David Attenborough’s landmark documentary, Frozen Planet, began on BBC1. It had all the breathtaking scenery and fascinating animal action we have come to expect from these large-scale documentaries. It was not without its controversies, though, and the BBC later denied allegations that placing footage of animals in captivity among shots in the Arctic was designed to mislead viewers.
The Apprentice was on our screens again, but this time with teenagers taking on Lord Sugar’s challenges. They coped admirably and their successes made us all feel suitably humbled. Award-winning cult science-fiction show Misfits also returned for its third successful series on Channel 4.
Gritty drama Top Boy portrayed the violent reality of Britain’s underprivileged, drug-ridden subculture. Channel 4 seemed to tap into people’s curiosity about what had led to the August riots and the series was a success.
Apple founder Steve Jobs lost his long-running battle with cancer. His name, the iPad 2 and yet-to-be-announced iPhone 5 became three of the most searched queries on Google this year.
The nation said goodbye to one of its entertainment greats, Sir Jimmy Savile, who died aged 84 at his home in Leeds.
The news continued to keep us hooked to our televisions. This month saw the toppling and murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. An image of his body was taken on a mobile phone and was quickly circulated on social media sites. The BBC were criticised for showing graphic images in early-evening news broadcasts.
Life’s Too Short began on BBC1, written by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and starring Hollywood’s “go-to dwarf”, Warwick Davis. “If The Office reflected those quaint docu-soaps of the 1990s with normal people getting their 15 minutes of fame,” Gervais told RT, then Life’s Too Short “is reflecting the modern documentary that follows D-list celebs living out every second of their lives in front of a camera.” Viewers either loved it or hated it and a second series has been confirmed.
The X Factor’s tousle-haired rock fiend Frankie Cocozza was given the boot after breaking some of the show’s suspiciously unspecific “rules”, sending the media into a frenzy and injecting some much needed drama into this year’s contest.
Everyone’s favourite choirmaster, Gareth Malone, brought music to our living rooms once more with The Choir: Military Wives. Their song, Wherever You Are, has become the fastest selling single in six years and made it to the coveted Christmas number one spot.
Hit US drama series Pan Am (billed as Mad Men on a plane) came to BBC2. Despite the nation’s obsession with glamorous period pieces, it failed to win the large audiences it was expected to attract.
I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! returned to ITV with its usual blend of eclectic celebrities and disgusting insect-based challenges. Drama erupted as Freddie Starr was forced to leave after seeking medical advice and Peter Andre returned to the show – but only to set a challenge. It was eventually won by McFly bass player Dougie Poynter, who was run close by The Only Way Is Essex favourite, Mark Wright.
Strictly Come Dancing reached its conclusion this month with another victory for McFly. This time it was drummer Harry Judd waltzing into first place after 14 weeks of blisters, bruises and ballroom tantrums.
The X Factor also declared its winners this month – manufactured girl band Little Mix beat Marcus Collins and released a cover of Damien Rice’s Cannonball. The quartet made it to number one the week after the live final but couldn’t hold the position to beat off the Military Wives in the race for Christmas number one.
Steven Moffat announced this month that Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill (Amy Pond and Rory Williams) will be leaving the Tardis in the next series of Doctor Who.
Jeremy Clarkson put his foot in it once again as he said on The One Show that all public sector strikers should be shot. The BBC received more than 30,000 complaints, but director-general Mark Thompson refused to sack him, saying: “Clarkson’s remarks were absolutely and clearly intended as a joke.”
Read Radio Times’s TV and entertainment review of the year – part one
Read Radio Times’s TV and entertainment review of the year – part two
Read Radio Times’s TV and entertainment review of the year – part three