From the Olympics to Sherlock, Doctor Who to Homeland and The Great British Bake-Off to the final hurrah from the world’s best flat racehorse of all-time – there have been plenty of jawdropping moments on the small screen in 2012. STACIA BRIGGS picks 10 of her favourite TV moments from this year.

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The top 10 moments on TV this year were pretty much covered by one sporting event that dominated the summer: London 2012, the Olympics and Paralympics.

For a few glorious weeks, the nation united: Lycra sales soared, everyone bought a new bike, Union flags hung from every available inch of space in Britain and we all learnt that yes, horses really can dance.

Hard though it is to believe, there were other great moments on British television this year that didn’t involve James Bond parachuting the Queen into Wembley stadium.

From the death of Amy and Rory in Doctor Who to a supersonic space freefall that defied gravity (possibly, I am no astro-physicist), a British actor playing an American war hero turned terrorist to a granite-faced Scot embracing the Union flag, it’s been a big year for the small screen.

Here are 10 top TV moments from 2012. You’ll be glad to see I’ve left out anything from Made in Chelsea, Hollyoaks or Britain’s Next Top Model: maybe next year.

1) The Olympics and Paralympics: From the bonkers but brilliant opening ceremony orchestrated by insane genius Danny Boyle to Usain Bolt’s 100m gold dash on August 5, Mo Farah’s triumphant 10,000 medal winning run on August 4 to Jessica Ennis’ heptathalon success, the games were televisual – and actual – gold. Suddenly, everyone knew what a velodrome and a Mobot were and it was acceptable for women to wear sideburns in a show of support for Bradley Wiggins. Tom Daley, Chris Hoy, Greg Rutherford, Sally Pearson, Dai Greene…I could go on: every one of them gave us a moment to cherish. My favourite Olympic moment of all? Gemma Gibbons looking to the heavens and mouthing “I love you, Mum” after winning a silver medal in judo. The tribute was to her mother Jeanette, who introduced her daughter to the sport but died when Gemma was just 17. Not a dry eye in the house.

2) Doctor Who: The Angels Take Manhattan: The Doctor’s loyal companions pulled off a real coup in this tear-jerking episode dying not once, but twice. Amy and Rory fell victim to the Weeping Angels, surely one of the most nightmare-inducing of all Doctor Who monsters, leaving our hero alone again and contemplating the universe with an endless supply of meals-for-one.

3) Homeland: I must declare an interest – I find Damian Lewis insanely attractive and would probably hail footage of him reading the telephone directory as a tour de force. That said, Homeland is a masterpiece: genuinely. The US series jumped across the pond in February and took us on a rollercoaster journey, trying to work out whether war hero Nicholas Brody was actually a member of a sleeper cell sent to implement a terrorist attack. Just when we thought we’d worked it out, Homeland series two began. We’re still none the wiser as to which team Brody’s batting for. Regardless, I’m Team Damian.

4) The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee: Like London 2012, this was the televisual gift that kept on giving – there were Royal barges, fireworks, Rolf Harris overseeing 60 artists painting 60 portraits of the Queen, a concert in the Royal front garden and even Peppa Pig got a trotter in, accompanying Miss Rabbit to an award-ceremony at Buckingham Palace. My favourite of them all was during the Jubilee pageant when one of the realistic models from West End show War Horse was brought to the docks to greet the Queen: she looked genuinely delighted, although not as delighted as when her horse Estimate won the, ahem, Queen’s Vase at Royal Ascot in June.

5) Felix Baumgartner leaps from an aircraft on the edge of space: It takes a long time to ascend 23 miles towards heaven as anyone who watched the live transmission of fearless Felix’s extreme skydive can attest. It took two and a half hours to climb to the edge of space and 10 minutes to fall back down to earth: the freefall equivalent of cooking and then eating a Sunday roast (which, incidentally, was precisely what I did as I watched). Standing on the step of the capsule, Baumgartner said: “I know the whole world is watching now. I wish you could see what I can see. Sometimes you have to be up really high to understand how small you are. I’m coming home now.” We then watched him break the sound barrier, falling at 834mph. He landed on his feet, too, the big show-off.

6) Andy Murray cries at Wimbledon: When the first British Wimbledon finalist in 76 years lost out to Roger Federer, it all ended in tears: and there we were thinking he’d been carved from granite. Four weeks to the day later, Murray beat Federer in the Olympic singles match – he was so happy, he actually sang along to the National Anthem, hugged a child and draped himself in a Union Flag. In doing so, he effortlessly went from “that miserable Scot” to “our Andy from Team GB” faster than Fearless Felix made it from space to New Mexico.

7) Drugs Live: The Ecstasy Trial: Billed as a groundbreaking experiment into the truth about Ecstasy, this Channel 4 two-part documentary was effectively like being the sensible one at a student party while judgementally holding a video camera. Volunteers took the controlled drug in a series of live experiments and – somewhat unfortunately for the anti-drugs brigade – overwhelmingly reported that it made them feel “lovely”. Ofcom was kept from the door by segments which involved Jon Snow and Dr Christian Jessen poking around with huge glowing brains and muttering about danger, a bit like watching Hawkwind at UEA in the late 1980s. Unintentionally hilarious.

8) Great British Bake Off final: Seven million of us tuned in to see whether Brendan, James or John would take home the bafflingly horrible GBBO trophy in the final bake-off. Who would crumble? Who was a choux-in for the win? Would anyone flake out? (I have a million of these). The three contestants were given three suitably random challenges, to create their own pithivier (no, me neither), fondant fancies and chiffon cakes. The winner was underdog John, who often looked as if he’d stumbled into the bake-off tent from an all-night bender. Not many people with a hangover can create a vision of heaven and hell through the medium of chiffon cake, however. Well done, John.

9) Sherlock: The Reichenbach Fall: Benedict Cumberbatch has given me several of my favourite TV moments of 2012 in both Sherlock and Parade’s End, but this season two finale was a real cliffhanger (the cliff in question being the roof of a hospital and it was more a case of falling than hanging). Watson watches Sherlock plunge to his death from the rooftop but, when he later visits his grave, we see Sherlock lurking in the shadows. Hooray! Now we can all spend however-long-it-takes to make the third series wondering how on earth he did it.

10) Frankel wins Champion Stakes at Ascot: The greatest racehorse of a generation, if not ever, Frankel bowed out of competitive racing with an unblemished record of 14 wins from 14 starts. This wasn’t his most impressive win – he didn’t demolish a high-class field by 11 lengths as he did in the Queen Anne Stakes – but it was a triumph nonetheless. It was difficult not to reach for the tissues when trainer Sir Henry Cecil said, in a voice which illustrated the regular chemotherapy sessions he has endured in his fight against stomach cancer: “He’s the best that I have ever had and the best that I’ve seen.” All hail Frankel the Wonder Horse.