James Gandolfini: The beloved star of The Sopranos who described himself as a '260lb Woody Allen'
The Sopranos (June 2007). Described by the Washington Post as "the greatest double take by the audience in the history of American television", but by the New York Times as "a prank", HBO's mobster drama The Sopranos bowed out after eight years with the screen suddenly going blank after an incredibly tense build-up that suggested Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) was about to be rubbed out. Series creator David Chase hailed the ending as a "revolution" – but some fans and critics felt cheated. "It was a big dud," said Joseph Manuella, 57, one of 200 fans watching the denouement at the real-life strip club that stood in for Tony's Bada Bing bar in the show. "People were getting ready for the big bang... But it was like a fireworks show without the finale."