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That Was the Year That Was – 2002
Image by brizzle born and bred
The aura of terrorist assaults loomed large in 2002 with deadly attacks in Bali, Moscow and the Middle East. Meanwhile, the U.S. hunted al Qaeda in Afghan caves, prepared to face off Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and fended off snipers around its capital — all as the dust continued to settle from the catastrophic events of September 11, which marked its one-year anniversary.
More than three weeks of terror culminated October 24 with the early morning arrest of two men at a Maryland rest stop, ending a wave of sniper attacks that turned suburban gas stations and strip malls near the nation’s capital into hunting grounds. Authorities say John Allen Muhammad, a Gulf War veteran, and John Lee Malvo, a 17-year-old from Jamaica, shot and killed 10 victims and wounded three others in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C. Authorities later linked the pair to earlier shootings in Atlanta, Georgia; Montgomery, Alabama; and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The year 2002 was the one in which the United States gave the United Nations a chance to avoid a war. But as the year ended it seemed that the UN’s chance was disappearing. On 19 December the United States declared Iraq in "material breach" of Security Council resolution 1441 and war loomed early in the new year. Mr Bush chose the UN route. Many had thought that President Bush would not turn to the United Nations. But he did.
On 7 December, a day before the deadline, Iraq produced its declaration, in which it denied having any nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. But the United States and Britain said that the declaration was not good enough. It failed to explain, they said, what had happened to prohibited chemical and biological agents previously unaccounted for.
For many Russians the abiding and dark memories of the year will be, the shocking images of the Moscow theatre siege. Few in the Russian capital will ever forget the shocking images of the Moscow theatre siege – the masked Chechen gunmen, wielding Kalashnikovs and hand grenades. Their female accomplices were almost more terrifying, covered from head to foot in black, their veils bearing Islamic slogans, their waists wrapped with belts full of explosives. And for ordinary Muscovites today, there is definitely a sense of looking around more carefully, a slight feeling of uneasiness when in a crowded public place – a scar on the city’s psyche that will take some time to heal.
A look back at the major UK stories of 2002. In the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year, the Royal Family suffers two bereavements. Two UK government ministers quit and the prime minister’s wife is forced to explain her dealings with a convicted fraudster.
On 10 December, a tearful Cherie Blair apologises for the embarrassment she caused in buying flats in Bristol with the help of convicted fraudster Peter Foster. The statement fails to halt the media storm surrounding the controversy.
On 13 November, the first national firefighters’ strike for 25 years begins with troops attending hundreds of call-outs within hours. The 48-day strike over pay is followed by another eight day walkout, before the industrial action is halted ahead of renewed negotiations.
On 10 May, a train ploughs off the tracks at Potters Bar station, Hertfordshire, killing seven people and injuring 70 more on the train and the platform. A decision on a public inquiry into the crash is not due to be made before spring 2003.
It’s a funny old game!
The Queen experienced hers a couple of years back, but 2002 was truly David Seaman’s annus horribilus. England’s ‘number one’ had more balls over his head than a juggling troupe – and even a trim of his famous pony-tail failed to do the trick. Seaman’s only saving grace came courtesy of his daughter’s obsession with Teletubbies, which prevented him seeing the constant replays of that free kick.
Manchester United misfit Juan Veron was another who admitted to a Tubby fixation – although Laa-Laa and Tinky Winky probably make more sense than a Fergie team talk. Unlike Veron, Ronaldo enjoyed a glorious World Cup – even if he didn’t manage to score off the pitch. A 40-day nookie ban for the Brazilian players worked wonders, with the buck-toothed boy gleefully announcing after the final that he would "be having sex in a few moments".
Ronaldo didn’t do so well on the haircut front, his bizarre triangle creation vying with David Beckham’s dead chicken and Christian Ziege’s landing strip for football’s worst barnet. Thank God for David Seaman, they chorused.
Elsewhere, an excited dairy farmer named one of his herd Beckham. Still, no more ridiculous than calling your second-born Romeo. Meanwhile, in the land of the suits, Keith Harris left the FA (Orville is tipped to return as chief executive) – and the good people of Hartlepool elected the football club’s monkey mascot H’Angus as mayor.
Thankfully the Commonwealth Games raised a titter, in the shape of intrepid Kenyan cyclists George and Arthur – who went for a practice ride on the M61.
Luckily, they came away unharmed – which is more than can be said for Seaman.
What’s on TV ?
Reality TV dominated the tabloids and ITV digital went bust but 2002 also brought us 24, Six Feet Under, Tipping the Velvet, the Great Britons debate and… primetime Bargain Hunt. As soon as we were out of Christmas 2001 the TV brought us what can only be described as an eclectic mix. New BBC chat show Johnny Vaughan Tonight started off as a clone of America’s David Letterman on BBC One and BBC Choice. A new series of Sex In The City continued to be a hit on Channel 4 but Big Train, the daft sketch show on BBC Two, has been almost forgotten.
ITV1’s Pop Idol reached its big final in February after what seemed like six months. The BBC launched an awful lot of TV and radio channels in 2002 and in February the big news was CBBC and Cbeebies, while March brought BBC Four – a conscious attempt to mimic BBC Radio 4, which almost killed off digital satellite channel Artsworld.
Ted and Alice on BBC One was a peculiar mix of romance and science fiction that escaped most but made fans of many.
Initially much more successful, though it did tail off, was ITV1’s The Forsyte Saga. Channel 5 grabbed all the ex-Top Gear staff for Fifth Gear while the BBC finally brought us The Falklands Play, shown 15 years after it was first commissioned. Reality TV continued with The Edwardian Country House on Channel 4.
Channel 4 also gave us the tremendous The Book Group comedy and the series that reassembled the original cast of Auf Wiedersehen Pet was a hit for BBC One.
April was also the month that Rise started on Channel 4 – and flopped, although access to the Big Brother 3 contestants from May gave it a short-lived boost. ITV Digital viewers were not so happy that month as their screens went blank. Channel 4 gambled that V Graham Norton could work five nights a week – and it did. Frasier ran its so-so reunion of the Cheers cast on the same channel while BBC One measured our IQ in Test the Nation.
Ant and Dec starred in A Tribute To The Likely Lads on ITV1 but only managed to mimic the original. Hot real time US thriller 24 continued to stop our hearts on BBC Two. All through the summer The West Wing continued to be tremendous and was joined on Channel 4 by Six Feet Under, the instant-hit cult US drama.
In July, James Bolam was chilling in ITV1’s Shipman, but the drama itself was surprisingly limp. Comedian Peter Kay’s second run of Phoenix Nights on Channel 4 was a hit in August. BBC One had the luck to have finished Ella and the Mothers – about IVF – as news of an IVF mix-up broke.
Daytime hit Bargain Hunt moved to prime-time on BBC One but the move went to its head and the result was surprisingly dire.
ITV1’s I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out of Here had an unwieldy title but, although modelled on the Survivor reality TV format, at least did not have the word "survivor" in it. Nobody expected a celebrity version to do well, but it did. Documentaries on all channels marked the anniversary of the World Trade Centre destruction throughout a sombre September. The BBC’s revamped The Saturday Show was relaunched yet again but apart from new presenters and a Saturday Top of the Pops, it looked the same. Channel 5 became Five.
Partly to escape watching ITV1’s Popstars: The Rivals, 12 people managed to get into BBC One’s Fame Academy and for a while in October it looked like only their families were watching the show.
Michael Palin darted around the Sahara very quickly for the BBC, while the audience for Fame Academy grew very slowly. Ratings for The Office boomed for its second run on BBC Two and nosedived for Mr Right on ITV1, both entirely on merit.
BBC Two protested that Tipping the Velvet was not lewd but more people cared about its Great Britons poll – and Freeview, the replacement for ITV Digital, started at the end of the month. Months after it appeared here on MTV, The Osbournes became a hit on Channel 4 in November.
But a much greater hit for the channel was Jamie’s Kitchen, while we also saw Dead Ringers become a TV series, The Life of Mammals and Celebrity Big Brother. BBC and ITV pulled back from direct competition and gave us Daniel Deronda and Dr Zhivago on different nights.
Almost no-one watched BBC One’s The Project about New Labour, but it was good. Amazingly, BBC Two’s I’m Alan Partridge was not. Fame Academy finally became a hit in December, if not in ratings then at least critically, as showdowns saw some great characters like Ainslie and Malachi depart. More quietly, C4 began music show Born Sloppy and admitted Rise needed surgery as it dropped presenters.
BBC Two’s Wit ended the year with a marvellous performance by Emma Thompson as a cancer victim.
A Golden Jubilee tinged with sadness
It will be remembered as the year of two funerals and a jubilee and for the strange saga of the Crown v Burrell the butler. It was a year when the critics of monarchy were confounded by the public’s commitment to the institution, and the supporters of monarchy confused by a court case and the ripples which flowed from it. In the early weeks of 2002 there were widespread predictions that the Golden Jubilee was going to be a wholesale flop.
Those who offered such an analysis either ignored or were ignorant of the fact that precisely the same sort of predictions had been made in the early months of the Silver Jubilee year of 1977. On that occasion Britain was in the grip of a major financial crisis and, it was suggested, no-one would have the time, money or inclination for something as frivolous as a jubilee. But as spring gave way to summer the crowds came out. It happened in 2002 in much the same way as it did in 1977. Of course there were differences. Britain is different. Our attitude to the monarchy is different.
It would be strange if that wasn’t the case and, frankly, inconceivable after the turbulent times the royal family has put itself through in recent years. But what we witnessed in the early part of 2002 seemed to be the response of a country which remains essentially monarchist by instinct or, at the very least, which remains respectful of and grateful to this particular monarch for the qualities which she has embodied for the past 50 years.
Without question the death of the Queen’s younger sister, Princess Margaret, in February and – most especially – the death just seven weeks later of her mother helped to crystallise Britain’s feelings about its monarchy. Emotions which had, to an extent, lain dormant in recent years were re-kindled. The Queen Mother was in her 102nd year when she passed away on the Saturday of the Easter weekend. It was not unexpected, but for many it was still a shock. And despite her "eccentricities" (she was extravagant with cash and champagne, suspicious of change and had a view of the world rooted in the days of the British Empire) she represented those facets of the monarchy which a great many Britons still cherish. The most important of these is the ability to connect a country with its past history.
And so it was perhaps not so surprising that so many people made the journey to Westminster Hall and waited for so many hours in the cold to pay their respects at her coffin. It was – as many noted at the time – her final, perfectly timed gesture of support to the family she had joined nearly 80 years earlier.
Suddenly, it seemed, Britain had re-discovered its affinity with the royals, and there – a few weeks later – was another elderly, silver haired lady beginning her Golden Jubilee tour of Britain and symbolising precisely the same qualities of continuity and dutifulness. The crowds came out in the fishing communities of the south west; the former pit villages of the north east and in many of the big towns and cities across the United Kingdom (though it must be said that Glasgow and Edinburgh seemed a little half-hearted).
There were parties, pageants, concerts and services of thanksgiving. And to cap it all a million people gathered on the Mall to wave their flags and cheer as the Queen and her family made one of the most triumphant balcony appearances of her reign.
It seemed that the monarchy had finally put the bad times behind it. It was even being suggested that the Queen was coming round to the idea of Mrs Camilla Parker Bowles as a possible future daughter-in-law. But then came the case of Regina v Burrell and one of the most bizarre trials to have been played out in the Number One court of the Old Bailey. It ended with a spectacular example of Queen’s evidence and a welter of questions and suspicions.
Mr Burrell, the former butler to Diana Princess of Wales, was cleared of theft and exonerated. The royal family wasn’t so fortunate. The trial has re-kindled an impression of an institution which is beset with problems (most of which, it must be said, are focused on St James’ Palace) and which, once again, is being buffeted by hostile waters.
Soham’s summer of sorrow
Until this year, few people in Britain had even heard of Soham. This small community in the fens of Cambridgeshire had never before been the focus of such intense news coverage. All that changed on a summer’s evening, when two schoolgirls went out for a walk and never returned home.
In the following days, Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman became the focus of a nation’s anxiety. The image of the two friends, wearing their matching David Beckham football shirts, burned into people’s minds as they followed the desperate search. The photograph was all the more poignant because it had been taken just minutes before they disappeared. At first there were hopes that the girls had simply wandered off, perhaps to meet someone, and would turn up safe and well. But in everyone’s mind was the possibility – the probability – that they had been abducted.
Cases of children being snatched off the street are still mercifully rare, and consequently make headlines. But the disappearance of two girls, together, was unprecedented. The intensity of the media coverage only increased the sense of foreboding.
Thirteen days after Holly and Jessica vanished, the worst fears of their parents, the police and the public were realised. The bodies of the two girls were discovered in a ditch at Lakenheath, in the neighbouring county of Suffolk, just eight miles from their homes. An inquest was told they had died somewhere else, before being taken there. Further details will only be revealed when the man accused of their murder goes on trial at the Old Bailey. Ian Huntley, who is 28 and a former caretaker, has been examined by a psychiatrist who declared him fit to stand trial.
His 25-year-old girlfriend, Maxine Carr, a former teaching assistant, is charged with attempting to pervert the course of justice.
January – Ford unveils its all-new Fiesta supermini, which is due on sale in March. It is announced that a record of 2,450,000 new cars were sold during 2001, breaking the previous record set in 1989. The Ford Focus was Britain’s best selling car for the third year running.
14 January – The end of the Foot and Mouth crisis is declared after 11 months.
8–24 February – Great Britain competes at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States, and wins 1 gold and 1 bronze medal.
9 February – Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister, dies after suffering a stroke at the age of 71.
15 February – Funeral of Princess Margaret takes place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
18 February – Thoburn v Sunderland City Council decided.
19 February – Ford ends 90 years of British car production with the loss of more than 2,000 jobs after the last Fiesta was made at its factory in Dagenham. However, the plant will be retained for the production of engines and gearboxes, and Ford will continue to make commercial vehicles at its plant in Southampton.
20 February – Andrew Aston, a 29-year-old Birmingham cocaine addict, is sentenced to 26 concurrent terms of Life imprisonment – officially the longest prison sentence imposed on any criminal in England and Wales – for murdering two elderly people in robberies and attacking 24 others.
27 February – Ryanair Flight 296 catches fire at London Stansted Airport.
March – Vauxhall unveils the all-new Vectra family car, which is due on sale in Summer.
11 March – BBC 6 Music, the first new BBC Radio station in decades, is launched.
21 March – Amanda Dowler, 13, goes missing on her way home from school in Surrey.
22 March – A woman known as "Miss B", who was left quadriplegic last year as a result of a burst blood vessel in her neck, is granted the right to die by the High Court.
29 March – Coal mining in Scotland, which has a history stretching back more than 800 years, comes to an end with the closure of Longannet coal mine in Fife after it floods and the owners go into liquidation, putting more than 500 people out of work.
30 March – Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, dies aged 101 at Royal Lodge, Windsor.
4 April – Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother’s funeral procession from the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace to Westminster Hall to lie in state.
9 April – Funeral of Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother takes place at Westminster Abbey, London. The burial takes place at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
23 April – A badly decomposed female body is found in the River Thames; it is feared to be that of Amanda Dowler.
24 April – The body found in the River Thames is identified as that of 73-year-old Mrs Maisie Thomas, who was last seen alive near her home in Shepperton just over a year ago and whose death is not believed to be suspicious.
25 April – Two 16-year-old twin brothers are cleared of murdering 10-year-old Damilola Taylor, who was stabbed to death in South London 17 months ago.
29 April – As part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations, the Queen dines at 10 Downing Street with the five living prime ministers who have served under her; Tony Blair, John Major, Margaret Thatcher, James Callaghan and Edward Heath. She is also joined by several relatives of deceased former prime ministers, including Clarissa Eden, Countess of Avon, widow of prime minister Anthony Eden.
1 May – Airdrieonians, of the Scottish Football League Division One, go into liquidation with debts of £3million. They are the first Scottish senior side to go out of business for 35 years.
4 May – Arsenal win the FA Cup with a 2–0 win over London rivals Chelsea in the final.
8 May – Arsenal win their second double in five seasons (and the third in their history) after a 1–0 away win over defending champions Manchester United.
10 May – Potters Bar rail crash in Hertfordshire kills 7 people.
£5million-rated striker Marlon King, of Gillingham F.C., is jailed for 18 months after being found guilty of handling a stolen £32,000 car.
24 May – Falkirk Wheel boat lift opens in Scotland, also marking reopening of the Union Canal for leisure traffic.
27 May – Former leader of the Liberal Democrats Paddy Ashdown appointed as the international community’s High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
28 May – Stephen Byers resigns as Secretary of State for Transport.
2 June – The England national football team’s World Cup campaign, hosted jointly by Japan and South Korea, begins with a 1–1 draw against Sweden.
3 June – The "Party in the Palace" takes place at Buckingham Palace, London for The Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.
4 June – The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh ride in the gold state coach from Buckingham Palace to St Paul’s Cathedral for a special service marking the Queen’s 50 years on the throne. In New York, the Empire State Building is lit in purple for her honour.
7 June – England beat Argentina 1-0 in their second World Cup group game, with the only goal of the game being scored by captain David Beckham.
10 June – First direct electronic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans carried out by Kevin Warwick in the University of Reading.
12 June – England qualify for the knockout stages of the World Cup despite only managing a goalless draw against Nigeria.
15 June – England beat Denmark 3-0 in the World Cup second round and reach the quarter-finals for the first time since 1990. Ironically, the far-right British National Party had declared its support for all-white Denmark before the World Cup due to the England team featuring black players.
21 June – England’s hopes of winning the World Cup are ended by a 2–1 defeat to Brazil in the quarter-finals.
25 June – Jason Gifford (27) is shot dead by armed police in Aylesbury after brandishing a shotgun and a machete in a residential street.
July – London City Hall is opened on the south bank of the River Thames, designed by Norman Foster.
1 July – Rochdale Canal, crossing the Pennines, reopened throughout for leisure traffic.
3 July – Decapitation of a statue of Margaret Thatcher: a man decapitates a statue of the former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London.
5 July – The Imperial War Museum North in Manchester, designed by Daniel Libeskind, opens.
8 July – John Taylor, a 46-year-old parcel delivery worker from Bramley in Leeds, is sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of 16-year-old Leanne Tiernan. Leanne was last seen alive in the city centre on 26 November 2000 and her body was found in the Yorkshire countryside nine months later. Police believed that Taylor may have been responsible for other unsolved sex attacks and murders in the Yorkshire area, and the trial judge has warned Taylor to expect to spend the rest of his life in prison.
9 July – Clydebank F.C. of the Scottish Football League Second Division become defunct after a takeover by the owners of the new Airdrie United club, who take their place in the Scottish league and continue the tradition of senior football in the town of Airdrie following the recent demise of Airdrieonians, whose stadium they will play at.
12 July – Ribble Link waterway opened for leisure traffic.
13 July – Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art opens in the converted Baltic Flour Mill at Gateshead.
22 July – Rio Ferdinand becomes the most expensive player in English football when he completes his £29.1million move from Leeds United to Manchester United.
23 July – Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Wales, elected to be the successor of George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury.
Leicester City F.C. move into their new 32,000-seat Walker’s Stadium, named under a sponsorship deal with Walker’s Crisps, after 111 years at Filbert Street. It is officially opened by former England striker Gary Lineker, who was born locally and started his playing career with the club.
25 July – The Commonwealth Games, hosted by Manchester are opened by the Queen. The event also marks the opening of the City of Manchester Stadium, which will host the games. It will be partly remodelled after the games are over to become home of Manchester City F.C. from August 2003.
30 July – Heavy rain overnight results in the floods in Glasgow.
August – An outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in Barrow-in-Furness results in seven deaths and 172 cases throughout the month, ranking it as the worst in the UK’s history and fifth worst worldwide.
4 August – 10-year-old girls Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman go missing in Soham, Cambridgeshire.
5 August – Police and volunteers in the Soham area begin the search for Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman.
7 August – Police investigating the case of the two missing Soham girls seize a white van in nearby Wentworth and admit they are now looking at the case as a possible abduction.
12 August – A possible sighting of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman is reported by a local taxi driver who claims to have seen the driver of a green car struggling with two children and driving recklessly along the A142 into Newmarket on the evening the girls went missing.
13 August – Two mounds of disturbed earth are found at Warren Hill, near Newmarket, in the same area where screams were reported on the night that Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman went missing. It is initially feared that the mounds of earth were the graves of the two girls, but a police examination fails to uncover any link to the girls.
16 August – Ian Huntley, caretaker of Soham Village College, and his girlfriend Maxine Carr, are questioned in connection with the disappearance of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman, but are released after seven hours in custody.
17 August – Following the recovery of items of major interest to the police investigation, Ian Huntley and Maxine Carr are re-arrested on suspicion of murder as police admit for the first time that they fear the missing girls are now dead. Several hours later, two "severely decomposed and partially skeletonised" bodies are found in the Lakenheath area; they have not been identified but police say that they are likely to be those of the two missing girls.
21 August – Ian Huntley, detained under the Mental Health Act, is charged with the murders of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. His girlfriend Maxine Carr is charged with perverting the course of justice. Both are remanded in custody. Meanwhile, police confirm that the two bodies found at Lakenheath are those of the two girls.
20 September – Police confirm that human remains found in woodland near Fleet in north Hampshire are those of Amanda Dowler, who went missing in Surrey six months ago. A murder investigation is launched.
22 September – An earthquake in Dudley is felt throughout England and Wales.
1 October – Main provisions of National Health Service Reform and Health Care Professions Act (of 25 June) come into force in England, including renaming and merger of existing NHS regional health authorities to form 28 new strategic health authorities, and introduction of Primary Care Trusts to be responsible for the supervision of family health care functions.
9 October – A judge decides that Ian Huntley is fit to face prosecution for the Soham Murders.
14 October – The Northern Ireland Assembly is suspended following allegations of spying in "Stormontgate".
23 October – Estelle Morris resigns as Secretary of State for Education, explaining that she did not feel up to the job.
25 October – Memorial service held at St Paul’s Cathedral for the victims of the Bali bombing, which killed 26 UK citizens.
1 November – Diana, Princess of Wales’ former butler, Paul Burrell, is cleared of stealing from the princess’ estate after it was revealed that he had told The Queen that he was keeping some of her possessions.
13 November – Firefighter’s strike begins.
15 November – Moors Murderer Myra Hindley dies in West Suffolk Hospital at the age of 60 after being hospitalised with a heart attack. She was in the 37th year of her life sentence and had spent the last decade attempting to gain parole, having been told by no less than four Home Secretaries that she would have to spend the rest of her life in prison, having previously increased her minimum term from 25 years to 30 years during the 1980s, and then to a whole life tariff in 1990. Media sources report that the Home Office will soon be stripped of its power to set minimum terms for life sentence prisoners, and Hindley had been widely expected to gain parole in the near future as a result.
20 November – German anatomist Gunther von Hagens conducts a public autopsy in a London theatre; the first in Britain in more than 170 years.
40 years after the first James Bond film was made, the 20th film is released in British cinemas as Pierce Brosnan bows out as Bond in Die Another Day after four films in seven years.
23 November – The Miss World beauty competition is held in London after rioting in the Nigerian capital Lagos prevent it being hosted there.
24 November – Home Secretary David Blunkett rules that four convicted child murderers should spent at least 50 years in prison before being considered for parole. This ruling means that Roy Whiting, Howard Hughes, Timothy Morss and Brett Tyler are likely to remain behind bars until at least the ages of 92, 80, 79 and 81 respectively.
26 November – Politicians in England and Wales lose their power to set minimum terms on life sentence prisoners after the European Court of Human Rights and the High Court both ruled in favour of a legal challenge by convicted double murderer Anthony Anderson. Anderson had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1988 and the trial judge recommended that he should serve a minimum of 15 years before being considered for parole, but the Home Secretary later decided on a 20-year minimum term.
30 November – Girl band Girls Aloud are formed from the five female contestants who win the ITV talent show Popstars The Rivals.
10 December – Sydney Brenner and John E. Sulston win the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with H. Robert Horvitz "for their discoveries concerning ‘genetic regulation of organ development and programmed cell death’".
Cherie Blair apologises for the embarrassment she caused in buying flats with the help of convicted fraudster Peter Foster.
12 December – The latest MORI poll puts Labour four points ahead of the Conservatives on 37%, while the Liberal Democrats are enjoying a new high in popularity with 24% of the vote.
15 December – On the Record, the BBC’s flagship political programme, finishes after 14 years on air.
19 December – Shaied Nazir, Ahmed Ali Awan and Sarfraz Ali all convicted of the racist murder of Ross Parker in Peterborough.
Stuart Campbell, a 44-year-old builder from Grays in Essex, is found guilty of murdering his 15-year-old niece Danielle Jones 18 months ago. Danielle’s body has never been found. It is then revealed that Campbell, who is sentenced to life imprisonment, has a string of previous convictions including keeping an underage girl at his home without lawful authority in 1989.
22 December – Sound of the Underground, Girls Aloud’s first single, is the UK’s Christmas number one.
BedZED (Beddington Zero Energy Development), the country’s first large-scale zero energy housing development, of 99 homes in Beddington, London, designed by Bill Dunster, is completed.
Over 50% of the UK population (well over 30 million people) now has internet access.
Car sales in Britain reach a record level for the second year running, now exceeding 2.5 million for the first time. The Ford Focus is Britain’s best selling car for the fourth year in a row, and Ford Motor Company retains its lead of the manufacturers for British sales, which it has held since 1975. Ford has a total of four model ranges among Britain’s top 10 selling cars, for the first time since 1989. Vauxhall, Peugeot, Renault and Volkswagen also enjoy strong sales.
16 April – Cutting It (2002–2005)
21 April – Born and Bred (2002–2005)
13 May – Spooks (2002–2011)
14 May – The Experiment (2002)
6 September – Fame Academy (2002–2003)
23 November – Daniel Deronda (2002)
20 October – Great Britons
16 December – Raven (2002–2010)
7 November – 15 Storeys High (2002–2004)
24 February – UK Top 40 (2002–2005)
31 August – Dick and Dom in da Bungalow (2002–2006)
8 January – Footballers’ Wives (2002–2006)
11 May – The Vault (2002–2004)
9 July – Shipman
25 August – I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! (2002–present)
A Is for Acid (2002)
Up on the Roof (2002–2005)
27 October – Foyle’s War (2002–2015)
7 November – Russian Roulette (2002–2003)
14 November – Harry Hill’s TV Burp (2002–2012)
24 November – Doctor Zhivago (2002)
29 April – RI:SE (2002–2003)
5 August – BrainTeaser (2002–2007)
25 May – Most Haunted (2002—2010)
The 2002 BRIT Awards winners were:
Best British Male Solo Artist: Robbie Williams
Best British Female Solo Artist: Dido
Best British Group: Travis
Best British Album: Dido: "No Angel"
Best British Dance Act: Basement Jaxx
Best British Newcomer: Blue
Best International Male: Shaggy
Best International Female: Kylie Minogue
Best International Group: Destiny’s Child
Best International Newcomer: The Strokes
Best International Album: Kylie Minogue – "Fever"
Best British Video: So Solid Crew – "21 Seconds"
Best British Single: S Club 7 – "Don’t Stop Movin’"
Best Pop Act: Westlife
Outstanding Contribution: Sting