From Dirty Den’s divorce to Sherlock’s death – a look at the most dramatic TV moments of all time


Happy Valley came to its grand conclusion on Sunday -and the BBC drama lived up to the incredible hype, with many viewers hailing the episode as ‘a masterpiece’ and ‘one of the greatest television finales of all’.

Sarah Lancashire‘s lead performance as Sgt Catherine Cawood was lavished with praise from critics and fans alike, as her final showdown with James Norton ‘s Tommy Lee Royce (or as she described it ‘a bit of a tussle’) was deemed the perfect way to end the series.

While many fans were expecting a high-octane conclusion, and perhaps even Catherine’s demise, writer Sally Wainwright’s decision to pivot her finale around a 15 minute long kitchen table war of words between Tommy and Catherine left viewers in awe.

‘A stand-off worth waiting for – no guns, no knives, no punches but a battle of words which Catherine badly needed to say. Superb stuff by Sally Wainwright a tour de fore turn by Sarah Lancashire & a whirlwind of emotion from James Norton. What a finale,’ declared one viewer.

Following the last ever episode, we take a look at some of TV’s finest moments which have left viewers shocked, heartbroken and on the edge of their seat. 

The end: Happy Valley came to its grand conclusion on Sunday – and the BBC drama lived up to the incredible hype, with many viewers hailing the episode as ‘a masterpiece’

1.  Brookside 1994: First lesbian kiss

Smooch: In January 1994, Anna Friel made television history with her lesbian kiss on Brookside at the tender age of 17

Smooch: In January 1994, Anna Friel made television history with her lesbian kiss on Brookside at the tender age of 17

In January 1994, Anna Friel made television history with her lesbian kiss on Brookside at the tender age of 17.

The actress, now 41, and her co-star Nicola Stephenson were the first girls to pucker up on British Primetime television 

The pair kissed in front of 6million viewers – the first ever pre-nine-o’clock watershed lesbian kiss. 

2. Price and Prejudice 1995: Mr Darcy’s lake scene

Heartthrob: Colin Firth emerging from a lake, dressed in white and dripping wet, in Pride and Prejudice left millions of women swooning and transformed him into a household name

Heartthrob: Colin Firth emerging from a lake, dressed in white and dripping wet, in Pride and Prejudice left millions of women swooning and transformed him into a household name

Colin Firth emerging from a lake, dressed in white and dripping wet, in Pride and Prejudice left millions of women swooning and transformed him into a household name.

The scene is from a BBC adaptation first screened in 1995. 

But Colin previously revealed that he had not read the novel when he was offered the part, and nearly turned it down.

‘I really don’t believe I ever belonged in romantic roles. And when Darcy came along I thought it was weird they were asking me to play a romantic lead at 35.’

3. EastEnders 1986: Dirty Den hands divorce papers to Angie 

Split: Dirty Den's tumultuous marriage to alcoholic wife Angie captivated the nation and more than 30 million people tuned in to watch him present her with divorce papers

Split: Dirty Den’s tumultuous marriage to alcoholic wife Angie captivated the nation and more than 30 million people tuned in to watch him present her with divorce papers 

Leslie Grantham played a key role in some of EastEnders’ most explosive storylines and remains one of the soap’s most famous stars.

Appearing in the series’ first ever episode in 1985, Grantham starred as Den Watts – later receiving the nickname ‘Dirty’ after getting his adopted teenage daughter’s 16-year-old friend pregnant.

His tumultuous marriage to alcoholic wife Angie (Anita Dobson) captivated the nation and more than 30 million people – at the time over half of the UK population – tuned in to the 1986 Christmas special to watch Den present her with divorce papers.

4. EastEnders 2001: Kat and Zoe Slater ‘You ain’t my mother!’ 

Clash: Any TV fan worth their salt will be familiar with EastEnders' character Zoe Slater's dramatic wail: 'You ain't my mother!'

Clash: Any TV fan worth their salt will be familiar with EastEnders’ character Zoe Slater’s dramatic wail: ‘You ain’t my mother!’

 Any TV fan worth their salt will be familiar with EastEnders’ character Zoe Slater’s dramatic wail: ‘You ain’t my mother!’

The famous street row between the pair, where Zoe yells ‘You ain’t my mother’ at Kat before finding out the truth shocked viewers to their core. 

5. Coronation Street 2010:  Tram crash

Crash: In what's thought to be the most expensive stunt in soap history, an enormous explosion rocked Weatherfield - and killed off some of the show's most loved characters

Crash: In what’s thought to be the most expensive stunt in soap history, an enormous explosion rocked Weatherfield – and killed off some of the show’s most loved characters

In what’s thought to be the most expensive stunt in soap history, an enormous explosion rocked Weatherfield – and killed off some of the show’s most loved characters. 

For the show’s 50th anniversary, a tram careered off the viaduct after a crash, and reduced The Corner Shop and the Kabin to rubble in a disaster of epic proportions.

The live episode continued to depict the aftermath of the accident, such as the rescue attempts and deaths of the characters Ashley Peacock (Steven Arnold) and Molly Dobbs (Vicky Binns), an emergency marriage between Peter Barlow (Chris Gascoyne) and Leanne Battersby (Jane Danson) on Peter’s hospital bed, Fiz Stape (Jennie McAlpine) giving birth prematurely to her daughter Hope.

Molly also revealed to Sally Webster (Sally Dynevor) that her husband Kevin (Michael Le Vell) fathered Molly’s recently born baby Jack. 

 6. Downton Abbey 2012: Lady Sybil’s death

Tragedy: The death of popular Downton Abbey character Lady Sybil was kept a closely guarded secret until this dramatic episode

Tragedy: The death of popular Downton Abbey character Lady Sybil was kept a closely guarded secret until this dramatic episode

The death of popular Downton Abbey character Lady Sybil was kept a closely guarded secret until this dramatic episode. 

Despite viewers being previously unaware of what woes were to come in the episode, it proved a ratings winner, with 9.5million tuning in.

The period drama managed 100,000 more viewers than The X Factor results show, which screened just before on 1TV1.

Lady Sybil was seen dying of eclampsia soon after giving birth to a healthy baby girl, leaving her husband Tom Branson (Allen Leech) and family devastated.

Following the episode, fans took to Twitter in their droves to express their ‘grief’ over the departure of actress Jessica Brown Findlay from the series.

7. Sherlock’s 2012: Detective’s death 

The fall: Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson is one of the BBC¿s biggest hits but the cryptic ending to series two kept viewers guessing

The fall: Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson is one of the BBC’s biggest hits but the cryptic ending to series two kept viewers guessing

Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Watson is one of the BBC’s biggest hits but the cryptic ending to series two kept viewers guessing.

The episode, entitled The Reichenbach Fall, was based on the 1893 Arthur Conan Doyle book The Final Problem, in which the author famously killed off the eccentric detective.

Viewers watched Holmes view his own funeral from a distance after minutes earlier appearing to leap to his death from a tower block.

Within minutes social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook were flooded with fans offering conspiracy theories and explanations.

Many admitted they had watched the episodes repeatedly to try and work out how he could have survived.

8. Game of Thrones 2013: Red Wedding

Gruesome: Game Of Thrones may have taken their shock tactics too far in the penultimate episode of series three, The Rains of Castamere

Gruesome: Game Of Thrones may have taken their shock tactics too far in the penultimate episode of series three, The Rains of Castamere

Game Of Thrones may have taken their shock tactics too far in the penultimate episode of series three, The Rains of Castamere.

At the centre of the episode viewers watched as a grisly end came to the King of the North, his mother and pregnant wife, in what has been dubbed as the one of the most gruesome scenes in TV history.   

In the scene Robb Stark, the King of the North engaged in an age old custom of hospitality with Walder Frey by eating his bread and salt.

However after lulling viewers into a false sense of security Walder betrays his guest as he carries out a gruesome act of vengeance against the King and his clan, including of course his wife (who is not pregnant in the book).

The wedding feast soon descends into a bloodbath with most of Robb’s clan also being butchered.

Catelyn Stark, played by Michelle Fairley, had to watch as her daughter and unborn grandchild was slaughtered, then her first born son, before her own throat was also slit.

9.  Broadchurch 2013: Who killed Danny Latimer?

Gripping: Nearly ten million viewers tuned in to see who had killed schoolboy Danny Latimer in the ultimate 'whodunnit?' drama

Gripping: Nearly ten million viewers tuned in to see who had killed schoolboy Danny Latimer in the ultimate ‘whodunnit?’ drama

Nearly ten million viewers tuned in to see who had killed schoolboy Danny Latimer in the ultimate ‘whodunnit?’ drama. 

Viewers were stunned to see Joe Miller, the husband of detective Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman), confess.   

Joe claimed he was in love with Danny, although he had never sexually abused him.

Confessions: Viewers were stunned to see Joe Miller, the husband of detective Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman), confess

Confessions: Viewers were stunned to see Joe Miller, the husband of detective Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman), confess

They met at a clifftop holiday chalet, where the boy would sit on his lap and hug him. In return, Joe gave him presents and, on one occasion, £500 in cash.

On the night he was killed, Danny said he wanted the arrangement to end, and warned he might tell other people what was going on. After chasing him to the cliff edge, Joe led him back to the chalet, where he throttled him.

‘I wanted something that was my own,’ the killer told Hardy. ‘I wanted him to love me.’

10.  Line of Duty 2016:  Dot Cottan murders Lindsay Denton

'I'm a police officer!' Lindsay Denton's shock murder in series three was a heart-stopping moment

‘I’m a police officer!’ Lindsay Denton’s shock murder in series three was a heart-stopping moment

Series three took a dark turn after armed response unit leader Sgt Danny Waldron (Daniel Mays) shot dead gangster Ronan Murphy in cold blood. 

DS Steve Arnott enlisted the help of a surprising accomplice, Lindsay Denton, who had been released from prison on appeal.

Determined to hide the names involved in the sex abuse because they included corrupt cops and their criminal accomplices, DS Cottan goes to desperate measures to cover his tracks. 

After she tracked down an email of a list of offenders from Danny’s email – DS Cottan confronted her. She, however, refused to delete it and sent it on to AC-12, prompting him to shoot her in the car. 

11. Bodyguard 2018: Bomb explosion

Drama: Bodyguard viewers refused to believe a shock twist when one of the main characters - Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes - was seemingly killed off

Drama: Bodyguard viewers refused to believe a shock twist when one of the main characters – Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes – was seemingly killed off

Bodyguard viewers refused to believe a shock twist when one of the main characters – Home Secretary Julia Montague (Keeley Hawes – was seemingly killed off.

During the episode, Julia was giving a speech on her controversial RIPA-18 bill at St Matthews’ College when a bomb went off, sending her flying through the air.

Julia’s ex-husband was last told at the hospital that she had died of her injuries – and fans were so stunned they struggled to believe it to be true. 

Terrible: During the episode, Julia was giving a speech on her controversial RIPA-18 bill at St Matthews' College when a bomb went off, sending her flying through the air

Terrible: During the episode, Julia was giving a speech on her controversial RIPA-18 bill at St Matthews’ College when a bomb went off, sending her flying through the air



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