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It’s been a helluva year – the most shocking and life-changing that most of us have experienced. As 2020 ends, here are my annual Morgan Awards, for those who’ve inspired, amused, entertained and horrified us as the world reeled from coronavirus.
MOST SAVAGE QUIP: ‘Self-isolation is easy for you, Morgan,’ chortled Sir Bob Geldof on Good Morning Britain during the first national lockdown. ‘Nobody wants to be anywhere near you anyway!’
SECOND-MOST SAVAGE QUIP: When I suggested to former Bond girl Britt Ekland that I could replace Daniel Craig as 007, with the words ‘We’ve had Pierce Brosnan, it’s time for Piers Morgan’, she burst out laughing.
‘You need to lose a couple of corona kilos,’ came the withering reply.
SADDEST LOCKDOWN TWEET: ‘Sat in the bath at 2pm on a Monday watching an old episode of Geordie Shore,’ posted my eldest son Spencer, 27. ‘I’ve hit rock bottom.’
WORST-TIMED PERSONAL ANNOUNCEMENT: ‘Typical,’ Phillip Schofield told me, ‘I finally come out just as the rest of the world is ordered to stay in.’
POT/KETTLE AWARD FOR LAUGHABLE LACK OF SELF-AWARENESS: After Laurence Fox’s anti-woke rant on BBC1’s Question Time, the insufferably gobby Lily Allen raged: ‘Sick to death of luvvies like Fox forcing their opinions on everybody else.
Stick to acting, mate, instead of ranting about things you don’t know anything about.’
MOST BRUTALLY ACCURATE CRITIC: ‘He’s the modern-day Florence Foster Jenkins [the amateur opera singer known for her terrible voice]. Everyone around him has been telling him he’s funny,’ observed Barry Cryer about David Walliams, ‘but let’s be fair, he’s a good swimmer.’
BEST MARITAL ADVICE: ‘What’s been the secret of this marriage’s success?’ I asked Dame Joan Collins at a party to celebrate her and fifth husband Percy Gibson’s 18th wedding anniversary.
‘Separate bathrooms!’ she replied. ‘I’d say it’s more down to two other words,’ chuckled Percy. ‘Yes dear.’
BEST LIFE ADVICE: Bob Weighton, the world’s oldest man until his death in May, appeared on GMB after his 112th birthday in March and proffered the following pearl of wisdom: ‘What I’ve learnt in my life is that it’s far better to make a friend out of a possible enemy than an enemy out of a possible friend.’
GLOBAL PANDEMIC AVOIDANCE ADVISER OF THE YEAR: ‘Obviously, the answer is don’t eat bats!’ Ozzy Osbourne (above right) told me at his LA home. ‘They taste f**king terrible anyway.’
‘Obviously, the answer is don’t eat bats!’ Ozzy Osbourne (above) told me at his LA home. ‘They taste f**king terrible anyway.’
MOST ASTUTE SOCIAL MEDIA MEME: ‘Your grandparents were called to fight in world wars,’ read an anonymous viral post. ‘You’re being called to wash your hands and sit on the couch. Don’t f**k this up.’
WORST MAKE-UP MISHAP: When I was having to do my own cosmetic face-enhancement on GMB during lockdown, I accidentally selected the wrong pot and painted myself bright orange – sending Twitter into a lather of mockery.
‘It’s like a satsuma had a fling with a tangerine, and then they both went to a tanning booth,’ cackled Lorraine Kelly when she saw me.
MOST DREADFUL MUSICAL PERFORMANCE: Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot wrongly decided that what we really wanted to cheer us up in lockdown was her and famous friends, including Natalie Portman, Will Ferrell and Amy Adams, murdering John Lennon’s Imagine from their mansions.
Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot wrongly decided that what we really wanted to cheer us up in lockdown was her and famous friends murdering John Lennon's Imagine from their mansions
As one Twitter user put it: ‘A load of millionaire singers and actors singing “imagine no possessions” is not what I need at 8.55am.’
LEAST EMPATHETIC STAR: When I had a brief coronavirus scare in May, many famous friends kindly expressed their concern – apart from Vinnie Jones. ‘Oh, come on Piers,’ he texted, ‘don’t be going for the sympathy vote with all the housewives you complete b*llend.
Let me know when you get over the sniffles you panzy and I’ll see you on the golf course.’ Attached was a photo of smirking Mr Jones in a beanie hat with a large woollen penis stuck on it.
MOST WORRYING VERBAL EXCHANGE: ‘Shall I cut your hair?’ asked my wife Celia when salons were shut. ‘Have you ever done it before?’ I replied nervously. ‘No,’ she replied, ‘but I’ve watched a YouTube tutorial.’
HYPOCRITE OF THE YEAR: Multi-millionaire champagne socialist Steve Coogan, who furloughed the gardener and housekeeper at his £4 million country home, making the public pay 80 per cent of their wages.
BEST PREDICTION: Me. On May 25 I wrote: ‘I’d bet good money Dominic Cummings won’t still be working in No 10 by Christmas. You can survive anything in politics – except becoming a hypocritical national laughing stock.’ He lost his job on November 13.
SADDEST BERKS IN BRITAIN: Eight people complained to Ofcom, the TV regulator, because I took one sip of a pint of beer at 6.42am to mark pubs being able to reopen after lockdown.
The complainants were apparently ‘outraged’ that I ‘broke health and safety rules’ by boozing at work. If I’d known it would annoy the halfwit killjoys that much, I’d have downed the whole pint in one, standing on my head.
BEST RESIGNATION STATEMENT: When I asked Jake Wood why he’d quit EastEnders after 15 glorious years as womaniser Max Branning, he replied: ‘I’ve had four marriages, ten affairs, four children, one of whom died falling from the roof of The Queen Vic, been buried alive in a coffin in the woods, run over, framed for murder, imprisoned and suffered a failed suicide attempt.
Max needs a rest.’
LEAST SUCCESSFUL ATTEMPT AT ANONYMITY: I took part in an online speed-awareness course and, in an effort to preserve a modicum of discretion, I used my middle name, Stefan, as my on-screen user moniker, only for colleagues of another participant to spot me instantly and scoff: ‘You’re not kidding us, Piersy!’
EVERY CLOUD HAS A SILVER LINING AWARD: When Simon Cowell broke his back falling off an electric bike, he was forced to abandon the vegan diet he’s been pretending to enjoy.
‘I’ve told him he needs more protein,’ girlfriend Lauren confirmed. ‘So we are back to roast dinners and cottage pie.’ Almost worth the pain.
BUFFOON OF THE YEAR: When I interviewed Boris Johnson in 2007, I told him: ‘I don’t really buy into this buffoon act. I think you play it all up to make money and charm the public, when underneath it all lurks a calculating, ambitious and very serious brain.’
‘That’s very kind of you, Piers,’ he replied, ‘but you must consider the possibility that underneath it all there really may lurk a genuine buffoon.’
MY HERO OF THE YEAR: That marvellous man Captain Sir Tom Moore who, aside from making the best-ever Life Stories dressing-room rider request – ‘I’d like two cans of Coke, a bar of Dairy Milk chocolate… and six blondes!’ – continues to inspire us all with his message of hope.
‘The future is in front of us all,’ he told me and Susanna during one of his many GMB appearances, ‘and things will get better and we will get through this very difficult time. Remember, tomorrow will be a good day.’
Never have those words carried more resonance, nor have I ever meant these words more: Happy New Year!