You can always count on the stars to bring drama to any situation – and the last year has been no exception.
In fact, 2022 has been a rollercoaster of a year for entertainment, starting off with the biggest on-stage shocker of the last decade.
We take a look though some of the most memorable celebrity moments of the last year.
Will Smith slaps Chris Rock
The Annual Academy Awards are the biggest showbiz event of the year. So when one of the biggest stars of the night – Will Smith – slapped comedian Chris Rock in the face live on stage, the entertainment world went into a collective state of shock.
Many initially thought the whack was part a pre-planned skit, but Smith’s unscripted swearing, loudly directed at Rock as he left the stage, quickly persuaded viewers – both in the auditorium packed with stars, and those viewing the ceremony on TV as it was beamed live around the world – that it was all very much for real.
Adding to the drama, just minutes after the slap, Smith won his first Oscar.
While Smith swiftly apologised to the Academy (although notably not so swiftly to Rock), and resigned his membership, the Fresh Prince star was condemned by many for what was labelled “the ugliest Oscar moment ever”.
Smith has since called the incident, which was prompted after Rock made a joke about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith, “a few horrific moments of indiscretion on my part”.
Penance aside, this is Hollywood, and Smith already has a big new film out – Emancipation.
He’s said he hopes the movie won’t be “penalised” in the upcoming awards season as a result of his behaviour.
Should the film get any Oscar nods (which is currently looking unlikely), Smith won’t be making a comeback appearance quite yet – he’s been personally banned from any Academy events or programmes for 10 years.
It was the social media whodunnit that captivated the nation and spawned a nine-day trial at the High Court.
Warring WAGS Coleen Rooney and Rebekah Vardy slugged it out for all to see, in a case packed to the gills with tabloid style tell-alls, modern-day detective work and “a series of unfortunate incidents”.
Ultimately Rooney emerged victorious, and perhaps the most famous ellipses of the last century lived to see another day…
The judge who oversaw the case described Rooney’s evidence in the libel trial as “honest and reliable”, while labelling Vardy’s evidence “manifestly inconsistent… evasive or implausible”.
Rooney she was “pleased” the judge had found in her favour, adding: “It was not a case I ever sought or wanted”. Vardy insisted the judge had “got it wrong”.
Click to subscribe to the Sky News Daily wherever you get your podcasts
In an age of social media obsession, users were reminded to think before they post, and take note of the risks.
But despite the public fascination with the case, many were left wondering if cash used to fund the multimillion-pound trial could have been better spent amid a cost of living crisis.
Meanwhile, the court case may be over, but it’s far from the end of the matter. The trial has already spawned a West End show, and in 2023 will be televised by Channel 4 as a two-part drama as well as forming a three-part documentary by Disney+.
Celebrity queue gate
When the Queen died in September, an entire nation went into mourning. The momentous occasion triggered a lengthy period of royal protocol, with 10 days to pay respects ahead of the late monarch’s funeral.
The queue – or The Queue as it became known – to see the Queen laying in state took on a life of its own, with social media accounts, live-streams and a draw so strong some people joined it twice.
With some members of the public queuing for more than 20 hours, discussion of how long one had spent waiting to see the Queen’s coffin became almost a badge of national pride.
And it was amidst all this, that squeaky-clean daytime TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield became public enemy number one.
When news broke that they had jumped the public line to pay their respects in Westminster Hall, many called for their sacking from This Morning, with an online petition receiving tens of thousands of signatures.
ITV bosses insisted the pair had full press accreditation and had been “misrepresented“.
Click to subscribe to Backstage wherever you get your podcasts
Holly and Phil were left to address the backlash in a pre-filmed statement aired on This Morning, insisting they “respected the rules,” but “understood the reaction” because they realised “it may have looked like something else”.
Even Domino’s Pizza got drawn into the fray after tweeting a satirical post about the presenters skipping a queue to order one of its pizzas.
Meanwhile, David Beckham came out of the queue glowing after it came to light he’d queued for 13 hours to pay his respects. All good press for the former England star, especially ahead of his stint at an ambassador to Qatar for the World Cup, which was less well received.
Comedian ‘shreds’ £10k
One person who has been closely following Beckham’s work is comedian Joe Lycett.
The Birmingham-born star pledged to shred £10,000 of his own cash if Beckham failed to end his controversial multimillion-pound World Cup promotion deal with Qatar ahead of the tournament’s first match.
The hour came and went, and Beckham stayed silent. So, Lycett livestreamed himself tossing the cash into a wood-chipper, in what looked like an underground bunker.
However, all was not what it seemed. The following day, Lycett, who is known for his high-profile stunts, admitted it had all been a sham.
Calling Beckham’s Qatar World Cup deal “total b*******”, he said while the £10,000 he put into the wood-chipper was real, the shredded money that came out was fake. Instead, he said he had donated the money to LGBTQ+ charities long before the cash hit the fan.
For good measure, Lycett then shredded Beckham’s cover copy of Attitude – the first ever front cover of a gay magazine to feature a Premier League footballer – which he said was symbolic of the shredding of Beckham’s status as a gay icon.
Lycett divided his audience between those who thought he was an attention seeker and those who hailed him a hero.
Regardless, Qatar’s poor human rights record and ban on same-sex relationships got plenty of airtime thanks to Lycett’s hoax. The level of press coverage he received for his stunt would have cost in the region of £3m had it been a paid-for promotion. Quite the coup.
Reality TV meets politics
When the must-watch reality show of the year meets one of the most controversial politicians of the last few years, you know there are going to be fireworks.
Jaws dropped when former health secretary Matt Hancock signed up for I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! Health secretary during the COVID pandemic, he stepped down in 2021 after breaching lockdown rules by conducting an affair in his ministerial office with aide Gina Coladangelo.
Reportedly paid £400,000 for his ITV appearance, many in Westminster were outraged, as were plenty of his constituents in West Suffolk.
Media watchdog Ofcom received thousands of complaints about the politician’s presence on the show, and during its second week, a COVID campaign group flew a nine-metre (30ft) protest banner over the camp demanding he leave.
Mr Hancock, 44, said his decision to enter the Australian jungle had been driven by a need to “deliver important messages to the masses” and “go where the people are” rather than “sit in ivory towers in Westminster”. He also said he wanted to raise awareness of dyslexia.
The public voted for him to do the first six bushtucker trials in a row, and during his 18 days in the camp he got stung by a scorpion, drenched in slime, custard and feathers, and buried in a coffin full of snakes. Additionally, he ate the anatomies of a camel and sheep, and a fisheye.
Ultimately, he wasn’t crowned king of the jungle, instead coming third behind Ex-Lioness Jill Scott and Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner.
Mr Hancock has since said he will not be returning to politics, telling the prime minister in a letter, he had “discovered a whole new world of possibilities which I am excited to explore”.
Not the first politician to dip their toe into the showbiz pool (step forward Nadine Dorries, Kezia Dugdale and George Galloway among others), he won’t be the last. And if you’re missing your nightly fix of Mr Hancock, fear not, he’ll be back on our screens in Celebrity SAS: Who Dares Wins in January.
Harry Styles – did he or didn’t he spit on Chris Pine?
Harry Styles, 28, has been notching up the column inches over the last year, largely due to his now defunct relationship with Olivia Wilde, 38.
They met while filming psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling – a film beset with rumours of cast fall-outs, including whispers of a feud between Wilde and her leading lady Florence Pugh.
Released in September to middling reviews, the film was somewhat overshadowed by repeated speculation about some of the cast members not getting on.
However, internet chatter reached new heights after a video appearing to show Styles spitting on his co-star Chris Pine at the Venice Film Festival went viral.
Twitter users questioned whether it showed the former One Direction star spitting in Pine’s lap before sitting down next to him, with Pine apparently looking confused and then laughing to himself.
Pine’s representatives denied the incident ever took place, calling it “a completely fabricated exchange” and blaming it on “some odd illusion of sorts”.
Meanwhile, Styles teased fans at his Madison Square Garden gig in New York the following evening: “I just popped very quickly to Venice to spit on Chris Pine… but fear not, we’re back.”
A starry-spital attack caught on camera? Or some sort of collective hallucination amplified by social media? In the absence of conclusive proof either way, perhaps only Styles and Pine themselves will ever know the truth.
Tearful Adele cancels gigs
She was set to make more than £500,000 per show and follow in the footsteps of Madonna, Mariah Carey and Celine Dion.
Instead, Adele was left “upset and embarrassed” after being forced to cancel her much-anticipated Las Vegas residency just 24 hours before the opening night. It would have been her first live concert in five years.
The 34-year-old singer blamed “delivery delays and COVID” for the cancellation, telling her fans the news in a tearful short video shared on social media.
Some fans had already shelled out thousands of pounds to travel to America to see her.
The Weekends With Adele series had been scheduled to have the singer performing two shows every weekend from late January until mid-April 2022.
Instead, her gigs were re-scheduled to November 2022 to late March 2023, with country star and husband to Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban, stepping in to fill the slot at The Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace.
Adele later called the reaction to the cancellation “brutal”, admitting it left her “a shell of a person for a couple of months” while she dealt with the “grief” and “guilt”.
Better late than never, the postponed residency has been hailed “spectacular” by critics, earning five-star reviews, with fellow chart-topper Stormzy calling her show “the best he’d ever seen”.
End of an Aussie era
After nearly four decades on air, and 8,903 episodes, the much-loved Australian soap Neighbours was axed.
Depicting the lives of Ramsay Street residents since 1985, and coming to the UK the following year, the show launched the careers of stars including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Guy Pierce and Natalie Imbruglia.
Channel 5, who had been broadcasting it since 2008, announced the news to a collective sigh from those who grew up with it on the TV – a must watch after a long day at school.
At its height, viewing figures reached almost 20 million – levels now all but reserved for World Cup finals and royal weddings. However, in recent years the audience had dwindled to around one million viewers in the UK across its two daily showings.
Despite efforts, Channel 5, Freemantle Media (the TV production company behind the show) and Australian broadcaster Network 10 failed to reach a deal to secure the show’s future.
The double-episode finale at the end of July featured guest appearances from ex-cast members including Kylie and Jason, Margot Robbie, Jesse Spencer and Holly Valence.
However, like a boomerang, Neighbours has bounced back. Just months after news of the axe, the show revealed that Amazon Freevee was reviving the show.
A brand-new series will begin filming in Australia in 2023, with a world premiere expected to take place in the second half of the year. Watch this space.
In a love-story twist worthy of a movie script, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck made fans of early noughties nostalgia very happy by tying the knot – 18 years after they cancelled their wedding the first time around.
It was the culmination of a relationship which had stretched over two decades in two separate romances and headlined countless tabloid covers. They famously called off their engagement and split in 2004 – but reunited in 2021.
Lopez has since called their split the “biggest heartbreak” of her life, saying, “I honestly felt like I was going to die”. Luckily for her, heartbreak has now turned to happy ever after.
Their first wedding venue was a Las Vegas drive-through chapel – The Little White Chapel – complete with a “tunnel of love”.
As this is Hollywood, they had two ceremonies, later walking down a white carpet in the grounds of Affleck’s $8.9m (£7.5m) mansion in Riceboro, Georgia. Celebrity guests included Matt Damon, George Clooney and Renee Zellweger.
Lopez shared titbits of the big day on her website, her newsletter and on social media, while Vogue posted a full-length image of her Ralph Lauren couture gown, complete with cascading fishtail ruffles and a cathedral-length veil.
Affleck was previously married to actress Jennifer Garner, with whom he has three children – Violet, Seraphina, and Samuel – but they divorced in 2018 after 13 years of marriage.
Lopez shares twins Max and Emme, 13, with ex-husband Marc Anthony, who she divorced from in 2011. Lopez split from her fiance, former major league baseball star Alex Rodriguez, in 2021.
Johnny vs Amber
The summer of 2022 saw Hollywood stars Johnny Depp and Amber Heard go head-to-head in a libel battle in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia.
Depp sued Heard over a 2018 article she wrote for The Washington Post about her experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, which his lawyers said falsely accused him of being an abuser.
For six weeks, the messy and intimate details of their toxic relationship were poured over, with evidence including graphic photos of Depp’s severed finger and images of Heard with apparent bruises and marks to her face and body, and bald patches on her head where she said her hair was pulled out.
Numerous witnesses also gave evidence, including Heard’s sister Whitney, LAPD police officers, private nurses, and even a brief video appearance from Depp’s ex-girlfriend, Kate Moss.
A second airing of their personal affairs, the trial followed a three-week High Court between Depp and The Sun newspaper at the High Court in 2020, over the tabloid’s description of him as a “wife-beater”.
With Heard as their star witness, The Sun won that case, however Depp was to emerge victorious this time.
Once the highest paid actor in the world, Depp’s attempt to re-gain his reputation through a second microscopic exposure of his private life was an immense gamble.
But it paid off. He wasn’t in court for the conclusion of the cast, opting instead to continue his tour of the UK with musician Jeff Beck.
Heard, who had initially called for a re-trial and appealed the verdict, has since dropped her appeal, saying she has “lost faith in the American legal system”.
Royal fans have been left reeling following dramatic claims in the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s Netflix docuseries – aptly titled Harry And Meghan.
Revelations included the breakdown of Harry‘s relationship with his brother William and his accusation that the Daily Mail was to blame for Meghan‘s miscarriage.
Harry said the Prince of Wales had terrified him by screaming and shouting at him during a Sandringham summit, a meeting of senior royals called in early 2020 to discuss the couple’s choice to step back from their roles.
He also said Kensington Palace “lied to protect my brother” when it issued a statement denying a story William had bullied him out of the Royal Family.
And on the issue of Meghan’s miscarriage in 2020, Harry said: “I believe my wife suffered a miscarriage because of what The Mail did. I watched the whole thing… Bearing in mind the stress that caused, the lack of sleep and the timing of the pregnancy, how many weeks in she was. I can say from what I saw, that miscarriage was created by what they were trying to do to her.”
Neither Kensington Palace, which represents the Prince and Princess of Wales, nor Buckingham Palace have commented on the series.
Meanwhile, a column written about Meghan by Jeremy Clarkson following the series has become the most complained about ever.
Despite the stir, it’s reported that the couple will still be invited to King Charles’s coronation on 6 May, which is also the fourth birthday of Harry and Meghan’s son Archie.
And if the unprecedented TV access into royal private lives hasn’t been enough to satisfy, fear not, there’s more exposure to come. Prince Harry’s highly anticipated memoir, Spare, which promises “raw, unflinching honesty”, and is written by the novelist behind Andre Agassi’s award-winning autobiography Open, is out in January.
He’s reportedly been paid around £30m for a four-book deal with Penguin Random House, so while the Royal Family might be keen to draw a line under the drama, there’s likely to be more juicy revelations to come.
Kanye West admits he ‘likes’ Hitler
To say it’s not been a good year for Kanye West would be an understatement. His antisemitic comments – including criticism of Jewish people and praise of Hitler – have been roundly and rightly condemned and led to a swift termination from the majority of his working partners.
Social networks, including Instagram and Twitter, have repeatedly shut down his accounts (albeit temporarily) due to violation of their policies.
West – who has legally changed his name to Ye – posted on Twitter that he was “going death con 3 ON JEWISH PEOPLE” before alleging he was not “antisemitic because black people are actually Jew also”. He also accused record producer Sean “Diddy” Combs of being controlled by “the Jewish people” in a post on Instagram.
He also shared an image of a swastika entwined with a Star of David, hours after an interview with the conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in which West said “I like Hitler” and sees “the good things” about the dictator too.
His words – labelled mad and dangerous – have cost him, both in cash and reputation. No longer ranked as a billionaire, he’s been ditched by his talent agency and his bank, JP Morgan, as well as seeing brands including Balenciaga, Foot Locker, Gap and Adidas cut ties.
Additionally, Adidas is currently investigating allegations of misconduct, including claims he showed pornography and explicit images of Kim Kardashian to staff members.
A completed documentary about him has also been shelved, and Madame Tussauds in London has removed its waxwork of him from public view.
And many looked on in disbelief as he wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt during Paris Fashion Week in response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Previous controversial remarks made by West include suggestions slavery was “a choice” and calling the COVID-19 vaccine the “mark of the beast”.
His ex-wife Kim Kardashian has spoken out about his behaviour, saying: “Hate speech is never OK or excusable.”
Not to be phased by his fall from grace, West says he’ll be running for the 2024 US presidential elections and has asked Donald Trump to be his running mate.