10. Zander Murray

Scottish football has had its share of success stories in 2022.

National team manager Steve Clarke steered Scotland to the Nations League’s top tier and a Euro 2024 play-off. Lewis Ferguson has been a major hit in Serie A with Bologna. Ally McCoist helped a contestant win £82,000 on Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel.

No-one, however, has made a more significant impact on our game than Zander Murray. As a forward with Lowland League side Gala Fairydean Rovers, he started the year with a relatively low profile in the world of football.

By September, he was better known than most Premiership players. The 30-year-old became the first Scottish senior footballer to announce that he was gay, and the first openly gay footballer in the Scottish men’s game since Justin Fashanu played for Airdrie and Hearts in the early 1990s.

The Herald: The manner in which Murray has handled himself in 2022 will inspire others within the gameThe manner in which Murray has handled himself in 2022 will inspire others within the game (Image: SNS)

Since taking that momentous step, Murray has spoken eloquently and informatively about why he made the announcement and the impact he hopes it will have.

When the subject of homosexuality is raised in football, some wonder why it matters. Murray responded to one such question with a statement headed: “Let me address the WHY.”

In it, he said: “We are not the vast majority. Gay male footballers in the UK need role models. The majority are terrified to come out to friends/family/teammates (trust me a few have reached out already!). We need to break that fear, as the majority are correct in that a lot of the public don’t care.

“The younger generations can now see happy, thriving gay men in and around football. Eventually we will get to a place where this does not make news. I want to be a part of the solution.”

The manner in which Murray has handled himself this year will have inspired others within the game who have felt uncertain about coming out, and the reaction his announcement received can only inspire confidence. Speaking on ITV’s Lorraine, he said: “My big worry was if I come out, these strong connections I have in my team, will I lose them? Absolutely not. If anything, it’s strengthened them.”

The dearth of publicly out players reflects poorly on football, but this story represents progress.

When we get to a point where 'footballer comes out as gay' is no longer a big story, it will be thanks to the strength of people like Zander Murray.

Adam Miller

9. Lawrence Chaney

Drag went mainstream in 2022 when a certain light entertainment duo by the name of Ant and Dec adopted the personas of Lady Antoinette and Miss Donna Lee on ITV’s Saturday Night Takeaway, average viewers 8 million.

Lawrence Chaney cannot match the Geordie pair in earnings, but the Scot is taking drag in the same direction, from clubland to mainstream.

The Herald:

Born Lawrence Maidment in Helensburgh in 1996, the actor and comedian started in drag at 17. After contributing short films to the BBC’s The Social, he appeared in the BBC Scotland documentary Mother Tuckers: Drag Queens of Glasgow.

From there it was on to his biggest break – victory in RuPaul’s Drag Race UK in March 2021. There has been no stopping him since. Besides his Drag Race prize of a series of his own, Lawrence Chaney’s Tartan Around, there have been appearances on Blankety Blank, Celebrity Lingo with RuPaul, Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel , and Martin Compston’s Scottish Fling. Plus a book, Drag Queen of Scots.

His latest series started its run last Tuesday on BBC Scotland. Lawrence Chaney’s Homecoming Queens features Chaney and celebrity guests, in drag, having a daunder down memory lane. Imagine Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in the Scottish weather.

Chaney was a fan favourite on Drag Race UK, and a hit with the host, RuPaul. He adored the accent and by the end of the series could roll his “Rs” with the best of them. Chaney is also pals with Lorraine Kelly, queen of daytime TV, who he calls “my mum”.

On Drag Race, Chaney spoke to fellow contestants about being bullied at school but refusing to let it define him. “I’m not a victim or trying to get sympathy. For me, drag is a way of fighting back,” he said.

A supporter of Scottish independence, Chaney has watched his home country change over the years. In an interview with The National he recalled asking teachers if he could go to prom in drag. “They said no way, that’s too much of a safety risk. You’re going to get beat up.”

Four years later he went back – to do a talk to the school’s LGBT society. He met a pupil introduced as Aria, “the resident drag queen”, who was allowed to go to prom in drag.

“How amazing is that? Four years after I was there, just four years.

“Scotland’s come a long way. It made my dreams come true seeing that they were allowed to do that.”

Alison Rowat

8. Lewis Capaldi

He may not have released an album but it was a big year for the self-styled “Scottish Beyoncé”.

Lewis Capaldi shot to worldwide fame with his first album Divinely Uninspired to a Hellish Extent and in 2021 cancelled all of his upcoming shows to work on its follow-up. The famously self-deprecating singer poked fun at his lack of new material when he returned to headline Glasgow’s TRNSMT festival in the summer, telling the crowd: “Now it’s 2022 and my album is still not f*****g ready. I was supposed to have loads of new material for you but I am a lazy c***. My mum’s here by the way.”

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His absence didn’t seem to dent Capaldi-mania. His comeback single Forget Me was released in September and went straight to number 1, with the 26-year-old promoting the song with a series of guerilla busking gigs in Scotland.

Capaldi also branched out into the culinary world, though true to form it wasn’t quite the celebrity restaurant side of things. His Big Sexy frozen pizza range comes in two varieties and is sold at Tesco and Iceland, with the singer stating that he came up with the sourdough base during lockdown and “almost killed” an assistant with an aborted peanut butter effort.

Shortly after revealing he’d been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, he announced in October that his second album Broken By Desire To Be Heavenly Sent was finished and would be released in May 2023. He’ll begin the year with a tour of the UK which sold out almost as soon as it went on sale, including dates at the Hydro in Glasgow and the P&J Arena in Aberdeen, before touring the world including a sold-out date at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

Other 2022 highlights included a breakdown in communication on BBC Breakfast which saw Capaldi announcing he’d “save rock & roll” after being announced as a headliner for the Reading and Leeds festival.

He released the second single from his forthcoming album, Pointless, in December and stated his hope that it will become a wedding classic. Said Capaldi: “We’ve got a song like Someone You Loved, which gets played at funerals. And it’d be nice to have a song like Pointless that gets played at weddings. Basically, it’s a cash grab.”

2022 saw Capaldi amass 1 billion steams on Spotify, making him, in his own words “a very humbled king”.

Gaby McKay

7. Eve Muirhead

2022 capped off a remarkable year for Eve Muirhead as she skippered Great Britain’s women’s curling team to gold at the Winter Olympics in Beijing, adding to the bronze from Sochi 2014. Having been born into a renowned curling family – her father served as alternate on the Scotland team that swept to the world men’s curling title in Canada in 1999 and her brother won a world junior crown in 2013 – it seemed inevitable that Muirhead would seek to follow in her father’s footsteps, and ultimately surpass his achievements with her Olympic triumph.

Helping Team GB to the top of the podium also saw her conclude the greatest season of her career by being made an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, to add to the MBE she received in 2020.

The Herald:

It marked a remarkable change in fortunes for Muirhead, who had looked set to miss out on a place at the Winter Olympics after making a poor start in the final qualification tournament in Holland in December of last year. But an extraordinary shift in momentum saw Muirhead’s team turn their campaign around, going on to sweep to gold in Beijing before Muirhead teamed up with Bobby Lammie to also claim the world mixed doubles crown in April. After an incredible 21 international titles, including three European Championship wins with Scotland, August saw the Perth-born top curler announce her retirement from the sport as European, World and Olympic champion, which she said was something she’d “always dreamt of”.

Following her decision to hang up her curling shoes, Sportscotland chief executive Stewart Harris said her impact on the sport was “unparalleled”.

Team GB also described her as a “leader, trailblazer, inspiration”, while British Curling performance director Nigel Holl said she would go down in history “not only as one of the greatest ever British curlers, but as one of the greatest sportswomen this country has produced”.

She capped off 2022 by being named among the six-person shortlist for the 2022 BBC Sports Personality of the Year alongside the likes of England football star Beth Mead and tennis star Emma Raducanu. Since her retirement, she has been busy crafting a second career in broadcasting while continuing to lean on the sport that made her a household name. Last month she took her seat in the commentary box to lend her expert analysis to Eurosport and Discovery+’s coverage of the European championships in Sweden.

Craig Williams

6. Ncuti Gatwa

When Matt Smith was cast in the lead role in Doctor Who, showrunner Steven Moffat hosted a dinner party at his house with cups, plates and napkins branded with David Tennant’s Doctor to let the young actor know just the level of fame he was about to experience.

That’s what awaits Scottish actor Ncuti Gatwa as he prepares to step into the TARDIS next year. Born in Rwanda and raised in Edinburgh and Dunfermline after his parents fled the genocide, the 30-year-old already has plenty of fine work under his belt.

The Herald:

This year saw him win his third BAFTA in a row for his portrayal of Eric Offiong in Netflix series Sex Education and in April it was revealed he’ll appear in the live-action Barbie film alongside the likes of Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling and Will Ferrell.

He truly became a household name though when it was announced that he’ll take on the role of Gallifrey’s most famous son (or daughter). Gatwa is the first black actor to be cast as the Doctor, with the announcement made in March that he’ll replace Jodie Whittaker under returning showrunner Russell T Davies.

Gatwa is the fourth Scottish actor to portray the Time Lord, following Sylvester McCoy, David Tennant – who will return for a special episode before handing over to his fellow Scot – and Peter Capaldi through the TARDIS doors.

It will be quite the rise for the son of immigrants who admits he was an “easy target” in his Edinburgh state school for his voice, appearance and flamboyant nature.

Speaking after he was announced in the role, Gatwa said: “There aren’t quite the words to describe how I’m feeling. A mix of deeply honoured, beyond excited and of course a little bit scared. This role and show means so much to so many around the world, including myself, and each one of my incredibly talented predecessors has handled that unique responsibility and privilege with the utmost care. I will endeavour my utmost to do the same.”

Gatwa is immensely proud of his Scottish roots, revealing in a 2020 interview he’s almost come to blows with people in London who insist his colour and accent mean he can’t possibly be a Scot. He retorted: “People think I’m taking the p***. I’m like, ‘stop taking my Scottishness away, you don’t define me’.”

Gaby Mckay

5. Connie McCready

Connie McCready walked in silence as she led the first memorial walk at the official opening of the first phase of the National Covid Memorial. Beside her was Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, who just moments earlier had met families who lost loved ones to Covid, including Ms McCready.

The poignant walk through Pollok Country Park, marked the end of a two-year journey campaigning for a national memorial led by The Herald. For Ms McCready it was an emotion-charged day. She was one of the first people to back our campaign following the tragic loss of her fiancé, Jim Russell, in May 2020 and she knew only too well how much people who had lost a loved one during the pandemic craved a place to remember them.

From pulling on her walking boots to help raise funds for the memorial to encouraging people to join us for a minute’s silence on the second anniversary of the first national lockdown, Ms McCready’s passion and commitment helped to create the £250,000 memorial.

The Herald:

Despite her own grief, she had a desire to help others. From setting up a bereaved families support group to being part of the Covid-19 Bereaved Families for Justice group linked to the forthcoming Scottish Covid inquiry, Ms McCready has brought people together.

Just days before Christmas she joined families at the National Covid Memorial, the first phase of which opened in May this year. This Christmas, for the first time, families now have somewhere to go to remember loved ones lost due to the pandemic. As candles were lit at the Riverside Grove focal point by relatives who just months ago were strangers but were now comforting one another having been brought together through grief, Ms McCready quietly reflected on the past two years.

It was through the loss of her fiancé that Ms McCready became one of the first few people to support The Herald’s campaign to create a national memorial and she has backed us every step of the way. Now, more than two years on, she continues to be an advocate and ambassador for I remember: Scotland’s Covid Memorial. As well as dealing with her own grief, she reached out to people while we were still living with Covid restrictions.

Unable to grieve for her fiancé in the way that she would have wanted or even to spend time with family, Ms Cready set up a social media group which has become a supportive online community for many. “In March 2020 we were planning to go on holiday and looking ahead to our wedding in June,” said Ms McCready. “One week later Jim was critically ill. On May 4, 35 days later, Jim died in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.”

Two years on she is still looking for answers as to why her fiancé caught Covid, and whether the country should have locked down sooner. She said: “I remember at that time hearing Scotland’s Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch, above, saying on the radio, ‘If you have flu-like symptoms you might have caught the virus because the flu season is over.’ “I will never forget hearing him say that. That’s when I knew he had it.”

She knew that many other people would be going through the same emotional turmoil as herself and it led to her setting up Covid Families 19 Scotland – a Facebook community with more than 200 members.

Speaking on behalf of the group, Carolyn Murdoch (who lost her father to Covid) and Peter McMahon (whose wife Debbie died), said: “Connie thought of others in her time of grief and realised that a support network was needed as it would not only help Connie herself but the many other families suffering the same pain at that time.

“She set up Covid-19 Scotland support group, which was particularly important during lockdown as it gave the bereaved families a place to turn to relate their feelings and know they were not alone. She has been supportive and tried to involve group members in all communications but especially The Herald memorial at Pollok Park. We appreciate all Connie has done in starting the group and friendships that have been made along the way.”

Deborah Anderson

4. Roza Salih

She was the first refugee to be elected to political office in Scotland, when she won her seat on Glasgow Council – but Roza Salih had occupied a place in public life long before her historic win in May.

The SNP councillor for Greater Pollok has been a voice in the fight for the rights of refugees since, at the age of 15, in 2005, she and fellow pupils from Drumchapel High School campaigned to stop the UK Border Agency’s dawn raids and deportation of children.

The group of seven would become known as the Glasgow Girls and would successfully prevent the deportation of their school friend, Agnesa Murselaj, a Roma from Kosovo.

The Herald:

Such was their extraordinary feat, and battle to get there, that it inspired a musical drama, staged at the Citizens Theatre. Salih, now aged 33, feels like someone we, in Scotland, have known for years as we watched her grow as a political voice.

Earlier this year, the BBC named her one of the most influential women of 2022, alongside stellar figures like Billie Eilish, Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska and actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

There have, in Scotland, been few voices quite as potent and persistent as hers over refugee rights. Salih is Kurdish-born and co-founder of Scottish Solidarity with Kurdistan. She has campaigned for funding for scholarships for asylum seekers. In 2021, she spoke out against Priti Patel’s immigration reform proposals, declaring them “toxic” and “a disgrace”. She said: “Having been through the UK’s asylum system – and experienced first-hand how deeply flawed it is – I am appalled that the UK Government are planning on doubling down instead of fixing the issues.”

That she speaks from the position of having been there is part of her power. She’s the girl who was forced to grow up quickly by what she saw happening around her, first in Iraq, and then Scotland.

Salih was just 12 years old when she and her family came to Glasgow seeking asylum after her grandfather and uncles were executed for opposing Saddam Hussein – and found a system that made it harder than it should have been for her family.

In 2002, her father, who had been working as an interpreter, was told his right to work had been rescinded. Since he could no longer earn money, the family struggled, forced to get by on government vouchers.

This year, she says, has been life changing for her. “I have been elected as a councillor and this is a great achievement as I came to this country as a refugee,” she says.

“I have been overwhelmed by the supportive messages I have received around the world for my achievement. I hope to make Glasgow proud and work hard for the people. I hope to represent the diversity of Glasgow and through my representation to challenge the misconception of asylum seekers/refugees.”

She has spoken of how one of her goals is to become an MSP and help establish the immigration system in a newly independent Scotland. No longer a teenage Glasgow Girl, she is now a woman of influence – a voice that will, no doubt, only grow louder.

Vicky Allan

3. Eilish McColgan

Five months later, it remains an exhilarating moment – rich in emotion and ranking as a landmark personal achievement by one of Britain’s finest athletes.

Re-watch the BBC footage on YouTube from the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games. It’s the closing stages of the women’s 10,000 metres. In front, eating up the track, is the great Kenyan runner, Irine Cheptai. Just behind her is 31-year-old Eilish McColgan. At this moment, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether the Scot can overtake Cheptai and win the gold medal.

The Alexander Stadium crowd – a largely English audience – of 30,000 is yelling itself hoarse with excitement as it urges McColgan on to one last effort. “Patience required. Strength required,” the BBC commentator, Steve Cram, the renowned former middle-distance champion, yells into his microphone. “Speed required. Cheptai goes first!”

The Herald:

The bell sounds for the final, gruelling lap. Concentration and determination are etched deep on McColgan’s face. “Eilish McColgan digging deep, trying to hang on,” Cram says above the roar of the crowd.

Three-hundred metres out. Throwing a glance at one of the giant overhead screens around the stadium, Cheptai sees that McColgan is but a metre behind her. There is just no shaking her. Two hundred metres to go. Cheptai, then McColgan. First, then second. “McColgan has the whole crowd on her side,” says Cram. As indeed she does.

The home straight. One hundred metres to go. The noise from the crowd is off the charts. And then McColgan makes her expert move – a fantastic effort that sees her eclipse Cheptai on her right-hand side and then lift her well clear with each stride. “She’s going to make it!” exults Cram. “She’s going to do it! She’s going to emulate her mum!”

Barely seconds later, McColgan, her arms raised in elation and triumph, crosses the line, having in stunningly short time opened a substantial gap over Cheptai. It is her first major title. Her time: a Commonwealth Games record of 30 minutes 48.60 seconds. Cheptai’s: 30:49.52. In third place is another Kenyan, Sheila Kiprotich, on 31:09:46.

Overcome, McColgan sinks to the track and lies on her back. Moments later, a large saltire draped over her shoulders, she sprints towards her mother, Liz McColgan, who, enthralled, has been looking on. The embrace is joyous, heartfelt. Press photographers’ cameras click furiously. It is the picture that will be on every front page come the morning. Liz kisses and hugs her daughter, all smiles, all delight.

Liz, of course, had found fame by winning the 10,000m gold in 1986 and again in 1990. That had been a formidable achievement. Now her daughter had triumphed in spectacular style.

Afterwards, Eilish said: “It has been such an up-and-down year [she had had a bad bout of Covid earlier in the year, plus some minor injuries]. But I knew the fitness was somewhere in me. To have my family here … The crowd on that last 200, I cannot explain – it was vibrating through my whole body. Without the crowd I wouldn’t have finished like that tonight, and I just wanted it so bad.

“I knew the [two Kenyans] from the road circuit and I know they’re super-strong and would put in bursts to try and break up the pace. But you can see in that last 100m I wanted gold. It is an absolute dream. It is so special to have it here in the UK. These are my fourth Commonwealths and I have come sixth every time. I was ready to win the medal.”

Said Liz: “She ran the race I always knew she was capable of running. It was amazing to watch.”

Russell Leadbetter

2. Nick Ray

A sea kayaker spending a year paddling around Scotland’s coast has been overwhelmed by the kindness of strangers he has met along the way.

Nick Ray set out on a year-long adventure from his home in Tobermory on the isle of Mull on his 59th birthday this August.

He is paddling at the pace of nature, with his days often determined by the winds and sea, and his journey has captivated thousands of Scots.

“I did expect to meet people, but I didn’t expect my journey to capture the imagination in the way it has,” he said.

“So many people have been so very kind offering me places to stay or giving me food or cooking me meals, or just coming down to meet me on the shore.

“It’s just been really heart-warming,” he added.

Alongside the people he met in person, a strong Twitter following has meant he is surrounded by an “inspiring” community in even the most isolated parts of Scotland.

“It’s just really lovely to know that people are watching over me in a way and that they are interested and concerned,” he said.

While not Scottish by birth, Ray – who is a writer, photographer and mental health advocate – has lived on Mull with his wife for 15 years and described his journey around the country as an “incredible privilege”.

“Although I’m travelling every day, I feel really anchored to the country,” he said. “I’ve made Scotland my home. I’ve got no desire to travel anywhere else.

“Every day is just inspiring for me. There’s castles, there’s nice houses, there’s beautiful seascapes and beautiful coastline, there’s islands, there’s wildlife.”

Speaking on a visit to the Fairy Isles, near Lochgilphead, Mr Ray said some of the landscapes had him “feeling like a kid again”.

The Herald:

“I was just so overwhelmed with everything I was seeing and experiencing. It was just one of those days where the sounds, the sights, the smells, the whole experience was just really powerful,” he added.

However, it is not always smooth paddling but for the adventurer that is part of the reason for the 12-month expedition.

He knows that the bitter months of January and February present a “tough challenge”.

“When it’s pouring rain and winds howling, it can sap my spirit a bit but somehow, I enjoy that,” he said. “I find something in digging deep and overcoming some of those challenges. Even the tough times are enriching, because when I look back on them, I realise that I do have the inner strength to keep myself going which is really important, particularly with my mental health.”

The journey helps him power through his battles with depression and it is also an attempt to celebrate his life after an attempted suicide. It is also dedicated to a fellow kayaker, Toby Carr, who sadly died earlier this year due to cancer.

Speaking on the inspiration the 40-year-old gave to him, Nick Ray said: “While I was thinking about ending my life, he was thinking about making the most of his.

“We were at polar opposites in many respects, and it was because of his inspirational outlook that I was able to look at myself and think that I could recover and get myself back to good health again.

“He played a large part even though he didn’t know that.”

And what’s next for the itinerant wanderer? The kayaker is planning to “keep going northwards” before spending some time exploring “every nook and cranny” of the isle of Skye. Afterwards, he has his sights set on the Hebrides but he emphasises: “I am just going to take it as it comes.”

Ema Sabljak

1. Doddie Weir

ALREADY a larger-than-life figure during his playing days, Doddie Weir simply kept growing in stature after hanging up his rugby boots. Always regarded with affection by the sporting public because of his irrepressible cheerfulness, he also became the focus of far more widespread admiration during the last years of his life as he battled against motor neurone disease (MND).

That affection and admiration was never more in evidence than at BT Murrayfield last month, when – as it would turn out, just two weeks before his death aged 52 – he presented the match ball before Scotland’s Test match against New Zealand. He had performed the same ceremony the last time the teams met in Edinburgh, in 2017, just months after he was diagnosed with MND.

The Herald:

He had spent much of the intervening five years raising funds for research into the condition through his charity, the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation. The sum raised now exceeds £8million. Weir’s height, 6ft 6in, may have predisposed him to excel at rugby. Yet it was his personality which ensured that he did so with guts, gusto and good humour.

Born in 1970, he would win the first of his 61 Scotland caps while barely out of his teens. A key member of the hugely successful Melrose side of the early 1990s, he moved to Newcastle later in the decade when rugby went professional.

Many players and supporters believed that a lot of the fun went out of the game as a result of that change. But for Weir, it never left. Not in his playing days, which carried on until 2005. Not in his life after hanging up his boots, when if anything he became a better-known figure than he had been as a player, thanks to his regular appearances both on television and at international matches. And not even during these last five years, when he waged his personal battle against MND.

Besides being a regular for Scotland throughout the 1990s, Weir was also picked to play for the British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 1997. His tour was cut short by a serious injury, but he recovered and enjoyed five more years with Newcastle after that, then returned to Scotland to play for the Border Reivers side.

For a decade and more from 2005 onwards, it appeared he had embarked on a long and happy retirement from playing. But then in the middle of 2017 came the MND diagnosis.

In no time, he had begun plans to set up his foundation – the 5 in its name being the number of jersey he usually wore. Later that year, accompanied by his wife Kathy and their sons Hamish, Angus and Ben, he got a rapturous reception when he walked out on to the Murrayfield pitch before the All Blacks game. When he returned last month, in a wheelchair by that time, he was applauded not only by both sets of players, who gathered round him, but also by the 67,000 others in the ground.

George Wilson Weir
Born 4 July 1970
Died 26 November 2022

Stuart Bathgate

Fails of the year

Peter Hebblethwaite
You know you’ve had an interesting year when you google “most hated man in Britain” and your name comes up. That’s how Labour MSP Monica Lennon described Peter Hebblethwaite in March, after the P&O Ferries boss sacked nearly 800 staff by video message and replaced them with cheaper agency workers. Fortunately for Hebblethwaite, “most hated man in Britain” isn’t the only way he’s described online.You can also find him by googling “UK’s most hated CEO”.

Matt Hancock
Prior to this year, “cow’s anus” and “camel penis” were just popular nicknames for Matt Hancock. In 2022, they became his dinner. Having resigned in 2021 after an extramarital workplace winch breached social distancing guidelines created by whoever was Health Secretary at the time, he attempted to rehabilitate his reputation by entering the I’m a Celebrity… jungle. Fellow contestant Boy George described Hancock as “slimy and slippery”, but not everyone was so complimentary.

Boris Johnson
If you’re a fan of watching incompetent blonds escorted from Downing Street, 2022 was the year you were waiting for. Boris Johnson’s downfall was as embarrassing as it was overdue, and yet such was the scale of his successor’s failure that he was soon talking up the prospect of a return. His failure to corral enough support from MPs for a run in October’s leadership election was the icing on a particularly moreish cake.

James Corden
For years, James Corden has inspired contempt, but until 2022 it was hard to give a substantial reason beyond “just seems very annoying”. This year he gave us all something meatier to chew on, with high-profile New York restaurateur Keith McNally calling him “the most abusive customer to my servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago” and “a tiny cretin of a man”. Bit harsh – the man’s almost 5’ 8”.

David Beckham
Barely scraping by on a reported net worth of just £369 million, Beckham found much-needed work as an ambassador for the Qatar World Cup. Comedian Joe Lycett denounced Beckham’s promotional work for a country in which LGBTQ+ people are not tolerated, and pretended to shred £10,000 after the former England captain ignored his challenge to give up the role. Much like his country after the quarter-finals, Beckham’s reputation as an LGBTQ+ ally was finished.

Liz Truss
This paragraph might initially seem like it’s going nowhere, but it will soon make sense. This instalment in a series dedicated to public figures who failed in 2022 runs to 45 words. That’s one word for each day Prime Minister Liz Truss was in office.

Elon Musk
What’s the most cringeworthy attempt you’ve made to make friends? Laughed a bit too loud in the pub? Faked your way through a conversation about a film you’ve not seen? In 2022, Elon Musk spent $44 billion acquiring a social media platform, and only succeeded in making more people laugh at him. Since Musk’s takeover, Twitter has shed half its workforce and welcomed extremists back to the site, with hate speech spiking and users leaving in their droves. He did at least back up his “free speech champion” claims by … suspending people who criticise him.

Michelle Mone
Between the cost-of-living crisis, spiralling NHS waiting times and numerous strikes, it has in many respects been a grim year for Britain. When the history books recall 2022, however, it will be fondly remembered as the year of Michelle Mone’s downfall.

The businesswoman and Tory peer took a leave of absence from the House of Lords in December after it was reported that she and her children had allegedly received £29m which originated from the profits of a PPE business that had been awarded large government contracts after she had recommended it to ministers. She denies any wrongdoing.

Ronaldo has built his reputation on defying the odds. In 2022, critics suggested the 37-year-old was incapable of positively influencing Manchester United’s results. By dropping him to the bench, however, United became a far better side. Take that, cynics.

Suella Braverman
In a banner year for incompetent Tories, Braverman stood out from the pack. When she wasn’t breaching ministerial rules by sending an official document from her personal email to another MP, the Home Secretary was blaming protests on “the Guardian-reading, tofu-eating wokerati”.

Having resigned from the role on October 19 and been reappointed on October 25, hers was a year so surreal it must have felt like a dream.

Although, as per an interview in October, her dream is actually “to be having a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda”.