2020 has been quite the year for news, but it hasn’t been all bad.
Amid 12 months of doom and gloom, there have been snippets of love, hope and joy – and we’ve dug them out in the hope of bringing a smile to your face as we say farewell to the past year.
Let’s start at the very beginning.
A very good place to start, because back then we were blissfully unaware of the C-word that would take over our lives (and the news) for the rest of the year.
In January, Doctor Who made history with its first Black doctor, Marvel announced its first trans character and Greta Thunberg changed her Twitter name to “Sharon” after Casualty’s Amanda Henderson’s hilarious Celebrity Mastermind mix-up, which you can remind yourself of here. 👇
Slap-bang in the middle of awards season, we were also served the moment Jennifer Aniston looked ready to burst with pride as ex-husband Brad Pitt collected Best Supporting Actor at the Golden Globes. It sparked a meme and the internet was OBSESSED.
The headlines at the start of the year were dominated by the Australian bushfires, and through this heartbreaking news story, human kindness prevailed.
Elsewhere, Serena Williams had a slick response when a reporter tried to ask about her friend Meghan Markle stepping back from royal duties (yes, that was this year), Stormzy forgot to take off his slippers before appearing on BBC Breakfast (how very 2020) and a tortoise called Diego retired after his soaring sex drive saved his species from extinction.
February was also rife with good news.
Phillip Schofield came out as gay, with emotional scenes as he gave his first interview to his friend Holly Willoughby on This Morning. As colleagues and the entertainment world rallied around him, his wife Steph also publicly supported his brave decision.
Black artists finally dominated the Brits as Stormzy and Dave won the biggest awards of the night – male solo artist and album of the year respectively.
Awards season also featured this hilarious speech from Rebel Wilson, who poked fun at the movie Cats, Prince Andrew and the all-male best director category at the Baftas, Billy Porter pulling out the stops again on the red carpet a year on from his tuxedo dress and a brilliantly rude Oscars speech from Olivia Colman.
The second month of the year also saw the first same-sex couple to get married in Northern Ireland, Disney announced its first LGBTQ character in an animated film and Tesco was the first supermarket in the UK to launch plasters in diverse skin tones. About time.
Before shit hit the fan in March, we had the moment a head boy stole the show on Meghan Markle’s school visit by declaring: “She really is beautiful, innit.” And we can’t forget Miriam Margolyes’ hilarious words on body acceptance, the spoof “I met Les Dennis” stories, nor the “loose lion” in Spain that turned out to be a very big dog.
Human kindness and creativity fought back as Covid spread, forcing lockdowns across the world. We had the viral kindness campaign that brought neighbours together to help one another across the UK, and of course the tearjerking videos of quarantined Italians singing together in solidarity.
Some singing that didn’t go down quite as well was Gal Gadot’s star-studded Imagine video. While we’re sure it was well-meaning and can laugh now, we were cheered by Joe Lycett and friends’ sweary response.
Another highlight was this weirdly emotional video of the Backstreet Boys seeing I Want It That Way from their homes.
Joe Wicks also launched his PE With Joe online workouts to keep us moving in lockdown, donating all advertising revenue to NHS charities.
The silver linings of lockdown continued in April, a month that gifted us Captain Tom Moore, who raised millions for NHS charities by walking 100 lengths of his garden for his 100th birthday.
Celebrities began to step up their lockdown antics – we were blessed with Amanda Holden’s photoshoots, Stanley Tucci’s negronis, Meryl Streep’s Zoom cocktail party and Robbie Wiliiams’ Tiger King-themed workout.
April was also the month that gave us potato boss – the man who managed to get stuck on a potato filter on a video meeting, the BBC weatherman’s drum solo to the BBC news theme, and bedtime stories read by Tom Hardy.
In May, it was announced Captain Tom Moore was going to be knighted as his incredible fundraising efforts continued to raise cash for NHS charities.
Celebrities showcasing their talents included the first of many Matt Lucas Boris Johnson impressions and Normal People’s Paul Mescal catching the eye of Sia when he sang and played her song Chandelier on the piano.
The pictures of Malala Yousafzai graduating from Oxford brought us a lot of joy in June.
Meanwhile, Stormzy pledged £10m to charities and organisations fighting racial inequality, saying: “Black people have been playing on an uneven field for far too long and this pledge is a continuation in the fight to finally try and even it.”
The same month, footballer Marcus Rashford’s campaign to feed 1.3m children forced the government to U-turn on its decision not to provide free school meals over the summer holidays.
It was another great month for centenarian Tom Moore, who was knighted by the real Queen at Windsor Castle.“I am absolutely overawed,” Sir Tom said of the “magnificent” day.
The seventh month of the year also saw toilets for severely disabled people made compulsory in every new building in England, Friends stars Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox and Lisa Kudrow reunited to send an important US election message, and a seven-year-old boy called Timothy Madders sent the Queen a word search in case she was “sad or lonely”.
August’s good news highlights include this hilarious slip of the tongue by BBC weather presenter Carol Kirkwood, who got “doggers” and “dog walkers” mixed up on live TV.
A story about a cheeky cat who returned home with a note around her neck also made us smile this summer. The 11-year-old Siberian cat called Tula was apparently “always at at Toby Carvery”. “Does this cat have a home?” the note asked.
Following his June pledge to give £10m to tackle racial inequality, Stormzy donated £500,000 to fund students from under-resourced and under-represented communities in August.
We also loved YouTube stars Tim and Fred Williams’s reaction as they listened to Phil Collins’s In The Air Tonight for the first time .
Bake Off returned to our screens in September with Matt Lucas’s Boris Johnson skit having a revival for the opening episode, bringing some much-needed comic relief.
It seems October was the month of uplifting animal news, from the sweary turtle that won the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards, to the black cat who escaped from a cattery and returned to its owner eight years later. It was also the month that gave us Fat Bear Week and Jennifer Aniston’s new rescue puppy, Lord Chesterfield.
Bake Off continued to entertain us on Tuesday evenings, with highlights including viewers’ very strong reactions to the bakers’ definitions of a Cornish pasty.
Marcus Rashford’s heroic campaigning continued, with more than one million people signing his petition, and the footballer tweeting out every place offering to feed hungry children after the Tories voted down plans to extend free school meals.
Elsewhere, Danny Dyer was praised by viewers for declaring “people who went to Eton can’t run this country” on BBC Breakfast, and we also got a first glimpse of Dolly Parton’s very camp Netflix film Christmas On The Square.
The best news from November was of course Donald Trump losing the US election. It also meant Kamala Harris made history as the first Black, Asian American vice president, and the occasion also saw “The Squad” –congresswomen Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib – re-elected.
Other highlights of the election included Greta Thunberg taking the opportunity to throw back Trump’s December 2019 insult to her about her “Anger Management problem” – “Chill, Greta, Chill” – and Joe Biden’s rescued German Shepherd Major becoming one of the First Pets.
One of our most popular heartwarming stories from this month was the gorilla who tended to an injured bird and encouraged it to fly. You can watch the video above.
It was also the month we discovered Dolly Parton had given $1m to the Moderna vaccine trial.
Marcus Rashford’s free school meal campaign marked another milestone as the government was forced to U-turn and provide food for vulnerable children over Christmas.
We were also delighted to receive the news we would get brand new Vicar Of Dibley during the festive period.
While December might have been a bit of a shitter for a lot of us thanks to all sorts of lockdowns and Christmas chaos, a lot of joy and escapism has been provided via the telly.
Strictly continued to entertain on Saturday nights with moments including this fabulous drag dance number, which resulted in the BBC sending out a brilliantly defiant message when some people complained (seriously, people?).
In 2020, the HuffPost UK video team launched a video series A Minute Of Kindness, which brings our audience stories of good deeds from across the world.
We also launched a good news newsletter – The Brightside – which features uplifting news only and is delivered to your inbox every Friday. You can sign up here.
We look forward to bringing you more good news stories in 2021.