In no particular order
Wallander (BBC1) – Kenneth Branagh doesn’t do much telly, but when he does he is exceptionally good. His first big role (other than CBeebies bedtime stories) since Conspiracy – a very different character – but boy is he compelling. A very nice performance from David Warner as his father too. It’s difficult to go wrong with Mankell’s source material, though as demonstrated by my second choice
Wallander (BBC4) – Swedish dramatisation of Mankell’s novels appeared in a brief series of excellent foreign language crime shows (including a wonderful Maigret and INspector Montalbano – much the funniest of the set, and nicely picking up on the style of Andrea Camilleri). A bit darker than the British adaptation with two leads playing Linda and Kurt Wallander who seemed rather more like Mankell’s creations than Branagh and colleagues.
God on Trial (BBC2) – drama of the year, and shown during a little season of BBC2 plays for today (although not listed as such in the schedules) it was a reminder of days long thought gone on the Beeb. There is an excellent note by Andrew Collins in his review of the year.
Place of Execution (ITV1) – Val Mc Dermid’s dark novel owes something to the Moors Murders, and plays with the conventions of the true crime genre. For me it’s her best work. That Robson Greene (star of Extreme Fishing with Robson Green) so loves Val McDermid that he managed to get this to the screen speaks volumes for him, that ITV broadcast it in prime time with a great cast (Philip Jackson reminding viewers there’s more to him than inspector Japp, Sam’s dad from life on mars showing there’s more to him than a live action mole, and Juliet Stevenson as watchable as ever), and a compelling plot – which avoided some of the conventional hooks of the iTV1 drama – was fantastic, and a reminder that ITv can compete when it can be bothered – as shown by
LOst in Austen (ITV1) – I really enjoyed it. It was light, witty, and while clearly influenced by Peter Ling or Life on Mars or Purple ROse of Cairo it doesn’t matter when ITV are prepared to invest in original non-crime drama. Which also goes for Channel 4 too and
The devil’s Whore (C4) – the best series of the year. The Civil War – and never a thought of By the sword divided crossed my mind. Peter Flannery writes brilliantly for TV. let’s hope that the gap between this and his next big series is appreciably less than that between Our Friends in the North and this.
Usain Bolt and the 100 metres (BBC1) – an event I’ll never tire of watching. The chest thumping easing through the line while smashing the world record is joyous. It was my favourite TV sporting moment of the year (although if I’d had one of the evil satellite mob’s dishes that might have been the wonderful Queen of the South v Aberdeen Scottish Cup semi final, but – aside from the return of the god like genius that is Danny Baker to our network radios (on 2 and 5 live) – that was my top radio moment).
Outnumbered (BBC1) – while Gavin and Stacey bemusingly (for me at any rate – aside from the great Rob Brydon performance) scoops awards, Outnumbered is consistently funny – with the best comic performance of the year being that of the 6 year old (or thereby) girl who effortlessly steals every scene she is in.
Harry Hill’s TV burp (ITV1) – I’ve been a fan of Harry since Pub Internationale at the Fringe many moons ago – and that he and his team (including the great David Quantick) continue to demolish bad telly (especially bad ITV shows) is a joy. I’m disappointed at the lack of another go at Sally Morgan Star Psychic in recent weeks, but trust Harry will target this in the near future.
Mark Lawson Talks to (BBC4) is that unusual beast – a chat show worth watching, because Lawson listens to his guest and asks follow up questions, or sometimes simply lets the guest speak. The series this year included wonderful interviews with George Cole, John le Carre, Galton and Simpson, Quentin Blake, and a moving interview with Rolf Harris. It’s the nearest that contemporary telly gets to Face to Face. And it’s sad that it’s hidden away on a digital channel.
The BBC4 documentary where the rather fabulous Stella Duffy (google her) tried to write a Mills and Boon novel ;
Consuming Passions – Olivia Coleman and Emilia Fox starred in a look at Mills and Boon through the ages – BBC 4 again. COleman demonstrated how badly wasted she’d been in that BBC2 sitcom where Meera Syal played her blind sister (so bad I’ve erased the title from my memory);
Jason Isaacs and Phil Davis were fantastic in The Curse of Steptoe (also on BBC4);
Mark Cavendish winning his stages on the Tour (ITV4);
Olympic cycling (BBC1);
Charlie Brooker (BBC4);
Midnight – for me the best Doctor Who episode since its return (BBC1); and how can I avoid mentioning Emily Maitlis questioning the DG of the Beeb and repeating rather too frequently, "I’m so old my pussy is haunted" ((C) Are you Being Served?) which remains the single funniest moment of the year for me.
The worst is a lot easier:
Beat the Star (ITV1) – when Amir Khan competed against someone in hammering nails into a bit of wood I lost the will to live and tried to slit my wrists with a cucumber;
that BBC "sitcom" about some bloke that ends up a window dresser in New York growing up with Meera Syal as his blind aunt;
Hole in the Wall (BBC1) about which you get the idea from this
Anyway, Best wishes for the new year to my loyal reader and I’ll see you on the 2nd for liveblogging the Tomster’s potential entry to the Big Brother House.
"Day 14 in the Big Brother house and Tommy proposes a nice game of scrabble"