30 January 2018

Some More 1980s Highs - Gritty Neighbours, Sir Alec Jeffreys, The Trap Door And More...

We've got the lovely Anita Dobson - Angie from EastEnders, Rear of the Year 1987, no less - to welcome you back to your pick of what made the 1980s so swingorilliantly wicked! Thanks so much for your comments. We start off with a return to Ramsay Street with Beth P:

I recall Neighbours being huge when I was at school and my older sister scoffing at it. She called it ‘trite’ because she preferred Brookside and EastEnders. And then when Daphne died in a car crash caused by joy riders and Des went to pieces, his mother had a breakdown and Mike nearly went to prison trying to avenge Daph’s death, my sister cried over the episodes and said it was one of the strongest, bleakest soap stories she’d ever seen. 1 up to Neighbours!

I had a bit of a fixation with Den and Angie in EastEnders but on the whole I preferred Neighbours because it had more people doing everyday things that I could identify with – like popping in for a cup of tea and a good natter. EastEnders was just determined to be miserable all the time.

Yes, quite right. Much as I loved 'Enders back then, I didn't know any neighbourhood THAT flippin' miserable - and there were some real dives round my way. I lived in one.

Farewell, sweet Daphne! It was a strong and harrowing storyline for Neighbours, with a terrible aftermath.

Continuing the Australian soaps theme, Carl says:
I couldn't stick Sons & Daughters. And when we got our first VCR I had to sit through it 5 nights a week.
Strewth mate, shush! You'll upset Beryl. Oh no! Too late!
Well, moving quickly on, Spinderella Q says:
The biggie for me from the 80’s was falling in love with Jordan from New Kids On The Block in 1989. I was 8.
Nice lad. Plenty of product in the hair to give it that distinctive 1980s "smart-but-messed-up" look and the jacket is fabulous - dressy, but not overstated. Well, not by 1989 standards, that is. The lad should go far.

Chris reminds us of a forgotten gem:


WONDERFUL! Dear old Berk and co - and voiced by fabulous Willie Rushton. We have only one thing to say: Globits!

Returning to the soaps, an English one this time, and Laura says:

I loved it when Ken and Deirdre in Coronation Street rowed in the '80s. He was kind of plank like, and she really went over the top.
We don't know what you mean, Laura. Ooh heck...

... perhaps we do... mind you, Ken looks a bit more 'Sugar Plum Fairy' than 'plank' to us...

Some who weren't around in the 1980s wish they were - like Harry:

I love the 1980s although I wasn’t born. Things like the first commercial computer mouse, the first version of Windows, the ZX Spectrum, Pac-Man, Sir Alec Jeffreys discovering DNA fingerprinting and Sir Tim Berners-Lee inventing the World Wide Web make it all seem so exciting. And they found the Titanic. And I love all the music and fashions.
You have excellent taste, my lad. And, if you haven't already, you must check out the fabulous Thompson Twins with my fave '80s popstrel Alannah Currie on You Tube or somewhere. Simply great.
Oh, Alannah, Alannah! Be still my fluttering heart! I adored Ms Currie back in the day.
Please keep the comments coming. Who knows what the future holds? As Sir Alec Jeffreys who stumbled upon DNA fingerprinting in 1984, said in recent years: 
‘If someone had told me in 1980, “Alec, go away and figure out a way of identifying people with DNA,” I would have sat there looking very stupid and got nowhere at all.’
Keep hopeful and happy if you can! xxx

26 January 2018

Great Cubes Of Our Time - Rubik's And The Pye Tube Cube...

Fabulous 1983 ad from Readers' Digest. The Pye Tube Cube was released in late 1982. This dinky clock radio, cassette, TV combo quickly found a home in my bedroom after I bought one from my Auntie Audrey's mail order catalogue in 1983. And, of course, it wasn't the only cube making waves in the 1980s. There was Rubik's Cube - taking over the world in 1981 after its arrival in 1980. My Tube Cube was white. You can see it in the photograph of my bedroom below from 1986. It was my main telly until 1987 when I invested in a rented colour set (flatter, squarer, tube) and a rented VCR - my very first VCR! But I kept my Tube Cube until the early 1990s when I flogged it. Fond memories.

The Tube Cube was first advertised on TV on the opening programme of TV-am in 1983.

My bedroom in spring, 1986. I had originally thought this picture dated from 1985, but the Smash Hits Pop Charts recorder on the wall revealed my folly.

19 January 2018

Bob By Merry Pottinger. Or Could It Be Lauren?

Many thanks to Lauren who e-mailed me, enclosing the picture above.

You requested and I found Bob the French bulldog as featured on Gilbert's Fridge in 1988. As you can see, it is a real painting, signed and titled by the artist himself.

Thank you so much, Lauren! It's wonderful. Though I suspect you may have had more to do with it than you say! 

Gilbert Gets It Sorted? Nope, not on this occasion. Nor Merry Pottinger. But Lauren!

17 January 2018

1981 - A Hoover Called Henry...

1981 was an eventful year - the riots, the Rubik's, the Royal Wedding, the New Romantics, the recession, Only Fools And Horses, the launch of the Space Shuttle, the CB radio craze, the first London Marathon... and Henry the vacuum cleaner. Ever had a Henry? They were created by a company called Numatic International in 1981 and have since become a friendly and familiar companion to jolly up the naff task of hovering. Henry has developed a family - including George, Charles and Hetty - and is still going strong today.

Hats off to Henry. A hoover with a smiling face was certainly a novel idea and, as we love a bit of whimsy, we adore it.

Here's the lovely Hetty. We think she's Henry's sister.

These days you can even get a mini-Henry for hoovering your desktop - which, judging by the amount of muck in our keyboard, is a great idea. We didn't have Henry desktop hoovers in 1981. But then we didn't have desktops either.

Some 1980s Highs... Shoulder Pads In The Broom Cupboard...

Yuppies, new technology, shell suits, power dressing, riots, hamster scoffing... it was all happening in the 1980s...

Great response to our recent post regarding your "1980s bests". Got a few "worsts" as well, but up here at '80s Actual Towers, in our turquoise and pink Great Hall, we're well chuffed, mateyboots!

So, we start with Cliff on those monstrous Power Dressing shoulder pads, complete with Velcro so you didn't "over-pad" - as if that was possible back then...

I hated shoulder pads and used to take them out of any jackets I bought that had them in. The 1950s teddy boy look that became so popular again in the 1970s was more my thing. I thought Joan Collins looked ridiculous and I never chose a girlfriend with a 1980s “power dressing” fetish. You have to admit that the shoulder pads became too big and looked hideous in the 80’s. And the idea of blokes wearing them to hide their beer guts was pathetic. The best thing was the Credit Boom. Enough said.

We quite liked 'em, Cliff - we favoured Miami Vice chic, with a few twists, but each to their own... and as for the Credit Boom... well, after spending the '70s and early '80s living so frugally it hurt, it was like Wonderland...

Gorgeous 1980s colour scheme, but are those shoulders lovely or loathsome?

And here's Karen on Miss Ethel Davis and her lodgers, and Edd the Duck...

I used to like “Number 73” on Saturdays and I thought Ethel, Dawn, Harry and Kim really lived in that house! And I loved Children’s BBC with the puppets and the presenters. It was very lively and I really believed Edd the Duck went to Cubs on Tuesdays. I preferred Edd to Gordon The Gopher actually.

Edd was quite simply a mallard god. And he DID go to Cubs on Tuesdays.

Edd with Andy Crane and Wilson the butler. Children's BBC, which began in 1985, was a must-watch for all kids aged five to fifty.

Phillip Schofield brought shoulder pads out of the board room and into the Broom Cupboard.

Sandi Toksvig? Rubbish! That's Ethel!

And here's the Naughty One:

I remember things like Pot Noodles becoming a big thing. There was a cheesy flavour that smelled revolting but tasted like heaven with a satchet of tomato sauce. And Howard Jones. What Is Love? Does Anybody Love Anybody Anyway? And bulldog clips in my hair – bright yellow ones. And break dancing outside Boots on a Saturday morning with a big red ghetto blaster. I body-popped and my boyfriend thrashed about and he and his mates tried to stand on their heads. People sometimes threw money into our pot but mostly seemed kind of bemused and this woman told my boyfriend, “stop it, you’ll hurt yourself!”

Lurved a Pot Noodle and I remember the flavour you mention. Bliss if you could stand the stink. Howard Jones was excellent, but I never got into breakdancing. Mainly because I couldn't do it.

Gis a Noodle.

And Maria remembers that a saucy title didn't always add up to a saucy film...

When I turned 18 in 1989 I went to see a movie called SEX, LIES AND VIDEO TAPE with my best friend. We both thought it would be very rude with lots of bums and panting and groaning, but it wasn’t really. We thought of asking for our money back, but didn’t dare!

Steven Soderbergh... great, great film. I went to see it too, hoping for a bit of vacuous titillation, but it was so much better than that. Although I was grossly disappointed and swore a lot at the time.

Sonia thought Boy George was so cuddly - and then along came Ecstasy...

I had a Boy George Doll in the mid-80s and I loved him very much. I was surprised to read later that he was one of the people behind ‘Everything Starts With An E’ in 1989. Totally different image!

The 1984 Boy George doll! The Boy went from Karma Chameleon to Planet Ecstasy all in one decade!

And finally for this round-up, Claire says:

My low of the 80’s pop culture was Cabbage Patch Dolls because I found them really creepy and thought they were trying to take over the world. My high was Live Aid. Truly inspiring. I was glued to the TV.

Yes, Live Aid was a WOW! and the Cabbage Patch Kids were hugely popular, but not to everybody's taste. I was afraid I might catch mumps off one.

Sunday People, December 1983: Eek!!! Invasion of the Cabbage Patch People...

Please keep the comments coming. We're having a WICKED time here. Till the next time, xxxx

15 January 2018

What Years Are Mid-1980s? A Dim Wit's Guide...

What would Lou Beale have said? 'Youngsters nowadays, they know nuffink! Weren't like this in my day...' - or something like that...

It's recently come to our attention that various writers on-line are not very bright. There's no doubt that Tim Berners-Lee's invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 has created many marvels, but wallies from BT to the BBC from the Guardian to the Daily Mail - in fact all over - are proving more than ever that they are not very clever.

Take decades. What is an 'early' decade? Well, we designate the opening year as 'early', of course, so, in the case of, say, the 1980s, we would take 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983 into the early sweep. What is a 'mid' decade? Well, we would start with the '4' year which sees the decade working up to its midway point, and then go on, so, in the 1980s case, 1984, 1985 and 1986. The 'mid' is always the '5' year and the two years adjacent to it. The 'late decade' is the last three years - so, with the 1980s, 1987, 1988 and 1989. 

It's not rocket science. But recently I've read articles in apparently 'educated' online journals and newspapers and on apparently 'educated' websites designating 1964 as the early 1960s, 1986 as the late 1980s, 1976 as the late 1970s and so on. It's a widespread trend.

Under that logic there are no 'mid-decade' years.

Oh, and especially for the BBC, the 1980s entered their second half on 1 January, 1985 - when they were five years old. Five add five equals ten... a decade... OK, yah, BBC?

On the BBC's Top of The Pops Story of 1986 programme, Mel Giedroyc burbled: 'As the decade entered its second half'. It was six years old on 1 January 1986. Twelve years in the 1980s were there, Mel?

Plain daft.

Sometimes I despair...

March 1989 - and Sir Tim Berners Lee's original invention document for the World Wide Web. It's given us so much. Sadly, including sub-primary school logic from 'educated' sources...

10 January 2018

From The Oops Upside Your Head Rowing Dance To The Fall Of The Berlin Wall... What's Your Favourite 1980s Thing?

Did you Go For It on a BMX?
The 1980s had it all, of course. My goodness, when you think back... A was for the Adventure Game and, er, Albion Market, B was for BMX, C was for Care Bears and CB radio, D was for dance music, E was for, um, Ecstasy and Eurythmics, and so on.

But what was your favourite thing from the 1980s? Whether exciting inventions like DNA fingerprinting, the C5 (!), the Apple Mac, Microsoft Windows or the World Wide Web float your boat, or pop culture newcomers like Rubik's Cube or Pac-Man or dancing flowers set your mind deliciously reeling, let us know here at '80s Actual.

Perhaps it was news biggies like the Fall of the Berlin wall, or dance crazes like Oops Upside Your Head. The Gap Band were highly puzzled when the song was released in England in 1980 to find everybody getting on the floor - literally. The craze spun out of nowhere, but the Birdie Dance, of course, came ready equipped with its own moves, as did the later House and Hip Hop scenes.

Or perhaps you had a real '80s Bad Boy - one of the original mobile phones? Great for building up the biceps. Didn't you just lurve it?!

We're setting up a new poll here for you to favour your fave 1980s thingies. It will be here soon. In the meantime, drop us a line via the comments. Time for a bit of a wallow in fragrant 1980s nostalgia... we look forward to hearing from you! xx

Hilda: "Well, I quite liked Lonnie Donegan. That was the 1980s, wasn't it?"
Howard: "No, dear."