Britain's best of 2021

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
Isabelle KirkData Journalist
December 31, 2021, 10:08 AM GMT+0

YouGov reveals the celebrities, shows, and events that Brits enjoyed most in 2021

Only a few days remain in 2021 as the year draws to a close. Many Britons will be glad to see the back of this year, and look forward to all that 2022 holds. In a round-up of the year, a YouGov survey askes Britons what their best bits were, from TV and film, world events, and notable people.

The best answers in each category were gathered from an initial, open, question in which respondents answered in their own words. A subsequent survey asked Britons to choose between the most popular answers from the first survey.

Who had the biggest impact on the world this year?

Sir Captain Tom Moore rose to fame in 2020 by walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday to raise money for the NHS -a feat that raised £38.9 million. Before he sadly passed away in February this year, his efforts won him the admiration of the nation as well as a knighthood. Now, 21% of the public say he had the biggest impact on the world this year.

Some 9% thought former President Donald Trump had the biggest impact on the world for better or worse, followed by 7% who think Greta Thunberg did. Another 6% say Boris Johnson had the most significant impact on the world, and the same proportion think the same of Elon Musk.

What was the best development this year?

This year saw the pandemic continue as new variants of COVID-19 emerged, but it also saw a huge global effort towards vaccination – which Britons see as by far the best development of the year (43%). Another 13% think the end of the most severe COVID-19 lockdown restrictions across the UK was the best event of the year.

One in nine (11%) think the increased discussion and awareness of climate change was the best thing to happen this year – alongside 2% who think the COP 26 conference in Glasgow was the best event.

Some 7% think the Euro 2020 (postponed into 2021) was the best event of the year, despite the heart-breaking final for the England side. Another 3% of Brits think the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (also postponed to 2021) was the best event of the year.

What was the worst development this year?

Of course, with good comes the bad - and 2021 was certainly a tough year for a lot of people. Unsurprisingly the continuing COVID-19 pandemic is seen as the worst event of the year (19%). A further 10% think that the new variants of COVID-19 such Omicron are the worst development of the year, and 7% say the lockdown restrictions.

Politics was also seen as being among the worst parts of 2021. Just over one in eight people (13%) think that Boris Johnson’s Conservative government remaining in power was the worst part of the year - another 9% say immigration, and 8% say Brexit.

A tenth of the general public (10%) think the withdrawal of Allied forces from Afghanistan, which saw the country quickly fall under Taliban rule once again, was the worst thing to happen.

One in twelve (8%) say continuing climate change was the worst development in 2021.

What was the best film of 2021?

Following several postponements throughout 2020, No Time to Die finally hit cinemas this year, and despite premiering late in the year has gone on to be the third highest grossing film of the year. For Britons however, it is their best film of the year with 14% of the vote.

Other notable films included Dune (5%) and Black Widow (3%) – however given that much of 2021 in the UK was spent in lockdown, many Britons were not sure.

What was the best television programme of 2021?

While Britons might have been kept from the cinema by lockdown, they were spoilt for choice at home, with finales and new seasons alike. This included the much-anticipated Line of Duty finale and the reveal of the criminal mastermind “H” – which netted the show the top spot as the best programme of the year with 20% of the vote.

Another 14% of people picked South-Korean Netflix hit Squid Game as their best show, and 8% think It’s a Sin was the best show of 2021.

Strictly Come Dancing racked up 7% of the vote, and 6% of people think Gogglebox was the best.

Who was the best music act of 2021?

For another year in row, Ed Sheeran tops the YouGov charts, with 13% of the public picking him as the best musical act of 2021.

Adele, whose latest Album 30 has been at number one in the official album chart for four weeks, comes second with one in ten people (10%) thinking she was the best act of 2021.

ABBA, who also released a new album this year, garnered some 8% of the vote.

Best soap opera of the year

For the third time in a row, Britons say Coronation Street is their favourite soap opera of the year, with Emmerdale second at 7% and Eastenders third at 6%. But it seems as if many Brits didn’t spend their time watching soap operas this year – most of the public (68%) weren’t sure.

Best reality television show of the year

Baking is back in favour with the British public – after not appearing in the top 10 on 2019’s rankings, the Great British Bake Off has shot to the top this year alongside Gogglebox to tie for best reality show of the year, with 15% each. Strictly Come Dancing – making history this year with its first all-male dancing couple in John and Johannes – ranks in third at 12%.

Best actor of the year

When it comes to the best actor of 2021, there is a three-way tie. Daniel Craig, star of the British public’s favourite film of 2021 No Time to Die, 2021 Emmy Award winner David Tennant and Free Guy lead Ryan Reynolds winning 9% of the vote each. Tom Hardy, first place in 2019, drops to fourth place with 7%.

Best actress of the year

‘The Crown’ star Olivia Colman is Britain’s favourite actress for the third time in a row, with 12% of the vote. Killing Eve actress Jodie Comer, who recently starred in Free Guy alongside other favourite actor Ryan Reynolds, is a close second with 11%, and Judi Dench third at 9%.

Best television personality of 2021

For the third time running, Sir David Attenborough is the British public’s favourite television personality of the year with 20% of the vote. The Chase presenter Bradley Walsh and famous farmer Jeremy Clarkson tie for second place with 11%.

See full results here