DDP 2022: King David V

So that was 2022. Putin shot to the top of many a wishful thinking list, BoJo was succeeded by a fuckwit who couldn’t outlast a lettuce, and Musk flushed 44 billion buckaroos down the toilet so Twitter would stop laughing at him. They didn’t. Above all else, it will be remembered as the year Queen Elizabeth II died and passed on the sceptre to King Charles III. But the DDP never stopped, even if McDonald’s did. If it was the first changing of the monarch in most of our lifetimes, over here we saw a familiar crown holder reclaim the throne.

Right on Queue™…

Here’s a quick rundown of those who died in the waning hours of the year:

Kathy Whitworth shattered glass ceilings in the golf world with her dominating presence in the LPGA Tour. With her 88 LPGA wins she had more success in a specific professional tournament than any other golfer (for contrast, the male PGA Tour’s joint recordholders are Tiger Woods and Sam Snead with 82 wins). She was 83 and picked by The DOA Tour.

When the Reaper woke up this morning, Ian Tyson was on his mind. Tyson was a Canadian folkie best known as half of husband-and-wife duo Ian & Sylvia, who rode the early 60s folk revival wave and influenced the likes of Neil Young. His song “Four Strong Winds” is deemed a cornerstone of Canuck culture. The duo ceased with their divorce in 1975 but Ian continued to record solo. He was 89 and bodes strong winds for Rushing to Tim Horton’s for Maple Donuts.

Japanese architect Arata Isozaki came of age in the aftermath of Hiroshima and Nagasaki – the destruction inspired him to dedicate his life to rebuilding. His style was seen as a fusion of Eastern and Western culture, and he won the Pritzker Prize in 2019. He was 91 (bit underwhelming for an architect that) and spares Wep 2.0 – World’s Eternity Prophet Reloaded a goose egg.

No freaking way! Don West’s dreams of sportscasting were crushed as his voice lacked the required timbre. He made by with a steady career hawking products on TV – sports memorabilia, knives, Beanie Babies, Pokémon cards, boy did I walk into a 90s zeitgeist sentence. His enthusiasm thrust him into the wrestling world, where he was tapped as one of the colour commentators for a fledgling Impact Wrestling (back when it was Total Nonstop Action Wrestling). The yin and yang of the excitable West and the bookish Mike Tenay were a smash success and remained Impact’s commentary team for the next decade. He was 59 and is no doubt exclaiming from the pearly gates how this DDP victory is the greatest shock of all time.

The DDP hits record is about to lose control, and I think I like it. Anita Pointer formed R&B-infused vocal group the Pointer Sisters when joining forces with siblings June and Bonnie, previously a musical duo. The trio ballooned to a quartet with Ruth (eventually falling to a trio again when Bonnie went solo), and the girls had modest chart success in the 1970s. 1978 hit “Fire” augured their 80s zenith, where they left a hot trail of upbeat dance tunes (“I’m So Excited”, “Neutron Dance”), slower material (“Slow Hand”, “He’s So Shy”) and the occasional throwback (60s girl group homage “Should I Do It”). They also sang the Sesame Street pinball skit. She was 74 and guarantees Ruth Pointer will be a staple of “last survivors” theme teams from 2024 on.

Now we’re delving into proper heavyweights who died the wrong side of the year for obitwriting purposes:

Trailblazing broadcast journalist Barbara Walters began working under the aegis of The Today Show, initially handling lighthearted weather assignments in a time when women weren’t seen as capable of reporting serious news. Walters defied the prejudices, began to report major scoops, and eventually co-hosted. After a brief time co-anchoring ABC Evening News, she would have a lengthy stint helming 20/20  beginning 1979 and her co-creation The View beginning 1997. Most notable of all was her interview prowess, interviewing every sitting US president from Nixon to Obama (plus Trump and Biden before their presidencies), hard-to-get world leaders like Fidel Castro, and Katharine Hepburn, who she infamously asked what tree she would be. She also dallianced with noted sex symbol Alan Greenspan. And who can forget Gilda Radner’s pisstake of her? She was 93 and a hit for 19 teams (not quite 20/20).

Gary Burgess and Floyd Little (and Frank McGarvey – more on that guy in about two weeks’ time) would be scolding Pope Benedict XVI in the afterlife right now for not following their example in making New Year’s no matter what. But Burgess and Little seemed like decent chaps so I doubt Benny is on the same floor. Born Joseph Ratzinger, Benny was a longtime theologian when created a cardinal by Pope Paul VI in 1977. He rose through the Vatican ranks, and was Pope John Paul II’s right-hand man for much of ol’ Karol’s tenure. Benny became Pope himself upon his predecessor’s 2005 death, with his reign noted for its adherence to conservative orthodoxy on abortion, the gays, etc. He was a bit more lax on the paedo problem ravaging the church, though. That was a bit of a headache. He shocked the world by resigning in 2013, the first for a Pope in centuries and probably a wise career move given he lasted nearly a decade more. He was 95 and 67 teams cook up some ex-Benedict.

Last but not least, a man who would’ve gotten much more of an obit had he not had the poor timing to die days before the whistle was blown on 2022. Pelé was football for many, such was his dazzling dominance in the sport – three World Cup wins, north of 1,200 goals if one counts friendlies. He was the star player at Santos FC in the late 50s, which segued to worldwide fame as the teen prodigy in Brazil’s 1958 Cup win. But his biggest glory in the Cup came in 1970 as the crux of arguably the greatest football team, defeating defending champs England en route to the scintillating final against Italy. The images of Pelé jubilantly being ferried by his teammates, as well as him shirt swapping with Bobby Moore in a show of mutual respect, remain etched in the memory. He ended his playing career for the New York Cosmos, past his playing prime but increasing US interest in the Beautiful Game. For the rest of his years he was a prominent public face, using his iconic stature to serve in ambassadorial roles. He was 82 and a cancer diagnosis late last year made him a wildly popular deadpool pick – had he lasted three days more he’d have been at a level unseen since the Zsa Zsa days. Among the many, many teams to pick him was our champion, who we’ll get to next…

Only fitting that Pelé scores the most goals out of any DDP hit in 2022…

It’s time to give our plaudits to David Quantick’s Showbiz Pals, for finally achieving the Drive For Five after years of promise. After a dominant mid-2010s run that rewrote the DDP playbook, Spade narrowly lost 2017 on a December death. He took a competitive sabbatical due to hosting the next two years, with a looming question among deadpoolers being whether the juggernaut of years past would return in 2020. He was never really in contention his first year back, and 2021 had a strong start that sputtered out midyear thanks to key Drop 40 misses. However any doubts of Spade’s peak being behind him have been duly quashed with a solid victory in 2022 that had a very different narrative to his typical late-year come from behinds.

His 180 points shattered the previous record, and was the first time since 2017 a team landed 16 hits. Three women in the early months were a crucial lynchpin to his victory. Isabel Torres had no UK coverage of her illness, but Spade was one of three to astutely connect the dots that a youngish trans actress dying would be clickbaity enough for UK press. Sister Catherine Wybourne AKA the Digital Nun was a yesteryear DQSP pick from 2015 – a late 2021 blog by her announcing her imminent death vindicated his continued keeping tabs on her. The best hit of all was Braxton sister Traci Braxton, a unique he chose entirely off a single tweet she was in hospice, backed up by sleuthwork that indicated the tweeter was a family friend and that Braxton’s own social media presence was increasingly diminished. He had already considered Braxton to outdo the mystical Andrew Millwall as the greatest ever DQSP hit, and now that it’s another title-winning one, it’s hard to argue.

That also makes the hit of the year a no brainer, though I did also like #1 Hits’s unique Gary Brooker joker (a great bit of in-depth research, given the Procol Harum tunesmith’s cancer battle was seemingly only mentioned on his band’s website) and Carkers Convention’s points smorgasbord with the leader of ISIS (playing like it was 2017 to inspired results).

Traci Braxton – a bigger hitmaker for Spade than she ever was as a soloist

Second place went to Banana’s Peel Slippers, who shared many of Spade’s gambles with a few wisely-timed Drop 40 picks to the side. Pelé and Don West allowed him to sneak onto the podium at the last minute, which was some consolation for the data entry migraines those deaths inflicted.

Rounding off the top three was DDP Tofoa, who gambled right on Igor Bogdanoff, took Robert Durst seriously, and kept the faith with Miguel Van Damme, while constantly hitting the right Drop 40 notes.

The title race began on day 1, with every semi-contender’s joker Gary Burgess barely answering our “please make 2022 please make 2022” prayers. The other big “please make 2022” was Frank Field. Hahahahaha. The joint 29 teams in first place winnowed to four within days with the COVID death of weirdo hoaxster Igor Bogdanoff, and to DDP Tofoa alone on the 10th when most the competition jinxed Robert Durst under the belief he was faking it. Another joint lead emerged days later when Beeb TV boss Jana Bennett took Smart Beta, Shaun of the Dead 69, and Dead Ends to the top. Dead Ends fell from the perch when odious monster Russell Bishop went to hell, and Shaun did the same with fellow good riddance Mustafa Kayirici. Smart Beta now seemed indestructible, but omitting America’s Got Talent songstress Nightbirde left him vulnerable and the Digital Nun took Quantick to a lead that he never relinquished.

This was all before March!! Though Spade never lost his lead, it was not an early runaway on par with Living End 2011, Ken Jennings, or Del Shannon (yes, obligatory Jeopardy! and 60s music jokes out of the way…). Keeping Tom Parker was a crucial improvement in his Drop 40 defenses, but his dropping of Tom Smith opened up new paths for the chasing pack, of which DDP Tofoa seemed the most likely to threaten the Drive For Five. Both DDP Tofoa and Smart Beta made continuous advances on Spade throughout the year, but on the strength of Deborah James, Susie Steiner, Tom Weiskopf, Vicky Phelan, and Julia Reichert, he was always able to fend off the competition, and Pelé and Don West at the end were the coup de grace.

For the first time since 2015, the rookie of the year placed outside of the top ten. Just Fast away instead had to settle for the lofty heights of joint 79th place.

The theme team league was won by drol’s dictator-y Complications from a fall, winning the hits tiebreaker against 1920s theme Pazuzu XP on the back of drol favourites like Jiang Zemin. A shoutout goes to 4th place finisher Gray Panthers, the inaugural TTL champ who looked to mirror the main competition’s “roll back the years” narrative until that last week flurry of hits.

The 280 hits this year were a new record, and the blistering start to the year took until late April to fall beneath the hit-a-day benchmark. Gooseberry’s enema rain dance did the trick again. Despite the frenetic beginning it took until the summer for the starpower to truly up the ante, and some names merit highlighting above the rest. The Queen and Pelé were already mentioned, and Her Maj came hot off the heels of another historical heavyweight in Mikhail Gorbachev. For entertainment headliners, the highly respected Sidney Poitier started the year off with a bang. Olivia Newton-John and Angela Lansbury were especially mourned, along with Bernard Cribbins as a particularly affecting loss for our British participants. For this co-host personally, the biggest gut punch came two weeks in when Ronnie Spector whoa-oa-oaed her last. As far as I’m concerned, the Queen died in January!

We’ll always be together…

A good chunk of the aforementioned names were part of a record-breaking Drop 40 (20 deaths!), with other fallers including Leslie Phillips, Jerry Lee Lewis, June Brown, Bill Turnbull, Jean-Louis Trintignant, Doddie Weir, and comic book artist George Perez. Other music deaths of note included Meat Loaf, Vangelis, Wilko Johnson, Lata Mangeshkar, Loretta Lynn, Judith Durham, Aaron Carter, Lamont Dozier, Jet Black, and R. Dean Taylor. Cinema deaths included Jean-Luc Godard, James Caan, Louise Fletcher, Peter Bogdanovich, Monica Vitti, Hardy Kruger, Marsha Hunt, and Nehemiah Persoff. UK TV lost Robbie Coltrane, Peter Bowles, Barry Cryer, Anna Karen, Lynda Baron, Bill Treacher, Leonard Fenton, and Bamber Gascoigne, while the other side of the pond had Nichelle Nichols, Kirstie Alley, Estelle Harris, Liz Sheridan, Robert Morse, Larry Storch, Robert Clary, and Bob McGrath. The world of sport farewelled footballers George Cohen, Francisco Gento, and Uwe Seeler, jockey Lester Piggott, and racer Vic Elford. Further deaths included prescient scientist James Lovelock, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the Christmas duo of Raymond Briggs and Jules Bass, thriller author Jack Higgins, war photographer Tim Page, crazy wrestler Antonio Inoki, psephologist David Butler, and 2nd-oldest person ever Kane Tanaka.

Lots of beloved names in the paragraphs above, if we ignore the chap who married his teenage cousin. It is a shame to lose them in a world where we still have Peter Tobin and Luis Echeverria.

Wait, they’re dead too? Fuck yes!

Henry Kissinger is dismayed by 2022 finishing off most of his poker buddies

One of the strongest undercurrents to 2022 was the amount of major celebrities dying unexpectedly, or of a health battle unknown to the public. This can be seen in much of the List of the Missed: Bob Saget, Shane Warne, Scott Hall, Gilbert Gottfried, Dennis Waterman, Ray Liotta, the assassination of Shinzo Abe, David Warner, David Trimble, Gwyneth Powell, Ken Starr (fuck yes), Gallagher, Christine McVie, and Vivienne Westwood. William Hurt’s cancer battle was largely forgotten, while Andy Goram would’ve been highly popular for 2023 had his weeks to live happened in December rather than midyear. On the flipside, without looking I would’ve assumed Marilyn Bergman, Ronnie Hawkins, Peter Brook, Fidel V. Ramos, Clu Gulager, David McCullough, Virginia Patton, Mickey Kuhn, and Joseph Kittinger were all old and famous enough to be DDP hits this year. And I thought for sure that madman football genius Sinisa Mihaljovic would’ve stayed on a few casual teams no matter how well he seemed in his cancer battle. All were LotM!

Two of the most curious tales from the LotM, however: Two past DDP frauds, both picked in the early 2010s due to (ultimately fabricated) cancer battles, died: Charlie Brown voice actor Peter Robbins committed suicide and porn star Raven Alexis died of Crohn’s disease. Alas Ryan Buell did not make it a hat trick. Strangest of all was that Spade ran a Sopranos theme team in 2021. He dropped the team for 2022, five of its survivors promptly died, and only one was salvaged by another DDP player.

Those we didn’t consider at all include rapper Coolio, the car crash duo of Anne Heche and Roger Mosley, “Flashdance”/“Fame” singer Irene Cara (forget living forever, she didn’t even reach average life expectancy), Leave It To Beaver star Tony Dow, satirist John Bird, Five Satins singer Fred Parris, rising French actor Gaspard Ulliel, Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins, Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, Easy Rider producer/Five Easy Pieces director Bob Rafelson, anthropologist Richard Leakey, authors Peter Straub and Hilary Mantel, Doctor Who writer Chris Boucher, rugby player Phil Bennett, MP and peer Giles Radice, and on the same day Depeche Mode’s Andy Fletcher and Yes’s Alan White (part of a triple whammy with the aforementioned Liotta).

The Yahoo UK QOs have widened the net so vastly you’d think the List of the Lost was irrelevant, yet we’ve seen properly deserving figures fail to achieve a whiff of UK press. Leon Lissek and Sonny Caldinez were UK TV and film veterans. Everett Lee was the first African American to conduct a Broadway musical – the type of pioneer you’d have thought was Guardian fodder. Drummer Sandy Nelson made the top 10 multiple times on both sides of the pond, the cowriter of his big hit “Let There Be Drums” died with a QO, and said hit was the namesake of a documentary released last year. Luigi Ciriaco de Mita was a former Prime Minister of Italy. And we’d be remiss not to mention footballer Ronnie Hellström, who played in a World Cup and was one of the best goalies of the 70s. Hellström’s lack of QO was a repeated point of attention in this deadpooling community throughout 2022. Thanks for the cover, you guys. Meant I wasn’t the only one who never shut up about Ronnie this past year…

So that’s that for 2022. It has certainly been an interesting experience thus far chronicling the lives lived, and the Tim Pages of the world make chopping through 50 NFL players and Survivor participants far more palatable. While Reptile and I remain in our DDP posts for 2023, Grim Up North has retired from team entry and left duties to Banana. We salute GUN for his efforts and hope he enjoys being able to relax in December once more, and given Banana has often been a title contender, salute the hostly sacrifice in the name of keeping the DDP going. Good luck to all as the committee works hard to set up the 2023 edition of the DDP. Already we have a hit with Frank McGarvey, and potentially Lise Nørgaard if anyone picked her again. The Reaper never sleeps…


And seriously, Reaper, don’t kill any of my favourites while we’re setting up shop this time. Play us out, Ronnie…

Oh FFS, wrong one. Play us out, Ronnie…