In the words of Bon Jovi, we’re halfway there: but what’s happened in the TV world over the last six months?
PUBLISHED: 09:00 08 July 2018 | UPDATED: 09:26 08 July 2018
One famous partnership sealed their love with a Royal Wedding, another saw themselves separated when one fell foul of the law - it’s been a busy six months in teleivison terms, let’s look back at some of the high - and low - lights.
We’ve reached the halfway point of the year – but has it been a stonker or a sinker when it comes to TV? Let’s travel back in time and see what’s happened so far...
January: The year kicked off with the TV adaptation of David Walliams’ children’s story Grandpa’s Great Escape and the debut episode of BBC crime series McMafia and then segued into the 21st series of Big Brother on Channel 5: all the contestants for the first three days were women. ITV news was forced off the air when a fire alarm went off, Derry Girls launched on Channel 4 and a team from the University of Reading became the first in the history of University Challenge to score no points whatsoever. Dancing on Ice returned after four years, we discovered the new Captain Bird’s Eye is Italian, Channel 4’s Kiri enraged social workers but was a hit with viewers and six of the BBC’s leading male presenters including Huw Edwards, Nicky Campbell and John Humphrys – agreed to take pay cuts following controversy over equal salaries at the corporation. Brendan Cole was ousted from Strictly, Donald Trump tells Piers Morgan “I wouldn’t call myself a feminist” and June Bernicoff announces she won’t return to Gogglebox without husband Leon, who died in late 2017.
February: Blue Peter marked its 5000th episode (you can aim for a diamond badge these days), drag queen Courtney Act won Celebrity Big Brother, there was a brand new look for BBC Weather and we enjoyed the opening ceremony of the 2018 Winter Olympics from South Korea. Comedian Steve Coogan announced a new Alan Partridge series, placing Norfolk on high alert for mickey-taking in the future, and Jack Whitehall presented the Brit Awards. The Government confirmed the TV licence fee would rise by £3.50 on April 1 (to £150.50) and Whispering Bob Harris was back with The Old Grey Whistle Test 30 years since the original series came to an end.
March: In the same month that ITV aired the 100th edition of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, presenter Ant McPartlin was arrested for drink driving after a car crash in London and later announced he was stepping down from presenting roles while he sought treatment – two days later, it was revealed Dec Donnelly would present the remaining shows in the series alone. There was a shocking death in Call the Midwife, a shocking male rape storyline in Coronation Street and Iain Lee was shocked when Matthew Wright asked him questions about the end of his marriage on The Wright Stuff. And Robot Wars was axed (again).
April: Have I Got News for You team captain Ian Hislop says that women politicians are “more reticent” to guest host the programme and MP Nadine Dorries, who has previously appeared as a panelist, describes the show as being “too vicious” for most female guests. It’s a month for winning: Ruti Olajugbagbe wins the seventh series of The Voice UK, Kenny Tutt wins the 2018 series of MasterChef, series 13 of Only Connect is won by the Escapologists, St John’s College in Cambridge wins University Challenge and the nation wins as C5 announces it’s giving the Chuckle Brothers their own Saturday morning show a decade after Chucklevision last aired.
May: Presenter Matthew Wright announces he will be leaving The Wright Stuff after 18 years at the helm and Coronation Street tackle another important storyline: male suicide. An original script for Doctor Who from 1963 sells at auction for £6,200 and the big guns line up for the TV event of the year: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding on May 19. Nearly 18 million viewers tuned in to watch, making the wedding the UK’s biggest TV event for 2018 (so far). Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders revealed plans for a ballet version of the series, we learned Barbara Windsor has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease since 2014, New Zealand is set to catch up with the UK with synchronised Coronation Street episodes, England comes 24 out of 26 in the Eurovision Song Contest and Matt LeBlanc quits Top Gear.
June: The nation rejoices as Lost Voice Guy, comedian Lee Ridley, wins series 12 of Britain’s Got Talent and the younger members of society disappear from the streets between 9pm and 10pm on week nights as Love Island returns to ITV2. Louis Walsh announces he’s leaving his role as a judge on The X Factor after 13 years with the show and Emma Thompson and Mary Beard are made Dames and Tom Hardy wins a CBE in the 2018 Honours List. The BBC announces that David Dimbleby will leave Question Time at the end of the year after 25 years of presenting and Royal Mail releases a set of commemorative stamps marking the 50th anniversary of Dad’s Army.