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Review of 2012: Television


Tom Sutcliffe
Saturday 22 December 2012 01:00 GMT

Twenty Twelve, BBC2

This was the year of Olympic memories – Danny Boyle's opening ceremony, the Queen ad-libbing with James Bond, a cascade of British Gold – but John Morton's comedy supplied the biggest laughs week after week. It was, in the words of Ian Fletcher, “all good”.

Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile, ITV1

If you measure a scoop by its fallout, then nothing could touch Mark Williams-Thomas's film about Jimmy Savile. Heads rolled at the BBC because Newsnight had passed on the story, and then rolled because they tried to catch up too clumsily. And there are still family favourites out there nervously trying to remember what they did to who.

Young, Bright and on the Right, BBC2

The one-off documentary is in healthier shape this year, the Wonderland strand doing a lot of work to get the genre back to full fitness. One of the best was Alisa Pomeroy's film about Oxbridge Tories, sharply observant, alert to viewers' potential prejudices and, in the end, surprisingly undermining them.

Parade's End, BBC2

It helped to have read Ford Madox Ford's novel to be able to follow Tom Stoppard's adaptation – in which Benedict Cumberbatch, Rebecca Hall and Adelaide Clemens divided command of the screen between them. But, like the BBC's The Hollow Crown Shakespeare trilogy, it showed that the small screen can act big.

Getting On, bbc4

Quietly brilliant and deserving of a lot more noise, Jo Brand, Joanna Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine's hospital comedy has explored the intersection between what's funny and what's heartbreaking without any self-regard or fuss.

Discovery of the Year: Adam Hills and Alex Brooker

The double-act of Adam Hills and Alex Brooker on The Last Leg, Channel 4's irreverent, funny and candid Paralympics coverage after-party. We discovered them. Channel 4 rediscovered its raison d'etre.

Turkey of the Year: Downton Abbey

Most of us enjoy a bit of turkey and Downton Abbey is a Norfolk Bronze 20-pounder, with enough meaty absurdity to satisfy everyone. White meat: the steady flow of anachronistic lines. Dark meat: the wild compression of Fellowes's plotting. Pick away according to taste.

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