A road trip with Ricky and Ralf made you appreciate how lucky we Northerners are

In these times of lockdown, it’s easy to forget we have wonderful towns, cities and countryside in the north west. Fortunately, we had Ralf and Ricky’s Very Northern Road Trip (Gold, Mondays, 9pm) to remind us.

By Phil Cunnington
Friday, 15th May 2020, 4:04 pm

Compared to the 90s lad mag sausage fest that saw Gordon Ramsay and his cronies banter their way around America, this trip with Royle Family co-stars Ralf Little and Ricky Tomlinson was positively sedate.

Given that Ricky is 80 this year, that’s no surprise, but it also meant our two trippers weren’t engaged in pointless one-upmanship.

Starting in Liverpool, Ricky and Ralf navigated their campervan up the M6 and on to Blackpool, back through Preston and on to the rolling hills of the Lancashire Pennines. Along the way, Ricky regaled us with stories of working class Liverpool life, while Ralf tried to hide the soft southern ways he has acquired after 20 years living in London.

Ricky Tomlinson and Ralf Little at the Assheton Arms in Downham, Lancashire

Yes, there was a little uncomfortable chat about sharing a small bedroom, and an even smaller toilet, but for the most part this TV father-and-son seemed childishly pleased to be together and on the road. The duo were clearly thrilled, for example, to be allowed to switch on the Illuminations on Blackpool’s famous Tower.

But this wasn’t a road trip to just look at the scenery. This was about the north’s communities and people – the amazing volunteers and players at Sir Tom Finney FC in Preston, for example – and how they make the region what it is as much as the stunning fields and fells.

It made you want to get out in the north, among it’s people as well as its hills and chat, walk, eat and drink in its pubs – so when all this is over, let’s not forget that feeling, and hit the North.

Charlie Brooker’s Antiviral Wipe (BBC2, Thurs, 9pm) articulated the rage, fear and general bafflement we have all felt these past few months, and it did so with a vicious sense of humour – much needed.

I am obsessed with Grand Designs (More4, weekdays, 8pm) and the boxes they build. Some are lovely, but sometimes you look on agog at the appalling taste on display – Changing Rooms with cash.