The other R rating: the reassuring sights that have been keeping our spirits up

In these strange times, we all need something comfortable and familiar – and some reassuring famous faces

queen horse riding
This picture of the Queen riding her horse has put a smile on Shane's face this week Credit: WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe

Who would have thought? It turns out that a picture of the Queen, riding in Windsor Home Park, is top of our reassuring images list – to date.

Though it may feel like nothing will ever be the same again, and normal will not even look close to the normal of six months ago, here comes Her Majesty, riding a pony, probably wearing the same jacket and headscarf she was wearing back in June of 1986, to put paid to any such concerns.

In these times of coronavirus, we are newly interested in all things reassuring: people we find reassuring in themselves; reassuring activities (baking bread); people doing reassuring things at a reassuring pace (that would be Mary Berry baking bread) and so on.

Right now, we’re not interested in pictures of glamorous celebrities on jet skis or field mice clinging to new corn, we want (the other sort) of R number, starting with Her Majesty; and here are some of the others on the Reassuring List:

  • Stanley Tucci, who, as you may know, has developed something of a fan club for his Instagram Live mixology classes. No one knows why it’s so very reassuring to watch him fix a negroni: is it the firm forearms? The chilled temperament? Or the Black Velvet voice?
  • Ant and Dec. Cheeky pals who don’t appear to be a day older than they were back in the early days of Saturday Night Takeaway in 2002. Although we won’t be seeing them in the Australian jungle this year, you can catch them on Britain’s Got Talent and it feels exactly like this time five years ago.
  •  Monty Don, presenter of Gardeners’ World, and his dog, Nigel. Even though Nigel is no longer with us (he died during the lockdown) Don has still got gardening on his side, another dog and a certain braces-and-indigo-jacket style that feels reassuringly British. For those who aren’t reassured by Don, there is always Alan Titchmarsh.
  • Huw Edwards. Edwards’s delivery and silvery suave yet trustworthy manner is pitch perfect for a BBC news anchor, and it feels like he’s also absorbed the respect that was once due to David Dimbleby. No disrespect to Fiona Bruce, also a notably reassuring presence.
  • David Hockney. There’s something about Hockney, who – although he lives in France now – is ready and waiting whenever we need a dose of fatalistic, dry self-flagellation. Most recently he’s popped up to defend smoking as the (unproved) first line of defence against coronavirus. Reassuringly British in that way.
  • Sir Paul McCartney. Only because Craig Brown’s book about the Fab Four has reminded us that Sir Paul has been famous since 1963 and is pretty much the same person now that he was then, not to mention still at the top of his game (he would have been headlining Glastonbury any minute now … reassuringly, sure he will be next year).
  • Laura Kuenssberg. Just feel certain we’re getting the facts with LK in the room; absolutely love it when Katya Adler is on the TV, too. Reassuringly almost just like the good old days of Brexit.
Is it just me...
Sophie Ellis-Bextor has been entertaining the masses with live streamed lockdown discos until recently Credit: Brian Rasic

Who is already missing Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s Friday night lockdown discos? (Now that we’re allowed out, she’s called a halt to the live performances from her kitchen, under a disco ball, while her kids career around joining in). Admittedly, I was late to the party, but then, like everyone who witnessed her and her family making Friday night Joyness, I was hooked and charmed and wanted to be a fly on the wall of their fairy-lit, bunting-decked, fancy-dressed, happy, funny, relaxed, normal, not-fake world, forever. Musical mums are the best.

Is it OK to...

Feel a stab of anxiety on behalf of all those acting couples out there jostling for the now hotly coveted two-for-one roles. Since social distancing, the actors most in demand are the ones who can perform opposite the person they are isolating with (think Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory, Jennifer Saunders and Ade Edmondson). But what if you are a super-hot actor with a not-so-in-demand B-division acting partner? Or, you are one half of a hot acting couple who was longing for the end of lockdown so you could move to another country? Agony really.

What reassuring sights have kept your spirits up in lockdown? Tell us in the comments section below