Review of celebrity in 2012: You can't always get what you want

'Those destined for separate turkeys include Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes'

The Australian jungle was the place where the fine line between politics and showbiz was permanently smudged, as Nadine Dorries, the Conservative MP for Mid Bedfordshire, signed up to take part in I'm a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here. Not only did she fail to win, but she also lost the Tory party whip in the process.

There were mixed fortunes in general for reality shows, the nation's alternative democracy. Not even the presence of Sir Tom Jones could stop The Voice from shedding viewers. The X Factor, meanwhile, without its Botoxed figurehead Simon Cowell, was noticeably less successful than in previous years as the country voted with their remote controls for the opposition – Strictly Come Dancing.

In the end, X Factor was won by the permanently bored and miserable-looking James Arthur, who presumably appealed to the UK's teenagers as a kindred spirit.

Looking even more miserable for much of the year was the show's judge, Tulisa Contostavlos, who described 2012 as "the worst year of my life". This was partly down to the media interest in the N-Dubz singer's relationships, partly a poorly-received music career and also, presumably, because in March she became the unfortunate star of a sex tape, which went viral.

Prince Harry also found himself the subject of viral images, as pictures of him in Las Vegas playing pool with young women, on what appeared to be a clothing-optional holiday, hit the media.

More questions were asked and hands wrung as his sister-in-law Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, had a scandal of her own, when photographs of her sunbathing topless while on holiday in France appeared in the European press. Things were looking up for her at the end of the year as it was announced that she was carrying the nation's future monarch, but even that announcement was tainted as she went to hospital with acute morning sickness – and a nurse committed suicide following a prank call.

These invasions of privacy only added to the feeling that journalism was in crisis, with famous faces such as Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan lining up to give their thoughts about the profession. Phillip Schofield went one further and tried to do a bit of investigative hackery himself, by printing a list of names accused of being sex offenders by that known reliable source, "the internet", and showing it to the Prime Minister live on ITV.

Another veteran broadcaster, Chris Moyles, stepped down from Radio 1 in June, his 39 years seen as some way off the station's under-30 target demographic.

The demographic seemed to have been completely forgotten as the Queen was honoured with an incongruously youthful concert to celebrate her 60 years on the throne. It featured the practically omnipresent Will.i.am, a spot of hula-hooping by Grace Jones and was organised by ardent royalist Gary Barlow (OBE this year, surely a knighthood awaits).

One knight of the realm, Sir Paul McCartney, was left unhappy after his duet with Bruce Springsteen at Hyde Park in July was cut short due to a noise curfew. The Rolling Stones managed to make fans unhappy as they reunited and then set extraordinarily expensive prices for their tickets. And there were tears of a different sort at June's Stone Roses Heaton Park reunion, as grown men cried from Madchester nostalgia (and possibly other substances).

There were tears in Tinseltown over the usual round of high-profile splits. Those destined for separate turkeys this Christmas include Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis and Seal and Heidi Klum. Seal, the British R&B singer, ended things with a flourish when he accused Klum of "fornicat[ing] with the help" before the divorce was finalised.

But no break-up shocked Hollywood more than that of Danny DeVito and Rhea Pearlman in October after 30 years of marriage. Thankfully, by the end of the year, DeVito confirmed that they were attempting to work things out.

There were, however, some happier unions to celebrate, including Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively, and Carey Mulligan and Marcus Mumford. John Cleese added weight to the saying 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try, try again', by making Jennifer Wade his fourth wife.

More positive news came with the Olympics. The opening and closing ceremonies were a platform for struggling music stars to sell more records, while Team GB's success meant that another line – that between athlete and celebrity – was also blurred.

The traditional paparazzi-stalked nightclubs quickly caught on to the nation's euphoria. Every night more medallists would be pictured coming out of Chinawhite or Mahiki, looking stunned in the flash of the cameras. In the media, Lycra was swapped for couture gowns in photoshoots. Even after it was all over, no self-respecting magazine could host their annual 'Women of the Year' awards without at least one female gold medallist to celebrate.

But those still out partying at the end of the year were not only less-fêted, but might have had people wondering if they were serious about winning a medal next time around.

@EvanHD Why are so many of you arguing about politics when you could be watching Felix Baumgartner make history?

Evan Davis, Radio 4 presenter

@WilliamJHague Attended memorial service for Marie Colvin. A beautiful service for a heroic and much-missed correspondent

William Hague, Foreign Secretary

@jennycolgan I hope that catholic afterlife Jimmy Savile believed in so fervently is doing its job right now #hothotpointypointy

Jenny Colgan, author

@SallyBercow I asked why McAlpine was trending & added *innocent face*. No accusation whatsoever. Mischievious but not libellous. If I get sued so be it

Sally Bercow, political commentator

@tamisky_says Amazing quote from #dsk's lawyer 'I challenge you to distinguish a naked prostitute from any other naked women'

Tami Hoffman, Sky News producer

@SallyBercow Yeah, God works in mysterious ways but WTH is Archbishop Sentamu doing giving the Sun on Sunday his blessing?

Sally Bercow, columnist

@StephenAtHome Congratulations to President-elect Putin! I look forward to recycling this tweet for decades to come.

Stephen Colbert, satirist

@Archiebland If I read another bloody royal 'analysis' norking on about how Harry is one of a new royal generation very much at ease with blah blah

Archie Bland, The Independent

@SalmanRushdie Obama, giving Bob Dylan the Presidential Medal of Freedom: "There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music." This is true

Salman Rushdie, author

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