The biggest showbiz stories of 2022: Will Smith, Johnny Depp and more

The Biggest Showbiz Stories Of 2022: Will Smith, Johnny Depp And More
Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the Oscars was one of the more shocking showbiz moments of 2022. Photo: PA Images
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Connie Evans, PA Entertainment Reporter

The entertainment industry did not disappoint in 2022 as it made a drama-fuelled comeback after two years of coronavirus disruption.

The worlds of film, TV and music offered a deluge of headlines, from Will Smith’s on-stage slap at the Oscars to a new Time Lord and an MP in the Australian jungle.


With 2023 on the horizon, we look back at some of the biggest showbiz stories of the past 12 months.


Ukraine wins Eurovision amid war

Kalush Orchestra
Kalush Orchestra (Yui Mok/PA)

In May, Ukraine triumphed at the Eurovision Song Contest in Turin, Italy.

Folk-rap group Kalush Orchestra gave an impressive performance in spite of the Russian invasion of their country.


Ukraine joined the contest in 2003 and has become one of the more successful of the newer competitors, having previously won in 2004 and 2016.

UK announced as 2023 Eurovision host

Eurovision 2023
Claire McColgan, director of Culture Liverpool, Bill Addy, chief executive at the Liverpool Bid Company, and Faye Dyer, managing director of the ACC Group, outside Liverpool M&S Arena after the city was announced as host of 2023 Eurovision Song Contest (Peter Byrne/PA)

After Ukraine’s win, Eurovision organiser the European Broadcasting Union decided the event could not be held in the war-torn country.


In July it was confirmed that the UK would host the competition next year after Sam Ryder took second place.

A number of UK cities threw their hat into the ring and it was announced in October that the international music extravaganza will take place in Liverpool, with the grand final on Saturday, May 13th.

Will Smith’s Oscars slap

YE 2022 Notebook Oscars Slap
Will Smith hits Chris Rock on stage (Chris Pizzello/AP)


One of the biggest stories of the year came during awards season as Smith struck Chris Rock on stage at the 94th Academy Awards in March.

Smith (54) stormed the stage during the ceremony and slapped the 57-year-old comedian over comments her made about Smith’s wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

In April it was announced that the actor, who had later collected the Oscar for best actor, had been banned from all Academy events or programmes for 10 years.

Ncuti Gatwa announced as latest Doctor

Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor
Ncuti Gatwa as the Doctor (BBC Studios/PA)

Last year Doctor Who fans were thrilled with the news that Russell T Davies was returning to the beloved science-fiction series to serve as showrunner after leaving the show in 2009.

And this year fans were treated to an even bigger surprise as it was announced in July that Sex Education star Ncuti Gatwa will take over from Jodie Whittaker as the Time Lord.

It was later revealed that much-loved former stars of the series David Tennant and Catherine Tate will also return.

Matt Hancock joins I’m A Celebrity

Matt Hancock returns to Parliament
Matt Hancock returns to the Houses of Parliament for first time since his stint in the jungle (Lucy North/PA)

November marked the return of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! to the Australian jungle after two years in Wales due to pandemic travel restrictions, and viewers were shocked to discover former British health secretary Matt Hancock would be joining the line-up.

The MP for West Sussex was stripped of the Tory whip after news of his participation in the ITV reality show broke.

He later touched down in camp as a late entrant alongside comedian Seann Walsh.

Before making it to the final Hancock (44) completed an array of challenges and told campmates he was “looking for a bit of forgiveness” after backlash over his handling of the Covid pandemic and his affair with former aide Gina Coladangelo.

Glastonbury returns

Glastonbury Festival 2022
Kendrick Lamar at the Glastonbury Festival (Yui Mok/PA)

After a three-year break due to the pandemic, Glastonbury Festival returned for a belated 50th anniversary event, with Billie Eilish and Sir Paul McCartney among the headline acts.

The festival’s return to Worthy Farm saw a number of memorable moments including Lily Allen joining American pop sensation Olivia Rodrigo on stage, an on-screen address from Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Eilish’s history-making set as she became the festival’s youngest ever solo headliner.

After the five-day event, co-organiser Emily Eavis described it as “surely the best one yet”.

Neighbours comes to an end… then returned

Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan reunite for the final episode (Channel 5/PA)

In March it was announced that long-running Australian soap Neighbours would end after more than three decades on screen, after it lost its key UK broadcast partner and failed to find alternative funding.

The final episode was shown on Channel 5 in July with some of its most recognisable faces, including Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, returning for one last goodbye.

However, in a surprising turn of events it was announced in November that the show was set for a revival by streaming site Amazon Freevee and production company Fremantle.

A new series is to begin filming in Australia next year.

Olivia Wilde served custody papers on stage

The 92nd Academy Awards – Vanity Fair Party – Los Angeles
Olivia Wilde at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party (Ian West/PA)

American actress and filmmaker Olivia Wilde was served legal papers on behalf of her ex-fiance, actor Jason Sudeikis, while on stage promoting a film at CinemaCon in April.

Wilde (38) who was in a relationship with Sudeikis (47) from 2011 to 2020, appeared surprised after opening the brown envelope she was handed.

The Don’t Worry Darling director, who shares two children with the Ted Lasso actor, later described the incident as “vicious”.

Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial

One of the most high-profile court cases of recent years came as actress Amber Heard was sued by former husband Johnny Depp over a 2018 article she wrote for the Washington Post about her experiences as a survivor of domestic abuse, which his lawyers said falsely accused him of being an abuser.

In June, a jury at Fairfax County Court in Virginia returned a verdict in 59-year-old Depp’s favour and he was awarded $10.3 for damage to his reputation.

Heard (36) later sought to appeal against the verdict arguing that it would have a “chilling” effect on other women.

However, as the year drew to a close Heard revealed she had made the “very difficult decision” to settle her multimillion-dollar US defamation case against Depp.

The Aquaman star said the decision was “not an act of concession” but an opportunity to resolve the situation “on terms I can agree to”.

Rihanna releases first new solo music in six years

Rihanna (Ian West/PA)

Rihanna fans were overjoyed in October when the Barbadian singer released her first new music since 2016 with Lift Me Up.

The new track was recorded for the Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever, and was released six years after her eighth studio album Anti.

Earlier in the year it was also announced that Rihanna, 34, will headline the Super Bowl half-time show in February.

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck tie the knot

Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck (Alamy/PA)

After announcing they had rekindled their relationship, 2022 saw the couple known as Bennifer tie the knot.

Almost two decades after the stars were first engaged in November 2002 – before ending their relationship in 2004 – they exchanged vows at the Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas.

Lopez (53) announced the news in July on her website, On The JLo, and the couple shared a celebration with family and friends in Savannah, Georgia, which Lopez described as “one of the most perfect nights of our lives”.

James Corden banned, and then unbanned, from New York restaurant

In October, James Corden found himself at the centre of controversy after New York restaurateur Keith McNally accused him of “abusive” behaviour towards serving staff at his Balthazar restaurant.

“James Corden is a hugely gifted comedian, but a tiny cretin of a man, and the most abusive customer to my Balthazar servers since the restaurant opened 25 years ago,” Mr McNally wrote before announcing Corden had been banned from the venue.

After receiving an apology from the Gavin And Stacey star he rescinded the ban.

Corden later addressed the incident during an episode of his The Late Late Show, saying it was “never my intention” to upset staff at the restaurant but acknowledging he had been “ungracious”.

Jeremy Clarkson faces criticism for comments about Meghan

One of the biggest stories in the year broke shortly before the year’s end and involved broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson.

After the release of Netflix series Harry & Meghan, the 62-year-old former Top Gear presenter wrote a column for The Sun saying he “hated” Meghan Markle and dreamed of her being paraded through British towns and publicly shamed.

The column quickly became the UK's Independent Press Standards Organisation’s most complained-about article.

Kim Kardashian dons Marilyn Monroe dress for Met Gala

Kim Kardashian arriving at the Met Gala (Doug Peters/Empics/Alamy Live News/PA)

Kim Kardashian opted to wear a historic gown once worn by Hollywood superstar Marilyn Monroe to the 2022 Met Gala.

The social media mogul (42) revealed she had lost 16lb to fit into the “iconic” gown, which was on loan to her from the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! museum.

After the exclusive event in New York, outrage was sparked online after photos posted by collector Scott Fortner appeared to show damage to the back of the gown – worn by Monroe during her famous 1962 performance of Happy Birthday to US president John F Kennedy.

However, Ripley’s Believe It or Not! later said it was “confident” Kardashian did not damage the dress and the garment remained “in the same condition it started in”.

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