Huw Edwards eating a croissant live on BBC News
Presenting local election coverage overnight can be quite the broadcasting feat. Unfortunately for BBC News anchor Huw Edwards, hours of professionalism were quickly overshadowed by his admission that he was still chewing on a croissant he had started eating while his colleague Reeta Chakrabarti was talking. The exceedingly British way he revealed this (“I’m going to admit to you that I just had a bit of croissant, so I’m just finishing it and I’m ashamed to say that, but there you go”) went viral, of course. His admission was even remixed with the BBC News theme, so it sounded like him eating croissant was one of his own headlines.
Paddington and the Queen
To kick off the Platinum Party at the Palace, the BBC surprised millions with a sketch featuring the Queen enjoying afternoon tea with Paddington Bear. Not only was it every bit as delightfully chaotic as you’d expect from the furry Peruvian emigré, but the Queen seemed positively thrilled. So charming was her enthusiastic reveal to Paddington about keeping marmalade sandwiches in her handbag for emergencies that it took on a life of its own when she died several months later. The sketch’s overwhelming popularity resulted in some rather surreal situations, including BBC Breakfast reporting that officials had asked wellwishers to stop leaving marmalade sandwiches outside Buckingham Palace. Meanwhile, a royal expert on BBC News dropped the bombshell that Paddington was CGI and was not in fact a real bear – shocker.
The BBC News presenter who wouldn’t stop sneezing
If you thought Huw Edwards apologising for chewing a croissant couldn’t get any more British, here’s BBC newsreader Shaun Ley, who built up quite the formidable fanbase for randomly sneezing during bulletins. Montages were made.
The most incredible instance was when he paused mid-story, gave every indication that he was about to sneeze, then stopped and carried on. “I think I have gotten away with it,” he revealed to viewers.
Alex Scott wears a OneLove armband
The men’s World Cup being held in Qatar was controversial way before the first kick-off, with the country’s human rights and LGBTQ+ abuses put firmly under the microscope. And shortly before England’s first game against Iran, Fifa threatened to impose sanctions against any player who decided to wear a OneLove armband, even though the armband was simply to raise awareness against all kinds of discrimination.
Instead of going ahead and wearing them, the England team gave in. So BBC Sport presenter Alex Scott decided to wear the OneLove armband anyway while providing analysis from the side of the pitch. While a few detractors said the move was a breach of BBC impartiality rules, many others congratulated her decision and saw it as a sign of solidarity.
Brian Cox meets Brian Cox
BBC Breakfast found an excuse this year to invite on to the sofa at the same time Brian Cox (Succession actor) and Brian Cox (physicist). Things got rather confusing when it came to their lodgings, though. “Brian arrived at the hotel and they said there are two Brian Coxes, so you have two rooms,” said Brian Cox (the actor). “He said there might be another Brian Cox, and the hotel said to Brian, ‘no we can’t have two Brian Coxes’.”
“They wouldn’t check me in,” responded Brian Cox (the space one). “I had to change my name. They couldn’t do it on the computer system.”
Heartstopper’s iconic kiss
The Alice Oseman coming of age drama Heartstopper was a tour de force. A groundbreaking show of LGBTQ+ representation aimed at younger audiences, and a realisation for older viewers that in spite of homophobia and transphobia, a new generation of queer people are hopefully finding love and connection like never before. One moment summed up the show perfectly: when Nick (Kit Connor), whose character was coming to terms with his feelings for classmate Charlie (Joe Locke), saw Darcy (Kizzy Edgell) and Tara (Corinna Brown) kissing on a dancefloor. Nick realised that if he pursued his love for Charlie, he could also be publicly sharing the same joy that they had. Moments later, he kissed Charlie for the first time.
This WTF opening to a One Show interview
This year, The One Show continued its reign as one of the most baffling shows on television. At one point I tuned in to see Lauren Laverne outside New Broadcasting House introducing a giant egg, which opened to reveal Ian McKellen and John Bishop inside.
What makes The One Show all the more surreal is that once in a while, something truly wild happens, such as earlier this year when the actor Dan Stevens was invited on to talk about his new drama about the downfall of the Nixon administration.
Dan’s introduction started reasonably enough. “What you’ve got is a criminal for a leader who is wrapped in a messy war, embroiled in a stupid scandal and surrounded by ambitious idiots and really should resign … ” Then came an unexpected twist. “I’m sorry,” he said. “That’s the intro to Boris Johnson.”
Chaos ensued. Jermaine Jenas didn’t know where to look, so just stared at the floor. Alex Jones gasped louder than the time her co-presenter Matt Baker asked former prime minister David Cameron “how on earth do you sleep at night?”
It was nearly as good as the time the legend Mel Brooks commented “what a crazy show this is” when the presenters tried to segue from his interview into an item about a woman’s long-lost father.
When Boris Johnson resigned – and British TV went wild
During the events surrounding Boris Johnson resignation as prime minister in July, things went … strange. At one point Lorraine Kelly brought out a “psychic pig” to work out whether he was actually going to go. And on the BBC News channel, a camera randomly zoomed in on Larry the cat outside Number 10, giving the impression that he was about to ask Boris to resign, too. Anti-Brexit protester Steve Bray went even further. As requested by Hugh Grant, he blasted the Benny Hill theme tune on loop on Westminster’s College Green as Conservative MPs gave interviews on who they were potentially backing for leader.
The newsreader caught with his feet up
Although this event took place during Johnson’s resignation, it was so notable that it deserves its own place. As BBC News presenter Ros Atkins was giving the latest update in Downing Street, the camera randomly cut back to fellow presenter Tim Wilcox in the news studio. This was a surprise to Wilcox, too, it turned out – he was scrolling on his phone with his feet up on the desk. Never has a newsreader summed up the national mood so accurately.
The woman who planned a live Russian protest
When Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year, the west responded by clamping down on the country’s propaganda networks, preventing RT (or Russia Today) from being able to broadcast throughout Europe. What was not expected was a live protest on one of the state-owned channels. On Channel One, Russian journalist Marina Ovsyannikova invaded the set and held a sign that, in a mix of Russian and English, said “Stop the war, don’t believe the propaganda here, you are being lied to.” The cameras cut away to a news report, but word of her protest spread around the world within minutes. She subsequently fled.
Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystał on Strictly
It has been a memorable year for Strictly. From Fleur East and Vito Coppola’s spellbinding Destiny’s Child megamix (a 10 in Blackpool by Craig Revel Horwood!), to Helen Skelton and Gorka Márquez’s bold Mein Herr from Cabaret. Even the mis-steps were spectacular – step forward the time everyone was forced to dance to BBC theme tunes such as Casualty.
But the moment that got everyone talking was the eventual winners, Hamza Yassin and Jowita Przystał, performing AfroFusion – a dance style that had never been performed on Strictly before. “I never in my life thought I would see this on Strictly Come Dancing,” said Motsi Mabuse, holding back tears. “I come from South Africa and so many of our [dances] – charleston, salsa, rumba, jive – all of these dances [that’s] where they originated. To have that acknowledgment on this big stage and remind people that we are here, we are dancing and celebrating. To see you do that for me is a special, special, special feeling.”
Farewell Derry Girls
It is rare for a popular and critically acclaimed show to end with undoubtedly its best and most memorable scene of all, but Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls did just that. With an episode that opened with Orla (Louisa Harland) Irish dancing to Sunchyme by Dario G, the series came to a purposeful end with a plot reflecting on the Good Friday Agreement referendum. Its montage of the Troubles and the subsequent peace process saw each character in the ballot box, reflecting on their past and their hopes for the future, and it was all accompanied by the Cranberries’ Dreams – profoundly moving.
Kate Bush topping the charts thanks to Stranger Things
This year, the Netflix smash Stranger Things came back with a bang for its hugely impressive (and incredibly long) fourth series. One key terrifying scene, in which the gang try to save Max (Sadie Sink) from a demon by using a cassette of Kate Bush’s Running Up That Hill, was so powerful that it didn’t just make for incredibly moving TV.
The song shot up the streaming charts 44 years after its original release, reaching No 1 in the UK, as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Sweden. Speaking on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, Bush said: “The thought of all these really young people hearing the song for the first time and discovering it is, well, I think it’s very special.”
Everything Matt Hancock did on I’m A Celebrity
No, it wasn’t an especially disturbing Black Mirror episode. It actually happened. Former health secretary Matt Hancock, who resigned in disgrace after breaking social distancing restrictions while having an affair, tried to rehabilitate his image by eating assorted animal parts on I’m A Celebrity … In an even more dystopian twist, his inclusion appeared to work in his favour, with him making the final three then winning more than 20% of the overall vote. But the most surreal moment? Him leaving the show and kissing his partner in the exact same manner as the Sun’s original scoop on the affair.
When it all went Spin to Win
Another moment from this year that feels it has been lifted directly from a Black Mirror episode, This Morning decided to adjust their regular Spin to Win game to include a prize to have your energy bills paid. And not even that, but a cheery Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby highlighted that winners would have their bills paid for just three months.
When the game was torn apart online and in the media for being insensitive, bizarrely they doubled down on the game the following day, before tweaking the prize to “household bills” later in the week, then dropping it altogether. By then, the game had even been picked up by Russian media, who used it as propaganda to point at how difficult things were in the UK.
Neighbours’ goodbye, then shock return
It feels weird now writing about the finale of the Australian soap Neighbours. Not because it wasn’t good. It was! Mike Young (Guy Pearce) reunited with Plain Jane Superbrain (Annie Jones) and fell in love, with Pearce treating his return with the same gravity as one of his films. Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue) returned to Erinsborough in their famous Mini, with Kylie bizarrely only being given five lines in the whole episode.
No, it was weird because even though the finale was a tonally perfect way of wrapping everything up, the soap then played the ultimate shock twist by coming back from the dead only months later, with Amazon Freevee announcing they will be airing new episodes next year. Although Neighbours making a huge fuss over its cancellation, then coming back mere months later is peak Neighbours behaviour.
Tommy’s talking penis in Pam & Tommy
No matter how much I try to write this one out, it always feels like it requires further explanation. When drama Pam and Tommy explored the tumultuous relationship between Pamela Anderson (Lily James) and Tommy Lee (Sebastian Stan), the limited series was hugely controversial for reportedly not having the involvement or consent of the real Anderson. Then there was the fact that a key scene involved Lee in full conversation with his erect penis (voiced by Jason Mantzoukas), made even more surreal by the fact that the distributor of the series in the UK was, of all places, Disney+! The House of Mouse!
Ukraine winning Eurovision
It has been a hell of a year for Eurovision, simply because for once it wasn’t hell for the United Kingdom. Sam Ryder’s incredible performance of Space Man resulted in jubilation as we were no longer on the bottom right of the leaderboard, then severe anxiety – due to the unusual experience of not being on the bottom right hand side of the leaderboard.
“Someone at the BBC is getting nervous,” quipped Graham Norton at one point as the UK dominated the jury vote and looked as if we were going to win. Ukraine’s Kalush Orchestra ended up being the deserving winner after receiving a record number of public votes, only for the country having to bow out of hosting the 2023 contest because of the ongoing war. Norton’s joke turned out to be very much the reality.
The finale of Big Boys
The semi-autobiographical Channel 4 sitcom, written and created by Jack Rooke, received critical acclaim not only for its sharp humour and use of 00s nostalgia, but for how it carefully explored the nuances of masculinity and male friendship.
With Rooke providing the voiceover as Derry Girls’ Dylan Llewellyn portrayed him on-screen, the latter part of the series explored the quiet and secret deterioration of his friend Danny’s (Jon Pointing) mental health. With much of the narration aimed in the form of a letter to Danny, a key scene in the final episode featured Jon sitting helpless, alone and afraid on a beach, with viewers concerned about what might happen.
Until Llewellyn was swapped out for the real Jack Rooke, who spoke to Danny as they stood nearby. A powerful message that even if we feel alone, and even if our heads tell us we have nobody to turn to, there is always someone there for us.