EastEnders Ronnie and Roxy drown on New Year’s Day (January)
The most divisive soap moment of the year featured the Mitchell sisters drowning in a macabre New Year’s Day episode – a fitting end for the always controversial Ronnie and Roxy or a brutal dispatching that ensures they can never make a comeback? Almost a year on, fans are still debating whether the pair should have been killed off.
Sherlock’s sister Eurus reveals her true identity (January)
Talk about hiding in plain sight – Sherlock’s long-lost sister Eurus dated his best friend John in one persona, spent an evening with the detective himself in another and, in a twist almost no one saw coming, divested herself of her subtle disguise to reveal that she had also been John’s therapist. Kudos to Steven Moffat for a brilliantly contrived script, the director and cinematographer for shooting it so skilfully and Sian Brooke for her multiple personality masterclass, complete with three convincing accents.
Mark Bonnar’s Unforgotten series finale speech (February)
Unforgotten series two followed four people (Sara, Colin, Marion and Tessa) who’d been sexually abused as children, with Nicola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskhar’s Cassie and Sonny attempting to link them to a series of deaths they believe were actually murders. In the series finale, Mark Bonnar’s Colin delivered a brutally powerful monologue about the realities of sexual abuse. “You might put me in prison but let me tell you this,” he says, “you can’t judge me unless you’ve had it done to you.”
Children interrupt their dad’s BBC interview (March)
Professor Robert Kelly faced some very unexpected gatecrashers during his live BBC News interview: his own kids. Firstly Kelly’s young daughter swaggered into his study unannounced, closely followed by her younger brother aboard a baby walker. Fortunately wife and mother Kim Jung-A bundled in the room to scoop up the children seconds later, but it was too late: the sweetest viral clip of the year had been born.
And yes, as Kelly later revealed, he was wearing trousers during the interview.
Monkman v Seagull on University Challenge (March)
You’ve heard of the Rumble in the Jungle and the Thriller in Manilla. Well, this contest was dubbed the Tester in Manchester as two big personalities and their rival Cambridge colleges finally came face to face – the dapperly-dressed and gorgeously-monikered Bobby Seagull versus Eric Monkman, whose ferociously intense answers lead host Jeremy Paxman to compare him to “a revivalist preacher”. The battle was fierce, but outside the arena, the pair showed they were still best of friends.
Emmerdale’s Ashley passes away (April)
Soap deaths may be ten a penny but John Middleton’s exit as one-time village vicar Ashley was priceless. The story of his decline following a diagnosis of dementia was told with real care and attention (and – just as importantly – innovation). And that last-second flash of clarity as Ashley recognised wife Laurel moved Emmerdale fans to tears.
The Broadchurch Reveal (April)
The final series of ITV’s smash-hit whodunit was a confident return to form, telling the story of rape victim Trish Winterman (Julie Hesmondhalgh) with surprising tenderness and power. And the final revelation about exactly who Trish’s attacker really was – troubled teen Michael, egged on by sociopathic Leo – was a truly harrowing moment that stayed with us long after the final credits rolled.
Brenda from Bristol reacts to the news of another General Election (April)
Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election in April left many UK voters shocked, and their sentiments were perhaps most perfectly captured by an unwitting woman known only as Brenda from Bristol. “I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics going on at the moment. Why does she need to do it?” Brenda Parsons asked when she was stopped by a BBC rerpoter, and a new internet sensation was born.
Line of Duty’s Ted Hastings shoots to kill (April)
Car Share’s John and Kayleigh live happily NEVER after (May)
Not since Tim and Dawn has a sitcom couple kept us guessing with such heart-rending pathos as Peter Kay and Sian Gibson’s John and Kayleigh. A nation cheered in the final episode of Car Share, when John finally clambered over Manchester’s stationary traffic to sweep up his supermarket sweetheart – only to be heartbroken seconds later when it transpired it was all a dream and Kayleigh was being driven off in the back of a taxi. Kay then gave us a real-life will they/won’t they, after he announced we were never ever getting any more episodes… before finally reneging.
Ariana Grande sings Somewhere Over the Rainbow at One Love Manchester (June)
Huw Edwards sits silently for four minutes during a BBC news broadcast glitch (June)
There is no purer joy than that which comes from watching something going wrong on the news. Particularly in a year when we’ve been tuning in every night to be further disheartened by the chaos unfolding around us, a glitch in the oh-so-stoic mainframe gives us a little bit of respite. So thank you, Huw Edwards, for twiddling your thumbs live on air for four full minutes. A greater show of professionalism you are unlikely to see.
The Election Night Exit Poll predicts a Hung Parliament (June)
10pm, 8th June: the moment that all-important exit poll would reveal Jeremy Corbyn and Labour would be wiped out by a landslide Conservative victory. Well, that was the prediction. Instead, the general election poll forecast that Theresa May’s party would still be the largest – but one without a majority. Surely a hung parliament prediction was off? Absolutely not: overnight May’s “Strong and Stable” slogan was torn to tatters, fired chancellor George Osborne enjoyed some on-air schadenfreude and Corbyn cemented his place in the political landscape.
Doctor Who’s Thirteenth Doctor is revealed (July)
Who could possibly follow in Peter Capaldi’s shoes and take over the Tardis? That was the question on everyone’s lips in July when the BBC teased the reveal of a new Doctor following the Wimbledon Men’s Final. It felt as though Sue Barker might never stop talking, but then the time of the Doctor arrived and a dark figure dropped their hood to reveal Broadchurch star Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth – and first female – Doctor we’d been waiting for.
Offred watches the Commander’s wife with her daughter (July)
The final episode of The Handmaid’s Tale contained the most powerful and distressing scene of the series. Offred was trapped in the back of a car and forced to watch the Commander’s wife Serena sit and speak with her long-lost daughter. She repeatedly smashed her fists against the car window, screaming out for her. When Serena returned to the car, she spelled out her threat to Offred: “As long as my baby is safe,” she said, “so is yours.”
Drogon roasts the Lannister army in Game of Thrones (August)
Poldark’s Demelza and Hugh Armitage have a roll in the sand (August)
Poor old Demelza Poldark. She stuck by her husband Cap’n Ross through thick and thin (and his infidelity) through series one and two, so it’s little wonder she was feeling a tad neglected and turned to the ever so affectionate Hugh Armitage for comfort. Demelza finally gave in to his advances in the Poldark series three finale, enjoying a roll in the marram grass with the man who owed his life to her husband.
Mo Farah wins the 10,000 metres at the World Championships in London (August)
The World Championships in London got off to an enthralling start as retiring legend Mo Farah took to the track for his final major championship 10,000m race. After a tense, hard-fought battle, Farah briefly looked vulnerable as he stumbled with 20-year-old Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei and Kenyan duo Paul Tanui and Bedan Muchuri hot on his heels. But the nation’s fears were allayed as he got back into his stride and made a final kick for the finish line to wrap up his 10th career gold at a major tournament.
Theresa May coughs through her speech at the Conservative Party Conference (October)
This was not the Prime Minister’s finest hour. Not only was she handed a P45 form by prankster Simon Brodkin and contended with letters tumbling from a background slogan board, but Theresa May’s keynote speech was plagued by a very nasty cough. Her fellow MPs applauded to give their leader time to recover and chancellor Phillip Hammond even lobbed her a lozenge, but there was no hiding the obvious truth: the PM is only human. One badly in need of a Strepsil.
Not satisfied with having traumatised the nation for five weeks straight with a display of endless domestic hell, Doctor Foster showrunner Mike Bartlett decided to throw one final spanner in the works as he closed out series two. Warring divorcees Gemma and Simon’s son Tom ran away (all power to him) to escape the blast radius of his parents’ disputes, and then Gemma did the unthinkable – directly addressing the camera in a plea for her son’s return.
Gemma Collins falls down a hole at the Radio 1 Teen Choice Awards (October)
TOWIE star Gemma Collins reached peak Gemma Collins at the Radio 1 Teen Awards when, in the middle of presenting a prize, she literally fell down a hole. Collins had been announcing Love Island as the winner of the best TV show category when a trap door opened up beside her to welcome the winners on stage. Collins didn’t see the hole and tumbled right into it, legs akimbo, before the bemused Love Islanders had to drag her out.
Laura finds Liar Andrew’s recordings (October)
The audience knew of Andrew Earlham’s guilt after just three episodes of Liar and spent the agonising second half of the series watching Joanne Froggatt’s Laura attempt to prove it. Minutes before the series’ conclusion, she succeeded – digging out reams of memory cards from his mother’s shed. It was the evidence needed to prove him a rapist and send him behind bars but in a nerve-shredding sequence, Andrew himself became aware of her discovery. Would he make a last-ditch attempt to thwart her?
George Gently’s death (October)
Inspector George Gently did not go gently into the night. Martin Shaw’s character was shot in the back on an empty beach just seconds after delivering the evidence that would expose the authorities for their corruption – his own parting shot, if you will. Staggering towards the sea with a bullet wound in his shoulder, he saw the figure of his dead wife and cried out his final word – “Isabella.” We choked back tears as his distraught protégés DI John Bacchus (Lee Ingleby) and Sergeant Rachel Coles (Lisa McGrillis) arrived to find their mentor dead on the ground.
Strictly’s Craig pulls off a flawless Bruno Tonioli impression (October)
Ed Balls’ Gangnam Style, Ann Widdecombe being thrown around like Big Bird… we’d thought we’d seen it all over the years on Strictly Come Dancing. And then the unthinkable happened – twice. Bruno Tonioli was absent from the judging panel for one week in November, so Craig Revel Horwood took it upon himself to fill the void, delivering a faultless impression of his judging brother Bruno. And then, following Debbie McGee’s Tango in week seven, he slowly got up from his chair, walked around to the other side of the judges’ desk and literally bowed down at her feet. It was FAB-U-LOUS.
Blue Planet II’s pilot whale mother mourns her dead baby (November)
This series has given us so many amazing moments – from the deep-sea fish with the transparent head to the deadly Bobbit worm – but the mourning pilot whale mother forlornly carrying her dead baby, poisoned by plastic pollution, was the one that had viewers holding back tears and hammered home Blue Planet’s all-important environmental message.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s engagement interview (November)
Royalist or not, it is humanly impossible to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s 20-minute engagement interview without smiling. After news of their engagement broke the internet, the pair spoke to the BBC’s Mishal Hussain in their first joint TV interview, revealing they met on a blind date after being matched by a friend. After that, the rest was history – the corgis “took to her straight away” and she got the Queen’s seal of approval. A truly royal initiation.
I’m A Celebrity’s #StrawberryGate (December)
Is this the most heinous crime ever committed in 15 years in the I’m a Celebrity jungle? That’s how many viewers saw it as, in a first for the show, Amir Khan cajoled Iain Lee into scoffing a prize of strawberries and cream meant for the entire camp. Guilt, confessions and recriminations followed.
What’s been the biggest TV moment of 2017? Vote for your favourite below….
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