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2020 in history

2020 in history

Here are some light-hearted facts about 2020, designed to serve as a prep sheet for a radio feature on 2020.

I created this page because when I needed some notes to create a few talking points about 2020 in Ireland I couldn't find any suitable sources, so I thought I'd share what I did find. It applies to 2020 in Britain too.

You can also look at years other than 2020:

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  • Needless to say, this was the year the COVID-19 pandemic put the world into lockdown. The UK stood out as one of the last countries in Europe to introduce any restrictions; Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been boasting that he was shaking hands with sick patients.

  • Public health campaigns encouraged us to "social distance", "stay home, save lives, protect the NHS", "wash your hands", "cocoon" and elbow-bump. Boris Johnson was widely mocked for telling the nation to work from home, unless they had to go to work, in which case they should not use public transport, unless they had to use public transport.

  • People had to turn to online services like Zoom, Skype, Clubhouse and AnyDesk for work, education and socialising.

  • Within a few days of the pandemic, Gal Gadot posted a montage of herself and more than 20 other celebrities singing a cover of Imagine.

  • Many people used their spare time to walk or run 5k around their local area, and sea swimming became a new craze. People who lived by the sea complained about "the dryrobe brigade".

  • Crazy moments include shops running out of food and reports of police shouting at and fining for people who tried to sit down in public. Governments tried to introduce complicated rules to make visiting pubs possible, with many restaurants trying hard to find a way to serve food outdoors.

  • One of the most memorable parts of the pandemic was Dominic Cummings making a statement in the Rose Garden, defending his decision to drive to Barnard Castle to test his eye sight, turning the small town into a global laughing point.

  • 99-year-old Captain Tom Moore raised over £14 million for NHS Charities by doing laps around his garden. It would later emerge that the donations were being abused by his family.

  • Sports events used cardboard cut-outs of fans, with dubbed crowd noises.

  • Events were cancelled all around the world, with one of the first casualties being the St Patrick's Day parade. In Rush, a video of Big Bird pulling a wheelie on the empty streets went viral.

  • A joke clip which claimed the UK's Ministry of Defence was working on a secret project to requisition Wembley Stadium to cook the world’s biggest lasagne went viral. It was a parody of all the misinformation flying around.

  • Llandudno was taken over by goats who moved down from the nearby mountain to take advantage of the unusually quiet streets.

  • Matt Damon quietly moved to Dalkey, Ireland, as he was about to begin filming just as lockdown started. Rumours started to spread after someone saw him at a swimming spot with a SuperValu bag.

  • After Donald Trump lost the US election, Rudy Giuliani hosted a press conference in the car park of a garden centre, Four Seasons Total Landscaping. The strange event, which was screened worldwide, was widely mocked.

  • Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group, who owned shops such as Topshop, Topman and Miss Selfridge, prepared to close all their stores.

  • K-pop band BTS built a huge fanbase in Europe.

  • Macaulay Culkin celebrated his 40th birthday, which many people used as the yardstick to judge how old they were.

  • Harry and Meghan stepped down from royal duties, beginning a new life in America.

  • Handforth Parish Council held their infamous meeting, in which Jackie Weaver ejected the loud-mouthed participants.

  • Sea shanties started to become popular again, after spreading on TikTok.

  • Hackers took over the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Elon Musk, Apple, and dozens more in a massive Bitcoin scam.

  • Regional airline FlyBe cancelled all its services, leaving many British airports without any scheduled flights.

  • Extinction Rebellion commenced ten days of direct action across the UK.

  • Elton John was dragged off stage in Australia when he tried to ignore a very heavy downpour which interrupted his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour.

  • Debenhams closed all their Irish stores. A long protest followed, as staff weren't paid all they were owed and arranged a sit-in at many stores, before being removed by gardaí.

  • Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney bought Wrexham AFC, leading it to promotion and a Netflix documentary.

  • Black Lives Matter protests saw statues pulled down around the world. The most famous British casualty was Edward Colston, who's statue was thrown into Bristol Harbour. Google Maps immediately updated the location.

  • Two young paddleboarders went missing off the coast of Galway. They were found by fishermen after 15 hours, after clinging to a floating lobster pot and singing songs, and were rescued safe and well.

  • A general election was held in Ireland, in which there would be a "rotating taoiseach", with Leo Varadkar stepping down to be briefly replaced by Miche´l Martin. Most people kept accidentally calling Leo Varadkar an Taoiseach, including Miche´l Martin himself.

2020 Launches

  • The app BeReal was released.

2020 in Film

  • Bad Boys for Life was the biggest film of the year.

  • Other big films include 1917, Sonic the Hedgehog, Birds of Prey, Dolittle, Little Women, The Invisible Man, The Call of the Wild, Tenet, Knives Out and Spies in Disguise.

2020 in TV

  • 28 million people watched Boris Johnson's Prime Ministerial Statement. A further 24 million people watched the address from the Queen.

  • The Masked Singer, The Queen's Gambit and Michael McIntyre's The Wheel were new on TV.

  • Tiger King was many people's lockdown obsession.

  • Darragh Ennis joined The Chase.

  • I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here! moved to Gwrych Castle, due to issues with the pandmic in Australia.

  • The last Vicar of Dibley special aired.

  • Gillian Anderson played Margaret Thatcher in the new series of The Crown.

  • Normal People was shown on TV, sparking a lively edition of Liveline as people complained about the adult content. People became intersted in Connell's chain and GAA shorts.

  • Livin' with Lucy became Lodging with Lucy, due to issues with the pandemic.

  • The Den was brought back for a new series.

  • Claire Byrne presented her show from her shed, as she became one of the first Irish presenters to contract COVID-19.

While these facts about 2020 have been checked against third-party sources (and have been used on air before!), they are provided in good faith to inspire your research and no guarantee is made about their accuracy or their uniqueness. You can use the facts however you wish: most people just take a couple of points they remember and talk around then.

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© 2024 Johnathan Randall

Johnathan Randall
Legally bland

Any similarities with real-life events or wealthy international firms is probably coincidental. No products endorsed. I'm powered by Monster Munch.

© 2024 Johnathan Randall.