Looking at the latter half of 2018 on the small screen: the biggest TV moments of the year
PUBLISHED: 11:50 21 December 2018
What were the biggest TV moments of 2018? We look at the last six months of the year and discover why 2018 was big for the Dyer family, which unusual guests appeared on Bargain Hunt and how the BBC and ITV had a Brexit row of their own.
July: July boasts the biggest TV moments of 2018, as 23.6 million viewers watch England beat Colombia 4-3 on penalties, securing their place in the semi-finals. BBC One airs the World Cup quarter-final match between England and Sweden that results in a 2–0 win for England and puts them through to the first World Cup semi-final since 1990 (19.9 million) and ITV airs the semi-final between England and Croatia which sees the biggest audience of all, 26.5 million, watch the nation’s dreams dissolve. Carol McGiffin returns to Loose Women after a break of five years, Benidorm creator Derren Litten confirms the end of the series and Sir Cliff Richard wins his privacy case over BBC News coverage of a police raid on his home. ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5 were urged by OfCom to improve their children’s programming, Jack Fincham and Dani Dyer win series four of Love Island, Dad’s Army celebrates its 50th anniversary and the most bizarre edition of Bargain Hunt airs starring Jarvis Cocker and Bez from the Happy Mondays. In even more exciting news, it is announced that Leonard Fenton, who played Doctor Legg in EastEnders from 1985 to 1997 will be returning to the soap for a storyline with Dot Cotton.
August: Also known as The Month The Bodyguard Was On, the six-part drama debuts and attracts an audience of 6.7 million viewers, making it the biggest TV drama launch of the year. Charting the relationship between Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes) and war veteran and bodyguard David Budd (Richard Madden), it is the runaway success of 2018 and Richard Madden the most talked about star. The BBC confirms that Strictly Come Dancing has no plans to include same-sex couples in the forthcoming series, Ant and Dec postpone the next series of Saturday Night Takeaway, University Challenge announces it will pose “gender neutral” questions in the future and a rant about Brexit by EastEnders actor Danny Dyer on Good Evening Britain is named TV Moment of the Year at the Edinburgh Television Festival Awards.
September: All hell lets loose as the BBC reveals that it is moving Doctor Who to a Sunday slot, Coleen Nolan announces she has cancelled all her work commitments “until further notice” after a row with Kim Woodburn on Loose Women, QI presenter Sandi Toksvig reveals she earns 40 per cent of what was paid to her predecessor Stephen Fry, Ryan Thomas wins the 22nd and final series of Celebrity Big Brother and ITV announces that Jeremy Clarkson will be the new presenter of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Bodyguard concludes on September 23 with a cliffhanger episode that opens the door to a sequel – the BBC reveals the series is the broadcaster’s most successful for a decade. John Partridge wins Celebrity MasterChef, The X Factor returns for its 15th series with a new judging panel including Robbie Williams and his wife Ayda and a dance teacher who runs a class for larger people called Strictly Curved is ordered to change the name of her business by the BBC.
October: Grave news as BBC1 announces that Flog It! will be axed after 17 years as part of its daytime schedule revamp while ITV’s daytime stalwart This Morning celebrates its 30th birthday on October 3, resurrecting the floating weather map in Liverpool’s Albert Dock which results in presenter Alison Hammond accidentally pushing a man dressed as a sailor into the water. The first episode of Doctor Who with Jodie Whittaker taking the role of the 13th Doctor is aired with a huge audience of 10.9 million but in far more momentous casting news, Hollyoaks announces that pop star Rick Astley will be making a cameo appearance in a forthcoming episode. Seann Walsh and dance partner Katya Jones are voted off Strictly Come Dancing – the pair were the subject of controversy during their time as dance partners when they were photographed kissing, despite having their own partners off-screen. As ITV airs Butterfly, which deals with the subject of parents coming to terms with their young son wishing to become a girl, The Bi Life debuts on E!, a brand new bisexual dating show. Timid Rahul Mandal wins the ninth series of The Great British Bake Off, Evan Davis presents his last Newsnight, Channel 4 announces its new HQ will be in Leeds and after an incredible BBC2 series, the Inside No 9 team of Reece Shearsmith and Steve Pemberton pull a live special out of the bag for Halloween which was genuinely chilling.
November: Norwich teenager Cameron Cole wins the last ever series of Big Brother – he was the bookies’ favourite to win, having come out as gay for the first time on TV. He takes home the top prize of £100,000 and becomes not only the show’s last winner, but its youngest winner, too. Figures released by TV Licensing indicate that there are, astonishingly, still 7,161 UK households watching TV with a black and white licence, a decline from 212,000 in 2000. Children in Need is aired on BBC TV on November 16 with £50.6 million donated during the course of its broadcast, taking the collective total raised by CIN to an incredible £1bn. Emmerdale announces that Mandy Dingle (Lisa Riley) will be returning to the show after 17 years for a special storyline in January while the BBC reveals that its Winterwatch, Springwatch and Autumnwatch will be broadcast from the Cairngorms in 2019. When I’m a Celebrity airs on ITV, Ant McPartlin’s co-presenting job is taken over by Holly Willoughby while he continues his recovery (it will be announced in December that he will be returning to a presenting role in early 2019). The BBC announce a date for a televised Brexit debate between May and Corbyn, sparking a(nother) political war – May backs the BBC debate, Corbyn backs ITV. Hollyoaks speaks about its plans to introduce a far-right radicalization story involving the long-suffering character Ste Hay, in order to raise awareness of the issue while Matthew Wright tells The Sun that the stress of presenting The Wright Stuff on Channel 5 has left him with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
December: Cromer Pier in Norfolk has a starring role in BBC One’s Christmas campaign when it takes centre stage in the corporation’s Wonderland film which follows the story of a mother and son spending time together during the holiday series. Filming earlier in the year had set the rumour mill turning there as people wondered precisely what was being filmed. The BBC scraps plans to hold a Brexit debate between Prime Minister Theresa May and Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn after, somewhat ironically, failing to reach an agreement over the proposed format of the debate – even more perplexingly, both the BBC and ITV had scheduled live debates between the pair on the same night – December 9, a physical impossibility. A British version of RuPaul’s Drag Race is commissioned by BBC3 and as BBC One prepares to end its new series of Doctor Who with a New Year’s Day special, it is announced that the series will return in 2020 with Jodie Whittaker at the helm of the Tardis once again. Dalton Harris beats Anthony Russell and Scarlett Lee on ITV’s X Factor, and his winning track, a version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s The Power of Love, scores a number one, the first since Ben Haenow’s X Factor single in 2014. And talking of winners, Harry Redknapp is I’m A Celebrity’s most popular winner for years, taking home the King of the Jungle title from the 18th series and making wife Sandra a national hero.