1983: General election…and daylight robbery!


1983 began with the first ever broadcast of the now familiar format of a breakfast TV show when the BBC launched Breakfast Time on Jan 17th. ITV then followed close on the Beeb’s heels with TV-AM, launched in February the same year.

By June there was only one story – the general election. Mrs Thatcher won her second term in office with a record victory for the Conservatives – and the largest majority seen since the Labour victory of 1945. In spite of continuing economic difficulties and rising unemployment, Thatcher was returned to office on a huge wave of patriotism following the nation’s victory in the Falklands War the preceding year. The size of the defeat prompted the Labour Party to change their leader – in October 1983 Neil Kinnock took the helm.

In November, the country was gripped by the drama of the Brink’s Mat robbery at a storage warehouse just outside the perimeter of Heathrow Airport. Capturing the popular imagination in the same way as The Great Train Robbery had done almost two decades earlier, the Brink’s Mat robbers seized an unimaginable haul – around £26 million in solid gold bullion.

In December we were all glued to the small screen to watch the much-hyped (and heavily pre-advertised) TV screening of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. The video accompanied the world’s best selling album of the same name from the previous year. I remember watching the video being shown on UK TV for the first time. It was like a mini horror movie and a music video all in one – impressive stuff! Of course, it has since spawned communal dance crazes the world over (including inside prisons!) almost to the point of cliché (as many youtube clips will testify).

And while we’re on the topic of music…it was in 1983 that Madonna released her debut album imaginatively titled…er….Madonna! I think she’s released a fair few more albums since then!

There were a couple of years in the 80s in which the chart music was so bad I did not buy even a one single LP (see forthcoming blogs!). Happily, 1983 was largely OK for music IMHO. That year I bought the following releases: Let’s Dance by David Bowie, the Ziggy Stardust The Motion Picture Soundtrack (also Bowie), Power, Corruption & Lies by New Order, Snap! by The Jam, Undercover by the Rolling Stones and Speaking In Tongues by Talking Heads.

...a bucket for monsieur!!

On the whole the movies in 1983 were pretty good. Those I saw worth mentioning include Trading Places, Educating Rita, Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life (with its projectile vomiting Mr Creosote scene!), Videodrome, Zelig and The Hunger (Bowie again!).

And one other possibly little remembered fact about 1983: this was the year the ‘seatbelt law’ came in – requiring all drivers to buckle up at the wheel. (I passed my driving test in 1986 – so, as a driver, I’ve not known it to be any different).

Right then, here’s a pic of yours truly in 1983. (This one is from my student ID card from my first term at university during my Philosophy degree). See you all in 1984 on the next blog post.

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