So, the presents have been opened, the leftover turkey is slowly but surely disappearing and you’ve finally caught up on all the Christmas specials you recorded. Yep, it’s that wonderful week; after the mayhem of Christmas and before the mayhem of New Year. It’s a unique week of the year; and if you’re a fan of Next, turkey curry or family gatherings, I’m willing to bet it’s one of your favourites. It’s also, of course, the week for endless reflections on the year gone by and here at Telstar we’re no different. You’ve seen our Top Ten Films of 2012, but now it’s time to turn our attention to the small screen.
When reflecting on this past year, it seems to me as though there are two unavoidable characteristics of 2012.
1) It’s the first year which has really pulled off the “twenty” prefix, (“twenty eleven” was a bit of a mouthful, “twenty twelve” just rolls off the tongue.)
2) It’s been a great year to be British.
As much as I’d love to write a whole article on the first point, it’s the latter which I’ll be focusing on here. As I’ve reflected on 2012, I’ve realised that all the times I felt my heart swell with pride in this great country were moments which I was sitting in front of the telly. So sit down, grab a real British cuppa and join me in an amble through a year of television wearing Union Jack spectacles. Here’s my 2012 top television moments: Best of British.
All year something’s been bothering me. In the midst of all that 2012 had to offer, the back of my mind has continuously played host to one nagging question:
How on earth did Sherlock survive that fall?!??!
The second series of this modern day adaptation of a true British classic aired on BBC1 in January, bringing with it even more mind boggling twists and turns and a healthy dose of dry British humour. The beauty of Sherlock (whose protagonist is wonderfully portrayed by the magnificent Benedict Cumberbatch, literally the biggest name in British television) is in sitting at the feet of a genius and watching him work. Slick, sophisticated and staggeringly good, Sherlock was this week voted by critics to be the Best TV Show of 2012, but fans will have to wait until later in the year to find out if our theories surrounding the final episode are correct.
The sixth series of Britain’s Got Talent hit our screens in May. A dog won… need I say any more? (If it makes you feel any better about the state of our nation, a dog act won America’s Got Talent this year too, although don’t watch it if you want to keep your British pride in tact.)
June saw the beginning of what really was, despite the weather, a great British summer and the Diamond Jubilee brought with it a plethora of patriotic programming. Most memorably, 1 in 5 Brits spent a Sunday afternoon in front of the telly watching thousands of boats amble down the Thames in what can only be described as the unexpected televisual highlight of the year. It was undoubtedly the most boring four hours of ‘celebration’ I’ve seen, and yet something had me (and twelve million others) hooked, determined to show solidarity and ‘celebrate’ with our monarch (and of course see what Kate was wearing). The incessent torrential downpour showcased the truly British ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ attitude, and let’s be honest, watching the presenters and crew struggle through four hours of pouring rain, washed out equipment and interviewees, was highly entertaining.
The other thing the Diamond Jubilee brought to our screens was Mr 2012 himself, Gary Barlow, and a whole lot of him. Britain’s favourite crooner (move over Cliff) was commissioned by Buckingham Palace to do what he does best… churn out a catchy and emotive pop song. Although this time it was the Queen he was serenading, and so off he travelled around the Commonwealth to find the most interesting musicians and singers to be a part of his song. Someone somewhere must have decided that a remake of “A Million Love Songs” wasn’t quite going to cut it, and so her Maj ended up with a slightly unexceptional (so I’m told.. it still makes me cry) song about…well… singing. However, everything is improved drastically if you make a documentary about it, and the making of this song was no exception. The documentary which accompanied it, following Gary Barlow as he met some fascinating people in some beautiful places, was probably the best piece of programming in the whole jubilee season. In fact, this documentary is the only TV programme I have dreamt of this year, so it must have been good.
July was the first time in 78 years that a British man got to the final of Wimbledon. Did anyone ever mention that fact? But lo and behold, it turned out to be yet another “so close, but oh so far moment.” However, it did provide us with the single most heart wrenching, and yet pride instilling, moment I have ever seen on television: Murray’s losing speech. Now when it comes to Andy Murray, it’s always been a case of (as someone wise once said) ‘haterz gonna hate’. But when a man bears the expectation of nation on his shoulders, plays tennis like that against arguably the greatest tennis player of the last decade and then breaks down and cries in front of millions, haterz ain’t gonna hate no more. This was the moment that our little British hearts, so full of 78 years of hope and expectation, were smashed to the ground; the moment that the epitome of British stiff upper lip opened up to us and bore his soul. He may have lost the title, but he won the hearts of a nation with those three words… “I’m getting closer”. Relive the moment here.
To be honest, I can’t really think of anything remotely British that happened on our screens in August, so I guess we’ll move on.
Oh wait. The Olympics. Whether it was rushing home to watch sports we’d never heard of, crowding round office laptops because “we’re about to win another gold!” or wiping the dust off the red button so we didn’t miss a second of the action, the Olympics had those of us who were not lucky enough to get tickets glued to our screens for a fortnight. There’s no end to the “London 2012 best bits” montages, programmes or articles, so I’ll just draw your attention to two of the most underrated moments of the games.
Firstly, this is probably my favourite image of the whole Olympics: Tom Daley winning bronze and celebrating ecstatically by jumping in the pool with his entire coaching team, reminding the world that you don’t have to win gold to be a real winner and that it’s always fun to jump into a swimming pool fully clothed.
And secondly, who can forget Gary Barlow (I told you he was Mr 2012) courageously performing with Take That in front of millions during the closing ceremony just eight days after the loss of his stillborn baby daughter. Now that’s what I call bravery.
October saw the final of The Great British Bakeoff. It’s great, it’s quintessentially British in every way, and there were a lot of cakes involved. If you need further persuasion, check out this post about it here.
And finally, ITV’s little jewel of original British drama, Downton Abbey, returned for a third season this autumn, and reached a moving climax in November. As usual, Downton managed to be slow (more like a ride on a lazy river than a stomach churning rollercoaster) and yet utterly captivating and highly enjoyable. And in case you haven’t already heard it said a thousand times, Maggie Smith is simply exquisite.
So there you have it, the top telly moments of this year; the moments that have risen above the scandal surrounding British television which has so often dominated our headlines. Confirmation that if we’ve learnt anything from the box in 2012, it’s that it has never been so cool to be British. For now anyway….
Happy New Year!