IN the real world, negotiators were arguing over what could become a huge self-inflicted economic wound as a no-deal Brexit draws closer, and calls have been growing for Christmas to be closed down, if not cancelled, as 57 per cent of people in a YouGov poll say Government restrictions do not look tough enough.

It must be so desperate to have a business in hospitality and watch its life ebb away in Tier 3, especially as it is not clear how thejudgement on whether the region north of the Tees will move into Tier 2 will be made.

It must be even more desperate to have a loved one in a hospital, suffering from this extremely nasty disease.

So how have we all coped? When historians look back on the dogdays of 2020, they’ll see that people escaped by tuning into the softest, nicest piece of telly imaginable.

Four million watched Gone Fishing on Sunday evening, as Bob Mortimer and Paul Whitehouse gently explored the rivers and the backwaters of the North-East, with a further 16m expected to catch it on catch-up.

Programme makers seem to believe that extreme violence and explicit sex are what viewers want whereas really, in these desperate times, all we want is a calming stretch of water with a beautiful backdrop of Durham or Yorkshire scenery and a couple of amiable but aging fellows exchanging pleasantries.