All the highlights from a year of surreal TV in the pandemic (Picture: Netflix / ITV / BBC / Twitter, Owain Wyn Evans)
It was 12 months ago to the day that the pandemic forced shutters down across the globe, and caused the world of TV to get very weird, very quickly.
There have been some truly bizarre and brilliant moments for telly fans to enjoy over the past year, in the time when we’ve needed distracting more than ever.
As millions of us craved comfort, TV delivered week after week, day after day, working against the odds to give us something to look forward to when nothing else could. It didn’t always go smoothly though.
There were plenty of technical c***-ups and strange anomalies to keep us fascinated as the days of lockdown blurred into one, and as TV got weirder, we only grew more fascinated.
Since people started working from home and the lockdown started a year ago, there have been moments that raised a smile, got us hooked on something new, and kept us all going during the most interminable of times. We’ll always be grateful to it.
Here are the best viral TV moments of the past 12 months.
The madness of Tiger King
When lockdown hit for the first time, we were craving something otherworldly to distract us – and Tiger King provided oddness by the cage load.
It became the first TV phenomenon of the pandemic, with millions of cats and kittens tuning in to see the baffling and increasingly depraved events play out around eccentric zookeepers Joe Exotic and Carole Baskin back in March 2020.
The plot twists of the show are too surreal to sum up in a paragraph or two, but the show managed to be stranger than reality during a distressing time and helped us through those first few weeks.
Owain Wyn Evans’s legendary drumming
The pandemic has made a star of many people. Joe Wicks went from shouty Instagram fitness guru to verified national treasure with his lockdown PE lessons, and the late Captain Sir Tom Moore became the most inspirational figure during increasingly dark times.
Another star was Owain Wyn Evans from BBC North West, who racked up millions of views after drumming to the BBC News theme – smashing out a killer solo wearing an immaculate three-piece suit in one of the most unexpected videos of the year.
Speaking about the incredible response from fans and becoming the most-watched person on the internet overnight, Owain said: ‘I could tell quite quickly that it was going down really well. And I have been amazed by the response, it’s been fab.’
Owain explained why the clip might have taken so many people by surprise, saying: ‘The thing about that video is, you’ve got this weatherman at the top of it in a nice suit presenting quite a flamboyant, camp forecast – and then I run over to the drum kit and start smashing them!’
‘I guess one of the reasons why I did that video was because it was quite a scary time at the start of lockdown. People didn’t know what COVID-19 was really going into or what the next set of steps were. Every now and then in my work as a weather presenter there are opportunities to bring a little bit of joy.’
We’re glad you did Owain!
Seriously, who came up with Celebrity Snoop Dogs?
As the world’s population lost its collective minds, stranger and stranger programmes kept popping up on our screens.
As Channel 4 looked for more ways to keep the schedules full during the continued restrictions, they came up with the idea of strapping cameras to celebrity dogs, and following them around their owner’s houses – with viewers guessing the identity of the owners in a dog version of Through the Keyhole.
Sounding like something Alan Partridge would have pitched to Tony Hayers out of desperation, this baffling show saw host Kevin McCloud introducing strange footage of Louise Redknapp’s house shot from a puppy POV – like the oddest and most mundane dream you’ve ever had rolled into one.
John Torode setting his kitchen on fire
Everyone has struggled while working from home to some degree, but most of us have managed to soldier through without setting our house on fire during a live television broadcast. John Torode, though, wasn’t so lucky.
Back in April, John was shuffling around his kitchen on This Morning explaining how to make homemade McMuffins, when he turned his back for a second and his tea towel was set alight.
He didn’t notice at first, forcing Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby to shout ‘Behind you, your tea towel is on fire!’ like they were attending some kind of pyro pantomime. It was lockdown daytime TV at its finest.
The age of the iconic Zoom sign off
People like to moan about Zoom meetings, but people don’t talk enough about the benefits of video calls, and how they can make for some of the sassiest sign offs imaginable.
Gordon Brown showed just how iconic they can be back in September, when he ended a tense interview with BBC Breakfast’s Charlie Stayt in the sassiest way possible, slamming his laptop shut while still on camera.
‘That’s definitely over!’ Charlie said afterwards.
More recently, Patsy Palmer cut short her interview on Good Morning Britain, after taking issue with being described as ‘Patsy Palmer: Addict to Wellness Guru’ on the strapline at the bottom of the screen.
The former EastEnders slammed the laptop screen down and won praise from fans after standing up for herself.
BBC News presenters went all Gen Z
The third lockdown did strange things to people, and in 2021 TV really started to get weird.
In one of the strangest moments of the year so far, BBC News presenter Reeta Chakrabarti appeared with a cat filter over her face in a totally bizarre tribute to the Texas lawyer whose Zoom call has taken over the internet.
Rod Ponton had became the most-watched person online a few days earlier after accidentally activating a kitten filter during virtual court proceedings. Social media was soon packed with memes and reactions and even BBC News got in on the act, with Reeta delivering a deadpan news report with a cat filter filling the screen. Strange times indeed.
Shows adapting to life without a live audience
When the pandemic hit, producing a TV show quickly became a logistical nightmare. While self-isolating and social distancing meant that many shows could continue with their usual formats, the biggest question others faced was how they could get by without live audiences.
Blockbuster series like Strictly Come Dancing managed to keep things together well, maintaining their intensity without the rush of the crowd to motivate the dancers.
Many went virtual, introducing Zoom audiences, and other shows like BBC comedy panel show favourite QI took the simplest of all approaches and cut the audience altogether, which added a more relaxed, spontaneous feel. Top Gear was forced to film outside of the old BBC television centre too, looking like three dads in a carpark talking about their new motors – which, as that’s exactly what they are, actually worked rather well.
The real pros, like Ant and Dec, have managed to keep up the illusion going without bums on sets in the studio on Saturday Night Takeaway, but nothing can quite capture the magic of live performance face to face, and TV has suffered as a result. We really hope to see audiences back soon.
An adorable interruption on BBC News
Zoom interruptions are nothing new – something this legend can attest to. But a live interview on BBC News was derailed in June in the sweetest way, as Dr Clare Wenham’s daughter crashed the chat and provided one of the most heart-warming moments of the summer.
Dr Clare appeared on a segment to discuss the impact of local lockdowns on different areas with journalist Christian Fraser, but their chat got cut short thanks to her daughter Scarlett in wholesome scenes.
Thankfully for Dr Clare, plenty more BBC News interviews were interrupted bu children blissfully unaware that mum or dad was addressing the nation.
Children weren’t the only ones crashing interviews…
As they happened much more regularly, we were treated to more awkward encounters during video interviews than ever before. One saw Michelle Keegan’s dogs totally disrupt a chat on This Morning, totally knocking the actress off her stride.
When trying to talk about the serious Our Girl storyline, which saw her character suffering with PTSD and ongoing emotional turmoil, she was put off by her two dogs barking and sniffing at the door. The whole thing summed up the chaotic nature of TV in 2020 pretty accurately.
All of Dancing on Ice, from start to finish
Dancing on Ice producers must have been ripping their hair out from day one of the most recent series, which was hit with an obscene number of injuries and drop outs.
Denise Van Outen, Jason Donovan, Yebin Mok and Billie Faiers were all forced to withdraw with injury, while Rufus Hound and Joe Warren-Plant left following positive Covid tests, and the show was even suspended for a week in February.
The strangest moment came when professional skater Hamish Gaman was forced to withdraw after tearing a tendon in his hand while putting on a sock ahead of the Valentine’s Day special.
The semi-final featured just 12 minutes of actual dancing, and the show struggled towards its conclusion earlier this month, ending as one of the worst hit shows of the pandemic.
I’m A Celeb decamping to Wales
Where others struggled to adapt, I’m A Celebrity seemed to thrive after moving to Wales. Many were worried that swapping the sunny surroundings of the Australian rainforest for North Wales would make for turgid telly, but by the time the launch show came around, many viewers claimed to prefer the setting in Gwrych Castle to what had come before and the series achieving record figures.
It also crowned one of its most likeable winners in years, too, with Giovanna Fletcher coming out on top. It was a strong series all round – and the crowd-pleasing telly we all needed in the dark evenings running up to a Christmas surrounded by uncertainty.
Credit: Original article published here.