Saturday, December 04, 2010

Keith Telly Topping Presents ... The From The North TV Awards (2010)

Welcome, dear blog reader, to the third annual Keith Telly Topping & His Top TV Tip Awards For The Best And Worst TV Shows Of The Year. You may notice that there are - as with last year's list - twice as many highs as there are lows. That isn't, necessarily, a reflection of the ratio of good television to bad this past year. Rather, it's because generally we tend to remember the good stuff and try to forget all about the bad. Unless, of course, it's unforgettably bad. We've got fifteen of those babies lined up especially for you. But, first -

Thirty Extra-Primo-Rad Highlights of TV in 2010:-

1. Sherlock (BBC1)
When Sherlock's sixty minute pilot was scrapped by the BBC it not only led to outraged headlines about 'wasting licence fee payers money' in some scum tabloids but it also seemed to typify the BBC's collective general lack of faith in Sherlock. The scheduling of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's modern day reimagining of Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional hero was, similarly, unpromising - tucked away on three Sunday nights in the middle of July. Who would have ever predicted what we got in the end? Quite simply the best bit of sustained quality British drama in years. Three beautifully constructed ninety minute TV movies which paid handsome and respectful homage to the source material but dragged the stories kicking and screaming in the world of the Twenty First Century. All this, and two of the great drama performances of the year - Benedict Cumberbatch's extraordinary, at times quite obnoxious and arrogant, Asperger's-like Holmes and Martin Freeman's gorgeously nuanced, haunted John Watson. As close to television perfection as you're likely to get in this business of compromise and too frequently appealing to some middle-ranking executive's idea of what the lowest common denominator actually is. Sherlock, thankfully, reminds us all that some of the people who make TV shows actually do have a brain in their head. And, that some of those watching - far more than many of us ever give credit for - do too.

2. The Road To Coronation Street (BBC4)
A joyful and loving study of the creation of a TV institution, The Road To Coronation Street was a stunningly evocative dramatisation of the true story of Tony Warren's fight to get the programme he created made in the first place, against major opposition from within Granada. To cast it and to bring Warren's vision to life and to the nation. In short, Daran Little's play was a thing of beauty. The dialogue simply sang: 'I don't care what they do in St Helens, no one puts soap next to bacon in Salford,' Warren tells the director, Derek Bennett, as they race towards the set of the first episode. Even better: 'This is a woman who's buried children, watched her man beg for work and still gets down on her knees every night to pray,' Lynda Baron's Violet Carson says about the character she is to play on the show, Ena Sharples. 'There's no powder or rouge touching this face. If it's good enough for God, it's good enough for Granada.' The Road To Coronation Street was a warm and insightful piece of work. A little nostalgic masterpiece in its own right, and a worthy celebration of what, fifty years after it began, remains a British television icon and the recurring drama by which all others will ultimately be judged. With great performances from the entire cast - but, a special mention should be made for David Dawson as a camp, prissy, but principled Warren and Jessie Wallace as an extraordinarily good-natured Pat Phoenix - this was, like Corrie itself in those ground-breaking early days, something very special indeed. 'Edna in wardrobe thinks this could run as long as The Archers,' Carson tells Doris Speed as they prepare for their first scene in the live opening episode. 'Ye Gods, I hope not!' Thankfully, Edna in wardrobe was right.

3. Wonders of the Solar System (BBC2)
Okay, hands up who expected a science programme on BBC2 presented by a former pop musician turned quatum physicist to get an audience of three million and to keep all of them gripped right across five extraordinary episodes? Liars! Every so often, a popular factual strand will throw up a new TV star and, this year, the brightest new star in the firmament was Brian Cox. Softly spoken with a chirpy Lancastrian accent and having seemingly borrowed Neil Oliver's trademark lovely hair, Brian radiated enthusiasm and wit as he took his viewers on an exploration into the solar system that made us all feel like we were eight and that when we grew up we wanted to be spacemen. You knew that something extraordinary was happening here when, after the opening episode, Brian was being referred to as 'Professor Cox, the man who made science sexy,' by the tabloids! Things, as Brian's old band once so rightly noted, could only get better. 'We live on a world of wonders. A place of astonishing beauty and complexity. We have vast oceans and incredible weather. Giant mountains and breathtaking landscapes. If you think that this is all there is, that our planet exists in magnificent isolation, then you're wrong. As a physicist I am fascinated by how the laws of nature that shaped all this also shaped the worlds beyond our home planet. I think we are living through the greatest age of discovery our civilisation has known.' God, it was breathtaking stuff. And, from the chaos of creation, another pulsar burned bright.

4. Ashes To Ashes (BBC1)
It may have started as a god-awful small affair but, by the end, it was properly strung out in heaven's-high. Having spent much of its first two years being often savagely criticised because it wasn't Life On Mars, it was only at the very end of its final series that many people realised just what they were losing with the climax of Ashes to Ashes. The final series progressed in a suitably linear way as Alex balanced a growing mistrust in Gene's motives with the sinister promptings of Jim Keats. And then we got to the final episode and all hell was let loose. Quite literally as it happens. This featured not only possibly the best performance of uncontrolled mania ever seen on British TV (Daniel Mays going so far over the top he was down the other side and yet being never less than brilliantly believable) but, also, perhaps the finest metaphor that a Telefantasy series has put forward for the audience's consideration. This is show which suggested - brilliantly - that hell is an office block and heaven is a pub. How delightfully, quintessentially, British. And so the show ended with Gene Hunt awaiting the arrival of the next lost soul in his eternal quest to cling onto life by his fingernails. With redemption of course, but also with a bit of heartache in the fact that Alex never would get back to her daughter. Lost and Ashes To Ashes both ended on the same weekend and both of these fine dramas, in their own very different ways, showed a fundamental grasp of some universal human truisms. They did so in polar opposite ways, admittedly, but they both got to a similar place in the end. But whilst Lost posited an unambiguously happy ending after death, Ashes To Ashes laced a little cyanide around the sugar pill - Gene's dismissive 'way of the world' comment when Alex asks about Molly, for example. Over five series and two shows, Tony Jordan, Matty Graham and Ashley Pharaoh gave use something truly extraordinary, and Philip Glenister gave us what we needed - whether we wanted, or deserved that, or not. I'm happy, hope you're happy too.

5. Qi/Qi: XL (BBC1/BBC2)
Still without equal as a place where humour and knowledge can cheerfully co-exist and giving lie to the notion that television has, by its very nature, to always dumb-down. Qi's detractors - and it does have some - have always failed to understand the show's unique place in the hearts of many viewers. Accusations of smugness - usually from Daily Scum Mail columnists who have, themselves, somewhat cornered the market on what it is to be really smug - are entirely without foundation; for the simple reason that there has never been a show which is less exclusive and more directly inclusive than Qi. One which exists to play games with urban myths and have a good laugh at those who believe that a little learning is a dangerous thing. One that, as Stephen Fry has always insisted, treats the audience as partners, not as punters. One from which, shockingly, you might just learn something. You don't get that from The X-Factor. In this regard, Qi fulfils two of the great Reithian BBC remits - the educate and to inform. That it does the third - to entertain - as well, isn't merely a bonus, it's actually the show's raison d'être.

6. Doctor Who (BBC1)
A year which began with the regeneration of its central character will end with Matt Smith firmly established in the most important role on British TV, a statement that would've once been laughed at by many both inside and out of the TV indsutry but is now pretty much accepted as fact. It will end with a one man, one woman and one Timelord TARDIS crew and with the show's future as bright as it's possibly ever been. Along the way, we marvelled at fish custard, the bleedin' queen, innit, new chunky-Kit-Kat Daleks, the same old Weeping Angels, sexy Mediterranean fish-vampires, scary dreamworlds, Silurians, death and resurrection, a stunning portrayal of the misery of bipolarity, the one worthwhile thing that James Corden has ever done to justify his utterly worthless existence and, err, the end of the universe. And bow ties. Because, bow ties are cool. Not sure about Fezzes, though, I'll have to get back to you on that one. Matt, Karen and Arthur have an appealingly ordinary quality - gone are some of the Tennant-era's more superhero-like conceits. Instead, we've got the perfect Steven Moffat Doctor for the Twenty First Century. One with a witty Troughtonesque quip for every chase up a corridor. A youthful, Peter Davison-like vibrancy and an occasional weirdness that even Tom Baker might have shied away from. More than ever, this year, Doctor Who has been the BBC's solid rock to cling onto in times of a storm of constant bad news stories. Next year, with budgets becoming ever tighter, it will need to be at its imaginative best to maintain the quality. But, if there's any show that can do just that, it's Doctor Who.

7. Eddie Izzard: Marathon Man (BBC3)
A study of, depending on your viewpoint, either a genuinely heroic feat of endurance or an almost wilfully narcissistic attempt by a man to push himself beyond the limits of common sense. In many ways it was both at the same time. Marathon Man followed the comedian and 'action transvestite' Eddie Izzard - aged forty seven and who had, by his own admission, never run further than 'for a bus' in his entire life - as he set out to run forty three marathons in fifty one days in aid of Comic Relief. The touching and thought-provoking programme, exposed Izzard to the very best of the British public - who supported him along the way - but also forced him to face some of his own inner demons. Running thirty miles a day on blistered and infected feet gave the audience plenty of time to admire the scenery and to think about why Eddie was putting himself through all this. One of the best moments of the three episodes was when he stopped for a cuppa at a motorway food van and got chatting to a couple of lorry drivers. Slowly and patiently he explained to them that no, he isn't gay, he's a transvestite - he fancies girls but he likes dressing in women's clothes too: 'I was given these cards. And I'm honest about it. It's genetic. Not my choice. Just be truthful and get on with it.' This blogger reckons he's an inspirational figure in an age of the celebration of mediocrity. He should have his own statue in Trafalgar Square, where he finished his marathon of marathons.

8. Michael Wood's Story of England (BBC4)
Story of England, was a very simple idea - in fact, it almost sounded too simple - to tell the story of one place through the whole of English history, from the Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings to the Somme and D-Day – and from the point of view of the people, not the rulers. In doing so, this became a microcosm of all of the hamlets, villages, towns, suburbs, cities and metropolises of our nation. It tried to show the slow organic process through which all of our communities have grown over time; how our rights and duties as citizens have developed, how waves of newcomers from many lands have shaped us and changed us, given our language new words and our culture new ideas – and how much the people themselves have been the creators of their own story. Why Kibworth? It's a perfectly ordinary place on the A6 with Chinese and Indian takeaways, a Co-op and a housing estate; you might drive through it without a second glance, it's like thousands of places up and down the country. And, that was the point. A few miles south-east of Leicester, Kibworth is, emphatically, today's England in miniature. In a sense it - or places just like it - are where most of us live. Michael Wood's charming series mixed elements of historical reconstruction, Time Team-style archaeological investigation and simple storytelling to whiz through the centuries, involving local people are every step of the way. Wonderful moments cropped up in every episode, like the little discussion with the owner of the town's Italian restaurant about how he was following in the tradition of the Romans seventeen hundred years earlier. A useful reminder that television can be a great teacher as well as a great entertainer.

9. Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution (Channel Four)
I think it was the critic Charlie Brooker who once noted that any TV show which involves the phrase 'personal journey' in its pre-publicity is usually onto a loser. And yet, Alan Davies' look at the 1970s and 80s, the era during which he grew up, transcended accusations of being a vanity project and turned out to be a thing of rare quality; a thoughtful, enlightened and balanced look at the complexities of issues like politics, racism, identity and the horrors of adolescence. Great moments include Alan finally getting his hero Paul Weller to sign his copy of All Mods Cons thirty two years after he first bought it, and his seeking out the leader of the skinhead gang who made Alan's life such a misery as a teenager and discovering that, actually, he's now quite a decent bloke (albeit one with still a few shockingly unattractive views on all things 'darkie'). Against the backdrop of the Brixton riots, Davies turned to tracking down the former owner of what was known, in the casually racist terminology of the era, as the local 'Paki shop,' which he and his friends used to shoplift sweets from. Mr Shah and his wife warmly received Alan and his muttered apologies with a patience and grace, and seemed to be able to recollect their difficult early years in the country with a sense of humour that, I'm guessing, not many of us would be able to manage. 'Perhaps I wasn't so badly off in my boring, middle-class family in my boring, middle-class house after all,' mused Alan reflectively at one point. The episode dealing with sexual politics and Alan's radical student years was jolly interesting too and Davies managed to walk a fine line between serious - and pretentious - social commentator and the matey-bloke character he adopts on Qi very well. In then end, this was personal journey that actually made you want to be a travelling companion, a TV rarity.

10. A History of Horror with Mark Gatiss (BBC4)
If Alan Davies' revolution was one of the heart, then Mark Gatiss presented a revolution of the head when takings his 'personal journey' to the subject of the horror movies which so obsessed him as a child. This delightful three-part series, subsequently repeated on BBC2, was a constant joy, with the opening two episodes devoted to the Universal movies of the 1930s and the Hammer and Amicus revivals of the late 1950s and 60s. The third episode, on the American independent cinema from Psycho to Halloween, was less focused and a bit more scattergun but, in some ways, more interesting in straying off the beaten track and into some strange cul-de-sacs of the imagination. What was great about Mark's presentation - apart, obviously, from his boundless enthusiasm and charm as an interviewer - was the fact that, particularly with the Hammer episode, he took the subject completely seriously. Not in a po-faced, overly academic way - that would probably have put many viewers off. But, rather, to stress that for those who watched these films at the time - like this blogger for instance - there was nothing even remotely tongue-in-cheek or camp about them. To us, they were the real deal. Having become something of a poster boy for the BBC this year - via this show, Sherlock and the excellent The First Men In The Moon - it's to be hoped that the Beeb invest in more of Mark's ideas, because the bloke is class.

11. [spooks] (BBC1)
Back to its very best after a somewhat shaky eighth series, [spooks] did the old 'enemy within' route again this year. Yeah, okay, they've both been there and, indeed, done that before. Twice. Or, is it three times? But, this time, they let the audience in on the identity of the traitor long before the rest of the characters in the drama actually found out. In turning Lucas North from a vaguely shadowy figure on the fringes of the side of angels to a shadowy figure deep in the belly of the beast, the series played with elements of duality, identity and conscience. It also featured, in episode seven, two of the finest dramatic performances of the year, from the always brilliant Ruth Walker and guest-star Trevor Cooper, in an episode about the psychology needed to be a cold blooded killer. The show's popularity and positive feedback from the critics meant that a recommission for another year was pretty inevitable.

12. Getting On (BBC4)
Tucked away on late-night BBC4, chances are many dear blog readers might not have come across Getting On yet. If so, then let it be known that it's a wryly dark comedy drama starring (and written by) Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan, Vicki Pepperdine - along with Ricky Grover - as four members of NHS staff who are just 'getting on with it' in an overlooked and under-funded corner of the health service. Messy choices are the order of the day in a world where necessity produces its own - occasionally hilarious - solutions: the story of one under-staffed ward, in one hospital. It's a superb series. The camera work can be a little erratic at times, but the excellent direction captures the depressing and mundane hospital ward atmosphere perfectly, whilst the writing and acting create very believable characters. Jo Brand, in particular, is a revelation: a former psychiatric nurse in real life, of course, the stand-up comedian reveals herself to be a genuinely great actress. If ever a show deserved a far wider audience, it's this one.

13. Ideal (BBC3)
Which is something that could also be said about Ideal, BBC3's longest-running - and, by far best - comedy. The story of a low-scale hash dealer (played, quite brilliantly, by Johnny Vegas) on a scummy Manchester estate, the series takes place almost entirely within one flat with the central character's chosen profession serving as the backdrop for an outrageous array of customers, social misfits and numskull would-be gangster psychopaths who tramp through his life with dog-shit on their shoes on a daily basis. It has one of the best ensemble casts on British TV (Tom Goodman Hill, Nicola Reynolds, Sinead Matthews, Ben Crompton, Graham Duff, Ryan Pope, Seymour Mace, Alfie Joey, Mick Miller) and a parade of bizarre characters that wouldn't be out of place in a Fellini movie. It's also funny. I mean, wee in yer pants funny. Quote lines of dialogue to perfect strangers on a bus, funny. News that Ideal has recently been recommissioned for a seventh series has been warmly received in this house.

14. Rich Hall's Dirty South (BBC4)
In his BBC4 documentary, comedian Rich Hall looked at how Hollywood has, he believes, always got the Deep South all wrong. If Hollywood is to be believed, then the southern states of America can be summed by the simple three Rs: rednecks, racism and religion. Rich, who himself hails from that region himself (Charlotte in North Carolina), aimed to overturn the Hollywood stereotype of the South as one gigantic Ku Klux Klan rally in his excellent documentary, a sequel to last year's similarly impressive TV essay on the decline of the Western, How The West Was Lost. Dressed like a good ol' boy about to go out in his Chevy, drinking whisky and rye – in a baseball cap, T-shirt and khaki shorts – Rich, as usual made for thoroughly engaging company. Belying his (carefully cultivated) über-grouch image - it's alleged that Hall was the initial inspiration for the crotchety barman Moe Szyslak in The Simpsons – in person the fifty six-year-old comedian possesses a rare twinkle, as if to say, 'Don't take this too seriously – I'm certainly not.' The curmudgeon is, clearly, a construct. In his perceptive deconstructions of the narratives of classic movie classics like A Streetcar Named Desire and Deliverance, he also proved himself to be a quite brilliant film critic. More please.

15. The Virtual Revolution (BBC2)
Another surprisingly addictive think-piece, twenty years on from the invention of the World Wide Web, Dr Aleks Krotoski spent four beguiling episodes looking at how the web is reshaping almost every aspect of our modern lives. Joined by some of the web's biggest names - including the founders of Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft, and the web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee - she explored how far the Internet has actually lived up to its early promises. In the series, Aleks - engaging and chatty but with an air of almost schoolma'am-y authority on the subject that was both instantly appealing and rather terrifying - charted the extraordinary rise of blogs, Wikipedia and YouTube. It also traced an ongoing clash between the freedom this technology offers us, and our inbred human desire to control and profit and, best of all, looked at the subject of cyber terrorism and the concept of privacy in a world where just about everyone's personal details are a mere click of the mouse away. With contributions from Al Gore, Martha Lane Fox, Stephen Fry and Bill Gates, Aleks explored how interactive, unmediated sites like Twitter and YouTube have encouraged direct action and politicised young people in unprecedented numbers but, also, created new and potentially dangerous opportunities for the unscrupulous and the criminally minded. Public service broadcasting at its very best.

16. MasterChef/Celebrity MasterChef/MasterChef: The Professionals (BBC1/BBC2)
2010 was the year when the MasterChef franchise went mainstream in the UK and turned from a middle-range cult into a genuine ratings success on BBC1. The main MasterChef show, early in the year, produced a handful of new stars - Stacey Stewart, Alex Rushmer, Tim Kinnaird and eventual winner Dhruv Baker - and introduced to millions of viewers who'd never come across them before, one of the best sarky double acts on TV - John Torode and Gregg Wallace. The Celebrity version in the summer did the almost impossible in making people actually quite like Christine Hamilton (briefly), saw Coast's Dick Strawbridge become a national treasure and was won by the actress Lisa Faulkner. Who promptly burst into tears. About every ten minutes. God, it was madly entertaining! For many fans, however, the best of the MasterChef range remains the only series which is still shown on BBC2, The Professionals, without Torode but with Michel Roux and the scowling Monica Galetti, who always seems to make the girls cry. This produced an addictive final between Dave Coulson, John Calton and the winner, cuddly Claire Lara that was compulsive viewing.

17. Downton Abbey (ITV)
If Sherlock was the surprise TV drama phenomena of the year then Downton Abbey (which had an even bigger audience) wasn't all that far behind. Not that it was without controversy; its author - Lord Snotty his very self, Julian Fellowes - used a polite enquiry by the Independent into some viewers complaints about historical inaccuracies in the text as an excuse for an utterly bizarre rant about how much he despised 'the left.' This despite the fact that the majority of the complaints the journalist was asking about came from those two renowned bastions of theoretical Stalinism, the letters pages of the Daily Torygraph and the Daily Scum Mail. And, speaking of feckless right-wing thugs, the Adam Smith Institute tried to use the success of Downton as 'proof' that we no longer need the BBC, simply because ITV had produced one, half-way decent, costume drama (their first in a decade at least, by the way). Nevertheless, the outstanding public reaction to this simple tale of nobbery and servitude, the gorgeous setting and likeable characters was a timely reminder that TV audiences do have a large place in their heart for a good story, well told. It'll be interesting to see if the BBC's forthcoming revival of Upstairs Downstairs will have the same kind of impact.

18. House (Sky One)
Still the daddy of grumpy-procedural-medical dramas, this was the year that Greg House and Lisa Cuddy finally (finally), ahem, got it on. And, truly, it was indeed a sight to see. The show continues to work best as a kind of warped comedy of eccentricities, a theatre of the absurd, if you will, with the 'disease of the week' subplots often relegated to the sidelines in favour of more satisfying characterisation from the regulars. Always clever and well acted, House also produced the single greatest ninety seconds of television this - or possibly any other - year in the episode The Choice.

19. The Trip (BBC2)
One of the least likely comedy hits of the year, expectations from many critics were rather low for The Trip when it started. Which is odd when you consider the talent involved, but maybe it says something about what we've come to associate with Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon these last few years. In this partly-improvised comedy, Coogan and Brydon play, essentially, exaggerated versions of themselves in what is a clever, witty, beautifully shot, rather gentle and bittersweet comedy of aspiration. The premise is that two moderately successful actors take a road trip across the north of England to a bunch of posh restaurants that one of them is supposed reviewing for the Observer. Along the way, they listen to Joy Division, sing Kate Bush songs, swap Michael Caine and Billy Connolly impressions and bitch constantly at each other about the inadequacies of the other one's career. On paper it sounds as dodgy as Big Top. In execution, it's probably the best thing that either man has done in years. Coogan, in particular, is back to his very best as a vain, full-of-himself, rather cheap and mean little man ('Good? I'm fucking brilliant!') who doesn't value friendship and shags anything that moves. Brydon's character is less stark, although equally pathetic, hiding his real - one senses rather decent - personality behind silly voices and bombastic ego-driven moments. He also gets most of the best lines. Whether The Trip could sustain another series is debateable, but the six episodes will, I confidently predict, be remembered for years to come as classics of their kind.

20. Top Gear (BBC2)
Despite the crass whinging of the stinking lice-ridden hippies, Communists and poxy agenda-driven tabloid shite-scum, despite the departure of 'some bloke in a white suit who thought he was the show but, actually, wasn't' and despite the occasional muttering of 'It's not as good as it used to be when they reviewed the new Nissan Micra properly' by fat men with beards, in 2010, The Gear remained, comfortingly, top. Yes, it can indeed be full of predictable conceits and yes the three presenters 'characters' are now virtually indistinguishable from each other. Yes, there are clichés aplenty on offer. Yes, Clarkson can act oafish, Hammond annoying and James May oafish and annoying. Yes to all of those. And, you know what? Personally, this blogger couldn't give a frigging monkey's chuff about any of that nonsense. Because the show remains what it's been for a majority of the last decade, funnier than the average bear. And, when they do get ambitious, they're seldom rubbish - despite their own natural self-aggrandising humour. The location specials are often works of beauty. Three hundred million viewers worldwide can be wrong, sometimes (witness CSI: Miami). But, they're not about this.

21. Countryfile (BBC1)
Once a rather boring Sunday morning show for rather boring Sunday mornings beloved by the ultimate bores, the Countryside Alliance, and presented by a bunch of (needless to say rather boring, if inoffensive) frumpy old dears which had about as much interest to the average city dweller as an information film about urinary tract infection in cows. The BBC's decision to switch Countryfile to early evenings was an inspired one. Getting rid of the horsy-brigade and bringing in Matt Baker and Julia Bradbury as a kind of Archers for the MTV-generation, the show proved a massively popular addition to gentle Sunday evening schedules in much the same way that the - thematically similar - ONE Show does during the week. As TV success stories go, they don't come much more left-field than this one.

22. Lost (Sky One)
The ending, when it came, wasn't popular with everyone. You probably heard about it dear blog reader. And, if you didn't, hang around the Internet for a bit as those who didn't like it are never shy of telling anyone that's interested. Or, indeed, anyone that isn't. Some people actively called for the last six years of their lives to be returned to them forthwith but, for yer Keith Telly Topping at least, Lost's finale was not only understandable, it was right. The important thing about Lost was never, ever, the story. It was about the characters and to give them all a happy ending was something that was appreciated in this house, if not necessarily in others. That last episode had the misfortune, of course, to be broadcast two days after the finale of Ashes to Ashes had pulled almost exactly the same dramatic trick (though, slightly more darkly and cynically- see above). But, ultimately, Lost should stand alone as a work which reminded us that television works as something which brings people together. Since its demise, Flashforward and The Event have both tried to stuff their big sweaty feet in and fill Lost's shoes and both have failed - miserably in the case, particularly, of the latter - because Lost had one thing neither of those shows possessed or possess. You can be as intriguing and mysterious as the best of them but if you don't have characters that the audience actually identify with, then you're knackered. In Lost, nobody ever stopped caring about someone. That's why we all watched for seven years.

23. Miranda (BBC2)
Jeez, but this girl is a star. Miranda Hart's sitcom is, in many ways, a rather old fashioned conceit enlivened, occasionally, by some clever bits of postmodernism when she turns to camera and breaks the fourth wall. In essence, however, it's the kind of sitcom that the BBC used to make ten-a-dozen of, without even thinking about it too hard, in the 1970s and 1980s. Possibly it's a shameful comment on the current state of the genre that Miranda actually stands out - as it does - as being head and shoulder the best sitcom on TV these days. But, actually, that's damning it with faint praise. Miranda herself has confessed that the success and acclaim of her show has somewhat scared her. She'd better get used to it. In a year's time I can see this delightfully mad little show making a short trip next door to BBC1.

24. This is England '86 (Channel Four)
The mini-series sequel to Shane Meadows 2006 movie, set three years on, reunited most of the film's young cast in this story of mods, skinheads and other assorted misfits on a Sheffield housing estate. This was a 1986 that many viewers must have recognised, and indeed lived through, set when the World Cup was being held in Mexico, Chris de Burgh was number one in the charts and three and a half million people were unemployed. With its wonderfully evocative soundtrack of the era (The Housemartins, Madness, Buzzcocks, The Jam) it captured a moment in time in much the same evocative and slightly dislocated way that Alan Davies' Teenage Revolution did. Hard work at times - particularly the rape sequence - and heavy criticised by those with an axe to grind This is England wasn't always a likeable drama, indeed it was in places disturbing and harrowing, but it felt a thousand times more real than anything Jimmy McGovern's come up with in decades.

25. Joe Maddison's War (ITV)
The late Alan Plater's last, brilliant, television play. It's 1939, and South Shields shipyard worker Joe Maddison (Kevin Whately) feels past his prime - too old to serve in the war alongside his son, who is beginning his RAF training. A few days later, when his wife suddenly leaves him for a young naval officer, Joe finds himself without purpose and in need of a new challenge - so he and best friend Harry (a great performance by Robson Green) decide to join the local Home Guard unit. The decision is one which leads Joe on something of a journey of self-discovery and teaches him important lessons in heroism, friendship and love. This moving feature-length drama also starred Derek Jacobi, Melanie Hill, Trevor Fox and John Woodvine, and featured authentic location work on Tyneside and beautiful period feel. It was, easily, one of the best bits of TV drama of the year, and a worthy epitaph for one of the finest scriptwriters of his - or, indeed, any other - generation.

26. The ONE Show (BBC1)
In a year in which it lost not one but three of its regular presenters, you might have thought 2010 would've been The ONE Show's annus horribilis. Yet, its audience had been maintained and has, if anything, grown during the year. The reason, to be honest, is quite simple. Chiles and Bleakley were not the reason that people watched The ONE Show - whatever they, themselves, may have believed, any more than Jason, or Alex, or Chris Evans or Matt Baker for that matter are. It's the format that has always been the star here. That same mixture of the trivial and the concerned all mixed up with a dash of genuinely appealing amateurism. How to get from a report on breast cancer to Gyles Brandreth on the smallest matchbox in the UK by way of Emma Bunton plugging her new fitness video. It shouldn't work. It should be awful. In fact, as one of its regular guests - Peter Kay - memorably noted in one episode, it's 'Pebble Mill on crack.' And that's largely why people like it. Because it doesn't take itself too seriously. The second that Chiles and Bleakley started to, their careers were threatened with instant derailment.

27. Any Human Heart (Channel Four)
In his 2002 novel, William Boyd told the long and absurdly eventful life-story of his central character across over five hundred pages. It's a novel so absorbing that a television adaptation seemed inevitable so long as it could be cast as effectively as the story demanded. But that, frankly, seemed impossible. For several years the book was, effectively, declared to be unfilmable. When Channel Four eventually attempted a big-budget adaptation, Boyd turned scriptwriter to condense Any Human Heart into four televised movies. His challenge was to make Logan Mountstuart's tale light up the screen in the same way that it leapt off the page. He succeeded, thanks in no small part to the inspired decision to cast three different actors as the novel's protagonist, Mountstuart, at different times of his life. Sam Claflin played him in his cocky student days – dabbling with girls, gin and politics amid the dreaming spires of Oxford, then making a name for himself as a writer among the bright young things of thirties London, Paris and Madrid. A wonderfully twitchy Matthew Macfadyen picked up the baton during Logan's slightly pompous middle years, when he foolishly married the bossy Lottie (Emerald Fennell), then an affair with his soul-mate Freya (Hayley Atwell) followed by interludes in the Spanish Civil War, the intrigue of war time navel intelligence and the New York-art world of the early 1960s. Hovering in the background through it all was Logan the Old, played by the majestic Jim Broadbent, whom we see shuffling around a ramshackle house in the south of France like the Ghost of Christmas Still to Come. As in the novel, some chapters of Logan's life were more convincing than others. The best involved Logan's run-ins with the great and the good including a hard-drinking Ernest Hemingway, a suave Ian Fleming and, best of all, the thoroughly rotten Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Tom Hollander and Gillian Anderson) who involve Mountstuart in a notorious murder of Sir Harry Oakes. It was brilliant stuff, some could argue it wasn't as good as the source novel and they might be right but the fact that it even got close is a minor miracle in and of itself. All this, the best acting performance of Kim Catterall's life and a guest turn from Richard Schiff. What more could you want?

28. The Armstrong & Miller Show (BBC1)
The 'difficult' third series for Xander and Ben included a potentially career-ending bit of schedule glakery - sticking them on Saturday nights when half of their audience would, likely, still be in the pub. But, Armstrong and Miller, as usual, proved that when it comes to providing an unpredictability to ostensibly highly predictable material, they have what it takes to be different. The pilots and Brabbins and Fyffe are still great, of course, but this year they've been joined some interesting new characters (the vampires) and a couple of genre-subverting conceits ('this isn't funny, but it actually happened to a friend of mine...') Yes, the 2001: A Space Odyssey parody went on far too long, and the English expat character in France was funny once and even then only briefly. But, at their best, this duo still cream all over anything that their contemporary comedy duos can produce. Yes, you Mitchell and Webb.

29. Rev (BBC2)
Possibly the biggest surprise of the television year - in a year that was, admittedly, chock full of them - was that a sitcom about an inner city vicar would find such a strong and admiring audience both inside the church and outside too. James Wood's earnest, balanced portrayal of a man of conviction in a world without values was brought to life, stunningly, by Tom Hollander. Anybody expecting a kind of cut-price Vicar of Dibley found themselves, instead, confronted with an intelligent, humane and, in places, very dark look at the survival of faith in the aridity of modern spirituality all wrapped up in a comedy format. A superb supporting cast (particularly Olivia Coleman and Miles Jupp) add to the fun. Loved by many churchmen and appreciated by the BBC for its reviews as much as its audience, the series gained enough viewers to get a second season next year. And, that's perhaps the biggest surprise of all.

30. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Face On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible, I'll Even Eat Worms if You Want! (ITV)
For all the wrong reasons, of course. But, this year, the producers of I'm A Celebrity ... got the mixture of crass non-entity Z-Listers and former B-List has-beens absolutely right to produce something that, over the course of three weeks in November and December became, frankly, must-see Guilty Pleasure TV for millions of viewers, this blogger included. Reluctantly, but, there you go. The temptation to watch simply to feel morally superior to those cretins taking part was always there, that kind of goes with the territory. But, the inspired idea to get snooty, full-of-her-own-importance Gillian McKeith in the jungle and then allow her to act like a prima-donna on speed, pulling anxiety attacks and fainting spells out of the bag at every given opportunity, was one of the most entertaining things on TV all year.

Bubbling Under: EastEnders. Coronation Street. The X Factor. Being Human. Bones. The Good Wife. Mad Men. The Bubble. Five Days. It's Only A Theory. A Band For Britain. Hawaii Five-0. Inside John Lewis. Time Team. Outnumbered. Joanna Lumley's Nile. You Have Been Watching. Lie To Me. Leverage. Five Daughters. Glee. Luther. Mock The Week. Worried About The Boy. Money. Little Ships. Derren Brown: Hero at 30,000 Feet. Mongrels. Lennon Naked. Stephen Fry on Wagner. Dive. The Silence. The Normans. Small Teen, Big World. U Be Dead. Only Connect. The Young Ones. Alex Higgins: The People's Champion. thorne. The Little House. Giles & Sue Live The Good Life. The Culture Show. Coast. Single Father.

And, as promised, we move to those that weren't, perhaps, much cop:

1. The Delicious Miss Dahl (BBC2)
Quite possibly the single worst television format in the history of the planet. It's been a very long time since yer Keith Telly Topping was rendered quite as impotently angry and appalled by any television programme as The Ludicrous Ms Dahl. It's difficult, exactly, to work out what was the most unappealing aspect of this very unappealing ... thing. Was it the sickeningly smart-alec title? The thoroughly nauseating full-of-her-own-importance host herself? The quite disgustingly smug and self-congratulatory nature of the programme? It could have been any of those things, frankly. It could also be the fact that it wasn't even a particularly original conceit. As anyone who'd seen the trailer which the BBC ran, ad nausea, could've easily worked out, Dahl appeared to have based her entire cookery presentation style wholly on that of Nigella Lawson. Only without Nigella's cheeky wit (or cookery skills for that matter). But, I think what most offended my sensibilities was a question I kept on asking myself over and over as this abomination continued for six excruciating weeks. Who was this for? What was the average, 'normal' (and I do use that word carefully) viewer supposed to gain from this peek into Sophie's posh little world of la-di-dah? What, in short, was somebody who doesn't live in one of the nicer areas of North London but, rather, on a council estate supposed to make of it all? Sophie spent a good five minutes - of what was, remember, supposed to be a cookery programme - shopping for antiques. Because that's what she does to remember her 'special days' - when her new book deal is signed, and so on. The theme of the show was 'being selfish' and Sophie Dahl - and her producers - seemingly would like us to believe that after a hard day's 'work' (which, in Sophie Dahl's case seems to involve ... getting her book deal. Did she happen to mention that she's got a book deal? Don't worry if you missed it, she'll be mentioning it again in about two minutes), cooking something in the kitchen is her idea of the epitome of indulgence. Personally, after a day doing some proper work, this blogger likes to come home, slump on the sofa, ring for a takeaway and watch something on television that makes him feel, slightly, better about himself. This, sad to report, was not it. Sophie's sloane-y witterings however, did have one unexpected beneficial side-effect; a nice soothing somnambulist aura. After about quarter of an hour of listening to her drone on about how 'absolutely lovely' her life is, I was ready for bed. Oh, and minus several points to the production team for using The Smiths' 'Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want' as background music. People used to get hanged for lesser crimes than that. The show was hated by critics, Giles Coren's opinion of it being: 'This Sophie Dahl show - what a crock of bogus, mendacious shite. What a sickening sham. The BBC should be fucking ashamed of itself.' Whilst Charlie Brooker on You Have Been Watching went further: 'My over-riding feeling when watching it was that I wanted a man with a cricket bat - covered in shit - to come in and smash the whole fucking place up!' Unbelievably, despite the programme losing half of its audience over the six weeks and getting audience appreciation index scores that make Big Top's look respectable in comparison, the BBC are reported to be actively looking for a new format for Ms Dahl. I resigned from the human race in protest but I don't think it did much good.

2. Daybreak (ITV)
When ITV decided to replace GMTV they went for a big, brash relaunch costing millions - complete with Adrian Chiles and Christine Bleakley, poached from the BBC for, reportedly, even more millions. Both of whom looked as out of place on TV at 6am on a dark morning in the middle of November as a pair of pampered show cats stuck, nervously, in the dog house. Ratings began poorly and then got worse and worse and worse, hitting a low of a meagre five hundred thousand in mid-October. The audience appreciation scores have never topped seventy (which, remember, is still below average) once. Daybreak is, in short, horseshit. At least Chiles is honest enough to admit that it's a disaster. It's virtually unwatchable, patronising, shallow, vacuous, lightweight and features Bleakley, the world's least convincing 'woman of the people' who spent the entire month of September - I kid you not - in a state of permanent orangeness. Every couple of weeks, there'll be a burst of publicity in one of the tabloids which claims that the show has 'turned the corner' but there's been remarkably little evidence of it on-screen or off.

3. A League Of Their Own/James Corden's World Cup Live (Sky One/ITV)
Fat, smug, unfunny James Corden had one moment of twenty four-carat TV greatness during 2010 - his, genuinely appealing, appearance in the Doctor Who episode The Lodger. Which, frankly, suggests that we should all club together and hire Gareth Roberts to write everything that Corden says from now on. And not just on TV either. His World Cup chat show was one of the most astonishingly inane television formats imaginable - Fantasy Football League without the charm or, indeed, the jokes. Even worse, A League Of Their Own, which Corden hosts, is a Sky One quiz show with all of the personality of an ashtray and a format lifted, wholesale, from They Think It's All Over. That, in essence, is Corden all over - unfunny and unoriginal. A League Of Their Own has also contributed to the vast over-exposure of John Bishop on TV this year which is another nail in its coffin. But, really, as with most things in life that are horrible, it's all Corden's fault. The show, like he, is nowhere near as funny as they think they are.

4. The Wedding House (Channel Four)
In this tacky conceit a stately home was handed over to a team of alleged 'wedding experts' who 'encourage couples to indulge themselves with a tailor-made wedding ceremony.' For the first episode the mansion witnessed three events: an Alice in Wonderland-themed wedding with bride, groom and guests all dressed as characters from the Lewis Carroll classic; a service accommodating the happy couple's six dogs, and a theatrical wedding featuring a performance of Come What May from Moulin Rouge. And, unbelievably, the trailer actually made it look even worse than this description would suggest. Which, frankly, I didn't think was possible. I'm afraid, when it comes to weddings, this blogger is with the Reverend Dr Giles Fraser, Canon Chancellor of St Paul's Cathedral, who recently described many modern weddings as 'overblown vanity projects,' full of brattish temper tantrums and all 'justified by foot-stomping references to "my special day."' And, this programme seems to have scooped them all up and put them on telly. The pre-publicity for this series suggested that 'With the Office of National Statistics recently revealing marriage rates to be at an all time low The Wedding House is attempting to buck the trend by providing all the excitement and variety of a Las Vegas chapel – in the UK. Each couple will have a legally binding civil ceremony or partnership, and can share their special day with family and guests…and the viewing nation. Whether you're a teenager or a pensioner, want a themed ceremony or a wacky wedding, desire a civil partnership or to re-new your vows the sky really is the limit.' Hopefully, the sky is also the limit for whatever Channel Four executive came up with the idea for this horrorshow in the first place. Is it too much to hope, however, that they forget to give him or her a parachute?

5. The Persuasionists (BBC2)
The critically-reviled sitcom The Persuasionists lost half of its - already small - audience in a single week in February after an eleventh-hour decision to switch it to a late-night slot midway through its six episode run. A BBC spokesman told the comedy website Chortle: 'By moving The Persuasionists to a later slot it will still be available to the viewers who are really enjoying it, but gives us room to play something more mainstream in the earlier slot.' Or, in other words, 'some idiot commissioned this turkey whilst no one was looking and they're currently clearing out their desks. And, no, we don't think a second series is likely.' The Persuasionists, was a studio-based conceit, set in an advertising agency, and was produced by Bwark, the independent production company behind E4's hit The Inbetweeners. It had a long development process including two pilots and was originally known as The Scum Also Rises. Chris Barrie and Kevin Bishop were originally due to appear but both pulled out prior to filming - perhaps sensing what a disaster it was going to be. Despite Bwark's pedigree, the show - which featured the dreadful Iain Lee and Daisy Haggard - received a thorough trousers-down hiding from many critics, including yer Keith Telly Topping who considered it almost - but not quite - the worst sitcom the BBC has produced in years. But not the worst. Oh no. Because that would give the series a notoriety that it doesn't even remotely deserve. The particularly smug Adam Buxton, who also featured, had a dig at the critical reception for the show in an online sketch on the BBC's comedy website. All of which couldn't hide the fact that The Persuasionists was, frankly, diarrhoea.

6. Michael Winner's Dining Stars (ITV)
Calm down, dear, it's only Michael Winner's Dining Stars. Fans of Winner's newspaper column (and, apparently, there are some sad, crushed victims of society who have only recently be released back into the community who fall into such a category) perhaps enjoyed seeing the former film director in action. Everybody else was watching MasterChef on the other side and giving Winner as wide a breath as possible. For this series, self-important Winner was eating in private houses, hoping to find home-cooked food which rivals the top restaurants that he's used to. Because, you know, he's rich and, therefore, better than the likes of us. When he eventually found a drum whose nosh matched his expectations, he dished out a 'prestigious' Perspex trophy. So, in other words, Michael Winner's Dining Star invovled Michael Winner swanning around the country like he owned the place, gate crashing various people's gaffs and getting them to cook him their finest tucker. For free. And all they got in return was a cheap novelty prize. Sounded like a bit of a raw deal for the householders to yer Keith Telly Topping, it has to be said. It was a strange TV format, really - in culinary terms, a wobbling, over decorated meringue which deflated on contact with a fork and which had an aftertaste of sour grapes. Winner had such a monstrously towering ego that he could be riveting to watch on odd occasions - in a kind of so-bad-he's-brilliant way. It was a bit like watching a giant toddler as he stormed around having a temper tantrum screaming at his assistants or collaring bemused passers-by for a bit of vox pop. Hot tongue, followed by a slice of cold shoulder, as it were. To add a dash of glamour to the proceedings, we also saw a few glimpses of Winner's own 'forty-six room West London mansion' (which, as you might expect, is all pink ostentatious bling and swirly carpet) and saw him whisked to the chefs' homes by helicopter and Rolls-Royce. There was a sense of the great man descending from on high to bestow his sage wisdom upon The Little People, so it was rather disappointing when he actually came across as, mostly, a peevish, over fussy and unnecessarily cruel little old twat. Perhaps inevitably, the show failed to rise like a soggy soufflé and was cancelled after six piss-poor episodes.

7. Amanda Holden's Fantasy Lives (ITV)
The career of Amanda Holden outside of Britain's Got Talent has been a constant delight ... to lovers of slapstick comedy. 2009's Big Top was such a massive failure that it has become a new byword in British TV comedy for a celebrity-based vehicle gone outrageously, and satisfyingly, tits-up. Fantasy Lives, in which Holden spent three agonising weeks doing different jobs, was, if anything even worse. The final episode was, astonishingly, the least-watched of all five terrestrial channels during a 9pm prime time slot with a pitiful audience of just two million on ITV. In another episode, when Amanda took on the role of a Hollywood stuntwoman, after falls from a great height, car crashes and some punishing encounters, Holden faced up to her biggest phobia - being set on fire. It would seem, however, that not even the prospect of seeing Amanda Holden in flames could tempt the viewers to this show! That really does say a lot.

8. The King is Dead (BBC3)
Part-spoof job interview, part-chat show, part-panel show, all-rubbish. The King Is Dead was presented by Simon Bird - a man with a smug look on his face that is just instantly punchable - was a kind of critical summation of everything that's wrong with the worst excesses of BBC3. You could imagine the producer's discussions about this one in order to sell it in the first place: 'Let's take a bunch of C-List "celebrities" (Peaches Geldof, Chloe Madeley, Dappy from N-Dubz, Derek Acoarah) and get them to put themselves up for the job of a well-known public figure who has been, hypothetically, bumped off.' Yes, it was as bad as that description suggests.

9. 101 Ways To Leave A Gameshow (BBC1)
In which eight contestants put their nerve, general knowledge and dignity to the test in Steve Jones' explosive Saturday-night game show. There was a ten grand prize for the winner, and every round saw one contestant leave the show by some of the most nerve-wracking, hair-raising, adrenaline-pumping means ever seen on TV. It says here. Think cannons, rockets, catapults and bungees, freezing water, glutinous mud and general humiliation and you'll have roughly the right idea. This was one quiz where contestants really don't want to get a question wrong. Or, indeed, enter if they had an ounce of dignity or self-respect in their body. Because, despite all the hype and the promises of nerves being wracked and hair being raised at the end of the day, yes dear blog reader, it was just another game show. And not a very good one, either.

10. Over The Rainbow (BBC1)
Criticised by some viewers for advertising Andrew Lloyd Webber's West End musicals on public money and by others for simply being perverse as the crazed (if short) megalomaniac cult leader Lloyd-Webber sat on his bloody throne whilst a procession of young girls presented him with sweaty red slippers to hang on his Shoetree of Despair, Over The Rainbow was, hopefully, the last time that his gnomish Tory Lordship will grace the BBC with his dubious talents. Previous shows of this kind had, at least, a kind of camp charm to them would could be vaguely entertaining. And yet Over The Rainbow - which as Charlie Brooker reminded us, was supposed to find the female lead for a piece of musical theatre made famous by gay icon Judy Garland - ended up depressingly straight and po-faced, revelling in its on slightly warped sense of faded grandeur. Given a prime time slot, which meant shoving Doctor Who to ridiculously early start times to accommodate it, however, meant that Over The Rainbow ended up going out against Britain's Got Talent. And, satisfyingly, it was ritually crucified as a result. Which was, at least, funny.

11. An Idiot Abroad (Sky One)
Hugely popular (though I've never seen what everybody else seems to find so thigh-slappingly hilarious about them) Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant send their friend and former radio producer, Karl Pilkington, on a tour of some of the most impressive sites in the world. The 'joke' here, if that's the right word to use, is that Pilkington's 'character' - though both Gervais and Merchant deny that he actually is a character and insist he really is like that in real life - is, let's not beat about the bush here, a lazy bonehead. A self-confessed 'satisfied fool', unimpressed by anything that's shown to him. The reluctant traveller's first destination was China, where he visited the Great Wall, sampled the local food, tried his hand at kung-fu fighting, proved not to be fast as lightning and experienced a traditional massage. Which was a little bit frightning. And meanwhile, back in London, Gervais and his lanky mate guffawed like a pair of amused gibbons that this was, like, the funniest thing they've, like, ever seen, like, in all their lives. Bar none. With very little expert timing. Gosh, how staggeringly grown up. If Pilkington is putting on an act, which I suspect that he is, then it's a patronising and buffoonish act in which occasional moments of cleverness are drowned in a sea of the obvious. Mind you, many people have built entire careers on far less than that so, good luck to you mate. If he isn't, however, as Gervais claims, then frankly putting him on TV at all is a cruelty of the kind I thought we'd seen the back of when bear-baiting was outlawed. Both to him and to his viewers. Either way, after two episodes I stopped watching this. Life's too short, frankly.

12. Tower Block of Commons/Famous Rich and Jobless (Channel Four/BBC1)
Two further examples of that format so beloved by TV producers but not, seemingly, by many actual viewers - rich, famous people pretending to slum it like poor people. For a laugh. This year, because she got caught selling access to her former husband to the highest bidder, at least we were spared another tawdry and sick Duchess of York vehicle. Instead, we got, on the one hand a bunch of second division MPs finding out how 'the other half lives' (and, to be honest, if they didn't have a vague idea of that already then, frankly, you've got to ask who the bollocking hell voted for them in the first place). The second format was, if anything, even worse and became farcical when press reports suggested two of the four alleged 'celebrities' taking part in Famous, Rich and Jobless had walked out of the accommodation they'd been allocated and were living, instead, in hotels. One day, hopefully perhaps quite soon, somebody in television is going to wake up and realise that, actually, if there's one thing viewers generally speaking have a really low tolerance threshold for, it's being patronised.

13. Britain's Got Talent (ITV)
Last year, it was a genuine TV phenomena. This year, deprived of a Susan Boyle style central focus, Britain's Got Talent remained hugely popular but was, quite honestly, boring. The press tried their best to drum up some interest in the girl that ate fire, topless and the dancing dog but, from very early on, it was pretty clear that the acrobats were going to win. Cowell looked frequently bored and suggested that, next year, he might not even turn up until the semi-final stages. It's hard to make a convincing case for any show that averaged over ten million viewers being one of the 'worst' shows of the year. But, in terms of crash-landing back to earth with a muffled ker-splat!, this was the year that the glitz on Britain's Got Talent wore down and exposed bare metal underneath.

14. Ultimate Big Brother (Channel Four)
Which, seemed to go on and on and on until you just wanted a gun. Thankfully, now it's over. About five years too late, admittedly but, hey, what y'gonna do?

15. Accused (BBC1)
The week before the opening episode of this series of six plays by dreary old Red Jimmy McGovern, the writer spent considerable time and energy in press interviews criticising the work of others in the TV industry. Including, directly two (and indirectly five) of the dramas mentioned in yer Keith Telly Topping's Top Thirty TV Shows of the Year. That was bad enough in and of itself - I've never understood the obsession that many in the TV industry seem to exhibit in dissing the hard work of others apparently under the assumption that this will make more people watch their own show. If that was McGovern's idea then it spectacularly backfired as less than four million viewers turned in to his series of - admittedly well-acted and sometimes well-written, but always depressingly grim and unpleasant - myopic visions of life. There was some controversy along the way, a few old soldiers getting hot under the collar about one particular play which suggested that the British army sometimes produces a steady stream of bullies and thugs. Perish the very thought. In defending McGovern's right to create drama about whatever the hell he likes, Jana Bennett, the director of BBC Vision, said: 'This wasn't in any way a docu-drama or documentary nor a campaigning piece. It was a piece of fiction, written about different elements of moral issues like loyalty, guilt, the nature of being able or not able to kill and something that spirals out of control. The test this drama should be put to is whether it is a good piece of fiction or not.' Which, as it happens, it wasn't. Not even a little bit. But, I'll defend McGovern's right to make it. Just so long as I'm allowed to avoid it like the plague.

Also Mentioned In Dispatches: ITV's coverage of football generally and the World Cup in particular, Live From Studio Five. Loose Women. Popstar To Operastar. Piers Morgan's Life Stories. Ant & Dec's Push The Button. Cowboy Builders. The Door. The Alan Tichmarsh Show. Fearne And ... Reunited. Big Meets Bigger. Magic Numbers. Undercover Boss. Roger & Val Have Just Got In. 71 Degrees North, Frankie Boyle's Tramadol Nights, The Morgana Show.

Which brings us to today's edition of yer Keith Telly Topping's 45 of the Day. And, it's time for a big dumb eff-off slice of yer actual rythmn and blues, I reckon.
There, that should keep the cold away.