The DYR blog

The DoYouRemember.co.uk blog with general chat about all things from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s plus news about new features and developments on the website.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

The best (and worst) of 1996

Breaking 1996 down into the biggest news, sports and entertainment events; here’s what happened…

Two tragedies hit the hearts of Britons in 1996, the nation’s sympathies going out to the people of Dunblane and Manchester. In Dunblane, a crazed gunman went on a shooting spree in at a local infant school, killing an entire class and their teacher. Later in the year, as a direct response to those ill-fated events, the Government announced that it would be outlawing almost all handguns in the UK.

In Manchester, a huge bomb devastated its busy central shopping area just as it was filling up with eager Saturday shoppers. Police managed to start an evacuation before it blew up but scores of people were still killed or injured in the blast. Such was the damage caused, that the episode led to a total regeneration of Manchester city centre.

Also hitting the news in ’96 was the introduction of the first genetically modified (or GM) food to go on sale in British supermarkets. Modified tomato puree was the cause of all the fuss with some critics dubbing it a "Frankenstein food".

The world of sport was dominated by England’s hosting of the European football championships (Euro ’96). The England v Scotland group stage match drew much attention with Gazza’s wonder goal eventually stealing the win for the home team. Cheered on by home support, the ‘Three Lions’ made it all the way to the semi-finals, the nation going football crazy as it looked as if England were really going to win a major tournament for the first time since ’66, then, as really should have been expected, they lost on penalties to Germany.

Entertainment wise, carrot topped Chris Evans re-invented the chat show format with his hit show ‘TFI Friday’. Presenting celebrity gossip, the hippest bands and lad friendly guests, this unscripted, chaotic program briefly made Evans the most sought after man on TV. Over on the BBC, a group of thirty-something lawyers were gaining huge ratings; ‘This Life’ being a bit like the American ‘Friends’ but with much more ‘bad’ behaviour and saucy goings on.

The big screen was blessed with one of the jewels of the British film-making crown, ‘Trainspotting’. Despite featuring heroin, needles, vomit and disgusting toilet bowls, this was the coolest thing of the year and took Ewan McGregor from nowhere to ‘Star Wars’. The more family friendly film of 1996 was ‘Toy Story’; it being the first feature length movie ever to be animated entirely by computer. The results were quite stunning and people flocked to see ‘Woody’ (a pull-string cowboy) and ‘Buzz Lightyear’ (a high-tech space ranger) battle it out to become little Andy’s favourite toy.

For a full rundown of the of the top selling 1996 music

…alternatively, a guide to 90s music for every year of the decade.

Friday, February 15, 2008

The best (and worst) of 1995

Breaking 1995 down into the biggest political, sports and entertainment news; here's what happened...

Britain’s oldest bank merchant bank, ‘Barings’, collapsed due to the dodgy dealings of the so called ‘rogue trader’ Nick Leeson who somehow managed to hide £860m in a secret ‘error account’ without anyone noticing. Also collapsing was the moral standards of Brixton’s youths; hundreds of whom took to attacking police, ransacking shops and burning cars in riots in South London.

The royal family was again under the spotlight; this time a result of Diana, Princess of Wales, openly speaking on TV (in front of 15 million viewers) about her affair with her riding instructor, James Hewitt. Unsurprisingly the Queen wasn’t happy; she may have been equally unhappy that the letter she wrote to her son Charles, Prince of Wales, telling him to get a divorce from Diana was leaked to the press.

In the sports world, Eric Cantona’s infamous kung-fu style kick received much attention; the hot-headed Frenchman taking his anger out on a Crystal Palace fan having just been sent off. Getting less attention, but deserving of more, was British mountain climber Alison Hargreaves who became the first woman to climb Mount Everest without oxygen or assistance.

On UK TV screens, the nation fell in love with the inhabitants of the imaginary Irish parish of Craggy Island, and its gathering of dysfunctional priests (Father Ted, Father Dougal and the Drunken Father Jack). Whilst that offered good surreal family comedy, Britons also showed their thirst for some literary action by tuning-in in large numbers to productions of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Sense and Sensibility’. The Jane Austen classics kicking off a craze for period dramas in future years.

The hit movie of the year was the interesting mix of a Scottish story, an American director and an Aussie actor; cue Mel Gibson running about without any trousers shouting at medieval English folk in an incomprehensible accent. In contrast to that big screen sensation was one of the most expensive box office flops ever made, ‘Waterworld’. Set in the future, where global warming has seen all countries emerged in water, it tried to emulate the previous years success ‘Titantic’ but instead sunk like it!

For a full rundown of the best selling 1995 Music

…alternatively, a guide to 90s music for every year of the decade.

Friday, February 08, 2008

The best (and worst) of 1994

Here are the biggest news, sport and entertainment stories of 1994…

English and Welsh people welcomed a change in the law meant that meant they could go shopping on Sundays. Since 1950 they had not been able to do so due to a law prohibiting shops opening at all on the traditionally holy day. Church groups opposed the move but both the people and the Government agreed that it was an outdated concept.

Britain’s first ever national lottery was launched to mixed reactions; some feeling that it was wrong to promote gambling and others simply loving the chance to win some easy money. The fact that a sizable amount of money each week would be going to charities was enough to sweeten enough of the doubters though and, having got the go-ahead, the first draw was a massive success; the jackpot reaching over £7m.

Someone who won a personal lottery was the man to be given a ‘bionic’ heart. The media taking a keen interest in the pioneering operation, led by UK doctors in Cambridgeshire, which saw the world’s first battery-operated heart being implanted.

In the political world, people finally dared to hope for peace in Northern Ireland following ceasefire announcements by both the IRA and the Loyalists; the Conservatives negotiating at last seeming to have paid off. Despite that, it wasn’t a great year for John Major and company, though maybe they didn’t realize it at the time, as the little known, fresh-faced Tony Blair was brought in as the new leader of the opposing Labour Party; bringing with him talk of ‘change’ and a modernising agenda.

Sports wise, Britain missed out on the World Cup fun in the USA; the first time since 1938 that no British representatives had been at the event. Brazil won that competition, eventually overcoming Italy in the final on penalties, but much attention was still focused on Argentina’s Diego Maradona who had been banned mid-tournament after being caught taking illegal, performance-enhancing drugs. With no home-countries football matches having any importance, it was an ideal opportunity for rugby union’s 5 nations to take centre stage. Wales dominated the tournament but were prevented from sealing a ‘grandslam’ by defeat to England in their final game.

Britain’s TV screens were lit up by two familiar faces in new guises on BBC 2. Steve Coogan’s creation of the socially-inappropriate Alan Partridge being a big hit, viewers cringing as Partridge humiliated and vilified his guests on the fictional chat show program ‘Knowing Me, Knowing You’. The second BBC triumph being ‘The Fast Show’; created by Harry Enfield regular Paul Whitehouse, the program revitalised the tired sketch show format and launched a variety of catchphrases.

On the big screen, this was the year that saw Hugh Grant become a household name as a result of his starring role in ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral’; the same film also responsible for promoting the much loved / hated ‘Wet Wet Wet’ song ‘Love Is All Around’. The hippest movie of the year was Quentin Tarrantino's gangster flick ‘Pulp Fiction’. Telling the intertwining tales of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster's wife, and a pair of diner bandits, this was all about violence and redemption.

For a rundown of 90s hits for every year of the decade…alternatively download 90s music here.

Friday, February 01, 2008

The best (and worst) of 1993

Here are the biggest news, sport and entertainment stories of 1993…

Britain’s longest recession since the 1930s was officially over as the economy grew during the first three months of the year. The Conservatives claimed credit for the upturn in fortunes but critics claimed it was luck more than anything else. However it was achieved, it was welcomed by the nation’s people who could now look forward to spending again.

One new place they could spend at being Buckingham Palace; the public being allowed inside for the first time ever during the summer of ‘93. With the entrance fee being set at £8, it wasn’t cheap, but that did nothing to hold back demand; within a week of going on sale, all advance group booking slots to visit Buckingham Palace had been filled for the next three years.

Other news included an oil tanker carrying running aground near the Shetland Islands (resulting in 84,700 tonnes of crude oil being spilled into the North Sea and a major ecological catastrophe); and anti-racist demonstrations being held across London in response to criminal charges being dropped against two youths accused of murdering black teenager Stephen Lawrence.

In the world of sport, horse racing’s big event ‘The Grand National’ (with a worldwide audience of 300 million people) ended in ‘chaos’ after many of the riders had failed to realise a false start had been called and had set off around the racetrack. The Jockey Club was forced to declare the race void; meaning bookmakers had to re-pay the £75 million in bets that had been placed on the race (and miss out on their biggest pay-day of the year!).

On a personal mission to resolve alien related ‘chaos’, were FBI agents ‘Mulder & Scully’; their popular US series ‘X-Files’ coming across the Atlantic to UK screens. Motivated by the belief that Mulder’s sister had been abducted by little green men, they set about trying to find the ‘truth’. One place where the truth definitely wasn’t was on ‘Beavis & Butthead’s sofa. These boys spent ’93 becoming world famous for flicking between TV channels and playing football with frogs.

With Britain itself still struggling to come up with any blockbuster movies of it’s own, ‘Jurassic Park’ and ‘Indecent Proposal’ were the major films to hit cinemas during the year. ‘Jurassic Park’ involved dinosaurs (really quite scary-looking, genuine ones!) running riot around a theme park created by an eccentric millionaire. ‘Indecent Proposal’ was another tale to involve a rich man (this time a billionaire played by Robert Redford); this guy offering a couple, who had just lost a fortune in Las Vegas, $1m to spend the night with the wife.

For a guide to 90s music for every year of the decade…alternatively buy 90s music here.