Syrian drama serials have enjoyed a boost in the last fifteen years and have become popular throughout the Middle East. This has been mainly down to two factors: firstly, the proliferation of satellite television stations and receiving equipment throughout the Arab world, and secondly, a boost in both foreign and domestic investment that helped Syrian producers and directors focus their talents towards television dramas.

Whenever the BBC needs a familiar standby to fill a gap in its early-evening schedules, it turns to ‘Dad’s Army’. As a result, David Croft and Jimmy Perry’s much-loved Second World War sitcom has over the decades tickled audiences a lot younger than those who saw the nine series on their first outings between 1968 and 1977.

Before I started covering the war in Syria from a remote location, I was aware that reporters relied heavily on Skype and social media to cover the crisis. But only when I was in this position myself did I really come to understand how problematic Skype can be as a tool, how intimate relationships, through which a current of tension is always running, inevitably develop over time and infuse every interaction with a flood of emotions.

It feels very strange to be writing about a place that might not exist by the time you read this. So far the old city of Damascus has survived the Syrian conflict because the opposition fighters have not taken the battle into its streets and alleyways – but the moment they do, the regime will respond with bombs and shells, as they have done in Aleppo where tragically, so much of the old town has been destroyed.

The world has largely lost interest in a steadily rising death toll, which now probably exceeds 140,000. In a conflict involving human losses on such a scale, it may seem perverse to be distracted by what has happened to the country’s rich store of monuments. But Syria’s cultural heritage is invaluable, and its loss would leave us all diminished.