We can’t go to the cinema, restaurants, pubs or clubs, the theatre or the shops. What can we do? We can read, watch TV and listen to music, that’s what. But where to start? See recommendations from the Property Week  team and our readers below:


Source: Shutterstock/788557726

This week:

Reuben Miller, residential chartered surveyor and RICS valuer at RM Surveyors shares some of his cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

The King of Staten Island is a funny and moving true story about overcoming personal loss and creating a value-aligned career.

Something to read:

Discovering the public-speaking secrets of the world’s top minds in Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo helped me understand how to tell my own story.

Something to listen to:

Ziggy Marley’s song ‘True to Myself’ has an uplifting message about living authentically and following your own path.

The Unlocking Us and Dare to Lead podcasts by Brené Brown feature inspiring conversations about innovative leadership and courageous living. I love and live by her mantra: ‘Be awkward, brave and kind.’

Last week’s recommendations:

Yemi Edun, founder and chief executive of Daniel Ford International shares some of his cultural recommendations:

Something to read:

I recommend The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason and The Money Secret by Rob Parsons. The former because of its simplicity and how, despite the fact it was first published in 1926, its contents are still relevant today. The latter because it is more relevant to our lives in the UK. 

Something to listen to:

I listen primarily to jazz and Afrobeats. Jazz because it is calming, and Afrobeats because it is nice to hear the younger guys broadening its appeal.

I also recommend the radio station talkSPORT, chiefly for their opinions that run contrary to reality. It is a time for me to enjoy their understanding – or lack of it – on matters being debated.

Previous recommendations:

Tamika Hull, a student on placement as national infrastructure officer at the Planning Inspectorate shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

The film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty teaches us that happiness is found when we step out of our comfort zone.

Something to read:

The novel The Alchemist by Brazilian author Paulo Coelho reminds me to always follow my dreams.

Something to listen to:

The song ‘The Wind’ by singer-songwriter Cat Stevens always makes me smile.

Elizabeth Day’s How To Fail podcast has taught me that my failures are my best ‘teachers’.


Kate James, an associate at TLT shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

The American drama series The Wire is an oldie but a goodie!

Something to read:

The type of books I enjoy most are those that completely immerse you and you can read again and again and never tire of. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is one of those books and every time I read it, I remember how much I love it.

Something to listen to:

The album Stoosh by Skunk Anansie reminds me of my teenage years. Every song is one you can crank up the volume to in the car and sing as loudly as you can. Nearly 24 years after being released, I still love it every time I play it, although I now listen on Spotify and not on CD.

I love a comedy podcast and Katherine Ryan: Telling Everybody Everything perfectly encapsulates some very funny moments alongside some serious topics of conversation. It is light-hearted, funny and easy listening, and also addresses some issues that people are afraid to talk about, which I really admire.


Maria Cheung, director and head of interior design at Squire & Partners shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Christopher Nolan’s film The Prestige has magic, drama, brilliant styling, a flawless plot and a fabulous cast that features local Brixton hero, David Bowie.

Something to read:

Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom is truly life-affirming. It is the one book I reread every five years or so, and each time I see something different in it as my perspective changes and I get older. It is just wonderful.

Something to listen to:

The Killers are a favourite band of mine and Sam’s Town is the album I always go back to. Their live set is a great list of arena-sized anthems that beg to be belted out.

Sometimes delightful, sometimes intriguing and tragic, the whole archive of Desert Island Discs is an incredible insight into a huge and wonderful range of people’s lives and their work, dating back to the 1950s.


Arya Taware, managing director and founder of FutureBricks shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Secretariat, directed by Randall Wallace, is a film drama about grit in the horse-racing industry, with a lead female character who was able to overcome the challenges of a male-dominated world.

Something to read:

I recommendLet It Go: My Extraordinary Story by Dame Stephanie Shirley for its amazing life journey of an inspiring character who came to England as a Jewish refugee and started her own software company in the 1960s as a computer engineer. The concept of shared ownership – with many female CEOs having found their place at her multinational corporation – is admirable. 

Something to listen to:

The Ikonns podcast uncovers inspiring life journeys through guest interviews. They are uplifting and eye-opening. I particularly liked the episode ‘Overcoming All Odds to Success with Susie Ma of Tropic Skincare’.

I love the song ‘Endless’ by Mark Eliyahu for its blending of instruments and futuristic electronics. 


Phumzile Mbatha, senior quantity surveyor at Colliers International shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Skyfall (and all other James Bond movies), because I like to be kept on the edge of my seat, andBlack Panther, for its depiction of numerous black women in powerful and engaging roles.

Something to read:

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – I believe no one is born great. Our daily habits make us great, and the book has some intriguing examples of how the right habits were crucial to the success of former Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz and civil rights hero Martin Luther King Jr.

Something to listen to:

Promises (feat. Joe L Barnes & Naomi Raine) by Maverick City Music – “Great is Your faithfulness to me. From the rising sun to the setting same, I will praise Your name. Great is Your faithfulness to me.”

The Woman Evolve podcast, hosted by Sarah Jakes Roberts, focuses on redefining what it means to be a modern woman of faith.


Founder of The Land Collective and Sqft Digital, Sarah Hayford, shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Everyone needs to watch the US TV drama Scandal at some point in their lives. It is a brilliant show full of drama, darkness and, of course, scandal! I always love political dramas and really get into them.

Something to read:

Philosophy was one of my favourite subjects at school and Westworld is one TV show that really made me start ‘thinking’ again. So, I got a book about it – Westworld and Philosophy: If You Go Looking for the Truth, Get the Whole Thing. It is quite reflective and has a range of essays about the series that are quite interesting.

Something to listen to:

This week I’ve been listening on repeat to the album Con Todo El Mundo by American band Khruangbin. It calms me down and makes me feel very reflective.

I am a big music lover and the music and pop-culture podcast Don’t Alert the Stans talks about a range of issues across the industry. I love the authenticity of the podcast as well as its humour and critical insights, which make you view things from different perspectives and even challenge your own. It has everything!


Apprentice surveyor at CBRE, Coree Beccles, shares some of his cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

The film musical Dreamgirls stars a host of talented musicians, dancers, actors and actresses such as Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson. It is also one of my mum’s favourite films; we went to the cinema to watch it back in 2006 and I think I know the words to every song now!

I follow American motivational speaker Eric Thomas closely on LinkedIn and often listen to him while at the gym. There are many videos of his speeches available on YouTube. His message is based on accountability and hard work, which has helped me transform the way I think and feel. 

Something to read:

I read The Color Purple by Alice Walker a few years back after watching the film and I couldn’t stop reading it. It tells a story of pain, struggle, growth and resilience that truly captured my imagination.

I’m currently reading Black Privilege: Opportunity Comes to Those Who Create It by Charlamagne Tha God. It is a very powerful story about his life that will resonate with people from all backgrounds.


Senior associate at Russell-Cooke, Shabnam Ali-Khan, shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

I have been watching the new series of The Million Pound Cube on ITV. I find it so gripping and exciting. It is interesting to see people working together, plus there are heartwarming stories about what people want to use the money for.

Something to listen to:

The Beatles are one of my favourite bands. They have many brilliant tracks but ‘In My Life’ is one of my all-time favourites. John Lennon had a beautifully chilling voice and the song is a wonderful blend of sadness with a positive message.

I regularly listen to The News Quiz on BBC Radio 4. It is a fun look at the week’s news. I’m enjoying Andy Zaltzman as the new presenter. He is a great comedian and I like his surreal nature. I also love Mark Steel and am always very excited when he is on.

Something to read:

I found Matt Haig’s book Reasons to Stay Alive so relatable. I have struggled with anxiety and bouts of depression throughout my life, and it shed a light on the issue and how it can be navigated. It also gives hope that there are things you can do to still have a great life, and that you are not alone. 


Director of transformation at FirstPort,  Lily Nash, shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to read:

The Amazon Way: 14 Leadership Principles Behind the World’s Most Disruptive Company by John Rossman is a book I keep coming back to. I’ve used it in a lot of the work I’ve done over the past few years. It provides incredible insight into human behaviour and the way we work.

Something to listen to:

I recently listened to the audiobook of It’s All in Your Head, a memoir by rapper and producer Russ. It is about being confident in yourself and your abilities, and taking on challenges headfirst. Those lessons are universal. 

Something to watch:

Sports documentaries such as Formula 1: Drive to Survive on Netflix and All or Nothing on Amazon Prime are fascinating. There is so much we can learn from the mindset and motivations of those at the elite level of their sport.


I’m a big fan of singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. His album No.6 Collaborations Project is something I’m listening to a lot at the moment.


Senior planner at Deloitte Lerato Marema shares some of her cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Life is a BBC drama that covers the lives of four ordinary Mancunians who all live in one building. While separate, their lives intertwine and unravel, revealing each person’s life challenge and how they overcome it; from marriage and divorce to birth and death – it covers it all. As it is filmed in Manchester, I also loved being able to pick out all the locations around the city I usually walk around. The series is available to watch on iPlayer. 

Queen & Slim is a profound film about race relations in America with a focus on police brutality, which is clearly still a major challenge. It is directed and produced by two women – Melina Matsoukas and Lena Waithe. I just love how this story is told honestly but somehow still manages to be a beautiful, heartfelt piece of cinematography, from the music chosen to the main actor and actress (who are both black Brits) . A must-see for everyone.

The Netflix documentary series Chef’s Table is about incredible chefs from all over the world. I definitely live to eat, so I found all the background stories of each chef, their passion for food and their expression of life through each dish to be truly amazing.

Design Career Consulting founder Simon Hamilton shares some of his cultural recommendations:

Something to watch:

Parasite by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho is an incredible film. It has a strong sense of humour as well as being a comment on society and wealth inequality. I love watching films and Parasite is the best I’ve seen in years.

Something to read:

Black and British: A Forgotten History by broadcaster David Olusoga is a thoroughly researched book. I bought a copy to find out more about my background – I saw the title and thought, “that’s me”. Olusoga also comes across as articulate, well-researched and intelligent on screen.

Something to listen to:

I like listening to the podcastMaterial Matters with Grant Gibson. He interviews a broad range of creative people about their relationship to a material or a technique. You really get a sense of what’s behind the artists’ work, their thinking and their processes.

I also love the song ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers. I always play it when I want to feel better because it’s so uplifting, and even when I’m feeling good, I’ll play it. It’s even more poignant as Withers died in March this year.

Something to watch:

Netflix’s recently released documentary The Social Dilemma will make you want to ditch your phone and laptop, until you realise you cannot. Silicon Valley experts discuss the ethics of social media and how the underlying design is geared towards generating profit and eyeball time. Chilling.

Something to read:

First published in serial form in 1972, Buddha, the manga graphic novel by Japanese artist Osamu Tezuka about the life of the founder of Buddhism, is totally gripping. Tezuka’s mastery of the graphic novel form makes the eight-book English translation feel short.

Something to listen to:

Pineapple Street Studios, the company that brought us Ronan Farrow’s Catch and Kill podcast, has teamed up with BuzzFeed for the series Suspicious Activity: Inside the FinCEN Files, which is all about 2020’s big financial data leak.

New Order’s second studio album,Power, Corruption & Lies, released in 1983, is a fitting soundtrack to political news cycles. The track ‘Your Silent Face’ is a balm for a brutal time, while some of the other tracks are less catchy.

Property Week chief investigative reporter Mitchell Labiak recommends some of his favourite vinyl records. 

The Score

The Score by Fugees: rappers such as north London’s Little Simz still compare themselves to Lauryn Hill. One listen to Fugees’ 1996 album, which is as fierce, witty and innovative now as it was then, will show you why.


Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen: the album that sounds the least like Springsteen’s others and yet is quite possibly his best. Songs like ‘Atlantic City’ and ‘Johnny 99’ alone make this haunting, raw and brave record a must-listen for any fan of The Boss.

The Voice of Jazz

The Voice of Jazz, Volume Two by Billie Holiday: they say you never forget your first. After being given a vinyl player as a gift, my wife and I picked up this record from an Oxfam shop in Durham. Lady Day’s heartbreakingly sincere voice has been the soundtrack to our lives ever since.

Run the Jewels

Run the Jewels 3 by Run the Jewels: “I hope. I hope with the highest of hopes,” raps Killer Mike on the opening track of this loud, angry, poignant modern hip-hop classic. Radical hope in the face of mass injustice defines this album.

Sadie Morgan, founding director of architecture practice dRMM and chair of the Quality of Life Foundation, shares her recommendations for what to watch, read and listen to.

Something to read:

Happy City: Transforming Our Lives Through Urban Design by Charles Montgomery is a paean to more sustainable models of urban living. Alternatively, A Guide to the New Ruins of Great Britain by Owen Hatherley is a more home-grown and acerbic look at the same topic. Both books show that when it comes to our towns and cities, we do not have to look too far to work out where we might be going wrong – and how we might put things right again.

Something to watch:

Over the summer, many of us have wanted to connect with nature at home or out and about. David Attenborough was 94 this year and there is still no finer broadcaster about the natural world. You know you are in safe hands as soon as you hear his voice. So settle back and (re)watch The Blue Planet or Life on Earth. Both series are available on iPlayer.

Something to listen to:

Meditation apps such as Headspace and Calm have proliferated over the past few years and offer the chance to take a moment from our days and reconnect with ourselves and the moment at hand. Being more mindful throughout the day is proven to boost wellbeing, and gives us the chance to appreciate where we are and whom we are with.

Lockdown has given many people the time to appreciate old vinyl records. Mat Lown, partner and head of sustainability at TFT, shares four of his favourite vinyl records. 

De la Soul - 3 feet high

3 Feet High and Rising by De La Soul: A pioneering and highly original LP when it was released in 1989. It still sounds fresh today and includes lots of catchy samples from Hall & Oates, James Brown and Cymande.

You Only Live Twice (soundtrack): I found this LP, which was released in 1967, and many others – including a couple of rare Gil Scott-Heron LPs – during one of my trips to the States. I love John Barry’s composition and Nancy Sinatra’s haunting vocals on the theme track.

‘Glory Box’ by Portishead: Taken from their debut LP Dummy, ‘Glory Box’ was released in 1995. I first heard this record at the restaurant Jimmy Beez, which was opposite one of my favourite record stores in London, Honest Jon’s, where James Lavelle worked before setting up Mo’ Wax.

‘Loveless (feat. Ursula Rucker)’ by 4hero: The lyrics to this song, released on Talkin’ Loud in 1997, are very relevant today as we focus on rectifying the damage done to our environment and try to build a better future for our world. 


Last week, Derek Griffin, Whitbread’s head of acquisitions in London and the South, shares four vinyl lockdown purchases. 

Pioneers pic

‘Let Your Yeah Be Yeah’ by The Pioneers: A joyous splash of horn-infused reggae written, produced and performed by Jimmy Cliff. Released on the famous Trojan label, it reached no. 5 on the UK singles chart in 1971 and still sounds fresh as a daisy! Lovely label art, too.

Donald Bird pic

‘Dominoes’ by Donald Byrd: The amazing bassline on this track from Donald Byrd’s 1975 album Places and Spaces is almost identical to Steely Dan’s ‘Peg’. That’s because it’s by the same man – Chuck Rainey. Eighty years young and such a legacy. What a groove!

Frankie Valli

‘The Night’ by The Four Seasons: Quite simply one of the greatest records ever made. Originally released in 1972, it became a hit on its re-release three years later, following massive popularity on the Northern Soul scene. Much sought-after and therefore still quite pricey on vinyl!

Rolling Stones pic

‘Emotional Rescue’ by The Rolling Stones: This is the Stones at their funkiest. Released 40 years ago but still sounds fresh. A great single and also the title track to their 15th studio album.

TV recommendations

Netflix’s Selling Sunset is the show to watch for all property folk enjoying some downtime. The series follows the Los Angeles-based real estate Oppenheim Group and the drama facing the brokers selling properties, which range in value from a few million dollars all the way up to $75m. It is pure property porn. Series three came out at the end of last month.

A double-trouble version of the daytime TV classic, Couples Come Dine With Me is as raucous and cringeworthy as its ‘singles’ counterpart. In the Channel 4 show, three couples host dinner parties at their homes, before being criticised by their guests. Expect plenty of one-upmanship, deadpan voice-overs and dad jokes. So many dad jokes.

Budget documentary Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles explores the mystery of handmade linoleum tiles inscribed with cryptic messages that were found embedded in the pavements of US cities and tries to find out who put them there. It is one of the most mysterious, life-affirming films to have been circulated via hyperlink.

The third series of Gone Fishing is airing on BBC2 at the moment (8pm Sundays), and you can catch up on the first two series of this brilliant TV show featuring comedians Paul Whitehouse and Bob Mortimer on iPlayer. As the title suggests, the show is about fishing, but it is also about friendship and mortality, all set against the backdrop of the beautiful British countryside. 

Trashy reality TV is all the rage and 90 Day Fiancé is no different. The US series follows engaged couples who must get married within three months of the non-US citizen in the pair obtaining a visa. Long-distance relationships plus family disapproval equals messy drama and a must-watch. All seven series are available on TLC.

Anyone who hasn’t watched The Big Short is missing out. It shows the cut and thrust of business and finance without glamorising it, telling the true story of one of the most dramatic periods in the past decade. It has elements of comedy, incredulity and pathos. The cast is excellent and the story closely matches Michael Lewis’s brilliant book.

Comedy-drama Succession, about a dysfunctional family fighting for control of its global media empire, features many colourful characters driven by greed, power and revenge. Both seasons are available to watch on Sky TV. 

Strike a pose and watch Ryan Murphy’s moving, exhilarating drama series Pose. Set in the underground drag ballroom world of 1980s New York City, the show is a must-watch for fans of voguing and the documentary Paris is Burning. Both series are available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

If you are looking for an inspiring watch during lockdown then war film Darkest Hour about Winston Churchill’s time as prime minister during the Second World War should fit the bill. It demonstrates the merits of teamwork and sticking to one’s principles. It is available to watch on Netflix. 

Looking for a TV show that combines period dramas, The Walking Dead and beautiful cinematography? Look no further than Kingdom. Set in the late-1500s, this South Korean political horror thriller follows the crown prince as he uncovers a devastating political conspiracy while investigating the spread of a mysterious plague. All 12 episodes are available to watch on Netflix.

Pixar’s latest offering, Onward, which bypassed cinemas due to lockdown, is a warm-hearted tale of magical quests, familial loss and sibling love – with enough knowing adult-appropriate side jokes to keep the parents entertained. And it makes a welcome change from Frozen.

The Last Dance, a documentary about American basketball player Michael Jordan, is fascinating. For all Jordan’s ubiquitousness in the 90s, this is a rarer insight behind the public persona – into what drove him, who he is and why he was so bankable. It is worth a watch for the 90s fashion and technology alone. You can find it on Netflix. 

My Architect: A Son’s Journey is an extraordinarily moving documentary film by Nathaniel Kahn about his father, the legendary American architect Louis Kahn, who died in 1974. The film is available to watch online.

In The Kindness Diaries on Netflix, host Leon Logothetis travels the world relying on the kindness of strangers for bed and board and repaying them in kind. It shines a light on the best of human nature and helped inspire CBRE’S ‘kindness pledges’ idea. In times when we are separated from those we care about, we think this is more important than ever.

Podcast recommendations 

In the podcast series Phoebe Reads A Mystery, This is Love host Phoebe Judge reads a chapter a day from a mystery novel. So far, she has lent her soothing tones to The Hound of the Baskervilles, Dracula and Jane Eyre among other classic works. It is the perfect listen for daily walks, household chores or to help you nod off at night. 

VENT is a podcast series hosted by young residents in Brent. Made in collaboration with VICE, the project documents life as a young person in the London borough, taking in everything from falling in love to thoughts on the dark web and intersectional feminism. There are three series to date, all available from Spotify, Acast or Apple.

I’d recommend dipping into a sports radio channel when you can. Listening to any sport adds a touch of normality for me and it’s comforting to hear that some things are beginning to return to normal, whether it’s the horse racing at Ascot or the restarted Premier League.

Rugby is one of my passions. I was fortunate enough to make the trip to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and will be heading on the Lions tour to South Africa next year. I love the camaraderie, mutual respect and passion of the sport. Rugby podcasts such as The Rugby Pod and The Ruck share many great insights from the players. Download from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. 

A brutal murder, police corruption, tabloid newspaper hacking – the still-unsolved killing of private detective Daniel Morgan in 1987 has all the elements of a Hollywood thriller. In podcast seriesUntold: The Daniel Morgan Murder, investigative journalist Peter Jukes takes an exhaustive in-depth look at this intriguing story. Download from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. 

Eight tracks, a book and a luxury: BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs needs no introduction. A recent episode with Cressida Dick, commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, featured some great music and the fascinating story of her career achievements to date as well as the challenges she has faced and overcome. Download from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. 

What if one of the biggest rock singles of all time was actually written by – wait for it – the CIA? In podcast Wind Of Change, American journalist Patrick Radden Keefe investigates the claim that the Scorpions’ 1990 hit – the soundtrack to the collapse of the Soviet Union – was a piece of propaganda constructed by US intelligence. Download from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. 

The podcast Dolly Parton’s America is an exploration of the American singer’s music, life and real estate projects. It is ideal for anyone interested in country music, how to build an empire, philanthropism or a good old rags-to-riches tale, and features interviews with the woman herself. It also offers a great antidote to what celebrity has come to mean recently. Download from iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. 

The second series of BBC podcast 13 Minutes to the Moon uses historical interviews with flight controllers and astronauts to tell the story of the nearly disastrous Apollo 13 mission in April 1970. I remember as a schoolboy sitting mesmerised in front of my family’s black-and-white TV, watching the drama unfold non-stop for five days. The entire series can be streamed on BBC Sounds. 

The soothing tones of This Is Love presenter Phoebe Judge are an antidote to any cabin fever you might be feeling. Her podcast investigates stories of love in the loosest sense. Season 4 focuses on nature, animals and the wild.

In Bryony Gordon’s Mad World podcast, the Telegraph journalist and mental health ambassador interviews guests about their mental health journey and always starts with the question: “So how are you really?” Bryony founded the Mental Health Mates network, which inspired CBRE’s Mental Health Buddies programme. 

At only 10 minutes an episode, the podcast This Day in Esoteric Political History is more digestible than its name might suggest. Each episode looks at one moment in US political history from that day in the past and analyses what lessons can be drawn from it. It is a great way to gain a bit of historical perspective. Download from iTunes or anywhere you get your podcasts. 

If you want a laugh: Fortunately by Fi and Jane is a podcast from Jane Garvey and Fi Glover. The two BBC Radio 4 broadcasters (you may recognise Jane as a presenter on Women’s Hour) spend the hour chatting to themselves, speaking over a range of guests, and sometimes bring some radio clips to play. Mostly though, they’re very rude and extremely funny, and we would recommend them heartily if you need a lift.

If you want a deep dive into human nature:The Ted Radio Hour by NPR. This is a genius concept, with each podcast focusing on one topic such as “anger”, “failure”, “the source of creativity” and “risk”. A number of Ted Talkers are interviewed on their talks, weaving together a fascinating exploration of important topics.

If you want to keep up to date with current affairs: The Daily from the New York Times and Beyond Today from the BBC both follow similar formats, covering one newsworthy topic each day of the week. They’re short, very well researched, and cover a range of topics from the success of South Korean oscar-winning Parasite, to the American women who joined ISIS.

If you want something silly:No Such Thing As A Fish comes from the QI elves (who write the questions from the panel show). They take us through all the strange facts they learnt that week. Prepare to be impressed, horrified and to have more than one laugh out loud.

If you want something gripping: The Dropout or Broken: Jefferey Epstein. The former follows Elizabeth Holmes, who is currently standing trial for massive fraud, after her blood-testing firm Thernos unrivalled. The latter takes us through the life of Jefferey Epstein, uncovering previously unknown actions and experiences. It also delves into Ghislaine Maxwell, his longtime alleged facilitator, and the prison in which he spent his last weeks.

If you want something akin to therapy:How Did We Get Here is a podcast from Dr Tanya Bryon, a psychologist, and her longtime friend Claudia Winkleman. In each episode, Claudia interviews a member of the public who has a problem they wish to fix. We then listen in as Tanya talks that person through the issue, with incredible results. It feels like a free therapy session, and our only tip is to make sure you’re not wearing makeup as it’ll smudge.

Music recommendations

LA sister-band Haim’s third studio album Women in Music Pt. III combines pop with folksier 1970s tones. In their most personal songs yet, they sing about family, misogyny and depression. But the best thing is just how catchy it all is.

Four-time Grammy winner Jacob Collier started out as a bedroom musician uploading videos to YouTube of his rearrangements of popular songs. His extraordinary ability to harmonise meant it was not long before he was signed to Quincy Jones’ management company. Volume three of his Djesse album series was released in August.

Putting the rest of us to shame, Taylor Swift wrote her eighth album,folklore, during lockdown. Harking back to her origins as a country singer, this album is a cosy, autumnal listen, filled with nostalgia and storytelling. It might be her best album yet.

Screaming Toenail describe themselves as an “anti-colonial militant queer punk band”. In new lockdown release Growth, the band touches on personal and political topics. It is worth a listen, especially if you are angry at the system. Listen via Bandcamp.

Canadian singer-songwriter Ruth B. has a beautiful voice that stirs the emotions, which is shown to great effect on the song ‘Lost Boy’. The track is available on Spotify and other music-streaming platforms.

After a 10-year hiatus, Damon Gough – AKA Badly Drawn Boy – makes a welcome return with new album Banana Skin Shoes. The singer-songwriter’s latest offering is packed with upbeat, life-affirming songs such as ‘Is This a Dream?’ The album is available to download or, alternatively, the physical CD can be purchased from all good music retailers. 

It is always interesting to reconnect with the music of one’s youth. Lately, I have been listening to the records of British singer-songwriter Joan Armatrading, whose music I first discovered while studying for an estate management degree at Trent Polytechnic. It has been great to have more time to listen to her albums again. Find her music on Spotify.

For those who have never heard of American singer Perfume Genius, now is the time to get acquainted with his dreamy vocals set to bold instrumentals. With his latest stunner of an album, Set My Heart on Fire Immediately, he is finally attaining the mainstream recognition he deserves.

London jazz musician Jelly Cleaver has released a gently woozy track during lockdown called Feeling Fine, featuring rapper Shunaji and saxophonist Maddy Coombs. Cleaver is in lockdown with her whole band, so fingers crossed she produces more music over the coming months. 

This is Me’ from The Greatest Showman is one of the biggest feel-good songs of recent years. It brings together a deeper meaning of compassion and kindness and encourages everyone to bring their whole self, not just their best self. When this song is on, you cannot help but move your feet, tap your fingers and get involved with the beats.

Books & games

For any self-isolators keen to get away from a screen or a book, Patchwork is a competitive Tetris-style two-player board game based on the theme of sewing. Players compete to collect a maximum number of buttons while filling their board with contiguous cardboard pieces.

Prolific author Anthony Horowitz is back with another murder mystery thriller – Moonflower Murders, the second in his Susan Ryeland series, which continues the story of Magpie Murders published in 2016. The book has all the usual plot twists of a Horowitz story and also features a novel within a novel – a device he has used before. 

Jo Lennan’sIn the Time of Foxes, published last week, is a collection of short stories. In the eponymous story, a woman faces two difficult decisions over whether to put her mother in a care home and whether to destroy the fox home in her garden. These brief but deep narratives show characters in complex situations. It is rare to find a book this fulfilling.

A book I often dip into and would highly recommend is Legacy by James Kerr. It proposes 15 lessons we can learn from the methods of the legendary All Blacks rugby union team. It is not just a book about sport – Kerr writes about leadership, humility and ethics.

James Deegan’s SAS adventure novelOnce A Pilgrim is an enjoyable bit of escapism and a step up from other similar-themed authors. The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett is an historical and educational epic.

The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman provides a fascinating insight into the intelligence of our feathered garden friends. How can birds anticipate the arrival of a distant storm? How can they find places thousands of miles away that they have never visited before? Ackerman explains all this and more.

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh tells the unusual story of how he became a brain surgeon. This moving book has helped put life into perspective during these unusual times and is a quick and engaging read.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett is ostensibly a novel about the role of a house and its imposing architecture on the fate of a family, and is beautiful and heartbreaking in equal measure. The depiction of the house in which the book is set is almost photographic in its detail – worth a read for any fan of architecture.

Containing biographies of about 200 London architects from Inigo Jones to Norman Foster, Architects and Architecture of London by Ken Allinson is a great book to dip into and easy to read. Building Seagram by Phyllis Lambert tells the compelling story of the design and construction of the legendary New York skyscraper. Designed by Mies van der Rohe, this awesome, heroic building is a big influence on my own work.

If you want a screen break while engaging in something meaningful, check out autobiographical graphic novels. A Drifting Life is a masterpiece that completely absorbs the reader in author Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s journey to become a manga artist in Japan between 1945 and 1960. Fun Home by Alison Bechdel tells her story of growing up as the daughter of a funeral-home owner and her relationship with her father. The book’s musical adaptation is also available online.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy is one of the most creative books of recent years. Bursting with simple sketches, it brings to life the true value of compassion, kindness, understanding and self-worth. The simplicity of the line drawings and the emotions they invoke make this an absolute classic. 


It might seem basic but study app Quizlet is a reliable tool for learning languages – or indeed anything at all. With millions of user-generated flashcards along with tests and games, it is the perfect place to brush up on your Mandarin or learn a bit of Italian. 

Although many of the world’s most famous museums are shut for the foreseeable future, Google Arts and Culture collection allows viewers to take virtual tours of leading institutions. Here the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, Guggenheim Museum in New York, Musee d’Orsay in Paris, and many more, can be viewed from the comfort of your couch. This huge project displays a wide range of art and artefacts from Egyptian mummies through to Vermeer’s atmospheric domestic interiors (particularly apt for these strange times) 

In the face of theatre and venue closures many are also moving their performances online. New York’s Metropolitan Opera will be streaming shows every night at 7.30 EDT, which will be accessible until 3.30 EDT the next day

Shakespeare’s Globe has many of the classics on Globe Player, while video platform Nowness contains a diverse array of global arts and culture.

In many ways the release of the 900-page final instalment of Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy couldn’t have been better timed. Spend what would otherwise have been your commute getting into the ‘The Mirror & the Light’ and the deadly intrigues of Henry VIII’s court in the wake of the execution of his second wife, Anne Boleyn.


In American online comedy series The Try Guys, four men in LA try out activities ranging from cooking competitions to sports trials and getting lost in the wild. Outcomes vary but the audience is always kept entertained. The series is available to watch on YouTube and new episodes come out every Wednesday and Saturday.

A way I de-stress after the working day is to sit down with my eight-year-old son and stream a nature documentary. Our favourites are the classics – Seven Worlds, One Planet and Blue Planet II – but the choice available on BBC iPlayer is fantastic! The complete escapism of diving into a documentary puts into perspective how we are all just tiny people doing little things in a vast, amazing world.

American singer Solange might not be as well known as her older sister Beyoncé, but she is just as talented. Her most recent album, When I Get Home, is a beautiful, heartfelt ode to her hometown of Houston, Texas. Her film accompanying the album is available to watch on YouTube.

National Theatre at Home is currently showing the Donmar Warehouse’s visceral 2013/14 production of Coriolanus, with Tom Hiddleston in the title role. It is arguably one of the most dynamic versions of the play ever staged. Its strong cast and small stage give it great immediacy and the savage conclusion is extremely poignant. It is available to watch on YouTube until 7pm on 11 June.

For instant relaxation, spend a few hours trawling YouTube. Living Big in a Tiny House and Exploring Alternatives both make for absorbing viewing. Alternatively, why not learn a new skill? There are many music tutorials for lockdown learning, such as David Bennett Piano and Guy Michelmore’s channels. For synth enthusiasts, Andrew Huang, BoBeats and the incredible Once Upon a Synth channel are real rabbit holes.