2016 perfectly summed up in this definitive A – Z

What a year!

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Well, 2016 has been some year.

A 365-day hurricane where celebrity giants were torn down, a political earthquake shook the foundations of the western world and the Middle East continued to burn.

We’ve compiled a definitive ranking of all things that carry the ring – capture the essence – of two-thousand-sixteenness.

In no particular (well, alphabetical) order, here is the comprehensive A-Z.

A: Andy Murray

(Owen Humphreys/PA)

What a year. What an absolute year Andy had. World number-one plus Wimbledon and Olympic golden boy. Scotland back on top.

B: Brexit

(Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Thousands of acres of ink have been spent discussing this one. It’s either a fantastic act of self-harm or a glorious road to a golden tomorrow.

Following the Brexit summer carnival, David Cameron (remember him?) become the forgotten man and Theresa May slipped into her kitten heels as the second female prime minister.

Nigel Farage emerged as the ultimate winner, though, fulfilling a life-time ambition and achieving Ukip’s sole purpose. He also made a few friends Stateside and took a ride in an obscenely gilded lift.

C: Celebrity Deaths

(Anthony Devlin/PA)

An embarrassment of the best died. David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Terry Wogan, Harper Lee, Johan Cruyff, Ronnie Corbett, Muhammad Ali, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds, George Michael, AA Gill, Fidel Castro, Leonard Cohen, Pete Burns, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Andrew Sachs, Paul Daniels, Elie Wiesel, Victoria Wood and many more.

D: The Donald

(Evan Vucci/AP)

Obviously. The Trump Monster will soon become president of the US. He is also TIME person of the year, an endless headline generator and sometimes speaks in full sentences. Undeniably the most talked-about, divisive, and influential person of the past 365 days.

E: Euro 2016

Google's Year In Search

A tournament won with a strike from the boot of the rather ungainly Portuguese striker Eder. No matter that it wasn’t Ronaldo, they all count. The big surprise was the viking-esque heroics of Iceland, who ignominiously dumped England out in the last 16.

F: Fake News

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It has always existed but the reports of it outdoing real news in the final three months of the US election brought it into uber-sharp focus. Macedonian teenagers and far-right conspiracy theorists ran riot online with stories ranging from the Pope endorsing Trump to Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring.

G: Great British Bake Off

(Mark Bourdillon/BBC)

It looks increasingly like Channel 4 just bought Paul Hollywood and the world’s most expensive tent. The broadcaster paid £75 million to take the show rights from the BBC, only for Mary Berry, Mel and Sue to jump ship immediately.

A soggy-bottomed ending.

H: Hillsborough

(Peter Byrne/PA)

More than 25 years on, an inquest ruled that 96 football fans who died in the Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed. The fatalities were pinned on police errors, negligence and incompetence, exonerating the fans after a quarter-century of lies and cover-ups.

I: Immigration

(Chris Radburn/PA)

An unprecedented crisis is unfolding across Europe. Millions of refugees and migrants are pouring in from countries torn by war and poverty leading to a whole raft of side effects. The Jungle camp in Calais symbolised a continent struggling to cope with the influx.

J: Jeremy Corbin

(John Stillwell/PA)

The bearded, sandal-wearing socialist phenomenon. Mr Corbyn, or “Jeremy” to his fans, has simultaneously made Labour huge in membership terms while taking a tanking in approval ratings. He has been dogged by accusations of anti-Semitism within the party, as well as the serious business of trains and spare seats or lack thereof.

K: Killer clowns

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A bizarre one. People seemingly thought it funny to dress as clowns and stalk people along dark streets in the run up to Halloween. Fine enough, but when many started to wield knives and follow schoolkids it got really dark as well as just weird. Definitely one trend to leave behind.

L: Leicester

(Nick Potts/PA)

I mean, wow. 5000-1 Premier League-winning wow. One of sport’s great epic tales. It will be years before its full significance sets in. An incredible, outrageous, courageous story.

M: Muhammad Ali


The Greatest left a void in the sport impossible to fill. The undisputed boxing doyen perhaps fought too many fights and was diagnosed with Parkinson’s, which he eventually succumbed to. He went down as the most towering, charismatic, and controversial sports personality of the 20th century.

N: Narration

(David Parry/PA)

The walls and roof of 2016 were collapsing around us, fire everywhere, but ah, yes, the return of Planet Earth in crystal high-definition. The soothing voice of Sir David was a rare, rare glimpse at the pure and the natural.

In the warmest year on record, Planet Earth II was an awe-inducing reminder of our place on a planet resting on a climactic knife-edge.

O: Olympics

(Mike Egerton/PA)

Pollution, crime and Zika did not hamstring the first South American-held Olympics despite the best predictions of pundits. The drama only hit its height when the pool turned a certain hue of dark green.

Records and hearts were broken, dreams were made and crushed and years of arduous training were put on display for just a few, twinkling seconds. Magic.

P: Post-truth

The Oxford English Dictionaries’ word of the year. Honest. It was. There was something otherworldly about watching a man running for US president contradict himself, have it exposed, then lie about ever having contradicted himself. Climate change is a Chinese hoax; I never said it was a Chinese hoax.

Q: Queen

(Stuart C. Wilson/PA)

Happy birthday, ma’am. Ninety years old and looking gracious and dignified as ever. And, after the expiration of the Thai king, Her Maj became the longest-reigning monarch on earth. Dashed impressive, what?

R: Russian doping

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More than 1,000 Russian athletes, including Olympic medallists, were found to have benefited from a wide-ranging state-sponsored doping programme between 2011 and 2015. The elaborate tissue of deception included masking samples with salt and coffee and drilling holes to swap tainted samples for clean ones.

S: Syria

The absolute carnival of horror that is Syria has been dragging on for some five years, but the civil war now looks like it is hurtling toward something like a conclusion. In December, the battle of Aleppo saw hundreds of people killed in the city as Assad forces took control of the once-great metropolis that is now a sprawling vista of ash and rubble.

T: Tim Peake

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The astronaut was the first person to fly to space under the UK banner since 1991 and made the first spacewalk by a UK astronaut.

Peake spent six months at the international space station doing all kinds of anti-gravity activities, even running the London marathon on a treadmill. At the end of the 186-day mission, he had completed around 3,000 orbits of the Earth, covering 125 million km.

U: Usain Bolt

(Martin Rickett/PA)

Usain Bolt is the fastest man in world history. Usain Bolt reliably slows up on the last 10-metre stretch of sprints. He ended his Olympic career in Rio with his ninth gold, and became the only man to win all three sprint events across three games.

V: Virtual reality

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In 20 years we will all be consumed in pristine VR, never leaving our seats, immersed in dazzling fake worlds. The technology made massive strides in 2016, becoming relatively sophisticated and mass-produced. The toy of the future.

W: Wogan

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The best broadcaster of his generation. His warm tones and incisive wit were a pleasure to millions every morning on the radio. Eurovision was never the same after he stopped doing it, and his commentary was invariably more entertaining than the acts themselves.

X: Xenophobia

A word deployed repeatedly throughout the year. It was levelled largely at Brexiteers and Trump voters and to describe the wave of anti-migrant sentiment that swept much of Europe as it struggled under the refugee crisis.

Y: Yeezy

You’ll see people queuing up outside stores the night before, with tents and sleeping bags, just to get a chance to buy sickeningly overpriced Kanye West garments. The lines of people almost look homeless from afar, it’s just up close you see they’re actually wearing a £709 “distressed jumper” and £400 trainers. Bores.

Z: Zika

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No-one can forget the images of babies with shrunken heads as a result of the horrible mosquito-borne disease largely prevalent in South America.

It threatened to cancel the Olympics and caused industrial panic when cases were reported in the west after aid workers and nurses came back carrying it.

Many things have been set in motion for a tumultuous 2017, and only an unelected bureaucratic expert living in a liberal metropolitan bubble would try and predict what’s actually going to happen this year.

And we’ve had a bit enough of that, haven’t we?