Wednesday, December 05, 2018

Keith Telly Topping Presents ... The From The North TV Awards (2018)

Welcome, dear blog reader, to the eleventh annual From The North TV Awards. Celebrating, in Keith Telly Topping's personal - and not even remotely humble - opinion, the best and worst TV shows broadcast in the UK during the past year. In what is rapidly becoming an annual observation, you may notice that there are about twice as many 'highs' listed here as there are 'lows'. This imbalance is not, necessarily, any sort of reflection of the actual ratio of good-telly-to-bad during 2018. Rather it is because, generally, we tend to remember the better stuff and attempt - only sometimes successfully - to forget about all the distressing faeces featuring James Corden.
As noted previously, each year when this blogger posts these lists, he usually gets a handful of e-mails and/or Facebook comments from dear blog readers saying something along the lines of 'very good, yer actual Keith Telly Topping, very good indeed. But, be advised, you missed off [insert own favourite here], so you did.' Therefore, please note, since answering such comments is always a right flamin' pain in the dong, this blogger has not missed off anything. These awards represent what yer actual Keith Telly Topping has been watching and enjoying (or vastly disliking, or being thoroughly bewildered by) during the last year. If a programme is not mentioned, it is either because this blogger didn't see it or he did, but did not consider it worthy of inclusion on any of the lists below. If you disagree, then by all means start your own blog and do your own awards. Thus, without any further ado ...

Forty Two Extra-Primo-Rad Highlights Of Television In 2018:-

1. Killing Eve
'Promise you won't be naughty!' Unique, thrilling, funny, just a bit dangerous. A drama so utterly unlike anything else on TV that is makes you wonder who was the executive brave enough to commission it in the first place. The second series of Killing Eve - sadly, without writer Phoebe Waller-Bridge - will arrive on your telly box in 2019. If it's anything less than as outstanding and strange as the first series, it will almost certainly win the 'disappointment of the year' award!
2. Doctor Who
'This is brilliant, I never did this when I was a man ... Sorry, my references to body and gender regeneration are just in jest.' A radical reinterpretation of a fifty five year old television format which, despite a sex-change, nevertheless managed to be both respectful of and faithful to Doctor Who's long-standing liberal, humanitarian, pacifist traditions. 'The Doctor,' as the show's longest-serving Script Editor Terrance Dicks once wisely noted, 'is never cruel or cowardly ... To put it simply, The Doctor is a hero. That much hasn't changed and it never will.' Loathed by a few-dozen racist, sexist, homophobic bigots on Twitter whose crass and ignorant bleatings were subsequently picked up - as 'news' - by a couple of the more scummy right-wing papers with a sick agenda smeared all over their collective disgusting mush, Jodie Whittaker and her colleague's first ten episodes in the TARDIS were, thankfully, a joy to behold. 'Too PC' my arse! Yer actual Keith Telly Topping thought the entire series was great, dear blog reader. And, that's all you need to know.
3. The Many Primes Of Muriel Spark
Documentary of the year, by a distance. Kirstie Wark's luscious BBC4 celebration of the life and work of her heroine, the Scottish author Dame Muriel Spark, one of the Twentieth Century's most enigmatic cultural figures on the one hundredth anniversary of her birth was a thing of rare, serene beauty. Like Spark's best work and indeed, Muriel herself, the programme was multi-layered, thoughtful, enigmatic and gloriously structured.
4. The Bridge
'I'm pregnant.' 'Am I the father?' 'I've only had sex with myself and you for the last two years!' Good God, who would have predicted it? The Bridge - one of the most impressively downbeat TV dramas of all time - actually had a happy ending. Well, as close as we were ever going to get to a happy ending from The Bridge, anyway. To the very end, Hans Rosenfeldt's story of Saga Norén, the brilliant but socially awkward, Asperger's-like Malmö detective, felt like it was heading for a colossal train-wreck. And then, what do you know? Everybody lived (reasonably) happily ever after. Didn't see that coming!
5. Bodyguard
'Sex with the Home Secretary is heinous crime.' Jed Mercurio's tale of shady doings at high levels of government, anti-terrorism and law enforcement got itself criticised - sometimes heavily - by various people with various agendas in place. But, nevertheless, in part thanks to one of the most brilliantly-staged plot twists in TV drama history, ended up becoming something of a national obsession. The final episode - watched by about a third of the entire country - managed to avoid a common fault in TV drama of almost ruining all the good approach-play with a disappointing finale. Instead, Bodyguard's climax was explosive - in every sense of the word.
6. Spiral
'What have you become?' Taut, exciting cult French crime drama Engrenages' sixth series balanced a standard, madly-complex story of bent coppers, trafficked Roma girls and a couple of ruthless gangster brothers posing as community leaders with nominal heroine Laure Berthaud's spiralling (if you'll excuse the pun) post-natal depression. Spiral is often compared to The Wire but, actually, it shares closer DNA with another US cable masterpiece, The Shield. As with Vic Mackey's Strike Team, there is no escaping your misdemeanours; they snowball and crush you. A true Parisian gem.
7. Westworld
'"Dead" isn't what it used to be!' Hands up which among you, dear blog readers, managed to keep-track of the bewildering plethora of interconnected time-streams that the second series of Westworld dabbled in? You liars! Nah, this blogger neither, frankly! But, goodness, it was worth all of the effort for that mind-melting, game-changing final episode. Where they go next, obviously, is a question that the showrunners are probably still trying to work out amongst themselves.
8. A Very English Scandal
'These are the greatest charges ever levelled against a member of parliament. And, considering the House of Commons has had two hundred and seventy years of bastards, liars, perverts, thieves, blackmailers, inbreds and arsonists, that really is quite an achievement!' Russell Davies's beautiful tragi-comic deconstruction of the infamous Jeremy Thorpe-Norman Scott affair was a handsome, smart, witty and brilliant piece of telly drama-as-social-commentary. Plus, it contained two of the best acting performances of the year in the leads, Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw.
9. Keeping Faith
'Mam, is something wrong with dad?' Matthew Hills' Cymru Noir thriller contained another of the finest drama performances of the year, from Eve Myles. Originally shown on SC4 in late 2017, it became something of a surprise Thursday night hit when repeated on BBC1 during the summer. Described by one critic as 'the dual-language drama that has got box-set Britain gripped,' almost overnight it became a word-of-mouth hit of the sort that you kind of thought TV doesn't do anymore in this age of Twitter and instant over-the-top criticism of anything remotely slow-moving or cerebral. Critics who had dismissed the opening episode as a mere 'Welsh Broadchurch' came rushing back to find out what all the fuss was about. And, like everyone else, they found themselves sucked into the drama of a clever and well-told tale.
10. The Little Drummer Girl
'I'm an actress.' 'So you don't believe in anything?' Whinged about on Twitter by people with an attention-span of seven seconds demanding to have the plot explained to them using graphs if necessary (we should probably thank God that social media wasn't around when Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy was made thirty years ago, no one would've made it past the first episode), the BBC's latest John le Carré adaptation failed to become the national obsession that its predecessor, The Night Manager, was. But, those three or four million viewers who stuck with the densely labyrinthine plot to the end were rewarded with not only a really intriguing story of obsession and trust but also plenty of shots of Florence Pugh's underwear. Neither of which were at all unwelcome in a TV landscape often very short on intelligence if seldom short on panties. Generally speaking the show appears to have been more highly regarded by American critics who, seemingly, aren't intimidated by dramas that don't spoon-feed their audience all of the answers at once.
11. Unforgotten
'We've all done things of which we are ashamed.' The third series of Chris Lang's cold case drama - a star vehicle for Sanjeev Bhaskar and From The North favourite Nicola Walker - was, by a distance, the best yet with a twisting plot that kept the audience guessing the identity of the murderer until the last act of the final episode. Unforgotten, the point is the Gruniad's but it's something of a recurring theme in most media reviews of the drama, is 'typically about ordinary people making bad choices under terrible pressure.' Except for this year when it was all about 'a charming psychopath with ice in his veins.' Yet it worked, brilliantly. Another series is promised for next year.
12. In The Long Run
'I'm going to make my mark here.' A labour of love for its creator and star, yer actual Idris Elba, Sky's In The Long Run tells the tale of an immigrant family making its way in Britain in the 1970s and is based, largely, on Elba's own childhood. While viewers may have been surprised to find the words 'sitcom' and 'the former Stringer Bell and current John Luther' in such close proximity, more remarkable was that it featured a majority black cast. Well, apart from Bill Bailey, obviously (who was superb, as were most of the ensemble). Sweet and warm-hearted it was, essentially, a joyful portrait of community and camaraderie, home and belonging. An outstanding and welcome addition to Idris's already impressive body of work.
13. Qi/Qi XL
'One series of Bake Off and now, she's an expert!' Still the sharpest, wittiest, just occasionally the most lovably daft panel show on TV and still, as regular guest Victoria Coren Mitchell has been known to comment, the only programme on TV in which the production team assume that the audience can, actually, spell. A comforting thought in these dark and terrible Brexit-type times, dear blog reader, is that as bad as it all gets, you're never more than twelve hours away from a Qi repeat on Dave. Watch a few episodes and, almost in spite of yourselves, you might just learn something.
14. Mark Kermode's Secrets Of Cinema
In which, as the Independent noted: 'UK's leading film critic gives mainstream cinema the respect it deserves.' Mark is that rarest of critics. He understands the genres, gets the references, has seen pretty much everything but also remembers to enjoy himself and eat the popcorn. It's true that some of the pleasure in his regular radio reviews with Simon Mayo on 5Live is rooted in his venomous destruction of truly terrible films but that's surely Hollywood's problem, not his. Across this tremendous five-part BBC4 series, Mark deconstructed the generic nuts-and-bolt behind the romcom, the heist, the horror movie, the SF movie and the coming of age movie with wit, honesty and a fan's eye for just the right degree of taking the mickey. The best BBC4 'forensic study of a topic' series since Mark Gatiss's History Of Horror eight years ago. And, for a channel which specialises in such formats, that's a really impressive line on the Kermode CV.
15. Feud: Bette & Joan
'Friends? You think it's friendship I want from her? You're wrong, it's respect. It's the only thing I ever wanted from her ... And, it's the one thing I've never got.' Although produced during 2016, broadcast in US in March 2017 and making its UK debut at the end of last year, the final couple of episodes of Ryan Murphy, Jaffe Cohen and Michael Zam's chronicling of the rivalry between Bette Davis and Joan Crawford during and after the production of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? lingered into January 2018 on BBC2. As a consequence, this blogger feels entirely justified in including it in this year's From The North list. Although inspired by the real-life feud between Crawford and Davis, the series also explored issues of sexism, ageism and misogyny in Hollywood (then and now). With splendid performances from Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon, biopic drama doesn't get much better than this.
16. Inside Number Nine
For the first five minutes, Inside Number Nine's Hallow'een episode looked thoroughly generic. Arthur Flitwick (Steve Pemberton) returns from the shops, puts a mobile on the table, sticks on the radio and starts to coddle an egg. The phone rings, there is some sinister white noise, the egg explodes in the microwave and the caller rings off. Flitwick redials the last number and what appears to be a domestic farce involving a lost phone and a confused old lady begins. The arrival of Reece Shearsmith's vicar saw the manifestation of the first gremlins: the sound disappeared and BBC2's continuity announcer intervened. Twitter collectively speculated about P45s being issued to someone and the show immediately lost a fifth of its audience as the less patient turned over to watch something else. But, those who didn't give up ghost soon found themselves being absolutely mind-fucked. A repeated (largely silent) episode of Inside Number Nine began, but soon we were in Pemberton and Shearsmith's dressing room. Shearsmith flicked on the News At Ten where the green and gold flags of Jair Bolsonaro's celebrating supporters could be seen. Yes, this was actually, live. This perplexing episode had been in preparation for a while. The production team had been seeding the show's central conceit: the haunting of Granada studios. An article appeared in the Sun claiming that 'interventions from deceased Coronation Street stars' had been 'making rehearsals impossible.' But even so, what began to unfold was both remarkable and unsettling. BBC2 itself appeared to be possessed, stricken by visitations from the studio's illustrious and traumatic past. From Bobby Davro's notorious faceplant during the filming of Public Enemy Number One to a serious fire during which costumes for The Jewel In The Crown were destroyed, we were suddenly scrolling through an index of Granada-based mishaps. Were people fooled? However much they may have denied it subsequently, yes they undoubtedly were. But even better, Shearsmith and Pemberton included the viewers and made them participants. Shearsmith tweeted: 'Are me and Steve Pemberton on BBC2 now?' and people replied. Viewers' real time reactions became part of the drama in a way which felt more profound than usual. Co-star Stephanie Cole's Wikipedia entry was altered to reflect her apparent on-screen 'suicide.' 'Event TV' is a term which is now lazily applied to everything from cookery shows to z-list lack-of-talent contests. But the Inside Number Nine live episode really did deserve that description. What the show demonstrated was that in the hands of people like Pemberton and Sheersmith, modern media platforms such as Twitter are simply more colours that a writer can add to their palette. The show's closest relative was probably BBC1's bowel-shatteringly memorable 1992 Hallow'een fable Ghostwatch. But that was able to take advantage of a less jaded, less media-savvy, more credulous era. To even approach its mischief in 2018 felt like a triumph of the imagination and proof that TV still has the capacity to surprise, disconcert and delight.
17. The Cry
'What kind of mother are you?' With a Bodyguard-shaped void in BBC1 viewers' Sunday night schedules, The Cry had big shoes to fill. And, fill them it pretty much did. Jenna Coleman - acting her little cotton socks off - starred in a chilling, plot-twisting drama about a new mother whose world collapses after the disappearance of her baby. Subtle, nuanced, a psychological thriller which built suspense while tapping into the worst parental nightmare, The Cry was four episodes of sustained ennui - 'sickeningly addictive' according to the Gruniad - mixed up in a bag, shaken and then scattered, almost at random, in a non-linear tangle. One which, despite everything, still made perfect sense. Another huge Sunday night hit for the Beeb and another nail in the coffin of those who whinge about the standards of modern TV drama. Show such whingers, please, an episode of something like this and then tell them to shut the fek up.
18. Dave Allen At Peace
'What makes a man? The Jesuits will tell you that if you give them a boy up to the age of seven they will show you the man. And for an extra fiver, they'll cover up the scars!' Aidan Gillan is a great actor, dear blog reader. We know this from numerous dramas in which he's appeared. He can do so much with just a glance; give him an accent to tackle in a role, however and he's usually well-buggered! (Game Of Thrones being the most obvious example.) Cast as the late, much-loved Irish comedian Dave Allen in a beautifully sympathetic biopic, at last, Aidan got the chance to pick an accent and stick to it for the entirety of the production, something virtually unique in his career. Like Allen's best work, Dave Allen At Peace was gloriously irreverent, caustic, awkward and piss-yer-pants funny. Perfectly pitched with just the right degree of surreal moments, this was a fitting tribute to a true comic genius. And Gillan was properly terrific in it. Hereafter, may his accent-God go with him.
19. The Brokenwood Mysteries
'It's one thing to kill a man, but to strip him naked, tape a rugby ball over his face and ram some knickers down his throat, that's more than just murder!' One that rather sneaked under the radar of many British viewers - this blogger included. The Brokenwood Mysteries is a New Zealand crime drama entirely unable to make up its mind whether it wants to be Midsomer Murders or Twin Peaks. So, it sort of ends up as both, simultaneously. Having picked up a cult following in several territories (France, for example), it finally arrived in the UK on the obscure Drama channel. This year's fifth series is the best so far. Engaging, quirky, with a keen sense of its own ridiculous little faux naïf world, Brokenwood's charms are gentle, yet very rewarding. Seek it out and tell them this blogger sent you!
20. King Arthur's Britain: The Truth Unearthed
'Arthur is a fairy-story who might've been a real person.' With exclusive access to a major new excavation, From The North favourite Professor Alice Roberts discovered what King Arthur's Britain was - or, may have been - like, including surprisingly modern connections we all share with our past. Since Chanel Four decided to scrap Time Team, it appears to have become the BBC's job to keep archaeology and historical reconstruction on TV alive via the programmes of Alice and Neil Oliver (and his lovely hair). This film composted a wealth of research into a diligent hour of sleuthing and forensic analysis. A tale unfolded of a Britain split right down the middle, blessed with frictionless immigration and those who simply wanted peaceable trade with the continent over the water. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. That's yer actual French, that is.
21. The Bank That Almost Broke Britain
A history of the Royal Bank of Scotland; its swift, spectacular rise to become one of the biggest banks in the world, under eight years of rule by its controversial CEO Fred Goodwin and its even swifter and more spectacular fall from grace exactly ten years before Leo Burley's fine documentary was broadcast. A decade on, the tale has all the hubris of Greek tragedy, decadence comparable to Imperial Rome, blind folly and low farce. The passage of time has done nothing to dilute the potency of the story of how greed, arrogance and light-touch regulation by a government in thrall to the tax revenues combined to bring an entire economy to within hours of collapse. The film revealed how much of RBS's growth lay in the lucrative American subprime market and acquisitions of banks like Greenwich Capital, which were using CDOs to generate huge profits. And as RBS's profits grew spectacularly, so did its lavish spending. Goodwin flew in private jets and commissioned a new three hundred and fifty million quid HQ. Never-before-seen footage revealed the spectacular opening party at Gogarburn, attended by the Queen and the cream of Scottish society. But, less than three years later, thanks largely to the collapse of the US mortgage market, Goodwin's bank was on its knees and those charged with protecting the British economy were faced with a stark choice - save RBS or risk the country's banking system being taken down by its collapse. Then chancellor Alistair Darling revealed what it was like to have just twenty four hours to come up with a plan and strike a deal with the nation's entire economy at stake. In all, the bailout was to cost the taxpayer over a trillion knicker and would effectively take RBS into public ownership.
22. Gotham
'There are no heroes here!' The climax of the fourth series of Bruno Heller's Batman prequel received positive reviews from critics and audiences, who cited the character development, writing and action sequences as a highlights. Despite consistent ratings throughout the first half of the series, however, the second half experienced new lows during the spring and, as always in the cut-throat world of US TV where nothing matters except number, the danger of cancellation which had constantly hovered around Gotham since day one raised it ugly head. Despite the ratings drop, however, FOX renewed the show for a fifth and final series - albeit a shortened one - which will begin in January. By the time it finishes, Gotham will have turned Bruce Wayne into Batman and his various enemies into characters who will form his rogues gallery. A fitting end of one of the most under-rated US dramas of the last decade.
23. Seventy Eight/Fifty Two: Hitchcock's Shower Scene
Swiss filmmaker Alexandre O Philippe's outstanding 2017 documentary was finally shown in the UK on BBC4. Alfred Hitchcock's murder scene in Psycho changed the course of world cinema. It took a week to film, one quarter of the movie's entire production schedule and the scene required seventy eight set-ups and fifty two cuts to achieve. Philippe's documentary is a tribute to an extraordinary moment in film history: electrifying, audacious, a smash-and-grab raid on on territory previously considered unacceptable. He assembled a mighty chorus of directors and cinephile heavy-hitters - Walter Murch, David Thomson, Sam Raimi, Eli Roth, Peter Bogdanovich, Bret Easton Ellis, Guillermo del Toro - to rave about the scene; where it came from, how it was put together and where it took cinema from then onward.
24. Mystery Road
Based on Ivan Sen's acclaimed 2013 movie, the six-part Australian production Mystery Road was set against big landscapes and stunning scenery. Mystery Road starred Aaron Pedersen as detective Jay Swan, sent to a remote outback town for what seems to be be a simple investigation into the disappearance of two teenagers. Partnered with tough local police chief Emma James (Judy Davis), their investigation gradually unpeeled the layers of the town, as Jay's ability to hunt beneath the surface revealed historic crimes and miscarriages of justice. In solving the mystery of the missing teens, Jay and Emma - and the town - learn some hard lessons; that you have to be truthful about your past to understand your present and to have any sort of future. Small-town politics infused the story as did racism. Swan is an outsider. As an Aboriginal man who is also a detective, he is held suspiciously by his community and by his profession. The result was a deftly-made drama that leaves open broader questions about how history haunts all Australians, whatever their colour.
25. The Split
'The perversity of the digital age is that it makes it easier than ever to have an affair but harder to hide it.' Abi Morgan's drama of infidelity and the legal sector somewhat divided opinion amongst critics, particular the final episode. 'Was it a ground-breaking female-led drama, or an alienating tale of wealthy high-achievers? Was the dialogue clever, or trite? Were the characters complex, or simply perplexing?' whinged the Radio Times reviewer. In truth, it was all of those things and many others besides. But, it was beautifully acted - notably From The North favourite Nicola Walker and Stephen Mangan whom this blogger has always felt rather cold towards but who proved here that, with a decent script, he's a more-than-decent actor.
26. Only Connect
Still, by a distance, the sharpest, wittiest and most appealing quiz-show on British TV, a series in which it is not a crime to have - or, indeed, to enjoy acquiring - knowledge. The most common criticism of Only Connect (besides those, no doubt perfect specimens of humanity who find Victoria Coren Mitchell 'smug' or 'too clever for her own good' - the first isn't even remotely true, the second is, essentially, the green-eyed wittering of the intellectually challenged) was horribly summed up in a review the series received a couple of years ago by some arsewipe of no importance at the Gruniad. 'Everything about Only Connect seems designed to make you feel uneasy ... Each episode begins not with the sound of warm applause, but with a howling silence of withering judgement. Even its title is aggressively abstruse. "This isn't for you," Only Connect says. "Maybe, come back when you've read a book."' And that, dear blog reader, is why this country is in the weird, feeble state it is. Why we've turned into a bitter, angry place with a massive inferiority complex matched only by the size of the collective chip on our collective shoulder. Like those who consider Doctor Who's latest series 'too PC' because it dares to include actors of colour and produce stories which state that racism and homophobia are, you know, really not onOnly Connect works precisely because it says 'you know what, Britain, we've actually better than this.' Here endeth the lesson.
27. Derry Girls
'If anyone is feeling anxious, worried or maybe you just want a chat, please, please do not come crying to me!' Lisa McGee's Channel Four coming of age comedy about Northern Irish teens navigating school life in the last years of The Troubles managed to be both gleefully over-the-top and painfully true-to-life, while never lapsing into sentimentality. Quite rightly, it has already been recommissioned for a second series. Drawing praise for its wry - and, occasionally, slapstick - humour, insightful characterisation and the brilliant performances of its mainly young cast, Derry Girls is unlike any other comedy on TV, totally unique and utterly brilliant.
28. Dynasties
An example of the BBC doing one of the things that the BBC does better than anyone, a nature documentary series about five vulnerable or endangered species known to form enduring populations: chimpanzees, emperor penguins, lions, tigers and African wild dogs. Produced by the Natural History Unit and narrated by David Attenborough, Dynasties gained massive audience figures, universal critical praise and it couldn't even draw much in the way of controversy when it was revealed that the production team had broken The Prime Directive of Natural History shows and helped out some stranded penguins. Even the Daily Scum Mail thought, on balance, they'd probably done the right thing. The series could, perhaps, be accused of being shamelessly manipulative at times - the penguin episode in particular - but as with all of the Attenborough oeuvre, it was the sort of television that the public desperately needs. Whether they want - or even deserve - it or not.
29. Would I Lie To You?
'Kiss the Alderman!' The joy of Would I Lie To You? lies not in Lee Mack's blizzarding sharp-as-a-needle wit, David Mitchell's 'posh and repressed' angry logic or Rob Brydon's laid-back bonhomie. Neither does in lie in Bob Mortimer's surreal flights of fancy or Rhod Gilbert's dry-as-a-bone sarcasm or any number of other semi-regular - and much looked forward to - features. Rather, it lies in ... the lies. The fact that newsreaders, presenters, serious actors, rappers and sportspeople can join comedians in telling tall tales and, for half-an-hour, talk absolute bollocks and get away with it. Yes, it's Call My Bluff: The Next Generation. Yes, some 'serious' comics who hang around the Chortle website hate it as an example of bland light-entertainment - though nobody honestly gives a stuff what those ignorant bell-ends think. Would I Lie To You? however, fulfils the one over-riding, necessary quality which any comedy format must have. It's funny. And, that's the truth.
30. Requiem
'It's like going for a country drive with a character from a James Ellroy novel.' BBC1's supernatural thriller Requiem quickly built a reputation as a sharp, spooky - if, often bafflingly complex - series. Not that complexity is, or should be, a criticism in the world of TV drama which is a running theme in many of this year's From The North awardees. Lydia Wilson starred as Matilda, who, after the suicide of her mother, finds a box filled with press clippings about the mysterious 1994 disappearance of a toddler in the (fictional) Welsh town of Penllynith, leading Matilda to turn sleuth and chase loose ends. As you do. The Daily Mirra described it as 'the spookiest TV in years,' with the 'same effect as mess-with-your-head movies The Shining, Black Swan and Don't Look Now.' That was, perhaps, over-praising it a bit but the series was well-written by Kris Mrksa, had a really good cast and made the most of its gorgeous South Wales locations.
31. Black Earth Rising
'This is what we've been waiting for. I'm about to say out loud what no one has been able to say for twenty years.' The dark, stylised thriller from writer/director Hugo Blick centred on the horrors of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, as well as Africa's evolving relationship with the West. Playing out across three continents, the series starred BAFTA-winner Michaela Coel as Kate Ashby, who was rescued during the genocide and brought to Britain as a child by her adoptive mother and a terrific, cast-against-type, John Goodman. Black Earth Rising was not the kind of drama which allowed its audience to be caught unawares. In the first couple of minutes of the opening episode, a Q&A session with an esteemed human rights lawyer dissolved into a ferocious argument over the 'neo-colonialist bullshit' and 'self-righteous Western paternalism' of the international criminal court. Moments after that, the audience saw an animated sequence of a young African girl being lifted from a pit of corpses. Anyone familiar with Blick's previous BBC dramas - The Shadow Line and The Honourable Woman - will know he has a flair for unapologetically complex thrillers that pick away at global conspiracies. This was just such a rich, demanding and rewarding conceit.
32. Jamestown
'This place is a den of poisoned vipers!' The second series of Sky's colonial-era drama maintained - and, in many ways improved upon - the quality of the first, introducing a handful of intriguing new characters and ratcheting up the drama a notch. Sniffily dismissed last year by some glake of no importance at the Torygraph as 'silly but gripping period drama' Jamestown, in fact, isn't silly at all. It's well-acted and beautifully directed whilst Bill Gallagher's scripts are filled with good characterisation and occasional sharp moments of political and spiritual insight amid the suffocating hypocrisy at the age. A third series has been commissioned and will be shown in the New Year.
33. The Woman In White
'How is it that men crush women time and time again and go unpunished? If men were held accountable they would hang every hour of every day.' Wilkie Collins' Victorian novel got a timely adaptation for the 'Me Too' age, replete with plenty of mystery, mistaken identities and gender politics. Not that it The Woman In White betrayed its source material, with a choppy narrative and shifting timeframes, the drama was strikingly modern yet, at the same time, deeply Gothic. Fiona Seres' adaptation foreground a dishearteningly ageless theme: the abuse of vulnerable women by sadistic men. One which, sadly, never goes out of fashion. And, even more sadly, one which that truly hideous hateful Graham woman at the Radio Times seemed to take stroppy umbrage at. Particular praise was deservedly given Jessie Buckley - scarily good as the novel's most fascinating and rounded character, Marian Halcombe. Once viewers navigated a slow opening episode, the series became engrossing and enraging as patriarchal machinations pushed the siblings into intolerable situations. 'Classy BBC drama - period but fresh - for a Sunday night,' wrote the Gruniad. Exactly so.
34. Collateral
'Why would anyone kill a pizza delivery man? It doesn't make any sense.' David Hare's police procedural starring Carey Mulligan as an officer investigating the murder of a Syrian refugee was a big hit for BBC2 early in the year. Collateral has been criticised by some people of less than no importance at the Daily Scum Mail 'for its political bent,' but for its defenders the series made for compelling contemporary state-of-the-nation drama. Also, in common with several of the dramas on this list, it suffered from a sneering article on the Digital Spy website written mere minutes after the first episode had been broadcast proclaiming Viewers are confused by Collateral. This claim was based on about a dozen comments on Twitter from people, seemingly, too brain-dead and bewildered to put their phone down for an hour and concentrate on the television instead of tweeting about how thinking is hard. God save us all, dear blog reader, from armchair critics with access to the Interweb. Including, especially, this one. But, Collateral, despite the whinges, was really good with an excellent cast (third appearance on this year's list for Nicola Walker), stylishly directed by SJ Clarkson and with a nicely jaundiced view of British society in 2018 (John Simm's memorable 'we really are turning into a nasty little country' speech). It's no wonder the Daily Scum Mail hated it.
35. The Durrells
'Do you have anything for excess libido?' 'Childbirth!' Is there anything, dear blog reader, that yer actual Keeley Hawes can't make look wonderful? Proof that, when it puts its mind to it and tries really really hard, ITV can manage to make the odd drama that isn't, you know, shite. Sadly, the forthcoming fourth series of the autobiographical Gerald Durrell adaptation will be its last.
36. Picnic At Hanging Rock
'Some of your companions have managed to lose themselves.' Joan Lindsay's beguiling 1967 novel was first adapted into Peter Weir's astounding 1975 movie (one of this blogger's favourite films - 'everything begins and ends at exactly the right time and place' et cetera). When it was announced that an Australian production company was proposing to expand the text into a six-part TV drama, this blogger's first question was 'how much padding is that going to involve?' In the end, the answer was more-or-less exactly what this blogger expected from the outset - about three episodes in the middle could have been comfortably lost without spoiling things. Nevertheless, Beatrix Christian and Alice Addison's adaptation starring Natalie Dormer began and ended strongly. The opening episode, in fact, might have been this blogger's favourite hour of TV all year. Of course, the inconclusive nature of the ending (a key to both the novel and the movie's cult status) seemed to anger the whinging Twitterati who demanded to know why we never found out what happened to Miranda, Marion and Miss McGraw. (That's because Joan Lindsay never told us, guys. That's the whole point of the mystery. Do try to keep up.) 'That's six hours of my life I'll never get back,' spake one abject smear on social media. Look on the bright side, mate, you'd only have wasted it watching I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) instead. The horribly realistic child abuse subplot was a bit of a left-field addition but, overall this was a brave and wilfully anti-commercial attempt to do something different. It wasn't entirely successful but it deserves praise for at least trying.
37. Trust
'You'd think that being rich would be a breeze!' This ten-episode series, written by Simon Beaufoy and directed by Danny Boyle among others, was set in 1973 and recounted the real-life story of the abduction of John Paul Getty III, then-heir to Getty Oil, whilst he was in Italy. The opening sequence of the first episode was the kind of thing Boyle's made his name from, dazzling, multi-layered and intriguing. Trust soon settled down, however, into a well-made thriller with only a few unexpected moments of Oscar-winning brilliance. A great cast - headed by Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, Brendan Fraser and Anna Chancellor - was an additional reason to stick with the, occasionally meandering, plot. Further series are planned focusing on different stories of the Getty family.
38. Star Trek: Discovery
'You guy, this is so fucking cool!' It took a while to get going - the entire two-hour opener was little more than a bloated five minute pre-title sequence from a Star Trek movie - but, once they did the two Harry Mudd episodes and, especially, reached The Mirror Universe in episode ten, Discovery finally got itself into gear and worked out what it wanted to be; less faux Voyager, more camp, over-the-top Deep Space Nine. And it worked; the best characters, to be fair, are often those on the periphery (Anthony Rapp's skittish Stamets and Mary Wiseman's deliciously daft Tilly in particular), but there were enough good moments for everyone to convince an audience that Discovery has much potential. After all, it took the original 1960s series a dozen episodes and The Next Generation a year-and-a-half to fully hit their stride.
39. Mrs Wilson
'One of the great dramatic gems of 2018 and [it] deserves rather more recognition than it has yet received,' according to the Independent. In particular, Ruth Wilson should be given a BAFTA for playing her own grandmother, the eponymous titular character and telling a story that must still cause her family much pain. Making and starring in a TV drama about your own family history might sound rather self-indulgent but the real-life story behind Mrs Wilson was so extraordinary that it was practically designed for TV in the first place. This immensely addictive three-parter was based on true, albeit incredible, events about a bigamist spy (Iain Glen) and the women that he deceived.
40. Sharp Objects
'Don't tell Momma!' HBO's psychological thriller based on Gillian Flynn's debut novel was created by former Buffy The Vampire Slayer writer Marti Noxon and directed by Jean-Marc Vallée. The series stars Amy Adams as Camille Preaker, an emotionally troubled journalist who returns to her home town to cover the murders of two young girls. Upon release, the series was met with a very positive reception from critics and viewers alike, with many praising its visuals, dark atmosphere, direction and acting, particularly the performances of Adams, Eliza Scanlen and Patricia Clarkson. Hypnotic and genuinely disturbing in places, Sharp Objects gained a cult following on Sky Atlantic late in the year.
41. There She Goes
'Very few words and moments of explosive violence. Very much like Jason Bourne!' BBC4's comedy drama focusing on the day-to-day life of a family looking after their severely learning disabled nine-year-old daughter, Rosie. There She Goes benefited from a trio of outstanding central performances - from David Tennant, Jessica Hynes and, especially, Miley Locke. Not, perhaps, the most entertaining drama on this list,  the subject matter sees to that. But, it's certainly one of the most big-hearted.
42. Vic & Bob's Big Night Out
'Is that the face of Christ?' 'It's The Turin Shroud. I got it off an out-of-work coroner, it might be [the face of] Roy Wood!' They wouldn't let it lie, dear blog reader. They could have let it lie, but they didn't. And thank the deity of your choice for that! 'This announcement was made to you by The Attlee Government in conjunction with Boy George and Cadbury's Chocolate Fingers!'

Then, there are those that Weren't Any Bloody Good At All:-

1. Z-List Celebrity Juice
What A League Of Their Own was - and remains - to Sky One, the disgraceful shower of rancid festering diarrhoea that is Z-List Celebrity Juice is to ITV2. Television - unoriginal television at that - for the hard of thinking. 'Entertainment' which celebrates stupidity, towering ego and self-publicising. Z-List Celebrity Juice is, basically, Shooting Stars without the jokes or the charm. The really annoying thing about Z-List Celebrity Juice is that its creator, Leigh Francis, is a genuine comedy talent, the brains behind one of the most clever comedy formats of the last decade, Bo' Selecta! Sadly, his Keith Lemon character is simply obnoxious and twatty and, ultimately, about as funny as a good, hard eye-watering punch in the Jacob's Cream Crackers. 'Lemon', and his two thick-as-two-short-planks blonde side-kicks - Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton - mince through every episodes with a look on their smug faces like they're so brilliantly postmodern and ironic. Of course, they're not, they're just loud and vulgar and very annoying indeed. A programme which 'celebrates' the worthless z-list celebrity culture of the Twenty First Century in all its horrific, 'look at me, ma, I'm on the telly again!' garish self-importance, Z-List Celebrity Juice is simply wrong on just about every level. This blogger has been accused of being something of a po-faced philistine for not 'getting the joke' with regard to this desperate, pointless waste of brainpower. Maybe that's true. Or, maybe 'the joke' here is so thin that this blogger has 'got it' and not found it to be very funny. And, when 'the joke' largely consists of 'Lemon' describing one of his colleagues as 'Willoughbooby', Keith Telly Topping thinks he's right and the roughly one million people who watch this crass, worthless, hateful exercise weekly are wrong.
2. Z-List Celebrity Big Brother/Big Brother
The announcement in September that Channel Five has decided to dump both the Big Brother and Z-List Celebrity Big Brother formats which they acquired from Channel Four seven years earlier into the nearest sewer was, loudly, cheered by everyone in the country who loathes this hideously sick Victorian freak show. A format which was once a valid - albeit, self-aggrandising - social experiment had become, by 2018, something barely fit for human consumption on any level. The most amusing part of the entire debacle was the series of tabloid inches the, now extremely unemployed, host Emma Willis managed to fill on how awful Big Brother's cancellation was. For her, if not for anyone else. Ryan Thomas - a former Corrie actor - joined such previous z-list names as Jim Davidson, Katie Price, Scotty T (no, me neither), Stephen Bear (no, me neither) and Colleen Nolan when he won the final Z-List Celebrity Big Brother in September at more or less exactly the point where Channel Five's director of programming Ben Frow was finding a hole to dump the format into. Even the year's big tabloid-and-Twitter created 'controversy' ('punchgate', a load of nonsense involving Thomas and that worthless, whining publicity-junkie Roxanne Pallett) seemed more contrived and less interesting than usual. Goodbye and good riddance to bad rubbish.
3. Z-List Celebrity MasterChef
There are three shows in the MasterChef franchise, dear blog reader. Two of them are really good - or, if they aren't they are, at least, often compulsive viewing. The third, sadly, is just rubbish. A tired and jaded format which worked for two or three series but has been running on empty for at least five years and, given the appallingly z-list standard of most of the alleged 'celebrities' it has been attracting of late, needs to be put out of its misery. The fact that this year's winner - former EastEnders actor John Partridge - was more z-list than usual and that one of the supposed 'big name' contestants was some The Only Way Is Essex-type individual whose greatest claim to fame was falling on her arse on live TV says much about just how utterly missable Z-List Celebrity MasterChef has become. As Gregg Wallace never said 'cooking doesn't come any more decided average than this.'
4. The Circle
A - thoroughly offensive - reality format, produced by Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group which launched on Channel Four in September, the series was broadcast for twenty one days and concluded with the live final on 8 October. The Circle billed itself as a game 'based around social media,' with the concept that 'anyone can be anyone in The Circle.' It was hosted by Maya Jama and Alice Levine - both of whom should be sodding ashamed of themselves - and has been compared to Big Brother. So, in other words, it's a TV format ripping off another TV format that's just been thrown into the gutter along with all the other turds because no one's watching it any more. The series was won by twenty six-year-old 'Internet comedian' (whatever that means) Alex Hobern, who had played the game claiming to be a twenty five-year-old woman called Kate, using photos of his real-life girlfriend, Millie. A single sentence which should sum up to everyone who avoided The Circle like the plague why you made entirely the right decision. This is television in Twenty First Century dear blog reader. Horrifying, isn't it?
5. Naked Attraction
A dating game show, presented by Anna Richardson. 'Is a nude dating show a public service?' wondered the Gruniad at a time when Channel Four was desperately trying to argue its public service broadcasting credentials in the wake of a threatened government sell-off. 'Viewers outraged over full-frontal nudity in a racy new Channel Four dating show' fumed the Daily Scum Mail, for whom the words 'naked' and 'Channel Four' must seem like manna from Heaven. 'How low can this channel go?' asked the Torygraph, not unreasonably. 'Ofcom won't investigate Naked Attraction despite two hundred and fifty complaints' whinged the Daily Scum Express. 'The most utterly stupid dating show on TV,' opined Buzzfeed (which, when you consider it has Take Me Out as competition really is saying something). 'Welcome to post-Brexit Britain,' the website's critic added. 'Why does the show exist? Well, according to [producers], "modern dating has become a complicated business."' So, the obvious way around this is to flash your naughty bits to the nation (or, to that portion of the nation watching Channel Four post-watershed, anyway). Put simply, you would have to be a brain-damaged moron or the victim of a cruel medical experiment and, in either case, someone without any dignity or self-worth to appear on - or, indeed, watch - this horroshow. And, if you're one of the people who dreamed Naked Attraction up in the first place, then you should probably be horsewhipped - naked - through the streets until you promise never to do anything so demeaning and offensively sneering again. Yes, you found plenty of attention-seeking fodder happy to get their kit off on telly for your cruel and shameful freak show and even found a few hundred thousand gormless planks to watch it. One trusts your parents are all very proud of you.
6. Love Island
I don't care how - allegedly - popular it is, it's still complete and utter shite.
7. Troy: Fall Of A City
Despite high expectations, the drama's Saturday night primetime slot and its sixteen million knicker budget per episode, Troy: Fall Of A City was a ratings disaster for the BBC (who co-produced the show with Netflix). Only 3.2 million consolidated viewers tuned in for the first episode and viewership dropped to a mere 1.6 million by episode four. To be fair, it got some favourable reviews, with specific praise for its acting, costuming and set design though it did, rightly, receive criticism for the dialogue. One described it as 'pitched somewhere between a particularly corny Hollywood epic and a play by Ernie Wise.' Rachel Cooke in The New Statesman complained that 'all the men look as if they're in a Calvin Klein ad' and that its portrayal of Helen and Paris's relationship was 'tediously Twenty First Century. The dialogue is so richly silted with self-help banalities, we might as well be watching a Meghan and Harry biopic as a drama inspired by the greatest of all epic poems.' But, for all that, dear blog reader, its place on this list is pretty much entirely down to the fact that almost no one thought it was worth watching.
8. That Bloody Awful Keith Woman's Coastal Villages
Who the Hell keeps giving this dreadful woman money to make more crappy TV shows? So, in what is fast becoming an annual tradition, please allow this blogger to describe - at length - just how much he loathes this noxious woman and the rotten pieces of phlegm she presents. In what is, probably, the most offensively shite TV conceit dreamed up since her last series, that full-of-her-own-importance Keith woman swans around some coastal villages like she owns the gaff. These stereotypical population centres - with their cosy cottages, thatched roofs and loud-voiced eccentrics - represent, That Awful Keith Woman claims, 'the true England.' Whatever that means. Actually, we all know exactly what that means; the dying representatives of some mythical 'Golden Age UKiP England' which never existed. As someone who grew up on a council estate in the North, please allow this blogger to note that there are many examples of 'the true England' and almost none of them are kind of places That Awful Keith Woman would be seen dead in. Also, allow this blogger another moment of utter revulsion at the sheer nastiness of ignorant conceits like this. Naff off back to the 1950s you offensive woman and take your loathsome Daily Scum Mail attitudes with you. This blogger hopes that whoever came up this exercise in twee 'Little Englander', Brexit-supporting bollocks gets home tonight to find that travellers have moved in next door to them. Who have really mean dogs that bark all night.
9. Doctor Pimple Popper
No, dear blog reader, trust yer actual Keith Telly Topping, there really is a TV show called this and, yes, it does involve a dermatologist, basically, doing exactly what it says on the tin. Sorry if you're reading this whilst eating your dinner. Next ...
10. Twatting About On Ice
Why couldn't it just stay dead?
11. Trauma/Strangers
During an episode of his podcast Athletico Mince early in the year, the great Bob Mortimer noted - with specific reference to Trauma - that there is a general problem with many modern UK dramas (and, in particular, many of those made for ITV). They start well, for most of their four or six episode run, they hold the audience's attention and then, sadly, it all falls apart at the end like so much wet cardboard. This is very true. It's especially true of both Trauma and Strangers. Poor John Simm, most of the dramas he touches these days start impressively but end up massively disappointing pretty much everyone. One in a year might be regarded as misfortune, two looks like carelessness.
12. School For Stammerers
Another example of an ITV planning meeting where someone said 'I've got an idea. A documentary about attempting to cure stammering' and no one else around the table had the wherewithal to reply: 'Can I just stop you there? Has anyone got any ideas that aren't crassly offensive and intrusive? Come on, guys, we're the channel that made World In Action, This Week, The World At War and The Avengers, we're capable of more than this.'
13. I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want)
Noel Edmonds! Harry Redknapp! Barrowman! And ... lots of people you've never heard of! Holly Willoughby instead of Ant (who was dealing with addiction issues), though. What could possibly go wrong? The only TV programme in which bollocks are not only spoken but, also, eaten. And, the fact that this sick Victorian freak show is, currently, the most popular format on British television - with people who, it would appear, enjoy watching others (who, to be fair, have volunteered for the gig) made to do demeaning, disgusting or just plain weird things forces one to confront what, exactly, we have become as a nation. One that, apparently, regards this horrific, nasty exercise in getting a bunch of attention-junkies together and then poking them with a stick just to see what happens as entertainment. Well done, if you watch this wretched steaming pile of spew, dear blog reader, one trusts you get something worthwhile out of it. This, of course, includes Comrade Corbyn who was so unwilling to enter into a televised debate with soon-to-be-former Prime Minister May because it could have clashed with the final of I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want). It's nice to know that Comrade Corbyn would, he claims, sooner watch this crap than a Jimmy McGovern drama about the treatment of mental health on the BBC at the same time. You might win half-a-dozen votes from jungle-loving planks, Jezza, but one imagines many of your Momentum acolytes will be very disappointed with you. Is I'm A Z-List Former Celebrity Desperate To Get My Boat-Race Back On TV ... Please Vote For Me To Stay Here As Long As Possible (I'll Even Eat Worms If You Want) entertaining in the great scheme of things, dear blog reader? Yeah, sure, it probably is. In much the same way that watching a car crash is. Okay, so someone probably dies in screaming agony but, hey, at least it's not anyone you actually know, right?
14. Vanity Fair
Another twenty four carat ratings disaster for ITV (opening episode, a consolidated seven day-plus audience of 5.45 million, episode six, a consolidated seven day-plus audience of 2.30 million). There was no denying that ITV's period drama suffered badly when placed in direct opposition to BBC1's ratings juggernaut, Bodyguard. But, this adaptation of Thackery's classic Victorian 'novel without a hero' always seemed like an odd fit for an ITV which has, seemingly, lost the ability to do period drama entirely. It was, reportedly, only commissioned in the first place because ITV's director of television Kevin Lygo stated it was his mother's favourite book. For ITV's 'big autumn drama,' however, it stuck out like a sore thumb in the surrounding landscape of lack-of-talent show formats, z-list celebrity reality misery and ongoing soaps. Despite a decent - if, hardly Earth-shattering - script, a very good cast and big production values, Vanity Fair proved that, in spite of this blogger's genuine nostalgia for a time when ITV could do this sort of thing, the simple fact is, they can't now. The audience, seemingly, doesn't want it from them.
15. The X Factor
When the BBC first announced that Doctor Who was to return to TV in 2003 a - soon-to-be-former - ITV executive infamously noted that he didn't know what the BBC were playing at bringing 'a tired old format' back before adding, authoritatively, 'families don't watch TV together any more.' Russell Davies mentioned in a contemporary interview with the Independent: 'I lived in fear that the family audience had disappeared. A demographics expert told me that it did not exist because children have television sets in their bedrooms and are embarrassed to be watching the same programmes as their parents.' All of which may have been true then (and, may be even truer now) but, as more than one infuriated viewer commented, if TV executives perhaps made more - and better - examples of family entertainment programming in the first place, then families might start to watch TV together again. And, within a couple of years, they did. We got Strictly, we got Britain's Got Toilets and we got The X Factor (and, many copies of those formats). Now, you can say what you like about The X Factor dear blog reader but, in its day, it was a genuinely innovative, ground-breaking TV show. It wasn't always pleasant to watch, Cowell was, and remains, a horrible individual; it could be mean and nasty; it was definitely self-serving and its post-show treatment of not only the winners but, also, many of those who managed to get themselves a smidgen of a career on the back of an X Factor run left much to be desired. But, for all that, eight years ago when over seventeen million punters watched Matt Cardle singing 'When We Collide' it was at its absolute zenith as both a TV show and as a cultural phenomena. Times change, though and 2010 is a long, long way away. In 2018, The X Factor looks, to use what was, a decade-and-a-half ago, apparently the biggest crime that a TV show could commit as far as ITV were concerned, tired. Its audience has shrunk (just over five million were watching this year's final, won by Dalton Harris). Judges have come and gone, Cowell had a lengthy spell away whilst he tried (and failed) to break the show in America and winners have - for the most part - enjoyed their fifteen minutes (or less) of fame and then returned to the obscurity from where they had come. For every Leona Lewis there are a dozen Alexandra Burkes. For each One Direction, there are hundreds of James Arthurs, Joe McElderrys or Matt Terrys. Where are Cher Lloyd and Rebecca Ferguson now? Where will Dalton Harris be in twelve month's time? Does anyone, honestly, care? If ever a programme was, desperately, in need of a rest it's The X Factor. But, to admit that would be a blow to Simon Cowell's ego from which it may never recover. So, same time next year, guys? Only, you know, a few less of you than this year.
16. Wunderlust
The pre-publicity for Wanderlust promised that the six-part drama would 'flood' viewers telly boxes with The Sex, the whole Sex and nothing but The Sex. Which was always likely to be a case of a production writing a cheque it couldn't possibly cash. In showing the travails of a couple who explore sleeping with others, the BBC, coaxed from its usual carnal diffidence by a partnership with Netflix, would be rockin' the raunchy, it was claimed. Withering and anxious columns were dedicated to whether viewers could handle all this raunch. They needn't have worried. At no point during the opening episodes could one tell the difference between Wanderlust and a pair of old slippers resting in front of the fire. 'While the sex itself is short of revolutionary, it is cheering to see characters laugh and huff in the bedroom and who, occasionally, even resort to self-pleasure,' noted the Indi. 'But, like Joy and Alan, Wanderlust doesn't quite know whether it was coming or going.' When even the Middle Class hippy Communists at the Gruniad and the Indi can't get with the programme, you know you've bought a dog.
17. Peter Kay's Car Share
Lots of planets have a Bolton, dear blog reader. More's the pity.
18. McMafia
McMafia's main problem was one that is increasingly affecting programmes in the streaming era: its creators were so desperate to create a global drama which could play anywhere in the world that they forgot to create credible characters that audiences might actually enjoy watching. It was an example of a drama which felt as though someone had said in a planning meeting: 'Let's make the new Peaky Blinders, the new Game Of Thrones, the new State Of Play,' but forgot that it's the characters and the fully realised worlds in which these fine dramas take place that makes them work, rather than the concept - however smart it may be. That was McMafia all over; big on ideas, low of actual proper characterisation, good dialogue et cetera. It looked so good on paper. It looked pretty good on TV if truth be told. But, God, it dragged like ... a big draggy thing. And that's never a good idea for a drama with aspirations of greatness.
19. President Rump: The Piers Morgan Interview
What, you mean you actually need a reason for the inclusion of this nonsense? If an hour of watching two of the most crassly self-important men in the world engaging in a mutual arse-licking contest is your idea of a good time, dear blog reader, you're probably having trouble with some of the bigger words in this bloggerisation list. Sorry 'bout that. During the programme, which was watched live by three million people at 10pm (fewer than the number of viewers watching the rival BBC News At Ten, which does kind of restore ones faith in much of humanity), Rump told Oily Twat Morgan that he 'wouldn't call himself a feminist.' Or, indeed, a likeable human being or anything even remotely like it either. So, he was certainly in good company sitting opposite the vile and odious Morgan, then.
20. All Together Now
'Absolutely atrocious,' according to the Mirra and 'like a pub singalong meets Celebrity Squares' to the Gruniad's critic, All Together Now was the BBC's latest attempt at creating 'a singing contest with a twist.' In this case the twist being ... actually, there wasn't a twist, it was every single bit as wretched and worthless as Let It Shine, The Voice, Fame Academy, The Choir: Sing While You Work, et al. This one's main distinguishing feature was that it was presented by camp comic Rob Beckett (nice lad, mildly amusing in small doses but, don't overdo it) and Geri Horner (desperately out-of-work till the next Spice Girls reunion tour). And, that's it, really. That's about the level of impact that it had on the collective consciousness of viewers.

And, finally, the Curiosities Of The Year:-

1. The X-Files
'We're not alone in the universe. But, nobody likes us!' So, where did it all go wrong, Mister Carter? Well, it was probably when someone convinced you that instead of getting other - more talented and imaginative - writers to script episodes of your successful long-running SF drama, you kept on writing them yourself. Bad move. The eleventh series of the once hugely popular cult series (and the second since its return from a decade in the TV wilderness) had a handful of really good episodes - notably Darin Morgan's brilliantly self-deprecating The Lost Art Of Forehead Sweat and Shannon Hamblin and Kristen Cloke's downright bizarre Rm9sbG93ZXJz. But, importantly, the three episodes written by creator Chris Carter were just plain torture. Betraying, as they did, all of the many faults that Carter's 'mythology' episodes have always suffered from. This was especially true of a completely up-its-own-arse series finale which yanked in from nowhere a bunch of pointless plot cul-de-sacs and left many infuriated viewers (those that had stuck it out to the bitter end) with what is now almost certain to be an unresolved cliffhanger. Almost certain to be unresolved because even before the series had finished production in January, From The North favourite Gillian Anderson announced that she was, finally, done with Dana Scully. (Old Duchovny, who usually says that sort of thing himself whenever his career is doing okay only to, subsequently, change his mind each time he becomes unemployed remained oddly silent on the matter.) The following month, Carter stated that he 'could see the show continuing' without Anderson but in May, FOX executive Gary Newman commented: 'There are no plans to do another season at the moment.' When TV Line's Michael Ausiello stated on Twitter that that FOX's decision appeared to be directly related to Anderson's departure, Gillian pithily replied: 'Well Michael, the truth is after [the] exit of seventy seven per cent of viewership ...' So, The X-Files seems to have finally reached the end of a long and well-travelled road; it was often great, sometimes difficult and awkward and now and then, usually when Chris Carter had access to a word processor, pretentious and absolutely terrible. But, it was seldom if ever boring dear blog reader and, for that, we should all be grateful.
2. Britannia
'Behold, Gods of Britannia, I am Rome. And, where I walk is Rome!' 'Critics are calling Britannia "the best thing on TV,"' claimed an over-excited Sky continuity announcer in April. Few, if any, critics were doing any such thing, of course. Indeed, some were saying exactly the opposite. And, any that were saying that probably did so from their hospital beds where they were in the process of recovering from taking too many hallucinogenics. What some critics - and viewers - did mostly agree on, however, was that Britannia was a gloriously over-the-top attempt to create a cut-price Game Of Thrones. And, that despite having more than a few aesthetics wrong with it and a script that, sometimes, made it appear as though it has been written in crayon, it was still a lot of fun. David Morrissey wandering through the thing with a dead dog on his shoulders notwithstanding.