The year 2019 has been a bit of a belter when it comes to TV.
We got the final season (boo!) of epic fantasy series Game Of Thrones and another dose of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s jaw-droppingly brilliant comedy-drama Fleabag, and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
I’d actually argue that it’s been one of the best years for TV drama in a while, with the likes of Chernobyl, Killing Eve, Line Of Duty, Mindhunter, His Dark Materials, Stranger Things and the utterly sublime Guilt being “appointment viewing” at Chez Shaw.
Mind you, could anything top the drama of Prince Andrew’s car-crash interview with Emily Maitlis?
The hapless Prince was trying to put an end to the stories about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein but only succeeded in digging himself deeper, to the extent he was “retired” from royal duties.
In any case, the BBC won a watch with His Dark Materials when the backlash from America’s “Bible Belt” over the books’ alleged anti-church stance meant they wouldn’t film the rest of the books after the 2007 movie The Golden Compass.
The rights reverted to the author and the Beeb stepped in to make a sumptuous saga – the second series was green-lit before the first was aired.
Best of all is Ruth Wilson as the nefarious Mrs Coulter.
I hadn’t realised just what a superb actor she is and she’s perfect as the two-faced Coulter, all sweet one minute and utterly vicious the next.
That said, for me the best thing on telly all year was Mindhunter.
This true-life portrayal of the beginnings of the FBI’s behavioural science division is worth the price of the Netflix subscription alone.
The interviews with serial killers – Charlie Manson included – are based on transcripts of the actual tapes and if Holt McCallany doesn’t get every award going for his performance as Special Agent Bill Tench, it’ll be a travesty.
Also on Netflix, The Crown’s third series saw Olivia Colman take on a sizeable job when taking over from Claire Foy as the Queen in the third season of the lavish royal drama.
But the Oscar-winning star did it with aplomb, drawing high praise for her portrayal of a slightly-older Queen Elizabeth II, one with even more weight on her shoulders as the drama moved into the 1960s.
With Helena Bonham Carter taking over superbly as Princess Margaret from Vanessa Kirby, and Tobias Menzies doing a near-perfect imitation of Prince Philip, having taken over from Matt Smith, the dramatic – and at times harrowing – 10 new episodes were well and truly worth the two-year wait.
A more accurate historical drama, Chernobyl, was absolutely unmissable – a truly terrifying retelling of the near-catastrophic nuclear accident was one of the most tense watches in years.
Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgard and Emily Watson shone in a great cast and the scale of the Soviet incompetence and mendacity was truly staggering.
The fifth series of Line Of Duty was reliably superb, too, and had the added bonus of the ever-wonderful Stephen Graham as an undercover officer who just might have gone over to the dark side.
The hunt for the treacherous “H” continued with fevered speculation that Adrian Dunbar’s Ted Hastings – one of the great TV characters of the last decade – might be the chap in question.
More recently BBC Scotland’s Guilt, a comedy-drama set in Edinburgh, gave former Line Of Duty star Mark Bonnar the role of his career as one of two brothers who get in ever deeper trouble after they cover up a hit-and-run.
For many, though, the TV moment of the year came when Game Of Thrones – let’s be honest, the biggest TV show in history – came to an end.
After eight series, expectations were immeasurably high among its millions of fans so it’s perhaps unsurprising that the final episode left some disappointed.
The reaction to the feature-length episode – which included a controversial plot twist before the fate of the Iron Throne and who would rule over Westeros was revealed – was mixed to say the least. Some disgruntled fans have even demanded the finale be rewritten, slamming the work of show-runners David Benioff and DB Weiss.
Once again, Phoebe Waller-Bridge cast a long shadow over the year’s telly – for a series she wrote and one she didn’t.
The former, in which she also starred, was Fleabag and her character’s will-they-won’t-they relationship with Andrew Scott’s “hot priest” dominated water-cooler conversations.
The series won high praise for its cutting-edge – and well, shocking! – comedy and pathos through the experiences of its complex lead character.
Unlike Game Of Thrones, its second and final series saw Waller-Bridge impress fans even more with her touching, perfect ending.
And as well as huge acclaim from viewers, Fleabag scooped six Emmy awards this year.
As for reality TV, The Jeremy Kyle Show was axed by ITV following the death of a guest which sparked an inquiry into reality TV by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.
Kyle largely disappeared from the public eye in the wake of the cancellation of his confrontational tabloid talk show, which had been a regular fixture on daytime TV since 2005, but he said he was “devastated” about the death.
It was a winning year for sport on telly, though, as the Rugby World Cup Final and Women’s World Cup scored record viewing victories.
England lost the gripping rugby finale against South Africa, but the coverage of the match became the year’s most-watched TV moment, according to ITV.
In a year without a royal wedding, the November 2 game’s audience peak of 12.8 million and average of 8.9 million viewers meant it was the broadcast with the most eyes on it in the whole of 2019.
And the Women’s World Cup was a big draw, too, with the BBC saying its overall coverage of the tournament attracted 28.1 million watching on television and online, drawing more than double the number of viewers for the previous event in 2015.
A different type of competition arrived on British screens as RuPaul’s Drag Race finally came to the UK.
Watching drag queen extraordinaire RuPaul Charles attempt to understand the best (and most bizarre) bits of British culture was perhaps the best thing about this hit US series finally making its way across the pond.
The UK version of the series – in which drag queens try out a range of challenges such as celebrity impersonations, fashion design and a sizzling catwalk display every episode – included celebrity judges Andrew Garfield, Maisie Williams, Twiggy and Geri Horner presiding over the contestants.
A second series has already been confirmed by the BBC.
Finally, I was a bit anxious that Strictly Come Dancing would suffer from the departure of the wonderful Dame Darcey Bussell – but I shouldn’t have worried.
Her replacement, the larger-than-life Motsi Mabuse, has proved a very welcome breath of fresh air and she’s really livened up proceedings. Seeing her plant a smacker on the stony-faced Craig Revell Horwood when he finally awarded a 10 was priceless.
It’s been a scandal-free Strictly this year, too, though a few feathers were ruffled when the show aired its first ever same-sex dance, with pros and best friends Johannes Radebe and Graziano di Prima doing the honours.