Review of the Year: August 2014

Silly season brought us the ice bucket challenge, "bin-gate" on The Great British Bake Off, and a hotly contested battle between David Tennant and Benedict Cumberbatch for the title of TV Champion

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August is traditionally the silly season in TV land and 2014 didn’t disappoint.

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First, there was the furore when an anachronistic plastic water bottle appeared in a Downton Abbey press shot. Then Newsnight’s recently retired bulldog Jeremy Paxman tried his hand at stand-up comedy at the Edinburgh Festival, while Eddie Redmayne and Jamie Dornan swapped pouting for the wet t-shirt look when they endured the ice bucket challenge. Finally, BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore announced that Miranda Hart would be reviving The Generation Game, only for the comedian to refute it with a curt tweet: “Apparently it’s 100 per cent cert I am doing Gen Game. First I’ve heard of it.”

At least the cinema offered some escapism from the slate-grey skies and silliness. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy starred a certain former Doctor Who companion (we forget her name…Karen something?) and broke US box office records. Over here, Vin Diesel’s tree-like humanoid Groot was no match for those home-grown favourites The Inbetweeners. The suburban teenagers’ second big-screen outing was the biggest ever opening day for a comedy thanks to the important life lessons it imparted like, erm, don’t feed McDonalds to dolphins and Sydney Opera House is not a spaceship. 

Back on the small screen, the BBC launched yet another ill-fated Saturday night show, a gymnastics contest fronted by Olympian and Strictly star Louis Smith, which did exactly what the title – Tumble – promised. The Great British Bake Off’s graduation from BBC2 to BBC1 was more successful, although even this sweetest of competitions wasn’t all spun-sugar: when one contestant momentarily removed another’s baked Alaska from the fridge, the Twittersphere was outraged. Surprisingly, Ofcom declined to investigate “bin-gate”.

Sadly, it wasn’t all cooing over Victoria sponges. There was a huge outpouring of grief in Hollywood and around the world when Robin Williams committed suicide in his Los Angeles home. Actor and Oscar-winning film director Richard Attenborough – older brother of David – was also mourned after passing away at the age of 90.

Sherlock earned more gongs for Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat at the Emmys, but it was Ricky Gervais who stole the show with an impromptu lesson on how to lose. The end of August also saw not one, not two, but three much-anticipated Saturday night entrances: Cheryl Cole and Simon Cowell rejoined The X Factor judging panel after four years absence (and thousands of column inches documenting their breakups and make-ups). Last – but most definitely not least – Peter Capaldi finally appeared as the Time Lord and was rewarded with Doctor Who’s biggest audience since Matt Smith’s debut.

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But of course the biggest event of the month was RadioTimes.com’s inaugural TV Champion award. After nine million votes and 127 matches, David Tennant bested Benedict Cumberbatch in a final that pitted Whovians against Sherlock devotees, saw 2.85 million votes cast and nearly broke the site. We hope you enjoyed the battle as much as we did.


How much of this year’s television can you remember? Take our Big TV Quiz 2014 and find out!