james debate
james debate

Sunday 27 December 2020

debbie debbies end of year awards 2020 covid coronavirus office space michael bolton best films music
First let me address the elephant in the room. I thought long and hard about not doing the Debbie Awards this year. After all, 2020 is not a year that many would want to remember, much less see honoured in such a way. But after careful deliberation I was minded of the precedent set in the case of Office Space (c. Mike Judge - 1999): "He's the one who sucks, why should I have to change?" And besides, a year with so much bad only makes it all the more important to celebrate the good. So I will be doing the Debbie Awards this year after all, but I am not going to enjoy it.

Otherwise, it's a new decade, so new Debbie. Enjoy it in all of its beardy glory. And now, without further ado, let the curtain fall at long last upon 2020 as we begin our definitive review of the past 12 months:

2020 Debbie Awards

Cinema & TV

1. The Debbie for TV Show of the Year 
Winner: Schitt's Creek (CBC)
Runner Up: The Boys (Amazon)

best tv show 2020 schitt creek cbc dan eugene levy

If 2020 is remembered for one thing, surely it will be as the year in which the world fell in love with Schitt's Creek, a TV series that had been around for several years but for some reason we only started caring about just as it was finishing. This is one of those series that people had been telling me to watch for a long while and I am glad I finally did. Schitt's Creek is a delight, funny but also warm and comforting, filled with stellar performances from its talented cast. It will be sorely missed now that it is gone, but is sure to live on as one of those series that you can happily throw on an episode and unwind for years to come.

Dark, raunchy and surprisingly complex. The Boys' irreverent satire on consumerism and pop culture has achieved something beyond its graphic novel source material and crafted an identity of its own. Now in its second season and getting better with each episode, this show is fast becoming a crown jewel in Amazon's burgeoning original content library. Superbly entertaining and irresistible television.

2. The Debbie for New TV Show of the Year 
Winner: Ted Lasso (Apple TV+)
Runner Up: Devs (FX)

best new tv show 2020 ted lasso apple TV plus TV+ jason sudeikis

Easily the surprise package of television in 2020. When Apple announced a TV series based on a forgettable series of one-note NBC sports ads many people, myself included, were quick to scoff and predict that this would be lowest common denominator nonsense. So to have turned this into something that is not only good, but very good indeed, is quite some accomplishment. Ted Lasso is funny, but in a tasteful, measured way, with a pitch perfect balance between humour and heart. Like many of the best comedies, Ted Lasso presents an idealised version of the world, one where even the bad guys are charming in their own way. This is a series that constantly exceeds expectations, fleshing out seemingly superficial characters into something that is easy to love. I look forward to season 2.

Coming in second is a series that, until recently, I felt pretty certain would take the Debbie this year. Devs is a new miniseries from sci-fi mastermind Alex Garland, author of The Beach, The Tesseract28 Days Later, and more recently director of Ex Machina and Annihilation. The result is as mind-bending as you would expect, asking very real and interesting questions about pre-determinism and whether the laws of physics permit free will to exist. It's a very fascinating topic and one that I have pondered in the past myself, depicted with genuine insight through stylish storytelling. Unfortunately things do get a bit muddled towards the end, as the series veers from real science to Hollywood science fiction, but overall this is still premium sci-fi and well worth watching.

3. The Debbie for Film of the Year 
Winner: Trial of the Chicago 7
Runner Up: Hamilton

best film 2020 trial chicago seven 7 aaron sorkin sacha baron cohen joseph gordon levitt eddie redmayne michael keaton mark rylance

In many ways, 2020 has been an unfortunate year for film. Most of the year's most anticipated releases ended up being delayed until 2021 due to the pandemic. Many others released direct to streaming platforms (a good development that I hope persists in some way, especially around the holiday period). Despite this, there have still been a number of strong releases this year, films that deserve to be lauded in any context. So make no mistake, this is a Debbie well earned, despite the abdication of many of the year's expected big-hitters.

It is somewhat ironic that Aaron Sorkin, a man who once played himself on Entourage and insisted that he would never want to become a director since he's a writer by trade, has actually moved into the realm of directing. If his first project, Molly's Game did not strike as wholly convincing, his latest film sure does. Trial of the Chicago 7 is a dramatisation of the events surrounding the real-life trial of the Chicago Seven, a group of anti-Vietnam war protestors charged with crimes in the wake of the 1968 riots. While I had no doubts that Sorkin could write his way through what might otherwise have been a relatively dry courtroom drama, what I did not expect was for him to be able to direct it in such an exciting, kinetic fashion. The result is a film at the peak of its genre and a highlight of 2020 cinema.

It may not be eligible for the Oscars, but you ain't in Hollywood anymore fella. These are the Debbies and here I make my own rules. Hamilton released back in the summer, an amalgamated recording of various performances of the now legendary musical featuring the original Broadway cast. That millions all over the world would be able to finally see this brilliant show for themselves would ordinarily be sufficient cause for celebration, but it is made all the more remarkable by just how well it comes across as a film in its own right. It is difficult to put a theatre performance on the big screen, I have never seen it pulled off with any great degree of success, but here they have managed something very impressive, capturing the energy and immediacy in a way that has defied many others. This is not just a visual cast recording for fans of the show, but two and a half hours of entertainment to be relished.

4. The Debbie for Variety Show Host of the Year 
Winner: John Krasinski, Some Good News

jim krasinski some good news covid coronavirus talk show host of the year 2020

In a year where we could all do with a pick-me-up, few have stepped up to the plate to make it happen as much as John Krasinski. The former star of the Office (and now talented filmmaker in his own right) hosted Some Good News, a tragically short-lived webseries the sole premise of which was to celebrate the good news of the day from around the world, in contrast to the general news media's tendency to focus on reporting the tragic and awful. While this series was created as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic, it's a premise that would have been equally valid in most years. It sounds so deceptively simple, almost shallow. But the way in which it was pulled off with genuinely good humour, clever celebrity cameos and remarkably heartfelt showstoppers makes this a very special creation indeed, well worth a Debbie.

5. The Debbie for Hollywood Rising Star of the Year 
Winner: Kingsley Ben-Adir

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One name you are sure to be hearing more of in the coming years is Kingsley Ben-Adir. Two years ago, Kingsley was a largely unknown British theatre actor, but he has had one heck of a run and emerged as a bona fide one to watch. In just twelve months he has appeared in the well received Disney Christmas film Noelle, the hotly tipped Malcolm X story One Night in Miami, the hit HBO series Love Life and played Barack Obama in the the award winning political drama The Comey Rule. It's a hot streak of which any actor would be proud and I expect there's only more to come.

6. The Debbie for YouTube Channel of the Year 
Winner: Kurzgesagt, in a nutshell

debbies youtube channel of the year kurzgesagt in a nutshell 2020

YouTube at its best can be informative, entertaining, and address niche topics that most mainstream media will never touch. Kurzgesagt covers all these bases, with a series of slickly animated education videos that address topics as wide ranging as Designer Babies, automation, the healthiness of milk, and pulsar stars. Science, philosophy, politics, biology, health and safety, nutrition, this channel touches on so many different topics and approaches all of them with the same sensitivity and fact-based approached (indeed all data is sourced). There's something here to cater to any interest, perfect for anyone with some intellectual curiosity.

Music, Art & Theatre

7. The Debbie for Theatrical Production of the Year 
Winner: The Haystack(Hampstead Theatre)

haystack hampstead bush trump cia gchq edward snowden chelsea manning best theatre 2020

I figured that this might be a tricky year for this award, given that the theatres have been closed for most of the year. Sure, there have been shows streamed online, but for the most part these have been recording of older productions, rather than actually new theatre. Fortunately I did manage to see a few shows in the first two months of the year, one of which was good enough that it would have been a contender even in an ordinary year of theatre. The Haystack tackles issues of digital privacy, GCHQ snooping, and all kinds of political intrigue and digital espionage that always feels uncomfortably close to reality. It makes for an enthralling, yet brainy drama with sharp writing, stylish directing and anchored by strong performances. Excellent theatre.

8. The Debbie for Album of the Year 
Winner: We Will Always Love You - The Avalanches
Runners Up: Shore - Fleet Foxes, Imploding the Mirages - The Killers

avalanches we will always love you since i left wildflower killers imploding mirage fleet foxes shore third album best album 2020

If there is one area of entertainment that has been relatively unaffected by global events over the past twelve months, it is music. As a form of media that is already mainly consumed at home or on one's own personal devices, the business of production required only a relatively smooth adjustment, with delays amounting to a few months compared to entire years as we saw in television and film. So there was no shortage of decent music this year. But in a year crowded with notable releases, one album stood above the rest: We Will Always Love You, the third studio album from elusive plunderphonics outfit The Avalanches. Introspective, but still bursting with the band's typical creativity and playful spirit. This is a sublime production that works well as a whole and as individual tracks, most notably the likes of Running Red Lights, Interstellar Love, and The Divine Chord.

Meanwhile it has been an impressive return to form for folk rockers Fleet Foxes, whose new album Shore ranks up their with the finest the genre has produced in recent years. Crisp melodies rendered with brilliant complexity and the spark of heat that was sorely missing from their last album, with great tunes like Can I Believe YouSunblindFeatherweight, among others. This is top drawer stuff from a great band and easily a musical highlight of 2020.

For our second runner up, we must make honourable mention of The Killers, a band who in 2020 produced what has to be their best album in years, Imploding the Mirage. This is an album that hearkens back to the very best the band has produced. In My Own Soul's Warning they channel the Springsteen energy of Sam's Town. With Dying Breed they turn to that driven, electronic rock and roll style that typified Hot Fuss and Day & Age. Then there's the fantastic My God, a roof-raiser more in the style of Brandon Flowers' solo work.

9. The Debbie for Debut Album of the Year 
Winner: Hugh Harris - Hugh Harris
Runner Up: Your Hero is Not Dead - Westerman

hugh harris kooks best debut album 2020

This year's winner came as a surprise. When I heard that Hugh Harris, best known as the lead guitarist of British indie band The Kooks, was releasing a solo album, I expected some pleasingly breezy rock and roll tracks. What I was not expecting from his eponymous debut was a collection of such infectiously catchy tracks, with such a high level of consistency throughout. Curious Illusions and Earth Like You are just brilliant tracks, but check out also Icy Palace, a song that is guaranteed to get stuck in your head.

One name that I am sure we will be hearing plenty from in coming years is indie pop sensation Westerman. He was tipped for a big break this year and accordingly his debut album Your Hero is Not Dead was met with general acclaim for its breezy, introspective style. Key tracks like Confirmation and Waiting on Design bring to mind other low-fi artists such as The xx, but infused with a distinctly echoey 1980s flavour. Very promising indeed.

10. The Debbie for Song of the Year 
Winner: Queen Bee - Johnny Flynn
Runners Up: Become a Mountain - Dan Deacon, The One - Lemon Twigs

queen bee johnny flynn dan deacon lemon twigs best song 2020

For perhaps the first time ever, this year's lineup of top tracks does not feature any music from our winners in the best album categories. It's always very difficult to pick out individual songs from an entire year of music. In such cases you need to learn to go with your gut and in this case my gut is telling me that Johnny Flynn's folksy Queen Bee is the standout piece of music from twelve months in which there have been many. Simplistic sounding on the surface, but intricate and playful with a certain timeless quality that ensures it will live long in the memory.

And now for something completely different: from charming folk music to the dazzlingly complex electronic stylings of Dan Deacon and in particular this year's Become a Mountain. As brilliantly experimental as we have come to expect from Deacon, his latest rumination on mortality and life manages to capture something quite profound and pensive, without stifling his soaring pop ambitions.

We close with yet another completely different genre, Lemon Twigs and their delightful slice of retro rock and roll, The One. Lemon Twigs have built a career on crafting punchy and enjoyable retro rock and roll heavily inspired by the bands of yesteryear like Buddy Holly, The Ramones, and The Beatles among many others. Their latest in particular apes on those Buddy Holly riffs and Beatles harmonies and the result is absolutely irresistible.

11. The Debbie for Live Performance of the Year 
Winner: Zucchero

zucchero covid coronavirus best live performance 2020

For obvious reasons, 2020 has been a somewhat limited year for live in-person musical performances, instead we have mainly had to make do with online live-streams. Fortunately there have been a huge number of those, from casual Instagram moments to massive, choreographed benefit concerts. There have been some great artists performing live for viewers at home, but out of all of them, I think there was one in particular who stood out to me: Italian songwriter Zucchero and his soulful rendition of Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometime performed as part of this summer's One World: Together at Home concert. A perfect capture of the melancholy of the moment performed with genuine heart.

12. The Debbie for Art Exhibition of the Year 
Winner: The Affordable London Art Fair

affordable london art fair covid coronavirus best art exhibition 2020

On a similar note: art exhibitions. For reasons we are all aware, this would be an otherwise impossible Debbie to award in 2020 with museums basically shut down. But instead of scrub this prize entirely for the year, I would like to use this to draw attention to the Affordable Art Fair Online. The Affordable Art Fair is a wonderful organisation that does in-person events in a variety of locations. In the absence of those fairs, they now have an online collection that's free to view and can be browsed for purchase. It's a great way to get started on building your own art collection without having to break the bank, and also to support local artists in this difficult time.

13. The Debbie for Book of the Year 
Winner: Daisy Jones and the Six - Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones and the six taylor jenkins reid best novel book 2020

As regular readers of this blog will recall (or should do, I mean I posted about this like a week ago) I had a shall we say long shortlist for this prize. But the winner was rarely in doubt. Daisy Jones and the Six is an excellent novel and I have absolutely nothing negative to say about it. This tells the story of a fictional band of the same name, allegedly based loosely on the history of Fleetwood Mac, in the style of a documentary film. The quality of the writing here really is excellent in many ways. Vivid and believable characters with motivations that are explored to just the right extent without feeling like forced subtext. The pacing in particular is just about perfect, never feeling like the story is dragging whilst also never feeling like it has to rush through it's plot points.

Business & Technology

14. The Debbie for Scientific/Technological Breakthrough of the Year 
Winner: Covid-19 Vaccine
Runner Up: Life possibly detected on Venus

covid coronavirus vaccine venus life best important technological breakthrough 2020t

This year has actually seen a number of very interesting scientific developments, but from these there can only reasonably be one winner. The development of a vaccine from scratch is something that typically takes years, so to have come up with an effective Covid-19 vaccine in less than a year is nothing short of a modern miracle of science, a testament to how damned clever we can be when the pressure is on (and clearly when huge amounts of cash are funding it). Here's hoping that 2021 sees a nice speedy rollout, but in the meantime the efficiency and ruthlessness with which our civilisation has mastered this thing should make us all proud.

But I also wanted to highlight some non-virus news from 2020 and the one that most caught my imagination was this potential discovery of bacterial life in the atmosphere of Venus. I can practically hear some of your dozing off as I write that, but it really can not be overstated just how significant a discovery it would be to finally confirm that humanity is not the only life in existence. These findings are still to be confirmed, but if they ultimately are then it will mark a profound moment that calls for a rethinking in the minds of many as to our place in the universe.

15. The Debbie for Videogame Console of the Year
Winner: PC

PC computer windows mac best console for gaming 2020

PC has won this Debbie a few years in a row now, which is not necessarily surprising as the current console generation winds to a close and current systems more frequently run up against the limitations of their hardware. But we are in the midst of the dawn of a new console generation, which theoretically should mean some really high quality new hardware custom tailored to the gaming experience. Only one problem: I don't have one and until shortages are resolved, I won't have one. So for now, PC remains king, we'll see if that's still the case next year.

16. The Debbie for Videogame of the Year 
Winner: Crusader Kings III (PC)
Runners Up: Cyberpunk 2077 (PC), Animal Crossing: New Horizons (Switch)

crusader kings cyberpunk 2077 sayonara wild hearts pc console game of the year 2020

How does one decide what the "best" game of the year is? The most fun? The most memorable? Or just the best executed? The two games which stand out most from 2020 are contrasts in these disparate points. One is a game of such ambition and emotional impact, but a mess in terms of execution, the other is a more conceptually modest strategy title, but one that has been honed to absolute perfection. In this instance I have gone for the latter and award my Debbie to Crusader Kings III, the latest in Paradox Interactive's series of medieval strategy. As always, the unique hook of this series is the blending of the strategy genre with storytelling/RPG aspects. This latest iteration takes the best aspects from its predecessor as well as the nearly decade's worth of expansions, and has produced arguably the finest strategy game on the market today and one of the best story generators ever conceived.

In second place is Cyberpunk 2077, one of the most hyped games of the last several years the release of which has been met with no small share of controversy due to bugs, missing features, and accusations the company misled consumers in the build up to launch. Through all the controversy, though, is one of the greatest worlds ever created in a videogame, with story, visuals, and a level quest design that ranks up there with some of the best ever. It's a bug-riddled, half-finished mess, but underneath all the wet muck is a gemstone waiting to be polished.

I will also give honourable mention to a game that got a great many people through lockdown this year: Animal Crossing: New Horizons. At a time when most of us were stuck inside for weeks on end, Animal Crossing provided some welcome escapism, a chance to craft your own dream island, a village full of colourful characters, and build your dream cartoon home. It also helps that New Horizons is an exceptionally well designed iteration of this long-running series with strong attention to detail and a delightful amount of customisation options.

17. The Debbie for Company of the Year
Winner: Wild

bloomscape small startup company of the year 2020

Businesses focused on environmental sustainability are (joyfully) a dime a dozen these days, but Wild differentiates itself by having a product that is not only great in concept but just great in general. Wild make a deodorant stick that aims to do away with all the associated plastic waste. The aluminium case is reusable, one simply inserts a new cartridge when the previous one is empty. The cartridges themselves are completely biodegradable and compostable with zero plastic anywhere in the product or packaging. This is all obviously a boon for the environment, but fortunately it's also a very fine quality product in its own right. The aluminium cases are gorgeous with a very solid build quality. The deodorant cartridges themselves come in a variety of different fragrances (I'm quite partial to fresh cotton and sea salt) and contains no aluminium, so no irritation and no nasty aluminium stains on your shirts. A portion of all sales also goes to climate charity On a Mission. Great product that makes a difference.


18. The Debbie for Footballer of the Year 
Winner: Robert Lewandowski - Bayern Munich

robert lewandowski bayern munich best footballer player in the world football 2020

Robert Lewandowski has been in the game for a long time, but this is finally his year. The towering striker's form for Bayern Munich has been exceptional, bagging an astonishing 55 goals (more than a goal a game) during a disjointed Covid-19 impacted season that saw him named the European Golden Boot winner as well as the recipient of this year's FIFA Men's Player award. If the Ballon D'Or had not been scrapped, he would surely have been a shoo-in for that prize as well. At 32, Lewandowski is no spring chicken, but for the time being at least he appears to be at the top of his game.

19. The Debbie for Under-21 Footballer of the Year 
Winner: Erling Håland - Borussia Dortmund

erling håland borussia dortmund best young footballer player in the world 2020

Second year running for Erling Håland, who has lived up to his billing following a move to Borussia Dortmund. The man has scored an eye-watering 33 goals in 32 appearances for his new club and become the first teenager ever to score in five consecutive Champions League games as well as the second teenager to score ten Champions League goals.  But it is not just the number of goals, as the manner of his play - that combination of power and explosive pace. His ability to turn and run on a sixpence is as good as any player I've seen. Still only twenty, this guy is not just one of the best young players in the world right now, but among the best of any age. A real star in the making.

20. The Debbie for Football Manager of the Year 
Winner: Jürgen Klopp - Liverpool

best football manager in the world 2020 jurgen klopp

It would be easy for me to add to the chorus of praise that has been directed towards Jürgen Klopp, but the man really does deserve it. This was the year in which he finally ended Liverpool's decades long search for a league title. Many have come close, but Klopp is the man who, after all these years, was finally the one to make it happen. He will surely go down in club folklore. Certainly, it is a victory for proponents of giving a manager time and years in which to pursue his vision (this transformation did not happen overnight), but even given all the time in the world few managers would have been able to execute this project so successfully, and many had tried.

21. The Debbie for Football Club of the Year 
Winner: Liverpool FC

football club of the year 2020 liverpool

Every club has its day, and right now Liverpool FC is having a glorious day. It is hard to argue against them being the best team in world football right now, having been crowned Champions of Europe two seasons ago and Champions of England this year (and having been named runners up in both competitions in the alternate year). This is an accolade that is earned not just by their on-the-pitch performances, as much as the extensive work that has been done to turn what was, until recently, a pretty old fashioned kind of outfit into one of the best run clubs in the business. Profitable, an academy producing world class talent, and a brand that makes them one of the planet's sporting icons. I am not a Liverpool fan, but it must be a good time to be one.

Current Events

22. The Debbie for Politician of the Year 
Winner: Joe Biden

joe biden politician of the year 2020

It is difficult argue anyone else for this award. After decades in politics, Joe Biden will finally become President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world. That alone earns this Debbie, but he surely deserves even extra credit for the manner in which he has claimed this victory: becoming only the third candidate in the past century to defeat a sitting President, staging a remarkable comeback during the Democratic primaries having been considered all but out of the race less than a year ago following defeat in all three of the initial contests. 

Defeating an incumbent is no easy challenge, even more so when an ongoing pandemic prevents you from staging any in-person campaign events. The fact that he managed to pull this off, sure it speaks to the weakness of his scandal-ridden opponent, but also says much of his appeal as a candidate and as a human being. The entire world celebrates the dawn of a new era in which decency and the rule of law once again reign supreme in America.

23. The Debbie for Scandal of the Year 
Winner: Trump attempts to abolish democracy

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First the good news: Donald Trump will no longer be President in a few days, meaning this is, hopefully, the last time he will be mentioned on this website. It speaks to the nature of his chaotic regime that this particular award has been mainly a foregone conclusion during his tenure, and it will be refreshing to see a 2021 in which there is once again actual competition here. But sadly, Trump has once again earned this award and in truth he probably holds four of the top five positions on the ranking to claim this award. This is, after all, a year in which he was impeached for high crimes and misdemeanours, confirmed to be the target of multiple major investigations into criminal fraud and financial crimes, and implicated in arguably the worst bribery-for-pardons scandal in American history. 

Yes, believe it or not that all happened this year, but they aren't winning this Debbie. No, at the end of the day none of the above can trump a good old fashioned coup d'etat. And let's not mince words, that is exactly what has been happening in the wake of Donald Trump's electoral defeat back in November: a concerted, unlawful attempt to supersede the results of a democratic election and unseat America's duly elected leader in order to install himself in office. Donald Trump has done a lot of terrible things while in office, several of which are likely to have risen to the level of criminal in nature, but in this writer's view none will prove to have been quite so appalling as a literal attempt to abolish American democracy. Enjoy your final Debbie Mr. President, you will not be missed.

24. The Debbie for Cause of the Year
Winner: Democratic Enfranchisement

corruption democracy enfranchisement right to vote voting election democratic republican trump brexit nazi fascist autocracy authoritarian most important issue 2020

America likes to think of itself as the land of the free and the beating heart of democracy on this planet. Sadly this is laughably far from the truth. The Economist's Democratic Index ranks the United States at only 25th in the world, with the level of "flawed democracy", just one level above "hybrid regime". This is the 2019 ranking as well, there is every likelihood that the country will sink even further in the rankings after what we have seen in 2020.

The sad truth is that millions in America do not have the right to vote nationally, whether this is due to being lesser citizens of non-States such as Puerto Rico or Washington DC, or for being convicted felons. Depending on the state you live in, even those with minor offences such as drug possession can be denied the right to vote forever. It is tragically the case that even in 2020 many Americans can be denied the right to vote on the basis of their race or background (see Oscar nominated documentary 13th for a horrifying summary). This is before we even take into account the substantial, shockingly mainstream voter suppression efforts that have somehow become a regular part of American politics. The Republican party openly admits that voter suppression is a core part of their strategy, and repeatedly opposes measures to make voting easier for precisely this reason.

America makes for a sad case study of how weakened our democratic rights have become even in countries that hold themselves out as a democratic nation, but they are just one example in a world where every year our rights are increasingly under threat from unscrupulous ideologues who have learned to game the system to their advantage (Brexit being another prominent example). If you take away one thing as we head into 2021 it should be a reminder that we need to stay vigilant on this matter, lest we sleepwalk into a world where democracy is just meaningless marketing phrase.

25. The Debbie for Person of the Year 
Winner: Anthony Fauci

anthony fauci coronavirus covid person of the year 2020

Most publications in an election year will tend to give these awards to political leaders, but that strikes me as particularly ill-fitting after the year we've just had. Instead I feel it is more deserving that this Debbie go towards recognising some of the real heroes of the past twelve months. Indeed, this has been a year of many heroes, most of whom you will never hear by name in the media. I speak, of course, of the essential workers and healthcare providers that have had a gruelling year of sacrifice and peril unlike any other. 

Each of them is worthy of such an awards, but this Debbie is bestowed upon a single individual rather than a group or class of individuals. The single individual that I feel is worthy of this Debbie is Anthony Fauci, head of the White House Coronavirus task force and soon to be chief medical advisor of the new administration. In a year in which our leaders have far too often exhibited the worst aspects of humanity, greed, dishonesty, and selfishness at a time when the opposite was needed, Fauci has stood as a welcome contrast and a pillar of truth and compassion. Fauci represents the best of us, a rare voice of competence and decency in the national spotlight and a visible face for all frontline workers who have done so much for us.

Social & Lifestyle

26. The Debbie for Restaurant of the Year 
Winner: The Harwood Arms
Runner Up: Davies and Brook

harwood arms london best restaurant 2020

An old favourite, winner for the second year running and a restaurant that year after year continues to impress. The Harwood Arms became famous as the first Michelin starred pub in London, but in truth its solitary mark undersells the quality of its food. The concept is British cuisine, done very, very well. So you might get Cornish crab on toast, or fallow venison. Meats, fish, winter vegetables, and with a wide selection of British sparkling wines. It is mystifying that this myth of the inferiority of British cuisine still persists, and the Harwood Arms provides ample proof that the cliché is not deserved.

Our runner up prize goes to a newcomer: Davies and Brook, the excellent new restaurant at Claridge's. This is the latest project of Daniel Humm, best known as the head chef at New York's Eleven Madison Park, formerly ranked the world's greatest restaurant. It goes without saying that 2020 has not quite been the debut year they would have hoped for, but the establishment has been quietly building some deserved hype, both for its set menus as well as the more casual bar-food on offer for walk-ins. It's a pricey meal but well worth it for a special occasion, with some show-stopping main courses and, in particular, some delightful dessert options.

27. The Debbie for Club/Bar of the Year 
Winner: The Maytime, Swinbrook

maytime gin pub inn swinboork asthall best bar club nightclub 2020

It has been a year in which most of us only attended bars/clubs sparingly. For this year's award we are thinking outside the box and giving the spotlight to The Maytime in Swinbrook. On the surface this appears to be your typical charming country pub, but upon closer inspection you will find one of the most extensive gin selections in the country: more than 150, all extensively detailed on their menu in terms of background, flavour profile, etc, and all paired with one from a wide variety of different tonics and garnishes. A dream come true for gin lovers.

28. The Debbie for Destination of the Year
Winner: Home

home staycation best holiday destination 2020

This year's destination of the year: Home. Suffice it to say, 2020 has not been a year for travel and even to the extent that we have been able to travel, you really should have avoided doing so and stayed home. And what's so wrong with that? Even in an ordinary year there is nothing wrong with a good staycation. No dealing with airports, no running around cities to hit every item on your checklist, just pure relaxation and a chance to fully unwind. Maybe you want to use that time to catch up on things, read a book, or just sleep. Doesn't matter, the world is your oyster thanks to... staycation.

29. The Debbie for Wine of the Year 
Winner: Famille de Boel, Le Meilleur de Nous rosé
de boel meilleur de nous rose best wine 2020

I don't know about you, but I have spent most of this year in my flat. It is always way too warm in my flat. For this reason, it has been a year of non-stop summer wines and there has been none more satisfying than this delightful rosé from Famille de Boel, Le Meilleur de Nous. A floral rosé from the Provence region which carries the IGP Méditerranée appellation and consists mainly of the caladoc varietal. This is a perfect refreshment on a warm day, but can also pair nicely with a surprising variety of different foods, from a light supper to more flavourful meats.

30. The Debbie for Tipple of the Year 
Winner: Otter Brewery

best tipple liquor alcohol 2020 otter brewery

And finally our award for best tipple, a non-wine alcoholic beverage in which you would be wise to partake, goes to Otter Brewery. The award winning Devon-based brewery is fast establishing itself as one of the nations favourite craft distilleries, available in many local pubs and expanding quickly into London and beyond. These are refreshingly crisp beers in a variety of styles, with a strong minerality that helps build its strikingly "fresh" flavour profile. I award this Debbie to the brewery as a whole, because in addition to their range of beers, they also distil a very fine gin, New Moon, which is smooth with fresh citrus notes. Definitely a name to add to your regular roster of tipples.

Well there you have it. Sayonara 2020. Ordinarily at this point I offer hope that next year will be even better than the last, and for once I don't think that will be difficult to achieve. Roll on 2021: a year in which we will be rid of Trump, get a Covid-19 vaccine, and who knows maybe referees will even call a decision in Chelsea's favour. See you there!

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