Having since March blasted through box set re-runs of Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, Luther, American Horror Story and (for the less faint of heart) Downton Abbey, it was time the other night to put the streaming services aside and delve into the treasure trove of recorded delights still lurking in the Sky box.
I’m a hoarder – unashamedly so – and as such am loath to cast anything out of my life, including the mysteriously archived episodes of Bargain Hunt that have caused my Sky planner to become a wee bit bloated.
Scrolling through the collective TV offerings I had gathered over the last two years, I realised that they comprised a tapestry woven from largely terrible taste, with a few hidden gems punctuating the chaos like sparsely scattered sequins.
For every twelve episodes of The Real Housewives of Cheshire, there was an hour of Killing Eve. For every week of Love Island there was but an evening of Game Of Thrones. And for every series of Celebrity Coach Trip, there was only a single, lonely instalment of Vera (God help me pet, I love you, and I hope that you know it).
Embarrassed but not defeated, I sifted through, determined to drop on a nugget of inspirational gold that had not been recently watched and would satisfy my caveman-like viewing pleasure for at least another night.
I trudged on for what were surely countless aeons, channelling all of my strength into keeping a stiff upper lip as the graveyard of trash TV that surrounded me threatened to break my spirit clean in two.
And then, just as the immortal towel was to be thrown in and the white flag raised, I found my El Dorado.
Hibernating gently in the midst of the madness were three men who had proven in my eyes to have been a shining light of the small screen since their travel show made its 2019 debut.
A Frenchman, an Italian and a Scot walked into a bar, packed their egos into a camper van and set out on the ultimate boys’ tour. Lads. Lads. And, indeed, lads.
A cheeky trio of gastronomic rock stars cloaked by a blatant mirage of sophistication, finesse and accountability – it was time, ladies and gentlemen, to once again crack a cold one with messrs Gordon, Gino and Fred.
I had often wondered how two TV chefs and a maître d’hôtel brought such a smile to my face when their ‘Road Trip’ show first hit ITV all those long months ago. After all, when you stripped everything (admittedly ‘everything’ consisting of time to travel the world and what I can only imagine was a fairly ample budget) away, the good sirs Ramsay, D’Acampo and Sirieix were just three lads having the craic.
However, upon catching up with the boys for a lockdown repeat, the reason was obvious. They were, indeed, just three lads having the craic.
There are few pleasures in life as sublime as the lads’ road trip, and watching the adventures of the three culinarily-crowned pirates once again, I realised that the camaraderie they were constantly revelling in was exactly one of the things I had missed most during lockdown, and exactly the thing that I had found endearing about their show in the first place.
I’ve been lucky to have taken part in plenty of boys’ tours over the years, chock-full of ‘bants extraordinaire’, all washed down with a tipple or ten and without a care in the world.
When you lead a busy life, you need the kind of release that uncomplicated time with your mates brings – and that applies equally to men and women.
Now not all of us of course can enjoy our ‘pal time’ Gordon-Gino-Fred-style, driving a luxury camper through Sorrento, Las Vegas or Saint-Tropez. But it doesn’t even take a weekend away of any calibre to make quality pal time happen.
Watching ‘Michelin-man’ Ramsay and his merry men just getting on as daft mates really made me miss the insatiable silliness that even an hour down at my local held in a pre-lockdown world, and what I really can’t wait for is to just share a simple pint and a laugh with ‘chums assorted’ when all of this is truly over.
The boys certainly brought a grin to my face the other night as I binge-watched five episodes of Road Trip straight, and made me ache for a good old giggle with my mates once more.
If lockdown has done one thing other than help save lives, it’s made us realise how important the simple things are and that nothing should ever be taken for granted. With that, I will cherish every previously meaningless laugh with my lads (and, indeed, lasses) that the future holds in store.
And in the theme of not taking things for granted, it’s time to give that Sky box a bit of a loving purge.
Once I’ve made it through my last two hours with the Cheshire housewives of course...