Grayson Perry (Getty)

    The best online classes to try during lockdown

    7 April 2020

    During this unprecedented time of lockdown, it’s not only children who are missing out on an education. Many of us are finding it hard to resist the lure of hours spent in front of a computer game, scrolling through Netflix for un-watched episodes of Friends, or simply staring into space engulfed by waves of anxiety. It’s important to keep our minds active, just as much as our bodies, and luckily the internet provides a rich seam of engaging classes. Read on to see our favourites…

    Shakespeare with Dame Helen Mirren

    Dame Helen Mirren (Getty)

    Masterclass attracts the crème de la crème of experts, giving lessons in their fields: Serena Williams on tennis, Garry Kasparov on chess, Margaret Atwood and Joyce Carol Oates on writing, RuPaul on authenticity, Annie Leibovitz on photography… But it’s their film and TV section which really wheels out the big guns. You can get lessons from David Lynch, Judd Apatow and Martin Scorsese on filmmaking, while actors featured include Natalie Portman and Samuel L. Jackson. Need more of a reason to sign up? Dame Helen Mirren’s class on Shakespeare (one of a series of 28) is worth the price of admission alone.  (currently two passes for £170)

    Art with Grayson Perry

    Grayson Perry, last year’s curator of The Summer Exhibition (Royal Academy)

    The new Channel 4 programming has been announced and it’s full of at-home lessons. The nation’s favourite mother hen, Kirstie Allsopp, will be teaching us all how to craft, while Jamie Oliver returns with some cooking classes. We’re most exited about Grayson Perry’s Art Club, in which the Turner-prize winning artist will tap into our creativity, creating a multi-media, nationwide work of art with his viewers which will serve to commemorate this time.

    Guitar with Laura Marling

    Laura Marling at Glastonbury 2017

    Folk singer Laura Marling has created a series of charmingly home-spun guitar lessons, which are streamed live on her instagram every Thursday and Sunday at 7pm UK time, and also available on her facebook page. She’ll be teaching fans how to strum along to her most popular songs: expect more air-guitar than usual when she can re-commence her tour.

    Wine tasting with Wine Trust 100

    Alistair Cooper MA, WineTrust on Zoom

    Alistair Cooper –  a Master of Wine – has been leading online tasting sessions via Zoom for WineTrust – an independent wine seller. The wines can be sent directly to your door in advance of the session and then you can sit back and sip away as Alistair provides live tasting notes on each bottle. Sample everything from a Miraval – a delicate rose from Brad Pitt and Angelina Joli’s vineyard in Provence  – to a Giant Steps Pinot Noir from the Yarra Valley. One thing’s for sure – this world tour of wines will more than make up for staying put during lockdown.

    Gardening with Matthew Wilson

    Matthew Wilson at The Chelsea Flower Show

    Gardener’s Question Time panelist, journalist and, incidentally, rather hunky Matthew Wilson has just launched a YouTube channel with short, practical videos on how to grow stuff: so far, he’s covered vegetable beds and (oddly) how to keep garlic hydrated. The wobbly camera-work, sound of phones pinging in the background and ocassional mistake make it totally accessible and at times rather, unwittingly, amusing.

    Printing with Molly Mahon

    Molly Mahon (

    Block-printing queen Molly Mahon wants us all to be creating our own textiles during this time of crisis, and to that end has created a series of Instagram tutorials which start with simple potato prints on a hanky and progress to more complicated projects. A wonderful one to do with children, or for anyone who wants to jazz up their home now they’re spending so much time there…

    Latin with Harry Mount

    Journalist and author of Amo, Amas, Amat… And All That is part of the stable of the Idler Academy’s online courses, which also include Tarot card reading with Daisy Waugh, coping with grief with Julia Samuel and modern manners with Mary Killen. Let Mount whizz you through twelve six-minute long videos and you’ll be spouting datives and ablatives in no time.