1. Tim & Dawn finally get together in The Office Christmas Special.
Yazoo’s “Only You” plays in the background, Dawn appears in the distance before slowly walking towards Tim and giving us the moment we’ve waited 14 episodes for. And all this coming moments after David Brent has finally told Chris Finch to fuck off. Say what you want about Gervais, but the man knows how to write a happy ending.
2. The final scene of Blackadder Goes Forth.
The moment Blackadder wishes his friends good luck, you realise no plan - however cunning - can get them out of this. They’re actually going over the top, and they’re probably going to die.
3. The Doctor and Rose go their separate ways in Doomsday.
Though a couple of seasons later the Doctor(s) and Rose would once again find themselves on Bad Wolf Bay, this initial goodbye was arguably the emotional high watermark of Russell T. Davies’ time at the helm. But don’t be surprised if it’s topped when Piper and Tennant return for the 50th anniversary episode in November.
4. Rachel’s car accident (and eventual death) in Cold Feet.
After secret marriages, infidelity, abortions, infertility, and then the against-the-odds birth of their first child, Adam and Rachel’s lives were finally on track. Then out of nowhere, this happened…
5. Nana dying in The Royle Family.
When a comedy show takes a serious turn it tends to pack more of a punch than it would in a drama. Seeing usually jovial characters hurting is almost unnerving. This is certainly the case when Nana passes away in The Royle Family, where no one takes it worse than her former sparring partner, Jim.
6. Andy’s Big Brother monologue in the Extras Christmas Special.
After letting fame go to his head throughout the second series, Andy has lost his friends and ended up a Z-list celebrity in the Big Brother house. Cue a moment of clarity and a teary-eyed monologue in which it’s hard to tell where Millman ends and Gervais begins.
8. Andy Murray crying after losing the 2012 Wimbledon final.
The moment his voice squeaked on the word ‘easy’ he went from grumpy Scot to British national treasure.
9. Alma dies of cervical cancer in Coronation Street.
The nation might currently be weeping away its primetime hours to Hayley’s bucket list storyline as she bravely faces up to her terminal diagnosis, but she wasn’t the first Street to go through it. Cafe favourite Alma passed away in bed with her friends and family around her, best pal Audrey sadly getting there just a bit too late. But cancer charities criticised the accuracy of Alma’s decline, cervical cancer usually taking years to develop.
11. Del Boy and Rodney get a standing ovation, Only Fools And Horses.
After years of wheeling and dealing, the Trotter brothers’ luck has come in after they find a watch that is worth millions. Here they enter their local, The Nag’s Head, unsure about how their friends will receive them now that they’re millionaires. The following standing ovation is one of the great moments from British sitcom history.
12. Lady Sybil dies in Downton Abbey.
The departure of actress Jessica Brown Findlay allowed the Downton producers to pull off one of their most shocking twists. Lady Sybil died from eclampsia shortly after giving birth to a baby girl. Advance copies had been kept back from reviewers, using the lie that the episode was still being edited, allowing the death to air as a shocking surprise.
13. When the baby elephant died on Africa.
We’re used to Mr Attenborough turning us into emotional wrecks, but we weren’t prepared for this. The BBC’s Africa showed a mother staying behind to look after her calf, and therefore losing the herd in the process. Sadly it was too late, and the mother was forced to watch her child die, before disappearing into the desert on her own.