Posted by Ian
It’s that time of the year when anyone of sound mind and a few hours to spare turns their attention to that most vital of end-of-year tasks: making a list.
We’ve a veritable smorgasboard of them here on MSN, from the ten things we all learned in 2006 to the worst decisions of the year; from the best TV moments of the last twelve months to, well, the worst TV moments of the last twelve months; and from 2006 in numbers and quotes to 2006 in cars, in shares, in films, in celebrity, in music and in pictures. Not forgetting 2006 in Bushisms.
But what of the most important list of all, I hear a nation cry (or rather, a nation shrug): the MSN homepage awards? Surely there’s room for informed but provocative wit and whimsy on 2006’s movers, shakers and history-makers?
Well I’m not sure about that, but there is certainly room for a list which me and my colleagues Laura, Dom and Megan have knocked up in a few spare minutes listing our personal heroes and zeroes of the year. Maybe you’ll even agree with some of them…
MAN OF THE YEAR
Laura: Matthew Fox. He’s fit, moody and has come a long way since his days on Party of Five. If it was a contest between Jack and Sawyer to save the Lost islanders, who’d win? Jack would, of course!
Dom: Rafa Benitez, for leading Liverpool to FA Cup glory and being a general all-round God.
Megan: Daniel Craig, who surprised the entire British nation by a) being an incredible Bond, and b) looking incredibly sexy in his pants.
Ian: Who’d have thought Al Gore would turn out to be the man to save the world.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Laura: Kylie Minogue. I know this may sound like a cliché, but Kylie has gone through what none of her contemporaries could even contemplate and come out of it looking better than ever. She’s also raised awareness of breast cancer among younger women, which is so important for all of us.
Dom: Britney Spears, for providing endless amusement and debate over the year.
Megan: Natascha Kampusch, who survived a nine year abduction and imprisonment by Wolfgang Priklopil in the basement of his Austrian home, and escaped alive. She was welcomed by a media frenzy, and explained the reason for her survival was down to a constant drive to get "better and [try] to educate myself, to teach myself skills". Kampusch has begun to plan projects to help captive and impoverished women in Africa and Mexico.
Ian: Helen Mirren. She was fantastic (as always) in what was billed as the last ever Prime Suspect, but was just as great playing the biggest Governor of all in The Queen. If this country ever becomes a republic, she’d get my vote for President.
TV PROGRAMME OF THE YEAR
Laura: Lost, Lost, Lost! It’s one of the only TV shows I watch. I don’t believe all the people who say it doesn’t have the same appeal any more. I’m still hooked even though it seems to be getting even more ridiculous and confusing as the episodes unfold. I’m not very impressed with Sky stealing it from Channel Four though.
Dom: Life on Mars. Funny, dramatic, and about 394739847394739 million times better than any other drama serial all year.
Megan: Planet Earth. No amount of swimsuit-wielding reality TV could outdo its brilliant cinematography and David Attenborough’s sweet honey voice.
Ian: It has to be Curb Your Enthusiasm, the funniest programme for at least the last 10 years. Larry David doesn’t deserve to even be mentioned in the same sentence as the likes of Ricky Gervais and Jack Dee, even though I’ve done just that.
SONG OF THE YEAR
Laura: I’m going to cheat here and have two because it’s been a great year for music and I just can’t decide. My first is She Moves In Her Own Way by The Kooks. It’s a totally happy summer song and always makes me feel better whenever I hear it. I’ve not tired of it yet and I must’ve heard it hundreds of times this year. My second is Trains To Brazil by Guillemots. Lyrically, it’s a really interesting song, touching on a subject that most bands wouldn’t – terrorism – yet it still manages to be quite uplifting. If there was a category for Lyric of the Year, the line "and to those of you mourn your lives from one day to the next, well let them take you next. Can’t you live and be thankful you’re here, see it could be you tomorrow, next year" would win it for me.
Dom: Crazy by Gnarls Barkley. Massively catchy and once it’s in your head, it stays there.
Megan: Ain’t No Other Man by Christina Aguilera. While Britney is floundering around without pants, her dearest rival is producing records that sell, innovate and, um, rock? My most heartfelt gratitude to Xtina for making the saccharine pop music we’re all embarrassed to own, but still do anyway.
Ian: Seeing as I turned 30 this year, I officially no longer have a clue about popular culture, in particular music. All I can say is that the songs which meant the most to me in 2006 – though not hailing from this year – were The Dream Academy’s cover version of The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want; Fugitive Motel by Elbow; and How To Disappear Completely by Radiohead.
HERO OF THE YEAR
Laura: David Attenborough and the makers of Planet Earth. It is a truly awesome programme which brings viewers totally new glimpses of the natural world. Respect also goes out to them for highlighting just how fragile the survival of habitats and certain species is.
Dom: Satoru Iwata, the President of Nintendo, for bringing the innovation of the Wii to the masses.
Megan: Steve Irwin. I spent the whole of New Years Day 2006 watching a Crocodile Hunter marathon, and while he might not have had enough time in life to wrestle every single riley Aussie croc into submission, he helped cure my aching head. There’s something magically heroic in that.
Ian: I’m nominating the entire population of the United States, for demonstrating how democracy works on Tuesday 7th November – the date of the American midterm elections.
VILLAIN OF THE YEAR
Laura: Heather Mills. She’d rather lose all her limbs than go through what she’s been through this year? Enough said. Oh, the melodrama of it all. Stop the pantomime, Heather, you’re not fooling anyone.
Dom: Duncan Fletcher, for forgetting how to run a successful cricket team, and for being bloody stubborn when confronted with the reality of his ridiculous selection decisions.
Megan: George Bush, who, despite a landslide Democrat victory in the midterm elections and a damning verdict by the Iraq Study Group, is still mumbling on and on about "staying the course".
Ian: The person responsible for arranging David Cameron’s photo opportunities.
WORST MOMENT OF 2006
Laura: The whole of Soho losing power at the end of July due to extreme heat. You can also trust our nation to be so ill-prepared for what the elements have to offer us, it seems. We’re used to leaves on the line wreaking havoc with transport in autumn and flash-floods and deep freezes in winter, but power cuts due to the over-use of air-con? What century is this?
Dom: Watching the 1st ball of the new Ashes series, and seeing Steve Harmison bowl it to Freddie Flintoff at slip, rather than the batsman. Pretty much set the tone for the shambles that followed.
Megan: Losing to Portugal in the World Cup, and I don’t even like football. I had to take a ‘time-out’ and do laps around the Walkabout where hoards of screaming English fans were biting their fists during penalties. After the final kick, and the whole of England’s huge collective groan, I moped home to sit in the dark and wonder why I cared, anyway.
Ian: The final episode of The West Wing. Ponderous, pointless and pathetic, it was no way to send off what was once the finest drama series on television.
GREATEST MOMENT OF 2006
Laura: Brits going crazy for the weather this summer. You can always trust the nation to go over-the-top at the slightest sight of sunshine, and they certainly didn’t disappoint this year. Only in extreme heat can you get away with wearing flip-flops and shorts to work – perfect!
Dom: Steven Gerrard scores a 30-yard equalizer in the last seconds of the FA Cup Final to drag us back from 2-0 down and on to ultimate glory.
Megan: I’m going to copy Laura and quote this summer’s weather, which was astoundingly like an actual summer. I even got tan lines. Took three days to fade, granted, but tan lines, nonetheless.
Ian: The moment during an edition of Radio 4’s Today programme at the height of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon when Margaret Beckett, the Foreign Secretary, accused presenter Jim Naughtie of hijacking her interview in order to "drag the situation back to Iraq," to which Naughtie replied: "Foreign Secretary, if I may say so, that is ridiculous. The Middle East is in flames. Lebanon is being destroyed, Israel is being attacked, the President of the United States is saying that Syria – I quote the President – has to stop all this ‘shit’, Mr Blair wants to go there, the President doesn’t want him to go, 60 – 100 – 150 people are being killed every day in Iraq, and you say to me ‘You’re dragging Iraq into it’?!!"
So what do you make of our choices? Who, or what, would you nominate instead? And how will you remember 2006?
In the meantime, from all of us to all of you, have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. I’ll leave you with a selection of Megan’s favourite homepage images of 2006.
No. 1) This phenomenal image, taken after Hurricane Katrina, says everything to me about the state of our world, and the things we’ve done to it.
No. 2) We created this slide right as the debate about skinny models was hotting up; I think it shows the breadth of the controversy – and the culture – quite well.
No. 3) This concept was Ian’s idea, and exhibits all the related questions and information in a tasteful, simple way.
No. 4) A great moment, which happened to say everything about that rather pathetic moment.
No. 5) This article helps to answer the age-old question…
No. 6) This by our slide guru Antony, which proved to be one of the most popular slides of the year.
No. 7) And finally, this to honour 2006…