off: The Professionals is here to show us all how it should really be done.

Benoit Blin and Cherish Finden are the perfect teachers in the Bake Off spin-off presented by Tom Allen and Liam Charles. No-one’s eating out right now but this is the ideal hometime treat.

What they say: ‘From exacting, eccentric judges to canny partnerships and some major tension … a sweet TV treat.’ The Guardian 


Alan Partridge’s Scissored Isle - Sky Atlantic 

Alan Partridge turned documentary maker for this ‘deeply person journey of redemption,’ one of the funniest things Steve Coogan’s creation has done.

Partridge takes a road trip from Norfolk to the north of England to investigate whether a ‘schasm’ has formed between the north and south of this ‘once United Kingdom’.

During the course of this one-hour special he tries his hand on a Tesco checkout, encounters street gangs and endeavours to expose a loan shark. Needless to say, viewers end up having the last laugh. 

What they say: ‘Everyone bloomin’ loved Alan Partridge’s ‘genius’ Scissored Isle.’ Metro 


A Greek Odyssey with Bettany Hughes - Channel 5 

Bettany Hughes’ exploration of ancient Greek myths and history is a feast for the eyes.

Following in the footsteps of Odysseus’ journey home, from the Trojan War to Ithaca, Hughes says she ‘wants to try to experience what he experienced’ (but without taking 10 years to do it).

Part history lesson and part mythical adventure, it’s an epic travelogue among the glorious Greek islands which would always be something to savour, but especially during lockdown. 

What they say: ‘An absolute gem of a show. Hughes is knowledgeable and passionate, the Greek islands are breathtakingly lovely, and the history and culture are thoroughly engrossing’. Saga 



24 Hours in A&E - Channel 4 

It’s just another day for the staff of St George’s Hospital in south London but 24 Hours in A&E makes for extraordinary TV.

Now into its 21st series since it began all the way back in 2011, the emotional docusoap offers unprecedented access to one of the country’s busiest emergency rooms. 

It’s a celebration of the amazing work done by the NHS and a reminder, as one parent tells his daughter in the opening episode of this new series, that death is part of life. 

‘Masterfully filmed and edited.’ Daily Telegraph 


Premier League Football - Sky Sports 

Live Premier League football returns after a 100 day break enforced by the coronavirus. It’s football, but not as we know it, with games being played without any fans because of the ongoing pandemic.

But fans won’t mind if that enables the return of the beautiful game to our screens, with Wednesday’s opening games featuring reigning champions Manchester City taking on Arsenal and Aston Villa hosting Sheffield United.

All 92 remaining games being broadcast live across a variety of channels including 25 on Sky’s free to air channel, Pick. 

What they say: ‘It might be behind closed doors and the players might be kicking a disinfected football, but after 100 days, the Premier League returns.’ Radio Times

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