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Friday, 13 December 2013

TheCustardTV looks at the Best of 2013



So unbelievably we've reached that point again when we look back fondly on the last twelve months of television and celebrate the best.

Ripper Street (January 2013, BBC1)
This series wasn't what a lot of viewers were expecting when they settled down on a dark Sunday evening, but those who looked past the initial violence of the opener were treated to a quite unique piece of drama. The second series was shown in October of 2013 and saw it move on from the Ripper. This allowed for more in-depth and diverse storylines. Read about our set visit to Ripper Street  Hear my chat with Ripper Street writer Richard Warlow

My Mad Fat Diary (January 2013, E4) 
I'll be honest, when I read the first synopsis of the series I wasn't at all bothered. It just seemed like something that wasn't for me. However, My Mad Fat Diary turned into one of the most pleasant TV surprises of 2013. The powerhouse performance from newcomer Sharon Rooney, mixed with the 90's nostalgia made this one of the most enjoyable and honest TV dramas of the year. A second series is expected in early 2014 and we can't wait! Read my chat with star Sharon Rooney

Utopia (January 2013, Channel 4) 
When Utopia came onto our screens at the start of the year I don't think anybody knew quite what to expect. Dennis Kelly's thriller had it all - drama, comedy, gas cannisters and a man who liked taking out people's eyeballs. I was sucked into the twists and turns that came every week but Utopia's main strength is being unlike anything else currently on British television. A second series is due to start in 2014 and I'm excited to see where the story goes next.


The Hotel (January 2013, Channel 4) 
We loved the first series which followed the trials and tribulations of the Grosvenor Hotel in Torquay and we so pleased that Mark and co would be returning. The second series became a twitter phenomenon and the final episode even bought us tears as Mark was forced to sell The Hotel he'd fought so hard to keep above water. We keep hoping we'll see Mark with a new series of his own, but it has yet to happen.

Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway (February 2013, ITV)
We love the pair so much we can even just about forgive them for being involved Red or Black. 2014 saw the welcome return of their Saturday night entertainment series. The boys are still the best at live television and this new series was a lot of fun from start to finish. The introduction of a new little Ant & Dec and the the challenges were a particular highlight. And who can't forget their tribute to The Big Reunion?

Broadchurch (March 2013, ITV)
There's probably nothing we can say that we didn't say during the 8-part run. Broadchurch was one of the most engrossing and intriguing crime dramas to ever grace our telly boxes. The series got the whole country buzzing with theories as to who killed Danny Latimer. Stunning performances from David Tennant and the incredible Olivia Colman made this possibly the best drama of the year. A second series is planned alongside a US remake which will see David Tennant reprise his role. Hear my chat with writer Chris Chibnall

Prisoner's Wives (March 2013, BBC1) The BBC drama about those whose lives are torn apart when a loved one is put behind bars was a highlight of 2012, but I think series 2 was a tighter and more engrossing series. Each of the four episodes were fast paced, exciting and the series reached and satisfying conclusion. Read our chat with writer Julie Gearey

Our Girl (March 2013, BBC1) Lacey Turner is such a talent. We've missed her in EastEnders and although she's had roles since, none have really showcased her true abilities. Our Girl was an engrossing and emotional drama that saw Turner take the lead as lost soul Molly who joined the Army as an escape from her hectic home life. Turner's performance was masterful, and the drama was brilliantly observed. The best news is that Our Girl was given a five-part series and we'll be waiting to see how it develops in 2014. Hear my chat with writer Tony Grounds

In The Flesh (March 2013, BBC3) Dominic Mitchell's three-part series was unique in that it was a zombie programme that wasn't about zombies. Set in a small town that had just been through a zombie attack, the series followed the reintegration of those known as suffers of PDS (Post Death Syndrome). Mitchell used the zombie genre for a metaphor about everything from racism to homophobia while the characters felt incredibly well-drawn. In addition In the Flesh's stark colour scheme was really eye-catching and I'm glad that it's coming back for a second series in 2014.

Gogglebox (March 2013, Channel 4) People were cynical when this entertaining series started in March. The show allows us to watch people watching TV and commenting on the big shows of the week. It was truly one of the funniest programmes of a year that lacked a lot of decent comedy. When it returned in mood towards it shifted as people got on board with the goggleboxers and realised what a wonderfully enjoyable show it is. It's appointment for me now.

Scott & Bailey Series 3 (April 2013, ITV) We've been a fan of this brilliant crime drama from the start. If we're honest Series 3 took a while get into the swing of things but once it did it was superb. Strong performances from the two leads, the always wonderful Amelia Bullmore as well as the introduction of Nicola Walker made this a truly engrossing series.  A fourth series has been commissioned for 2014. Hear our chat with Founder of Red Productions Nicola Schindler


24 Hours in A&E (April 2013, Channel 4) Channel 4's ground-breaking hospital documentary series was on for a mind-boggling twenty-six weeks throughout 2013. Even though for most show this would seem like overkill, every episode of 24 Hours in A&E felt strangely fresh. The superb directorial and editing teams cut together hundreds of memorable stories from the tear-jerking moment where three sisters prepared to say goodbye to their mother to the incredible tale of the pensioner who once ran a circus. At its heart are the brilliant and captivating medical staff of King's College Hospital who are all brilliant to watch as they try to save as many lives a possible.

Don't Call Me Crazy (June 2013, BBC3) BBC3 excels when it comes to producing documentary series focusing on the plights of young people. This summer saw a season devoted to mental health which was headlined by Don't Call Me Crazy, a documentary series set in a secure unit for teenagers. The McGuinness Unit in Manchester hosted a number of patients all of whom were suffering from a variety of disorders. What made the show different was the way it portrayed mental illness in a more positivist light and showed that these were just normal teenagers who just had a harder time during their adolescence. By the time the series had finished I'd laughed and cried several times and had a newfound respect for both the staff and patients at the unit.

Luther Series 3 (July 2013, BBC1) For us, the return of Luther is up there with the return of Sherlock in terms of the anticipation level. It's completely bonkers but it's an exhilarating roller-coaster that grabs the audience and doesn't let us go. The final two 2-part episodes were truly terrifying in places and tied up loose ends well. It is a shame we're unlikely to see Luther back on TV but star Idris Elba has hinted at an origins story on the big screen which could prove interesting. Read our chat with star Warren Brown

The Returned (July 2013, Channel 4) If you'd have told me last year that a French zombie dramas would be one of the biggest hits of the summer, I would have laughed in your face. It's fair to say that Channel 4 took quite a gamble buying this subtitled drama series, and an even bigger one putting it on at 9pm on a Sunday. As the ultimate antidote to period dramas this unusual, but strangely captivating series really captured people's imagination. The finale may have thrown up another dose of confusion but there will be a second shown in Channel 4 in 2014.

Southcliffe (August 2013, Channel 4) Dramas about big events in small towns seemed to echo through 2013 be it with The Returned or In The Flesh. Despite not being about supernatural occurrences, Tony Grisoni's drama dealt with the impact that a mass shooting had on the titular town of the title. Grisoni's story focused on gunman Stephen Morton and reporter David Whitehead who'd come back to his home town to cover the incident. Rory Kinner and Sean Harris both gave great performances as two men who were rife with emotional problems but had dealt with them in slightly different ways. The haunting nature of the Kent coastline was beautifully captured by director Sean Durkin and this was definitely a drama that stayed in the memory long after the credits had rolled.

What Remains (August 2013, BBC1) This four-parter about a death in a creepy block of flats was brilliantly atmospheric and exciting. In his first role since Shameless David Threlfall played retired detective Len Harper who becomes obsessed by the death of Melissa Young who, despite being surrounded by neighbours lay dead in her attic for two years. The cast were fantastic, it had a great creepy mood and very satisfying and unexpected ending. Hear my chat with writer Tony Basgallop

The Great British Bake-Off  (August 2013, BBC2) BBC2's annual baking extravaganza has become more popular every year it's been on our screens and this year the ratings went through the roof. That's not to say the format has changed one iota with Mary Berry's encouraging words, Paul Hollywood's death stares and Mel and Sue's knowing banter all on display as ever. In my opinion the series works so well as all of the contestants are incredibly likeable and their growing friendships are always a joy to watch. Whether or not you agree with Frances winning or not I think we can all agree that the series has ultimately been a triumph and that we're all greatly anticipating the move to BBC1 in 2014.

Educating Yorkshire (September 2013, Channel 4) Educating Essex made the best of 2011 and without question Educating Yorkshire was one of the best series of the year. This fly on the wall documentary was one of the most honest and moving programmes of the year. It shines a light onto not just school life but modern society as a whole. The characters in Yorkshire were instantly likeable and the final episode had me weeping like an inconsolable baby. Educating Yorkshire returns for a one-off at Christmas and rumour has it that Channel 4 are looking for a new school to profile. Hear our chat with Series director David Brindley.

Peaky Blinders (September 2013, BBC2) Coupling stunning visuals with an incredibly well-told story Peaky Blinders was like a breath of fresh air. Concentrating on the exploits of a group of Birmingham-based gangsters in the aftermath of World War One, Steven Knight's series had the right blend of fact and fiction to make it enjoyable. As lead gangster Tommy Shelby, Cillian Murphy oozed charisma and clashed well with Sam Neill as the straight-laced Irish cop who'd be tasked with bringing him to justice. Looking more like an HBO show than a BBC2 production, Peaky Blinders was a testament to all that's great about British drama.

The Wrong Mans (September 2013, BBC2) As you can tell from this list, 2013 wasn't a classic year for new comedy. Thankfully The Wrong Mans came along and surprised as all by being both well-written and crucially very funny. Starring James Corden and Matthew Baynton, who also wrote the show, the sitcom told of two low-level council employees who found themselves embroiled in a plot that involved MI6 and a bunch of Russian gangsters. Despite a style that felt like a big budget American film, The Wrong Mans was incredibly British and for me was the funniest programme of the year. Hear our chat with director Jim Field Smith

Iceland Foods - Life in the Freezer Cabinet (October 2013, BBC2) Focusing on a very British supermarket, this documentary all about Iceland stores caught us by surprise when it debuted in October. Looking at all elements of the business from advertising to product development; Life in the Freezer Cabinet's star was Iceland CEO Malcolm Walker, an over-the-top entrepreneur who appeared to care for every member of his staff. The documentary scored a big coup when the horsemeat scandal hit as we got to see first-hand how Malcolm attempted to deal with the crisis in his own unique way. The fact that the programme also focused on the staff themselves made the whole company feel incredibly inclusive and I for one saw Iceland in a completely new light, even if I still refuse to eat any of their produce.

The Escape Artist (October 2013, BBC1)
David Tennant was possibly THE actor of 2013. In this fast paced three-parter Tennant played a lawyer who was forced to work outside the law when his family were put a risk. This was a genuinely exciting crime drama with a notable and menacing performance from Toby Kebbel. Hear my chat with writer David Wolstencroft


Fresh Meat Series 3 (November 2013, Channel 4) Our favourite university students returned to our screens and embarked on their second year at a fictional Manchester institution. The series saw some new developments namely Josie and Kingsley's attempt to have a proper relationship, JP's first proper crush, Vod getting married and Howard attracting the eye of the group's latest housemate Candice. The programme's biggest strength is the chemistry between its six leads all of whom are so comfortable with each other now that the comedy is just effortless.

Yonderland (November 2013, Sky One) Fans of Horrible Histories must have been rejoicing when the comedy group behind the CBBC show announced they were to reunite for a new sitcom. What we got was Yonderland a weird mix of Monty Python style humour, Labyrinth-esque puppets and a story about a mother of two who ends up going on numerous quests in a mystical land. What made this comedy so great was that the group, who both starred and wrote the show, didn't let a moment go by without inserting a joke somewhere. And at the end of the day who doesn't like a series where one of the central characters is a Talking Stick?

Him and Her - The Wedding (November 2013, BBC3) Regular readers of this website know that we're massive fans of BBC3's cult sitcom. We were a little dubious then when it was announced that the last series would take place outside the confides of the series' notorious bedsit. We needn't have worried that much though as the move to the hotel where Laura and Paul's wedding was taking place didn't change anything for one moment. The horrors of the day were captured beautifully in five funny and cringe-worthy episodes that focused on a different aspect of the wedding. Despite hardly speaking to each other throughout the course of the series, central couple Steve and Becky were afforded a happy ending as the series finished in a suitably low-key way.

It's been a good year for thecustardtv and I'd like to thank everyone who has visited the site in 2013. Thank to you to everyone who given us an interview this year, invited us to a set, anyone who has followed us on twitter, listened to the podcast or helped us with articles. It means a lot and I look forward to seeing what 2014 brings. Happy New Year!

Look at Our Worst of 2013.

1 comment:

sirking said...

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