The YouGov Awards 2011

Tommy ChrimesYouGovLabs writer
Laurence Janta-LipinskiAssociate Director
Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
December 30, 2011, 10:00 PM GMT+0

Sports stars, news events, films, TV…what and who took the top spots in our annual national poll?

The second in an annual roundup of the biggest and most memorable events and moments of the year, the YouGov awards will celebrate all the best stories that have been on the public’s mind in the past 12 months.


YouGov interviewed over 1,500 British adults, asking them to provide nominations for each award. For each award, the top 10 nominated in each category were included as individual options in a question to a separate 1,500 respondents (nationally representative) to select a winner. Only responses to those who selected a winner for each award have been included in the results.

Sporting personality of the year

YouGov’s sporting personality of 2011 differs from its better known rivals in that the personalities are nominated and chosen by the public. Jenson Button polled the highest of all the celebrities on our list with David Beckham coming second. Despite 2011 not being either sporting star's best year, it appears that both sportsmen still curry public favour, while there is also a place in the top three for a female personality, with heptathlon athlete Jessica Ennis finishing just behind Beckham.

Best sporting moment

Even though no cricketer made it into our sports personality of the year list, the sport itself dominates our list of the best sporting moment of 2011. England winning the Ashes in Australia was voted as the seminal event, finishing top, while England's series win over India, which moved the team up to number one in the world rankings, came in second place. In a more distant third place was Formula One racing driver Jenson Button’s dramatic win in Canada in June, closely followed by Manchester City's 6-1 win against Manchester United in the Premier League.

Politician of the year

There was a Conservative clean sweep in the Politician of the year in 2011 with Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson joint top in this category, way ahead of the field. Foreign Secretary William Hague is third on the list, followed by Liberal Democrat Vince Cable. What has proven to be a difficult end of the year for opposition and Labour leader Ed Miliband shows no sign of letting up: he finishes sixth on the list, sandwiched between Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and his own brother David, who withdrew from frontline politics after last year's leadership contest.

Best soap and best soap storyline

Lancashire-based favourite Coronation Street scoops the title as the nation’s favourite soap this year, with London-set competitor EastEnders following closely behind. Emmerdale made up the top three most popular soaps.

On best soap storyline, a similar pattern emerges, as Coronation Street's 'John Stape murders' and 'Steve and Becky’s relationship' come highly recommended, while the 'Zainab and Yusef' storyline and highly controversial 'baby swap' plot make up the nation's top storylines from EastEnders. However, Emmerdale's 'Jackson’s assisted suicide' plot comes top of our list, just ahead of its rivals' stories.

Most stylish woman

They say that the bride is always the most beautiful woman in the room, so it seems fitting in the year that saw Kate Middleton tie the knot with her royal groom Prince William should also see her chosen as the most stylish woman. Many may have been thinking of the lacy Alexander McQueen bridal creation designed in secrecy by Sarah Burton, but the new Duchess of Cambridge is also well known for her preppy, some might say slightly conservative, daily dress sense. Sister Pippa came next, albeit far less nominated, while favourite actress Helen Mirren, who is often feted for her poised and classy sense of style despite being older than the average red-carpet starlet – and whose incredibly toned 'bikini shot' saw her catapulted to the front pages of many an admiring paper in 2008 – came in third.

Most stylish man

No stranger to 'best-dressed' lists, footballer and father of four David Beckham topped our poll this year as the most stylish man, closely followed by Take That singer and sometime philanthropist Gary Barlow, whose tenure as a key X Factor judge on the ITV programme phenomenon has earned him both criticism and praise, as some felt he was trying a little too hard to fill outgoing head judge Simon Cowell's rather large shoes. Reportedly reaching around 16 stone at his heaviest, Barlow has since slimmed down – which may explain his respectable place on our list. Also deserving of honourable mentions are Canadian crooner Michael Bublé and royal groom Prince William, who married his fiancée Kate in April.

Most important news event

Perhaps coming as no surprise given the extent to which it's dominated news pages and its potentially alarming consequences, the debt crisis in the Eurozone has been voted as the most important news event of the year. However, these past 12 months have been nothing if not eventful, and the earthquake and tsunami that wreaked such havoc across Japan were voted next, followed by the riots which engulfed London and other key cities across England in early August, after protests against the shooting of Mark Duggan in London borough Tottenham sparked into something altogether more ugly. Shops were looted and buildings set on fire, provoking magistrates to crack down hard on perpetrators seen to have stolen goods or incited violence.

The Arab Spring ‒ which saw countries from North Africa to the Middle East take up arms and protests against their leaders ‒ was also closely tailed in importance by the killing of Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden by American forces, whose operation was watched by White House officials including Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama himself.

Best song and album

Topping our poll by far is the highly acclaimed single Someone Like You by Adele, whose performance on the Brit Awards back in February won her rapturous applause and chart-topping success for months to come. Adele's album, named 21 as a nod to her young age, is also the clear album choice of the year from our poll, while two more of her singles, Rolling in the Deep, and Set Fire To The Rain, also featured highly.

The second-best single award goes to Wherever You Are by the Military Wives Choir which took the coveted Christmas number one spot this year. Written by Paul Mealor and conducted by television choirmaster Gareth Malone, the song was created from letters sent to and from the military wives and their partners stationed on duty away with the armed forces for months at a time. Heavily promoted by Radio 2 DJ Chris Evans, the single was in competition with winning X Factor group Little Mix's single Cannonball, but apparently outsold it 100 to 1.

Other favourite singles include Maroon 5 & Christina Aguilera duet Moves Like Jagger, and teen superstar Ed Sheeran's song A Team. Coldplay album Mylo Xyloto and single Paradise, plus The Edge of Glory from album Born This Way by Lady Gaga also feature, as does posthumous collection Lioness: Hidden Treasures, by the late great Amy Winehouse.

Favourite television show

The BBC’s nature documentary Frozen Planet tops the favourite television show overall in 2011 poll, ahead of Downton Abbey. Frozen Planet, which focuses on the natural world in both polar regions, has recently attracted controversy after it was revealed that scenes of a polar bear birth had been filmed in a zoo rather than in the wild. This prompted complaints of deception, and an inquiry into the BBC’s conduct was launched – although the presenter, the director general of the BBC and many other high-profile names have refuted the claims, saying that the programme's website clearly stated the reasons why the shots were taken in a zoo.

ITV’s Downton Abbey led this list last year, and Julian Fellows’ period drama returned for a second series in 2011 which has also proved popular. Reality dancing show Strictly Come Dancing was a distant third, followed by fantasy dramas Doctor Who and Merlin, spy drama Spooks and comedy current affairs quiz Have I Got News For You.

Favourite television personality of the year

Wildlife documentary broadcaster David Attenborough wins our poll as favourite television personality of the year, completing a double-victory for Frozen Planet, which he presented. Attenborough also wrote the seventh episode of the series, which focused on the impact of climate change. As well as his contributions to Frozen Planet, Attenborough presented Madagascar, a three-part documentary series for the BBC on the ecology of the Indian Ocean island, which was broadcast in February.

Right behind Attenborough comes well-known polymath Stephen Fry, presenter of panel show QI, who also featured in a series of popular BBC programmes about language this year, among other projects. Presenting duo Ant and Dec, whose most famous job of late has been fronting ITV reality TV show I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here, came in third place, while controversial driving show host and journalist Jeremy Clarkson, whose recent comment about this year's public sector strikes prompted widespread public outrage, also receives a mention.

Favourite reality TV show and best reality TV moment

BBC glitz-fest Strictly Come Dancing was the clear favourite on this list, followed by ITV gross-out programme I'm A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here. 'Strictly', as it is colloquially known, presented by Tess Daly and golden oldie Bruce Forsyth, recently announced its winner to a mammoth TV audience of 13 million , with McFly singer Harry Judd and partner Aliona Vilani awarded the coveted Glitterball trophy on December 17th. Other favourites from the poll include business strategy show The Apprentice, Gareth Malone's The Choir: Military Wives, and Channel 4 home-cooking stalwart Come Dine With Me.

The popularity of Strictly Come Dancing was echoed in the best reality TV moment of 2011, with Harry’s triumphant win topping the list, and Russell Grant’s ‘daring’ cannon stunt coming second. The top ‘I’m a Celebrity’ moment, and third on our list, was Fatima Whitbread’s rather unpleasant encounter with a cockroach. The former Olympic athlete had to have the insect flushed out of her nose following one of the programme’s infamous Bushtucker trials. Little Mix becoming the first group to win the X Factor was another highlight of the reality TV year, along with several other memorable moments from I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here.

Best film of the year

In a year of 'big' movies, it is perhaps a surprise that Colin Firth's triumphant turn as King George VI in The King's Speech makes the highly successful film the clear winner from our list this year. Also starring Geoffrey Rush as the speech therapist Lionel Logue (whose memoirs of training the then-king inspired the film) the British period movie took £3.52m at the UK box office over its opening weekend, and saw star Firth claim the Oscar for Best Actor.

Coming some way behind but still well ahead of the other contenders was the final instalment in the publishing and cinematic phenomenon that is Harry Potter – with the Deathly Hallows Part II. The eighth adaptation of author J.K. Rowling's seven-book series, the movie sees stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson reprise their famous roles alongside other British favourites including Julie Walters, Michael Gambon and Ralph Fiennes as they wrap up the magical story to stunning visual and emotional effect. Also mentioned was teen comedy The Inbetweeners, adapted from the much-loved Channel 4 television series of the same name, while Rise of Planet of the Apes, starring Andy Serkis, came in a much lower fourth place, with John Le Carré book adaptation Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy coming fifth.

See the full results and survey details here