Theroux the Keyhole: Discover the six things that got Louis Theroux through lockdown mania

Find out how much-loved documentary maker Louis Theroux made his way through lockdown, without going (too) stir-crazy.

We all had our ways of filling the days during lockdown. From lounging in his pyjamas to embarrassing his family, daily Joe Wicks workouts and knocking down the bourbon, Louis Theroux had his own unique ways of staying sane during the COVID lockdown.

Here, Louis shares the hobbies, obsessions – and the romantic love ­– that kept him from losing the plot in 2020.

#6 - Pyjamas

Pyjama bottoms. For me, arguably the most pleasurable part of the whole lockdown experience was staying in my PJs all day. I’ve been trying to keep it going, but increasingly I find I’m called to do things outside the house. Not many people can get away with it in the normal course of things – Hugh Hefner, the CEO of playboy, famously spent his days in his pyjamas. So, I became a sort-of mini Hugh Hefner of northwest London.

It infuses my whole sense of self, the idea that I’m at leisure whatever may be happening. Or better off, I’m not in work mode, right? And that’s a nice thing to feel.

#5 - Cooking

I did quite a bit of cooking in lockdown, which – I’m busy, I’m contributing – but really I’m just in the kitchen on my own listening to the radio, or maybe some music on the Google speaker (I have to say that quietly or Google will wake up), having a drink maybe? 

Maybe, you know, spending a couple of hours making a vegetarian lasagne – what could be wrong with that? So I’ve got my little prompt: here is some garlic, it could have been an onion, it could have been anything. It could have been a recipe book.

#4 - Workouts

Okay, it’s a dumbbell of some kind, or a weight. I don’t really use these weights, but what this is supposed to indicate is my workouts – and specifically the Joe Wicks' workouts that I did from day one, which I continue to this day. I did one this morning. 

Although, you think ‘well, why is that a secret?’ But what I found was that the family found me quite irritating, and found me doing them annoying. I don’t know why the vision of a 51-year-old man in tight underpants sweating onto the carpet, and grunting, would not be something you’d want to see in your front room.

I don’t know why the vision of a 51-year-old man in tight underpants sweating onto the carpet, and grunting, would not be something you’d want to see in your front room.

I’d have to wait till my wife had left the house, and then I’d kind of run upstairs or run into a place where I wasn’t supervised, and grunt and jerk (steady . . .) and then feel amazing. If that’s a crime, then convict me now.

#3 - Drinking

This one is more questionable – bullet bourbon. It doesn’t have to be bullet bourbon, it could also be a different drink, but I did find that I got a taste for bourbon. Apparently, it has to be made in Kentucky, otherwise it’s not bourbon. Did you know that? 

What can I say. . . like in lockdown – I don’t know if you found this – but a Monday was a lot like a Saturday, right? And with that went a certain relaxing of what would be our normal standards of alcohol consumption. Did I overdo it a bit? 

My wife would say yes.

#2 - TV

I just bring this in because it’s so weird – it's the Tiger King Starstruck audio CD and TV combo pack. I don’t know what’s on it, Here Kitty Kitty is the big one, isn’t it? 

But it stands for I suppose TV in general, of which I watched quite a lot. Strictly, which I would watch on a Saturday, Succession or Barbarians or White Lotus. Some of it was Tiger King, a lot of it was other series. The Last Dance, did you see that? That was a good series on Netflix, about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.

#1 - Nancy

Okay, we’re up to number one on secret pleasures. It’s not really a secret, except I don’t talk about it that much in my public and professional life. Family is really number one. I know, I know, you’re thinking ‘cringe, cringe, boring.’ And especially my wife, my beautiful wife Nancy, who was my rock through everything that we went through and who actually features in the book quite a bit. She probably wishes she featured slightly less.

We were all banished to our little islands, weren’t we? Our little islands of safety, but also islands of slightly-going-cabin-crazy and maybe not bringing out the best in each other? I’m so lucky to have Nancy in my life. Here we are coming to the end of 2021, and if that’s my secret – my secret is out. Nancy got me through the pandemic, my family did in general, but especially her. 

So on that rather romantic and beautiful note, we bring this little item to a close. Thank you for watching. The book is called Theroux The Keyhole: Diaries of a Grounded Documentary Maker – it’s available at shops, online in various formats. Check it out – I think you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve been Louis Theroux.

Image credit: Paul Marc Mitchell

Theroux The Keyhole

by Louis Theroux

Book cover for Theroux The Keyhole

When Covid hit, Louis Theroux could no longer rely on escaping to his usual journalistic beat, interviewing oddballs and outcasts worldwide. His universe narrowed to an obsession with Joe Wicks' workouts and attempts to interact with his videogame-obsessed sons. Theroux's funny and heart-warming diary documents his attempts to readjust. It also tells how he launched the Grounded podcast as a response to long weeks of lockdown.