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The highs and lows of TV in 2013

Broadchurch on ITV was among Matt Hemley's 2013 TV highlights. Photo: ITV.
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What better way to see out 2013 than by reflecting on the year’s TV highs and lows? Okay, you might be able to think of a better way, but for the time being join me in celebrating the best and worst TV of the year. Thankfully I have found it easier to recall the highs rather than I have the lows. But you may be able to think of more. So feel free to add yours at the bottom…

The highs (in no particular order)

The Returned – Channel 4

Mon dieu! We had people having their stomachs eaten in subways, a creepy Damien-esque boy and a shed load of people coming back from the grave to confuse/scare/arouse the living. Plus the subtitles helped us all polish up our French. Formidable!

Scott and Bailey – ITV

This drama just keeps getting better. I personally can’t get enough of it. Loved seeing Tracie Bennett popping up in it too. Bring on series four.

Broadchurch – ITV

Who killed Danny Latimer? If I’m being completely honest I can’t remember – but what I do remember is how brilliantly written and performed this series was. Olivia Colman’s performance in particular made for great viewing – as did Sharon from Birds of a Feather being creepy in a caravan.

The Sound of Musicals – Channel 4

For us stagey types, Channel 4 spoiled us at the end of the year with this brilliant four-part series that took us behind the scenes of musical theatre productions such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Happy Days. Now everyone wants to be Amy Anzel’s friend and everyone is terrified of Cameron Mackintosh.

The Fall – BBC2

Has a serial killer ever been as handsome as Jamie Dornan? I can’t think of any. This brilliant series saw Gillian Anderson chasing Jamie’s killer – Paul Spector – as he wreaked havoc on Belfast, killing young professional women. The creepy thing was seeing Paul going home after his deeds to enjoy a normal family life. The last episode left some of us feeling cheated, but at least we have a second series to look forward to.

The Olivier Awards – ITV

Okay, it wasn’t the full ceremony in all its glory. But it was a highlights package, which is more than we’ve seen on mainstream TV in a good while. Great to see the theatre sector getting the coverage it deserves.

The Lows (in no particular order)

Splash – ITV

As if January isn’t gloomy enough, ITV decided to start the year with the dismal Splash, in which celebrities were taught how to dive by professionals, and then judged by a panel – which included Jo Brand. That’s right, Jo Brand! Because apparently she’s qualified to judge others for their diving skills. Who knew? When it was on, someone on Twitter claimed the show could have been livened up if there was no water in the diving pool. A bit harsh, perhaps. But a second series has been ordered, so someone must have liked it.

Vicious –  ITV

No comedy seems to have divided viewers more than Vicious. Some evidently loved seeing Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi camping it up as lovers in this sitcom, others (like me) failed to see anything funny in it. Like Splash, however, it’s coming back for a second run. So ITV has faith in it, clearly.

I Love My Country – BBC1

David Walliams was originally lined up to present this. He dropped out. Must have known. Say no more.

The British Animal Honours – ITV

Paul O’Grady loves animals. When he’s not dressing up as a woman, he can be found presenting ITV shows about dogs and other furry friends. In April he hosted these awards, which honoured animals from the UK, such as “Piggy the fridge-scaling cat”. Oh dear.





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