22 March 2010

1985 - Live Aid, The Mobile Phone in England, The Beiderbecke Affair, Edge Of Darkness, Windows, EastEnders, Boris Becker, Comic Relief, The C5

The year of Live Aid!

On the 1st of January 1985, comedian Ernie Wise, he of the short, fat, hairy legs, started a revolution. Standing in the middle of St Katherine's Dock, he made the first mobile phone call in England, in fact in the whole of Britain, and a little piece of history was made. More here.

After weeks of "They Are Here" teasers, EastEnders arrived. Angie and Den had a lousy wedding anniversary and Lou had a right old go at Pauline. Oh, and Reg Cox had been murdered.

1985 also saw the start of shorter-lived soap Albion Market. Loads more here.

Longer-lived was the BBC's Howards' Way, first seen in 1985.The goings-on in Tarrant kept us glued to our telly screens until the final series in 1990.

Meanwhile, in the ITV ad breaks, Julie Walters watched footage of an old '50s trout making a pot of tea. "Ooh, worra palaver!" said Julie, opting for a new Typhoo One Cup.

Over on the BBC, Troy Kennedy Martin gave us Edge Of Darkness, the highly topical nuclear thriller serial. Kennedy Martin had been frustrated by the lack of political drama on TV in the early 1980s. With the Thatcher/Reagan era changing the political landscape, Kennedy Martin began to write - with little hope of ever seeing it televised. More here.

Alternative comedian Alexei Sayle's 1984 hit 'Ullo John, Gotta A New Motor? became 'Ullo Tosh, got a Toshiba? and the Holstein Pils commercials melded Griff Rhys Jones to a lot of old film footage, featuring the likes of Marilyn Monroe.

Comic Relief was launched.

At 17, German Boris Becker was the youngest player ever to win the Men's Final at Wimbledon - and a thrilling final it was!

Everybody Wants To Rule The World, sang Tears For Fears. Perhaps not, but money was important. After the long recession, I didn't find it surprising, but I couldn't go along with the ethos. I was young and idealistic, and whilst I liked the OTT glitz and glamour of the mid-1980s (it felt like a huge relief to me after my grotty '70s childhood and the regimented fashions of that era), I couldn't stomach the Thatcher/Yuppie thing. I wanted to do something meaningful and gave up my office job to work as a care assistant in a Social Services home for the elderly.

It was demanding - the home catered for EMI (elderly mentally ill) people, and the physically frail and we often had to care for residents who were, basically, on their death beds, and make their end as comfortable as possible. It was hard work, the pay was lousy, but the sense of comradeship amongst the staff was great and I was happy.

Shoulder-padded jackets, stockbroker shirts, bizarre hair, a bop to the likes of Animotion's Obsession and a few pints of "Reassuringly Expensive" Stella Artois by night (I rarely stayed in) and comfortable running shoes, and a good supply of bed pan scrubbers and disposable plastic aprons by day. It was a good life.

The concept of advertising a drink as "Reassuringly Expensive" made sense back in the mid-to-late 1980s - "yer pays for quality, yer see!"

Controversy raged over Thatcher. She certainly wasn't loved by all and a night out at the local pub was often enlivened by a good old argument between her fans and ... er... non-fans. As you know I was very much a non-fan. I miss those days when politics were top of the agenda. If apathy didn't rule these days and people actually studied the actions of this current government a little more, Brown and co would have many difficult questions to answer...

Microsoft released Windows in 1985, another great leap forward for the world of computing.

New technology slamming into our lives was a theme throughout the 1980s. Some of it, like microwave ovens, wasn't so new - I have read that the first domestic microwave model came along in the 1960s. But it was all a matter of affordability. It was in the 1980s that these became common in England, and it was the same with video recorders.

Video taping techniques had been around for yonks, but it took time for the first domestic VCRs to make their debut. And even then, as mentioned elsewhere in this blog, who could afford them? 5% of households owned them in 1980, nearly 20% in 1983, and several more years rolled by before many of us could afford to get to grips with video recorders. And then there was the Betamax/Phillips/VHS battle to confuse us! By 1985 many of us had encountered a video. But did we know how to set it to tape programmes when we were out? Er...

The Scotch video Skeleton (first seen in 1983) gave us a new catchphrase in 1985 - "Re-Record, Not Fade Away" - more details here.

And talking of technology, there was Sir Clive Sinclair and his wonderful 1985 innovation, the C5.

Practical personal transport - powered by electricity, ran the advertising blurb.

Some original C5 newspaper advertisements can be found here.

Around this time, there were also those funny electronic key ring thingies - you remember - if you mislaid your keys, you whistled and the key ring would emit an electronic beep to inform you of its location. Good idea.

This was the year of Live Aid, the 12 hour charity pop marathon, held at Wembley Stadium in England and Philadelphia's JFK Stadium in the USA. It was watched by 1.5 billion people worldwide and millions of pounds were raised. Its instigator, Bob Geldof, was dubbed by some of us "St Bob of Geldof".

Many women and girls were favouring large hair ribbons. Worn with a shaggy or spiral perm, large T-shirt, lycra leggings and a pair of trainers, they produced an overall cartoon character effect. Very nice.

Ear rings were growing to resemble studded doughnuts, meat axes or door knockers. Just as popular were big black hoops, or cheap plastic ear rings in vile neon shades.

We met Trevor Chaplin and Jill Swinburne in the Beiderbecke Affair - the first series in Alan Plater's trilogy. More here.

Miami Vice began in the UK, having debuted in the USA in 1984, and its attendant chic quickly became trendy. More about the show and the chic

Stone washed jeans had been in fashion for a year or two, but, and perhaps my memory is playing me tricks, it is not until around the mid-1980s that I recall them taking on the distinctive stone washed effect we all remember. They often came with a plastic key ring to hang on them. The brand I usually bought was called Pepe!

The narrow-legged trend had grown ridiculous by this time - it was hell getting those jeans on. Whoever designed them had obviously never heard of feet.

The growing popularity of the new hair mousse meant we could continue our evil experiments with our crowning glories.

The Goth scene had been quietly developing and was noticeable in 1985.

Power Dressing was THE thing. Could those shoulder pads possibly get any larger? we wondered. "YES!!" screamed the 1980s in reply.


1 comment:

Jean Gascoigne said...

I think '85 was my favourite year of that decade.