The best TV of 2013

From the sublime to the sub-slime, it’s been a mixed bag for the box in 2013. Here are our critics’ picks of the year’s best and worst TV



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What did you get up to in 2013? We watched loads and loads of telly. Some of it was amazing, and some of it – without wishing to be rude – basically wasn't. Keep reading to find out what our critics loved and loathed this year. Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter @TimeOutTV.

  1. Gabriel Tate
  2. Phil Harrison

The best...

‘Southcliffe’ (C4)

The barnstorming ‘Broadchurch’ may have gripped the nation, but ‘Southcliffe’ dealt with similar issues – grief, psychosis and suspicion in a small town – more broadly, more deeply and more intimately. Career bests all round.

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‘It’s Kevin!’ The Amish Sex Pistols (BBC2)

If there was a funnier labour of love on TV this year, we missed it. Kevin Eldon and chums reconstructed the Pistols’ infamous appearance opposite ‘fucking rotter’ Bill Grundy in uncanny detail, but replaced Rotten et al with people in beards, bonnets and straw hats.

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‘Snodgrass’ (Sky Arts 1)

Alternative histories can be dead-end vanity projects, but this reimagining of John Lennon in 1991, trudging through an unfulfilled life 30 years after leaving The Beatles, was stunningly conceived and realised, from Ian Hart’s Lennon to Martin Carr’s pastiche soundtrack.

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Neil Maskell

Utopia’. ‘Run’. ‘Dates’. ‘The Mimic’. ‘The Great Train Robbery’. It’s almost quicker to list the projects with which Maskell wasn’t involved in a banner year for this unsung talent. Each of the above showcased subtly modulated, equally striking variations on his trademark sense of wounded threat and little boy lost.

‘Simon Schama’s Story of the Jews’ (BBC2)

An unapologetically cerebral authored history, but moving and involving too, and delivered with verve, passion and deep personal insight by a writer-broadcaster back at the top of his game.

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The worst...

‘Eye Spy’ (C4)

Something beginning with S. ‘Stephen Fry’, ‘shit’ and ‘stupendously condescending’ all fit this atrociously misjudged hidden-camera show which entrapped the public into behaving badly then lectured us ad nauseam. ‘I want to restore your faith in human nature,’ says Fry. How about S for ‘sod off’?

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  1. Gabriel Tate
  2. Phil Harrison

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