AS we emerge, blinking, into the New Normal, it’s perhaps time to reflect on what has got us through these months of confinement, and what we’ve learned about ourselves.

Some folks have used the time for self improvement - Italian conversation classes, hot yoga, campanology, baking braided sourdough loaves or documenting the highs and lows of quarantine with songwriting and film-making.

Me? I’ve been mostly watching Channel 5.

I’m not proud of myself, and I’m not quite sure how it started, but I seem to have fallen for the kind of telly that carries the same self-loathing you get from scoffing a family-sized bag of tortilla chips. Bargain Brits in Blackpool; Rich House, Poor House; Skint Kids, Rich Holiday; Celebrity 5 Go Caravanning...I’ve seen them all.

It’s not my only channel of choice - I’m not a total slacker - but there hasn’t exactly been an abundance of quality TV lately, and since I have zero interest in 1980s football matches or repeats of Maigret (I don’t really know what Maigret is, but it sounds like it would send me to sleep before the first ad break), I occasionally sell my soul to the channel that nobody admits to watching.

I make no apology for it. I’ve spent lockdown working long hours and haven’t had endless time on my hands to take up the oboe, write a poetry compilation or learn Lebanese cookery. By the time I log off it’s often well into the evening and I just want to zone out.

Not that all of Channel 5 is zone-out telly. Some of the current affairs programmes are probably quite good, but I don’t watch that stuff. I watch Jane McDonald swanning round the world on massive cruise ships. Since I’ve barely been further than the Co-op in four months, I travel vicariously through Jane - cruising around the Caribbean, Niagra Falls and Hebrides, down the Danube, Ganges and Mississippi. The boats, locations, vistas are fabulous - and most fabulous of all is Jane. No episode of Cruising With Jane McDonald goes by without her saying: “Ee, not bad for a Wakefield lass”, as she takes her place at the captain’s table. She has words of advice too: “Always get a cabin with a balcony”or “If you’re ever in Miami, hire a Mustang.” Cheers Jane. Will do.

Channel 5 loves a celeb on holiday. If, like me, you’re easily amused by the likes of Sherrie Hewson, Duncan from Blue, 80s pop rocket Sonia and Barry from EastEnders trying to negotiate canal locks or use a camping stove, look no further than Celebrity 5 Go Camping, Barging or Motorhoming. Where else would you find Nick Heyward from Haircut 100 chewing the fat with Melvyn Hayes at the wheel of a campervan trundling through Aberystwyth?

Channel 5 is also obsessed with Royalty: Secrets of the Royals; Royals At War/In Crisis, Royal Rebels/Servants/Wheelie Bins. I recently sat through an entire Princess Margaret ‘expose’, even though I couldn’t give two hoots about her. It was just deliciously awful, and that’s all I want right now: rubbish telly to take my mind off the spectre of a global pandemic.

Surely everyone has a guilty lockdown pleasure. My friend has Homes Under the Hammer on series link. My sister is in some weird jigsaw circle, they leave them on each others’ doorsteps. She’s currently working on a sea view of 1950s Filey. Mine is Channel 5 - although, apart from watching a grim ‘documentary’ about people with bark for skin, I draw the line at the really icky stuff.

Until I go on an actual holiday, and goodness knows when that will be, Jane’s cruises, Bargain Brits in Benidorm and Celebrity Campervanners will do for me.