‘Pasapalabra’, Eurovision or the death of Antonio Alcántara: the great television moments of 2021 | TV

Each year begins and ends in front of the television. 2021 started with one of the most powerful images of the last 12 months: two women, Ana Obregón and Anne Igartiburu, silently holding hands in front of an empty Puerta del Sol for the first time at the turn of the year. Many saw in this plane a symbol of the resilience and strength of the human being. It was one more example of the strange connection that is established between the viewers of that device, television, which marks our lives so much and which, of course, has marked 2021. Although it will not be repeated this year due to Obregón’s positive for coronavirus.

Little more than a week went by when television was one more window for the purposes of Philomena. The snowfall that paralyzed much of the center of the peninsula triggered Telemadrid’s audience, which on January 9, the day the capital woke up white, achieved its highest share of the screen in nine years, 12%, reaching some point in the tomorrow to peaks that exceeded 29%. Presenters and collaborators of live programs were absent due to the impossibility of reaching the sets, and even an unusual event occurred: Saturday Deluxe changed the day of issue due to the impossibility of taking place. According to a report by the consulting firm Barlovento Comunicación, the storm triggered television consumption. Between January 7 and 12, an average of 30 more minutes of television was seen compared to the same period of the previous year (in the Community of Madrid the increase was 48 minutes).

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In the early stages of the year, the turbulence that had been pursuing RTVE seemed to be coming to an end. On February 25, the public corporation saw its board of directors renewed after a political pact was sealed. From there came the new president of the organization, José Manuel Pérez Tornero, who on March 25 was elected by the plenary session of the Congress of Deputies. The new team arrived in the lowest hours of public television, plunged into a deep crisis and with negative audience records. Since then there have been changes in the directive, resignations, replacements and variations in the organization chart, but the task of recovering the audience and lost relevance remains pending for 2022.

Television is also culture, like the one celebrated by the Goya every year. The ceremony that was held on March 6 had Antonio Banderas and María Casado as presenters, a hybrid gala (with guests on stage and nominees in their homes), more solemn than usual and cameos from international stars supporting Spanish cinema. Very different was the other television milestone that took place in March: the end of Women and men and vice versa. The format, which was on the air for 13 years and which at the time hooked thousands of young people who entertained themselves with the appointments of its participants and even dreamed of being tronistas, said goodbye, victim of wear and tear and the evolution of reality television. The viewers then preferred to get hooked on the Telecinco program in which, in various installments, Rocío Carrasco spoke to millions of people of vicarious violence while breaking the silence that she had maintained so far about her personal life.

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Rocío Carrasco, in a moment of 'Rocío, tell the truth to stay alive'.
Rocío Carrasco, in a moment of ‘Rocío, tell the truth to stay alive’.

May is the month of one of the great television events, Eurovision. This year’s festival, which was held again – under strict anticovid protocol – after a year absent due to the pandemic, maintained the custom of leaving Spain in the queue: Blas Cantó finished in penultimate position. In return, he gave away one of the most stimulating victories of recent years, that of the Italian rock group Maneskin with the theme Shut up and Good (Quiet and good). Criticisms of the low support and dissemination of RTVE for the Spanish candidacy have also had their response in the creation of Benidorm Fest, an event for the selection of the national representative that will be held in early 2022.

At this point, you might think that there are few things left with which Tell me how it happened may surprise. But the Spanish series that this year turned 20 on the air took a script twist, bringing the plot to the present to show how the Alcántara faced the coronavirus pandemic. The last chapter of this unusual season also gave away one more twist: the possibility of attending, thanks to those temporary leaps, the death, in 2021, of Antonio Alcántara, one of the most iconic characters in national television fiction. The episode aired on May 20. A week later, another emblematic fiction was at the center of the television conversation. The six actors who played the friends of Friends they had reunited for a special that exploded nostalgia and served as a tribute to the hugely popular comedy.

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An image from the 'Friends' special.
An image from the ‘Friends’ special.Terence Patrick (Terence Patrick)

Summer was the time of the great sports events inherited from 2020. Mediaset was in charge of the broadcast of the Eurocup. On July 6, Spain was eliminated on penalties in the semifinal against Italy with a dizzying audience for Telecinco: the 90 regulatory minutes had an average of 11,767,000 spectators; the extension reached 13,508,000 viewers; and penalties were the most watched broadcast of the year, with 14,170,000 viewers and a share of 72.9%. Then it was the turn of the Tokyo Games broadcast by TVE and Eurosport. The broadcasts of La 1 achieved an average screen share of 15.5%, and a total of 30,424,000 viewers connected at some point with the Tokyo Games on television.

The records

Throughout 2021, three major communicators made public the health setbacks they have had to face. In February, Julia Otero announced that she was temporarily leaving the airwaves to focus on recovering from cancer. Otero already has a return date to his Onda Cero program: January 10. Cancer is also the reason why Ana Rosa Quintana announced her temporary withdrawal from the screens, although she will continue to work at her production company, Unicorn Content. And Carles Francino moved his listeners on May 10 when he returned to Window of the SER with the story of how the covid had hit him.

Carles Francino, on Monday on his return to ‘La Ventana’, on Cadena SER.

In the records section, Pablo Díaz managed to win the pot of Pass word after seeing his face inside the Rosco of the program more times than any other contestant in the history of the format in Spain. Already in autumn, the South Korean The Squid Game It would become the most watched Netflix series in the history of the platform, a worldwide phenomenon in an era that knows no borders in the dissemination of audiovisual content. And in September, Antena 3 managed to lead the monthly linear television audiences in Spain alone, thus breaking a streak of three consecutive years of leadership of Telecinco. The overtaking It began to be forged in August, when both channels staged a technical tie, and was confirmed in November with a new victory for Antena 3 (after another for Telecinco in October).

Pablo Díaz, in 'El hormiguero' after winning the 'Pasapalabra' jackpot.
Pablo Díaz, in ‘El hormiguero’ after winning the ‘Pasapalabra’ jackpot.

In September, the Emmys elevated Netflix to the throne of world television fiction with the victories of The Crown Y Lady’s gambit as best drama and miniseries, respectively, of the season. Ted Lasso, from Apple TV +, completed a winning trident dominated, for the first time, by platforms. On the same day that the Emmy Awards were awarded, on September 19, Spanish viewers watched, stunned, a phenomenon of nature as impressive as it was destructive: the eruption of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on La Palma. As expected, the Canary Islands regional television registered its best audience data, and raised its news to all-time highs, such as the share of 44.5% that it achieved the day after the eruption began or 35.2% of average quota on Sunday in which the volcano began to expel lava (very far from the 5.2% that it marked a week before).

Around with the platforms

The platforms have also been in the news this year, with the arrival on October 26 of HBO Max to renew the service that the brand already offered in Spain, and the launch of RTVE Play, a substitute for A la carte on the public channel. The platforms have been at the center of the debate around the new audiovisual law, key for the Government to carry out the State Budgets for 2022. After many rounds, the final agreement between the Government and ERC assumes that the platforms that broadcast in The entire State will have to provide funds for new production in other co-official languages ​​that would add up to about 15 million euros.

A moment from the final batch of chapters of 'La casa de papel'.
A moment from the final batch of chapters of ‘La casa de papel’.

And in December, the finals. The month started with the final farewell to The Money Heist. The great global phenomenon of Spanish fiction and the series that helped place Spain on the platform scene closed the blow to the Bank of Spain, but announced a derivative series, Berlin, about the past of the character played by Pedro Alonso. Another door that was closed on December 23 is that of Late Motiv, the program that Andreu Buenafuente presented in # 0 of Movistar. Although the presenter and comedian has new projects underway, the farewell to this format, a late night calm and with an authorial aroma, it tasted at the end of an era.

More television farewells, and more painful: the deaths of the singer and triumph Àlex Casademunt, the journalist and producer David Beriain, the journalist Mila Ximénez, the singer and presenter Raffaella Carrá, the actor Jordi Rebellón, the presenter and critic Antonio Gasset, the actress Verónica Forqué …

The circle will close by saying goodbye to 2021 in front of television. Or from the screen, because to see Ramón García’s cape, you will have to go through the Ibai Llanos channel on Twitch. Times change and formats evolve. But television always remains.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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