THE 1980S - 1980 TO 1989
(A Brief History)
by Mark Nobes, chief editor
From Ronald Reagan becoming U.S. President, to Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards coming last in World Cup Skiing! Find out when it happened here, and try to remember just what you were doing at the time. Revisit those golden (and not so golden) days of the 80's.
This is the year that Ronald Reagan became the new U.S. President after defeating Jimmy Carter. He won 489 electoral votes, whilst President Carter only received 49.
In the West End Of London the Iranian embassy was sieged by a minority Arab group calling themselves "The Group Of The Martyr". They held 26 people hostage and threatened to blow up the embassy if their demands weren't met. The SAS were sent in to save the day.
On a lighter note, Daley Thompson won Gold in the decathlon at the Moscow Olympics. You may remember playing the Decathlon computer game where you had to furiously wiggle your joystick just to get Daley to move - joystick manufacturers were rubbing their hands with glee at the prospect of all those broken joysticks!
Former Beatle John Lennon was shot dead in New York on December 8th aged just 40. Peter Sellers and Alfred Hitchcock both died in this year.
BIG MOVIES: AIRPLANE!, THE ELEPHANT MAN, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, GREGORY'S GIRL, ORDINARY PEOPLE, THE SHINING, STIR CRAZY, RAGING BULL.
The big event of the year was the Royal Wedding at St. Paul's Cathedral on July 29th. 750 million people Worldwide tuned in to watch Lady Diana Spencer and the Prince of Wales get married.
Pope John Paul II was seriously injured when he was shot in the stomach whilst parading in his 'popemobile' in St. Peter's Square, Rome. He underwent a five hour life-saving operation.
John McEnroe beat Bjorn Borg to win the Wimbledon championship and Steve Davis beat Doug Mountjoy in the Snooker World Championship at Sheffield. Also in this years, Bob Champion won the Grand National riding Aldaniti, despite suffering from testicular cancer.
The space shuttle Columbia had its very first flight on April 12th when it blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
There was serious rioting between black and white youths in Brixton.
BIG MOVIES: AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, ARTHUR, CHARIOTS OF FIRE, THE EVIL DEAD, MAD MAX 2, INDIANA JONES - RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Between April and June of this year, the Falklands conflict between Great Britain and Argentina dominated the headlines. 254 British soldiers and 750 Argentinians lost their lives. The war between Iran and Iraq also entered its sixteenth month at the start of this year.
On June 21st the Prince and Princess of Wales celebrated the birth of their first son, William Arthur Philip Louis.
The Mary Rose was raised off the seabed at Southsea, Hampshire in the UK, after 17 years of research on the wreck.
Barney B. Clark received the World's first artificial heart transplant in Utah, USA.
American actor Henry Fonda died shortly after winning an oscar for his part in the film 'On Golden Pond'.
BIG MOVIES: BLADE RUNNER, E.T. THE EXTRA TERRESTRIAL, RAMBO - FIRST BLOOD, 48 HRS, GANDHI, AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN, POLTERGEIST, THE THING, TOOTSIE.
The news was mainly dominated by the fighting in Beirut. Anarchy reigned in the Lebanese capital as opposing factions fought for supremacy on the streets.
The U.S. invaded Grenada, a small Caribbean island to try and oust the New Jewel Movement. On October 23rd 300 American and French soldiers were killed in two separate suicide attacks at their headquarters in Beirut.
Neil Kinnock was elected leader of the labour party on October 2nd - he succeeded Michael Foot, who had been leader sincer 1980.
On December 17th a terrorist car bomb planted by the IRA outside the Harrod's store in London killed five people and injured 91.
BIG MOVIES: FLASHDANCE, THE BIG CHILL, THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS, NATIONAL LAMPOON'S VACATION, RETURN OF THE JEDI, RISKY BUSINESS, SUDDEN IMPACT, TEARS OF ENDEARMENT.
Welsh politician Neil Kinnock in 1984 - public domain photo (free for reuse)
UK miners began a year-long strike and Frankie Goes To Hollywood dominated the UK pop charts in this year with mega-selling singles "Relax" and "Two Tribes".
An IRA bomb killed five people and injured 30 at the Grand Hotel in Brighton, on October 12th. A Conservative Party Conference was being held there at the time.
Torvill and Dean won Gold at the Olympics in Los Angeles, California. Meanwhile, the bare-footed Zola Budd was disqualified in the 3000 Metres race after tripping Mary Decker.
Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman in space after performing a space walk outside the Salyut-7 space station.
BIG MOVIES: AMADEUS, BEVERLY HILLS COP, THE BOUNTY, GHOSTBUSTERS, GREMLINS, THE KILLING FIELDS, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, A PASSAGE TO INDIA, ROMANCING THE STONE, THE TERMINATOR, THIS IS SPINAL TAP.
On March 3rd the UK miners finally ended their one year strike!
The big event of the year was Live Aid. On July 13th around 70 million dollars was raised for the African famine victims. The massive concert was organised by the outspoken, Irish musician Bob Geldof (Father of Peaches).
On 19th November in Geneva, Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev met for the very first time. The aim was to reduce International tensions between the U.S. and the Soviet.
Fire engulfed a wooden stand at Bradford City F.C. on May 11th, killing 50 people. Emergency escape doors were locked leading many people unable to escape.
Sir Clive Sinclair launched his electric C5 vehicle which used a washing machine motor to give it a top speed of 15mph - Unfortunately, not many people wanted to take it for a spin!
Boris Becker won Wimbledon on July 7th. Aged just 17 he was the youngest ever Wimbledon champion.
BIG MOVIES: BACK TO THE FUTURE, BRAZIL, COCOON, THE COLOR PURPLE, DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN, THE EMERALD FOREST, OUT OF AFRICA, PALE RIDER.
This turned out to be the year of disasters. The U.S. Challenger space shuttle exploded shortly after take-off from Cape Canaveral, killing all seven astronauts.
On April 26th the worst-ever nuclear accident took place at Chernobyl, Ukraine. The fall-out from the ageing power station contaminated much of Europe, and there was much criticism over the slow reaction by the Ukraine authorities to warn people about the disaster.
On a more joyous note (at the time, anyway!), the royal wedding between Prince Andrew and Miss Sarah Ferguson took place at Westminster Abbey in London. They became the Duke & Duchess of York shortly afterwards.
On April 1st oil prices plummeted to record lows and fell below $10 per barrel.
Pickets clashed with police outside Rupert Murdoch's News International Group after he moved newspaper production to Wapping, creating the loss of 5,000 printing jobs.
Sadly, Actor James Cagney (86) died in March, and British-born actor Cary Grant died on November 30th.
BIG MOVIES: ALIENS, BLUE VELVET, THE COLOR OF MONEY, CROCODILE DUNDEE, FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF, THE FLY, HANNAH AND HER SISTERS, THE HITCHER, MONA LISA, MY BEAUTIFUL LAUNDERETTE, NINE AND A HALF WEEKS, PLATOON, A ROOM WITH A VIEW, SALVADOR, TOP GUN.
On January 21st 1987, Terry Waite was kidnapped in Beirut, Lebanon.
On 22nd February, pop artist and film maker Andy Warhol died. He is best remembered for his silk-screen images of Marilyn Monroe and the Campbell's soup tin.
30 people died in a fire at the King's Cross underground station in London. A public inquiry concluded that there were inadequate safety standards in the station, with no sprinkler system.
Martina Navratilova (who appeared on "I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here" in 2008 and came 2nd) won her sixth consecutive Wimbledon title on July 11th.
U.S. dancer and actor Fred Estaire died on July 23rd
On June 11th Margaret Thatcher won a third term in office.
On October 19th the stock market collapsed on what became known as Black Monday. The new York stock exchange saw shares fall twice as much as in the 1929 Wall Street Crash.
184 people died in the Zeebrugge ferry disaster on March 6th. The Herald of Free Enterprise, run by Townsend Thoreson, keeled over near to the harbour at Zeebrugge.
On the night of October 15th, one of the worst storms in living memory hit Southern England, with 100mph winds causing well over £100 million in dame. Trees were lifted up from their roots and Sevenoaks became known as Oneoak!
U.S. actress Rita Hayworth and the entertainer Danny Kaye also died in this year.
BIG MOVIES: THE BIG EASY, DIRTY DANCING, FATAL ATTRACTION, FULL METAL JACKET, THE LAST EMPORER, LETHAL WEAPON, NO WAY OUT, PREDATOR, RAISING ARIZONA, ROBOCOP, ROXANNE, THREE MEN AND A BABY, TIN MEN, THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK.
Steven Guttenberg, Tom Selleck and Ted Danson in Three Men and a Baby
Unfortunately, another bad years for disasters as 36 people died and over 100 were injured when two trains collided near Clapham Junction, London on Dec 12th. A third train was de-railed and a fourth was stopped by a guard, just in time to avert another disaster.
Also this year, 270 people were killed in the Lockerbie air crash. A boeing 747 crashed at 7.19pm after a mid-air explosion caused it to plunge into the small town.
On July 6th, fire engulfed the Piper Alpha oil rig in the North Sea. 160 workers were killed in a series of devastating explosions. Many of those killed were asleep, and just 62 people survived by jumping into the sea.
Hurricane Gilbert struck Jamaica on 16th September causing millions of dollars of damage and killing thousands.
On a lighter note, Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards became famous after coming last in the 89 and 120 metre ski jump, in the World Cup skiiing event at Thunder Bay, Canada.
On September 17th, the Seoul Olympic Games were opened. Ben Johnson (26) was stripped of his 100 metres Gold medal at the Olympics after testing positive in a drugs test.
THE ACCIDENTAL TOURIST, BEETLEJUICE, BIG, A CRY IN THE DARK, DANGEROUS LIASONS, DIE HARD, A FISH CALLED WANDA, GORILLAS IN THE MIST, MARRIED TO THE MOB, MISSISSIPPI BURNING, RAIN MAN, THE VANISHING, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT.
One of the biggest World events of the year was, of course, the fall of the Berlin War.
The wall separated East Germany from West Germany for more than a quarter of a century, from the day construction began on 13 August 1961 until the Wall was brought down on 9 November 1989.
The Hillsborough disaster, one of the biggest tragedies in European Football, claimed the life of 96 Liverpool supporters.
The 486 series of microprocessor is released by Intel opening the way for the next generation of much more powerful PC's.
BIG MOVIES - THE ABYSS, BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II, BATMAN, CASUALTIES OF WAR, DEAD POETS SOCIETY, DRIVING MISS DAISY, THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS, FIELD OF DREAMS, HEATHERS, INDIANA JONES - THE LAST CRUSADE, THE LITTLE MERMAID, PARENTHOOD, THE WAR OF THE ROSES, WHEN HARRY MET SALLY.
The Best-Selling Albums of the 1980's in the UK
1980 ABBA - Super Trouper
1981 Adam & The Ants - Kings Of The Wild Frontier
1982 Barbra Streisand - Love Songs
1983 Michael Jackson - Thriller
1984 Lionel Richie - Can't Slow Down
1985 Dire Straits - Brothers In Arms
1986 Madonna - True Blue
1987 Michael Jackson - Bad
1988 Kylie Minogue - Kylie Minogue
1989 Jason Donovan - Ten Good Reasons
THE THATCHER YEARS
HIGH UNEMPLOYMENT AND THE DREADED YOUTH TRAINING SCHEME!
U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, Nancy Reagan and Denis Thatcher at The White House on 16th November 1988 for a State Dinner.
Mention politics in the 80s and there is one word that immediately springs to everyone's mind - Thatcherism!
It seems that people either loved her or loathed her, and the "Iron Lady" ran our country with the Tories throughout the whole of the 1980s. She made huge changes and reshaped the political landscape, but is her legacy positive or negative?
During this era there were many similarities to today, in fact, and it seems that times have changed but nothing changes! Periods of very high unemployment and recession left some people feeling rather fed-up with Maggie by the end of the decade, and the Poll Tax proved to be extremely controversial.
Leaving school in 1984 was pretty difficult for me - I was very unsure about which career path to take - with unemployment figures soaring to over 3 million at the time. My useless career advisor wanted me to become a chef, but that was about the last thing I wanted to become - I can even burn water, why would I want to become a chef? They even tried to put me on the blasted Youth Training Scheme (YTS).
you signed up for the YTS you were expected to pay for all of your own
equipment and work for around £25 per week. Like most teenagers, at the
time I just wanted to earn some money to buy a car and have a rather nice time,
and so I decided to work at a vegetable pack-house where I could earn a
pretty decent wage. In fact, with no responsibilities, at 17 years old I found myself with drawers full of unopened pay packets. Yes, you were paid
in cash in those days and I really miss those times as you had more
control over what you spent. I believe that actually seeing the cash in
your hands makes you much more careful about how you spend it.
Of course, those care-free times wouldn't last very long and the 90s were very much different for me. So, personally I found the 80s to be a wonderful time, but that is partly because I was still at a young age, and they certainly weren't the best of times for everyone.
The question is, though, if I was the same age now would I be having had the same wonderful
I suppose that's a question that I will simply never be able to answer.
WERE THE 80S REALLY THE "GOOD OLD DAYS"?
when reminiscing about the past we do tend to look at things through
rose-tinted spectacles. So let me bring you a summary of my real experience of the eighties?
the first half of the 1980s I was still at secondary school. Like many
local kids, I used to walk to and from school every day. Sometimes I
used to cycle to school, but then you had the worry that some moron
would try to vandalise your bike.
I didn't have that worry at primary school during the seventies,
probably because it was a catholic school run partly by Nuns, and nobody
would dare to upset the head Sister! Despite the strictness, the nuns
had a softer side and also a sense of humour. Everyone seemed very happy
there, but also very well disciplined.
truly believe that when you have better control of children from an
early age, society as a whole will benefit. Could this be the reason why
so many teenagers are out binge drinking and causing trouble on the
streets these days? Of course, it's not all of them (as the media would
have you believe), but the problem has definitely increased in Britain
since the eighties.
Anyway, that's most definitely not a subject that an 80s site should be dealing with!
For me, at least, the eighties was the best decade of my life. The music, the films, the simpler way of life etc. This was a time when you could fill the tank of your moped with fuel, go the the cinema, and then buy fish and chips afterwards and still have change from a fiver - and that tank of fuel would last me the whole week!