2018. The year that England celebrated losing three matches out of a possible seven, Elon Musk called a cave diver a paedophile and Bitcoin investors had to sell their gaming chairs on Gumtree. It might not have been a marquee year for celebrity deaths, but in the world of deadpooling we saw a tight race crowned by a new champion.
But first, let’s clear the back-end of 2018’s necrolog out first. Dame June Whitfield provided the traditional post-Xmas big-name death, sending Twitter a-flurry for a few hours before her agent confirmed the news. She appeared in four Carry On films (and looked unnervingly hot in Carry On Abroad) and had a lengthy TV partnership with white nationalist actor Terry Scott, most notably in the sitcom Terry and June, which ran from 1979 to 1987. To reiterate, Terry Scott was a white nationalist. In her latter years she became the go-to granny figure on British TV, as Edina’s ageing mother in Absolutely Fabulous and daytime TV adverts intended to scare OAPs into buying overpriced life insurance. She was 36th on the provisional Drop 40 for the 2019 DDP at the time of her death, but after failing to make the start line she was a hit for 18 teams in 2018.
Another 2019 DNS entry comes in the shape of our 14th and final Drop 40 alum, Simon Ricketts. Ricketts was, like your gamerunner, a sub-editor by trade, and had worked at a variety of Fleet Street institutions (most notably The Daily Mail and The Guardian). Diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2016, he wrote at length about his condition and duly found himself on the radars of DDP players. He was 16th in the provisional Drop 40 for 2019, after a series of pre-Christmas tweets suggested his time was coming to an end, but instead he had to settle for dying on the 29th of December, at 30th on the 2018 countdown. Some 45 teams banged him out, including your champion. More about him later. And, yes, I’m sure there is some cosmic joke in a sub-editor’s final act meaning that someone else has to go back and correct endless amounts of text they’ve just entered into a database.
Sister Wendy Beckett studied at St Anne’s, Oxford, where one of her tutors was none other than JRR Tolkien – who tried to convince her to take up a career in academia. However, she had already completed her novitiate and took up residence at Notre Dame Convent in South Africa. Returning to the UK in the 1970s, she took up a role as a consecrated hermit, living in a caravan on the grounds of a Norfolk monastery and dedicating herself to solitude. It was during these periods of solitude she wrote the first of her books, 1988’s Contemporary Women Artists. The reception this received, as well as her friendship with Delia Smith, led to a surprising TV career. Sister Wendy was arguably the most famous art critic in British TV history, and indeed the only one who could ever grab 25% of the viewing TV audience (this was before we had Blaze though). She has died aged 88, and three teams mourn the one person who could best describe cocks in renaissance paintings.
A few more deaths before we get on to the main event of this post. Richard Arvin Overton was the oldest living World War II veteran and the oldest living American male. A media-friendly figure thanks to his love of cigars and whiskey, he somehow managed to be a victim of identity fraud at the age of 112. The actual, non-fake, 112-year-old Overton has now died and two teams can no longer apply for payday loans in his name.
Nancy Roman was one of the first female executives at NASA, and played a major role in the planning of the Hubble Space Telescope. She was also a long-time advocate for women in STEM roles. She died aged 93 after a long illness (not on Christmas Day as originally thought, so no Party Pooper bonus) and was a hit for two teams.
Hector Timerman’s father was the publisher Jacobo Timerman, who was famously tortured by the Argentine junta in the late 1970s after speaking out against human rights abuses. Hector followed in his father’s footsteps as an activist, eventually ascending to the position of foreign minister under Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. His time in the role was marked by diplomatic tensions: with the UK over the Falkland Islands, and with Israel over what they saw as Timerman’s fudging over an investigation into who was behind the 1994 AIMA bombing, which killed 85. Timerman was arrested in late 2017 on charges of covering up Iran’s involvement in the attack, and died while under house arrest on December 30th. He was the final DDP hit of 2018 and scored points for two teams.
Mexican actress Rosenda Monteros and Disney animator Don Lusk died before any QOs came in for them, despite both being legitimate big names, so they will have to settle for a spot on 2018’s List of the Lost.
However, the main event: congratulations to Pity Da Foolz, who won the Derby Dead Pool in just their fourth time of entering. Nobody had them down as a contender in 2018, following two finishes in the 20s in previous campaigns. But 2018 was a year of two women in deadpooling: Marieke Vervoort (who a lot of people thought would die but didn’t) and Jessica Falkholt (who a lot of people thought would survive but didn’t). Indeed, outside of the top 10 only PDF and runners-up Ethnic Cleansing eschewed the Belgian paralympian – with six of the remaining eight choosing to joker her.
Pity Da Foolz instead handed his joker card to Robbie Rotten himself, Stefan Karl Stefansson, and truly he can now say “We Are Number One”.
The DDP had six leaders in total this year. Theme outfit Robbinsdale High School Memorial Deathsquad got us off to an early start with the death of big-boned GLOW star Emily Dole, before Drop 40 pick and sapphic seductress Rayya Elias bit the dust instead of the box on January 4th and gave Heading Nowhere and Drollercoaster the joint lead.
Drollercoaster went out in front alone on January 17th when Jessica Falkholt’s vital life signs went away not home. Drol stayed top of the pile for three months until a canny unique pick in the shape of football fan rights campaigner Jacqui Forster nudged Day In the Death top.
The bridesmaid of the DDP, Thomas Jefferson Survives, went in the lead on August 5th when Charlotte Rae’s tumour growing pains stopped and it looked like the Jimmy White of deadpooling would finally get his first crown… and then November 21st happened, Devin Lima went from LFO to DDP and Pity Da Foolz struck out on his own. A fantastic back and forth, with PDF even getting a late Simon Ricketts hit to increase their final winning margin to 13 points – the biggest since 2014.
We failed to break the Drop 40 record of 15 set in 2017, coming up one short. Graduates from the 40 were the aforementioned Rae, Stefansson, Ricketts and Lima, along with George HW Bush, Billy Graham (finally), John McCain, Patrick Cryne, Tessa Jowell, Liam Miller, Catherine Nevin, Stephen Hawking, Stan Lee and Denis Norden.
The Theme Team trophy goes to Heef’s Politics XX, who beat out Nicked but not Dead on tie-breaker rules thanks to one extra stiff. The politico outfit managed eight hits, including a captain bonus for Vanessa Goodwin and the three Drop 40 politicians (Bush, McCain, Jowell).
A tie-breaker also decides the best newcomer for 2018, with The Blight House beating off GUN Away and GUN Fishing. They finished joint eighth overall, thanks to a joker punt on Liam Miller and a steady team, and we’ll be keeping an eye out for their progress in 2019.
And that 2019 table will be coming… soon. Rest assured, DDP staff (ie, me) are working day and night on the 1993 Access document that the site is based on, and barring any major fuckups we should be live within two weeks. Maybe sooner. Possibly not. I can tell you that Tyler Trent and “Mean” Gene Okerlund are already hits, while Captain off Captain and Tennille becomes our first List of the Missed-er. But more about them next time. Enjoy the new site (even if it is identical to the old one apart from the first page), please have patience with any errors the new format throws up (it will, trust me, and we will get them fixed asap) and have a great year’s deadpooling.