Manchester through and through and, with Mancunian parents and a supporter of the club since being a child, I think he’s amazing. But it’s his displays of humility and compassion off the pitch that make me admire him the most.
Red or blue, love his team or hate them, you can’t deny he’s a role model for children across the country. He hasn’t forgotten his roots and he’s doing all he can to give back to the community he grew up in. The causes he has chosen to support tend to be those which are close to his heart.
He has judged poetry competitions, learned sign language to visit a deaf school, and encouraged children to read. But it’s his ongoing battle with the government to show compassion towards hungry children and his refusal to back down over the school meals issue, and use his high profile to do some serious good, that demonstrates how kind he is.
He has caused Boris Johnson to U-turn twice and without his stubborn and persistent support, this would never have happened for those children who are always hungry and never have enough to eat. I actually don’t think I could love him more, and then he goes on to do even more things that prove me wrong.
2. Jane McDonald – Cruising with Jane McDonald
Rising to fame on the TV programme, The Cruise, Jane McDonald is the undisputed queen of the seas. With nine albums under her belt, including two reaching number one in the UK Album Charts, her talents as a vocalist are undeniable, but it’s her winning personality, northern charm and old-school diva vibes that I’m especially grateful for. She has clearly had to work hard to get where she is now, putting in long nights in the clubs of Wakefield, and spending weeks away from home entertaining thousands on cruise ships, and now she enjoys herself, proudly.
If you ever need to see someone living their best life, watch Jane McDonald covering Mamma Mia; perched on Greek mountainside, surrounded by adonises and belting out the ABBA classic, she is giving us everything we need, and we stan!
3. David Attenborough – Sir David Attenborough Answers Questions From Famous Fans
If Sir David Attenborough didn’t exist we’d have to invent him. He’s opened so many eyes and minds to the amazing precarious beauty of the natural world. He’s made wildlife programmes into mainstream must see TV, and no one can argue with the environmental message that he shares. It feels like he has literally seen it all, and if he’s telling us we need to take action, then we really do need to do something. So wise and measured, he’s the voice of reason that the world needs.
Plus I met him once, when I was a young Radio Times researcher, and he was lovely. Not like some TV celebrities I could mention ….
4. Stanley Tucci – Stanley Tucci – How To make Negroni
Back in April, a video of Stanley Tucci making a negroni in his kitchen went viral and it’s probably the most soothing thing I’ve ever seen. If nothing else, I am forever grateful this video exists and I’m not embarrassed to admit I’ve watched it at least 20 times.
From The Devil Wears Prada to The Lovely Bones, from Easy A to The Hunger Games series, I have never walked away from a Tucci film disappointed. A great cook, a fabulous actor and an overall lovely man. Oh Stanley, King of Cocktails and Father to us all, what would we do without you?
5. Nigella Lawson – Nigella Lawson’s Southern Style Deep-Fried Chicken | Nigella Bites
There are two types of food-writer; those who tell you what they think you should be eating, and those who share what they like to eat, and hope you’ll enjoy it too. Nigella is the latter. She wears her fierce intelligence and culinary knowledge with a masterful lightness and Noel Coward-esque wit. Just as camp as Fanny Craddock, but far more friendly. Just as knowledgeable as Delia, but more fun. And just iconic as Julia Child, but far flirtier. If you’re not convinced, she keeps a jar of mustard in her bedside cabinet for emergency midnight snacks.
But perhaps most of all, Nigella taught me not just how to cook, but how to eat – and for that, I’m forever grateful.
6. Florence Pugh – Midsommar – “Making Of” Harmony – Florence feels like the big sister I never had. If you don’t follow her on Instagram then I highly suggest that you do! During lockdown she had me doing dancercise to her favourite tunes and turning the old vegetables at the back of my fridge into delicious and nutritious meals cooked from scratch. More recently, she’s encouraged her millions of followers to vote in the 2020 US election; thousands of people took voting action because of her influence – nice!! We’ve all got comfort movies and Pugh’s projects are quickly becoming some of my favourites – Little Women, for obvious reasons but also horror flick Midsommar which may seem like a rogue choice but let me explain why. If you haven’t seen Midsommar, just think The Wicker Man meets The Break-Up but with added Swedish-ness. The Swedish setting and feel is what makes this film so deliciously comforting to me, despite its horrific plot. From the bright warm lighting to the calming folk music, I’ve been curious as to why this film is like ASMR to me. Then I discovered hygge. Hygge is a Scandanavian concept that can only be described as cosiness of the soul; like a hug without touch. Drinking hot chocolate, fluffy socks on cold feet, reading a book on a rainy day – that’s hygge. And that’s how Midsommar and Florence Pugh make me feel.
6. Florence Pugh – Midsommar – “Making Of” Harmony –
Florence feels like the big sister I never had. If you don’t follow her on Instagram then I highly suggest that you do! During lockdown she had me doing dancercise to her favourite tunes and turning the old vegetables at the back of my fridge into delicious and nutritious meals cooked from scratch. More recently, she’s encouraged her millions of followers to vote in the 2020 US election; thousands of people took voting action because of her influence – nice!!
We’ve all got comfort movies and Pugh’s projects are quickly becoming some of my favourites – Little Women, for obvious reasons but also horror flick Midsommar which may seem like a rogue choice but let me explain why. If you haven’t seen Midsommar, just think The Wicker Man meets The Break-Up but with added Swedish-ness. The Swedish setting and feel is what makes this film so deliciously comforting to me, despite its horrific plot. From the bright warm lighting to the calming folk music, I’ve been curious as to why this film is like ASMR to me. Then I discovered hygge.
Hygge is a Scandanavian concept that can only be described as cosiness of the soul; like a hug without touch. Drinking hot chocolate, fluffy socks on cold feet, reading a book on a rainy day – that’s hygge. And that’s how Midsommar and Florence Pugh make me feel.
7. Greta Thunberg – The disarming case to act right now on climate change | Greta Thunberg
It goes without saying that Greta Thunberg is an icon we should all be grateful for. I appreciate any teenage girl that can have so many old white men well and truly bothered but no one does it quite so effectively as this Swedish environmental activist.
In her 17 years, Thunberg has achieved more than I will in my lifetime. Last September, her positive influence inspired students around the world to stage the largest climate change protest in history. Over 4 million people participated across more than 160 countries. She was Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2019, and has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Whilst Thunberg is a fantastic activist, she shouldn’t have to be. She’s a teenager picking up the pieces of a broken world whilst Donald Trump laughs in her face. Yes, I am grateful for Greta Thunberg. But I would be more grateful if adults with power would start listening to her and taking action against climate change.
8. John Bercow – The Best Ever Put-Downs From House Speaker John Bercow
John Bercow was the Speaker of the House of Commons from 2009 to 2019. Bercow gets my nomination for his quixotic performance as Brexit legislature moved through the Commons in the all-but-hung parliament of 2019.
We might have seen it coming because Bercow had form. As a student he was noted as being both very bright and very rightwing. By the time he’d worked his way up to Michael Howard’s conservative cabinet, he was progressive enough to stand up – and be dismissed – for his support for adoption by same-sex couples. While still a conservative MP he became an advisor to a socialist government’s initiative on children with speech, language and special needs. And his colourful marriage to Sally Bercow – the Gemma Collins of Westminster, let’s say – has scandalised party grandees.
Politicians are versed at hiding division and dissent behind grand aphorisms. Bercow likes detail and debate. During the cross-bench motions and amendments given airtime by Bercow, those aphorisms were exposed. We all then became participants in the bloodbath we’d earned, feared, and maybe also the catharsis we needed. The rest is history.
Everyone sees what they want to in Bercow. The despot. The anti-democrat. The white knight. My impression was that none of that really washes with him. He quite likes what he sees when he looks in his mirror, and that’s good enough for him. Often imperfect, self-regarding, equal parts sinner and saint: he managed to steer his own course in the most toxic parliament of the last 100 years.
9. Gemma Collins – Gemma Collins Can’t Deal Compilation – CBBUK – Big Brother Universe
The GC surely needs no introduction but in case you’ve been living under a rock, let me explain why everyone should appreciate her existence. Gemma Collins has been around since reality show TOWIE first aired in 2010 but social media didn’t truly appreciate the GC until clips from her stint on Celebrity Big Brother 17 made their rounds on Twitter.
Legendary moments include lasting only three days in the I’m a Celeb jungle, being nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize (as a joke), falling down a trap door at the BBC Radio 1 Teen Awards and face planting while ice skating to Celine Dion on Dancing on Ice, just to name a few. Don’t forget – Tiffany Pollard’s ‘Old Maiden’ rant wouldn’t have happened without Gemma gifting Tiffany the shoes in the first place. God bless Gemma, Queen of Meme’s.
She is drama, she is glam and hun, she doesn’t give a fuck what you think about her. And I absolutely love it!
10. Robert Pattinson – 24 Hours With Robert Pattinson | Vogue
Oh Robert Pattinson, how do I love you? Let me count the ways.
I’ve been grateful for Robert Pattinson since I was a young teenager because to be honest, I’ve had an intense crush on him since the first Twilight film was released in 2008. But his gorgeous face isn’t the only reason I appreciate him.
Entering the decade as the next Batman and with critical acclaim for his role in arthouse horror The Lighthouse, Pattinson hasn’t lost momentum this year. He’s had massive success from projects Tenet and The Devil All the Time – a far cry in tone from his Twilight beginnings, I love to see that he’s now actually being taken seriously as the talented actor that he is.
The best thing, however, that 2020 produced from Pattinson is a GQ lockdown interview that highlighted what a chaotic icon he truly is. In this interview, Pattinson admits to the minimal training he’s done to prepare for his Batman role, explains his terrible holdable pasta business idea and describes the feeling of fear as ‘spicy’. Petition to get ‘chaotic energy’ in the Oxford dictionary described only by a photo of Pattinson with his infamous microwave pasta.
11. Graham Norton – Try Not To Laugh on The Graham Norton Show | Part Three
It’s midnight. You should have been asleep half an hour ago, but you’re stuck down a ‘Best interview moments from The Graham Norton Show’ rabbit hole on Facebook. It’s happened to us all.
We might have missed out on his sassy Eurovision commentary this year, but during lockdown I was grateful to have Norton’s hilarious talk show clips for late night scrolling – life just wouldn’t be the same without him.
12. The entire cast of Schitt’s Creek – Schitt’s Creek Blooper Reel
When the world was closing in during Lockdown 1, I discovered the funny, feel-good, ‘no, I’ve just got something in my eye’ wonder of Schitt’s Creek and something new opened up. Each episode was like an injection of serotonin or a warm bubble bath of good vibes. It’s a masterclass in deceptively good writing that makes you feel and care, and I’m grateful to the writers and cast who made it work. The characters became my friends. I became Moira. Even when it made me cry it lifted my spirits. I had to ration my watching to make it last, and I was bereft when it ended. Warmest regards to all involved.