Celebrities provide a vital public service throughout the year by keeping us all entertained – even if it isn’t always on purpose.
In a world where the news is so often depressing, here’s a light-hearted look at some of the mishaps, blunders, flops and fails from 2023.
- 1. Match of the Day studio chaos
- 2. The UK’s Eurovision placing
- 3. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
- 4. Ariana DeBose’s Baftas rap
- 5. Prince Harry’s book embargo
- 6. ‘Firstly, are you OK?’
- 7. Lana Del Rey running late
- 8. Wild red carpet outfits
- 9. The Idol
- 10. The DIY supermoon
- 11. The Ana de Armas legal case
- 12. Weird objects given to pop stars
- 13. Doja Cat’s cash grab
- 14. Riverdale? Never seen it
- 15. Twitter being renamed X
1. Match of the Day studio chaos
Gary Lineker was hosting the BBC sports show in January as usual, when suddenly the studio erupted with the sounds of a woman who, by the sounds of it, was having a rather enjoyable time.
It turned out that pranksters had taped a phone to the back of the studio, set a highly inappropriate ringtone, turned the volume up, and then called the phone when the show was live on air.
Obviously we couldn’t possibly condone this behaviour, but we admit to being a tiny bit impressed with the sheer commitment and ingenuity. As Lineker himself said: “As sabotage goes it was quite amusing.”
2. The UK’s Eurovision placing
Normal service was resumed at Eurovision this year when the UK finished second to last, despite having a brilliant entry in the shape of Mae Muller’s I Wrote A Song.
Lots of theories did the rounds about why it didn’t connect – with several noting that songs which are last in the running order rarely win Eurovision.
But the disappointing outcome didn’t detract from the huge success of the event overall, which took place in Liverpool after last year’s winners Ukraine could not host.
3. Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny cost a reported $300m (£236m) to make. When you add other costs such as marketing the movie globally, it would have needed to make at least double that just to break even.
But it took only $383m worldwide (£301m) – not an amount of money we’d turn down if offered, but well below expectations for such a major franchise. The Guardian declared it a “summer flopbuster”. The previous Indiana Jones film made $790m (£621m).
It wasn’t alone. A plethora of films underperformed this year including The Marvels, The Flash and the latest instalments of Ant Man and Mission: Impossible.
That was partly thought to be due to superhero and franchise fatigue – but also because Barbie and Oppenheimer dominated the 2023 box office.
4. Ariana DeBose’s Baftas rap
A hundred poets could write for a hundred years and still not come up with anything as magnificent as Ariana DeBose’s rap at the Bafta Film Awards.
The ceremony opened with DeBose shouting out the female nominees. Sample lyric: “Blanchett, Cate you’re a genius, and Jamie Lee [Curtis], you are all of us!”
But the breakout viral moment came when she mentioned Wakanda Forever star Angela Bassett. “An-juh-luh Bassit did the thing,” DeBose declared.
While some nominees looked awkward and confused, others got into it and danced along. Afterwards, DeBose observed correctly: “Apparently gay Twitter seemed to like it? So that’s good.” Encore!
5. Prince Harry’s book embargo
There was extremely tight security around the release of Prince Harry’s memoir Spare in January. Or at least, there was supposed to be.
The publishers kept the book under lock and key to make sure all the gossip contained within it did not leak to the media early and damage sales.
But one bookshop in Spain had a slightly more cavalier attitude to the release date, and put the Spanish version of the autobiography on the shelves early.
The Sun duly flew a journalist out to get hold of one, started translating it back to English, and began running a live blog of everything in the book.
6. ‘Firstly, are you OK?’
TV presenter Phillip Schofield left This Morning in May following reports of a rift with co-presenter Holly Willoughby. A week later, he admitted having an affair with a younger colleague.
But when Holly returned to the ITV daytime show a fortnight later, she inadvertently provided one of the most memed moments of the year.
Dressed in angelic white, she spoke directly to the audience for the first time since the scandal broke.
“Deep breath,” she began. “Firstly, are you OK? I hope so. Feels very strange indeed sitting here without Phil.” She added that viewers, like her, might be feeling “shaken, troubled, let down”.
In hindsight, perhaps a tad melodramatic. But many noted life was merely imitating art and drew comparisons with The Morning Show – when Jennifer Aniston’s character faces the cameras to explain her co-anchor’s absence.
7. Lana Del Rey running late
When your own fans have paid money and made the effort to come and see you, it’s often a good idea to turn up on time for them.
But US singer Lana del Rey was sadly off on the day this was taught in pop star school.
When she played Glastonbury in June, she arrived on stage half an hour late, and organisers pulled the plug on her set when she hit the curfew.
Despite begging the festival’s bosses to let her play “one more song”, Del Rey had to leave without finishing. She apologised to fans a week later at another show in Hyde Park.
8. Wild red carpet outfits
Shania Twain channelled a Dalmation at the Grammys, while Jared Leto went to the Met Gala as Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.
But it was Sam Smith who delivered the best celebrity red carpet look at this year’s Brit Awards. Breath-taking in its brilliance.
9. The Idol
HBO has brought us some of the most acclaimed TV series ever made, including The Wire, Succession and The Sopranos.
Unfortunately, their five-part series The Idol, starring Abel Tesfaye and Lily-Rose Depp, did not go down quite as well with critics.
The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin awarded it one star, calling it a “fatuously graphic” and “colossally gormless” series, adding that it contained the “worst dialogue” of the year.
Audiences were similarly unenthusiastic. A second series was not commissioned.
10. The DIY supermoon
When footage of the blue supermoon failed to appear as expected in August, BBC News presenter Maryam Moshiri attempted to recreate the phenomenon using her hands.
“The rare astronomical event took place for the first time since 2009,” she began promisingly. “It only occurs when the moon as it its closest point in the orbit around the earth.” Sadly no moon appeared on screen.
“I’m so sorry, I don’t have anything to show you,” she told viewers as she made the shape with her hands instead. “It looks a little bit like this. There you go. Supermoon.” Outstanding improvisation.
A few months later, Moshiri went viral for her hand gestures all over again when she was caught on camera giving the middle finger – something she later explained was an inside joke with her colleagues in the gallery.
11. The Ana de Armas legal case
Two Ana de Armas fans were so upset when the actress was edited out of a movie despite appearing in the trailer that they attempted to sue the film company for false advertising.
Conor Woulfe and Peter Michael Rosza argued that they wouldn’t have paid $3.99 (£3.14) to rent Danny Boyle’s Yesterday if they had known her scenes were cut. So they sued Universal for $5m (£3.9m).
It was an intriguing case which, if successful, could have had significant implications for the film industry and the way trailers are edited.
But a judge dismissed their legal action, adding that their decision to rent the film a second time on a different streaming service just in case de Armas appeared in that version was a “self-inflicted injury”.
12. Weird objects given to pop stars
Much more concerning than that, however, were some more serious incidents. Ava Max, BeBe Rexha and Florence Pugh were among the stars injured by flying objects or during stage invasions.
It fell to queen of everything Taylor Swift to plead with fans to maintain some boundaries. “It really freaks me out when stuff gets thrown on the stage,” she said at a gig in November, “because if it’s on the stage then a dancer can trip on it.
“I love that you brought presents and that is so nice, but just can you please not throw them on the stage. I love you so much.”
13. Doja Cat’s cash grab
Doja Cat put some fans’ noses slightly out of joint when she said her previous two albums were nothing more than money-making exercises, and effectively mocked people for enjoying them.
“Planet Her and Hot Pink were cash-grabs and y’all fell for it,” she wrote on social media. “Now I can go disappear somewhere and touch grass with my loved ones on an island while y’all weep for mediocre pop.”
Frankly, this made us love her more – we all have bills to pay and she isn’t wrong about our music taste.
But she didn’t stop there. In another post she questioned the name her fans gave themselves, writing: “If you call yourself a ‘kitten’ or ‘kittenz’, that means you need to get off your phone and get a job and help your parents with the house.”
14. Riverdale? Never seen it
Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore and Charles Melton spent three weeks together shooting their latest film May December, and far more time promoting it. So you’d think they’d know each other pretty well.
But in one press interview, it turned out that Oscar winners Moore and Portman had never actually watched the series which gave Melton his big break.
“Just finally,” one journalist asked, “Natalie and Julianne, have you ever watched Riverdale? Did you know Charles’s work?”
Both actresses looked deliciously awkward before collapsing into laughter, admitting they had never seen the Netflix teen drama, an embarrassed-looking Portman adding: “I can’t lie, sorry.”
15. Twitter being renamed X
Sadly we seem destined to say for the rest of our lives: “Oh yeah, I saw that on Twitter – sorry, I mean X.”
Just change it back Elon, for goodness sake.