Breaking Bad
Breaking Bad had its finale in 2013.AMC

It might not have had the Olympics, but throughout 2013 we remained glued to our screens. UK dramas such as Broadchurch and Southcliffe made headlines, a glut of foreign imports poured in from Borgen to Breaking Bad, and we continued to be charmed by reality shows Strictly Come Dancing and The Great British Bake Off. Here are the top 12 TV moments from 2013.

Note – This article contains spoilers for Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.

The Big TV Event – Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special

Writer Steven Moffat could not have crafted a greater love letter to fans of the longest running science fiction show of all time. The blockbuster 50th anniversary special of Doctor Who saw incumbent doctor Matt Smith team up with previous doctors David Tennant and John Hurt in an episode that featured a dazzling array of references to the show's past, from the original opening credits, to Tom Baker's scarf, to Tom Baker himself!

The BBC media machine went in to overdrive as it seemed every programme on the channel was Doctor Who related, making you almost forget that they cancelled it in the first place. Not only that, but the eyes of the world were watching, as the largest ever simulcast of a TV drama saw the show broadcast in 94 countries.

But the terrific special somehow surpassed expectations, triumphantly celebrating the show's past while providing an intriguing glimpse of its future.

The Exciting Live Drama – Wimbledon Men's Final

After the gluttony of sporting drama we feasted on during the London 2012 Olympics, it's fair to say 2013 was light on major athletic events. Perhaps this is why the men's final of Wimbledon was such a nerve-jangling affair, as we, the British public, knew this was our one shot at glory this year.

Could Andy Murray, the fiery scot who had stolen our hearts with his teary breakdown in the previous year's final, prevail and end 77 years of hurt for men's tennis? He'd hardly shined in his previous two matches against Jerzy Janowicz and Fernando Verdasco, and was now up against the imperious world number one Novak Djokovic.

But it seemed only the 17.3 million viewers who tuned in could feel the tension, as Murray played some scintillating tennis to win in straight sets, and so overcome the burden that has been placed on him by the British public his entire career.

The Boring Live Drama – BBC News Coverage of Royal Baby / Nelson Mandela

The news did a great job of not reporting the news in 2013. I honestly can't decide what was worse out of the sycophantic anticipation of the birth of Prince George, or the tedious eulogising of the 20th Century's greatest statesman, so they can jointly hold this honour.

The first consisted of waiting, and waiting, and waiting, outside a hospital for a woman to give birth to a boy, with the only thing special about this boy being that he will never pay tax in his life. Seeing as we already knew all this, could the BBC not have covered the birth once the baby was born?

With regards to Mandela, the BBC made the right call in interrupting the last ten minutes of a Mrs Brown's Boys repeat to announce the news of his passing; it was only the incessant coverage over the days that followed that took the biscuit. Every tribute, funeral, and memorial moment was wallowed in by the broadcaster, rather than provide the sharp and succinct news and analysis the great man deserved.

The Polarising Figure – Ruby Tandoh from Great British Bake Off

It was the sugary sweet, polite and twee programme that millions across the land, both young and old, watched in comfort. How nice, I thought, that an antidote can exist to the generally poisonous reality shows of X Factor and The Apprentice.

And then the internet ruined it. From accusations of flirting with Paul Hollywood, to being chastised for blubbering over soggy bottoms, the sexist vitriol aimed at budding contestant Ruby Tandoh on the Great British Bake Off was unbelievably nasty.

Many others took to the 21 year Old's defence, but the damage was done. After its finale attracted viewing figures of 7.8 million, the show will be switched from BBC Two to BBC One, but in the case of Bake Off it appears too many idiots have spoiled the broth.

The Unlikely Smash Hit – Broadchurch

The only thing more quintessentially British that baking is a murder mystery, according to the TV schedules. From Endeavour to Ripper Street, our screens were filled with hardnosed detectives investigating grisly killings.

And yet ITV's Broadchurch somehow managed to rise above the dross to become one of the most talked about TV shows of the year. This was partly because, inspired by Scandinavian hits The Killing and The Bridge, the show's eight episodes focused on just one murder, that of 11 year old Danny Latimer, and explored how his death affects his family and the local community.

But this was no moody Nordic Noir. Set around the attractive Jurassic coast of Dorset, the electric chemistry between leads David Tennant and Olivia Coleman made sure that we were gripped with the whodunit mystery until the very end.

The Foreign Language Triomphe – The Returned

In providing daring and imaginative programming, there's no question the year belongs to Channel 4, but one of the broadcaster's most successful gambles turned out to be a foreign import, one in another language to boot.

Les Revenants (or as we know it, The Returned), the supernatural drama set amongst the French Alps, became the first fully subtitled drama to be broadcast on the channel in over 20 years. The spooky story of the dead coming back to life in a small town community drew immediate comparisons to cult hit Twin Peaks, and its foreign setting certainly helped create the impression of a world strange yet familiar.

But by attracting on average 1.8m UK viewers throughout its run, the show proved that along with the Scandinavian dramas that have infiltrated the schedules, British telly watchers no longer seemed scared of subtitles.

The TV Showdown – Brand vs Paxman on Newsnight

There were plenty of verbal duels on TV this year, from Andrew Neil calling fiery conspiracy theorist Alex Jones an idiot on the BBC's Sunday Politics Show, to Katie Hopkins' asinine outburst over childrens names on ITV's This Morning. But the most entertaining, and interesting, was when Newsnight's resident snob Jeremy Paxman squared off against anarchic comedian Russell Brand.

Their ten minute interview starts off in predictable fashion, Brand heralding the need for revolution whilst Paxman labels such remarks trivial. But as the ebullient Brand continued, something seemed amiss. Paxman started to listen, and when Brand asked his interrogator if he wasn't bored after all these years of false promises from the ruling elite, smiled in agreement.

Regardless of whether you agree with Brand's rhetoric, this exchange providing a fascinating glimpse of the new generation engaging with the old guard, serious politics combined with celebrity entertainment, and the voice of those disenfranchised with modern Britain coming to the fore.

The Shocking Twist – Game of Thrones

Medieval fantasy epic Game of Thrones has been no stranger to savage and shocking twists (poor Ned Stark), but The Rains of Castamere was an episode that completely turned the show on its head.

Seeing the whole Stark clan, including King Robb, his pregnant wife Talisa and mother Caitlin, all betrayed and butchered at the now notorious red wedding, left me sweating and sick to the stomach.

Those familiar with the book might have smugly watched knowing what was to come, but what was depicted on screen ended up being far worse than what George R. R. Martin envisioned.

Other honourable mentions for most shocking twist on TV this year include Herschel's decapitation by the Governor in The Walking Dead, and Hank Schrader's last stand in Breaking Bad.

The Show that Looked Back - Gogglebox

The premise of Gogglebox, a real-life Royle Family in which you watch people watch TV, hardly set pulses racing.

And yet as well as being an incredibly funny show filled with fascinating characters (south Londoners Sandra & Sally, and posh pair Steph and Dom the particular highlights), this meta reality show managed to be both a nostalgic throwback and an acute examination of modern society.

We are constantly told in the news that communal TV watching is dwindling, and that in the digital age we access our shows from devices other than the telly, and yet here are these groups, from various classes all around the country, sitting around and bonding over what's on the box.

And what is their commentary on these programmes if not TV's answer to YouTube and Twitter, where we derive as much enjoyment from commentary on the shows we watch as the shows themselves?

The Absurd Idea – Sex Box

The other box that Channel 4 introduced this year was Sex Box, a bizarre programme designed to be all about sex, without any actual sex on screen.

We watched as brave real-life couples entered a giant opaque, soundproofed box in the middle of a TV studio, to emerge a few minutes later and be grilled by presenter Mariella Frostrup and a panel of experts on the exploits of their intercourse.

The only problem was the post-coitally coy nature of the couples, leading to awkward television that failed to provide either information or entertainment to the viewer. A novel idea designed as part of Channel 4's campaign to reclaim real sex from porn, the pointless setup and uncomfortable aura in the studio meant that this became the year's biggest gimmick.

The Fond Farewell – Breaking Bad

From Luther to Borgen, plenty of shows said their goodbyes this year, but none will leave such an indelible mark on television history as Breaking Bad. The cult drama that slowly but surely percolated in to the mainstream ended on a high note in its breath-taking final eight episodes.

The premise laid out by the show's creator Vince Gilligan, to see mild mannered chemistry teacher cum meth manufacturer Walter White turn from Mr Chips to Scarface, was fulfilled. But for a show that has escalated and intensified over its 62 episodes, to see it finally reach its climax was both satisfying and saddening.

Like a batch of Heisenberg's own crystal blue meth, years of hard work making Breaking Bad was paid off with the perfect product - our final fix of perhaps the greatest television drama of all time.

The Moment you had in your own time – Netflix and other On-Demand Services

This end of year review might contain some of the biggest TV moments from 2013, but in this evolving digital age the chances are you might not have seen them at the time they were broadcast, if indeed you saw them on TV at all.

Case in point is streaming service juggernaut Netflix, which added to its extensive roster of content this year new an original programming. House of Cards, the revived Arrested Development and Orange is the New Black were much-talked about shows that were all exclusive to the site.

The service's on-demand nature, where you can gulp down a whole heap full of one show as opposed to the usual drip-feed provided by the major broadcasters, points the way to how we will be increasingly watching television in the future.