The decade of big hair, massive mobile phones, Filofaxes and Thatcher-inspired uber-capitalism arrived on a Tuesday.

The 1980s was a period of great social, economic and political upheaval. Debt crises were commonplace, the Middle East was (not for the first time) experiencing major civil discontent, Communist regimes in China, Hungary, Poland, Czechoslovakia and East Germany were falling faster than Nora Batty’s stockings and Africa was bracing itself for the worst famines in decades.

Domestic consumerism was rife, thanks in part to the miniaturisation of basically everything (phones, video cameras, fax machines, VCRs and arcade games amongst many, many other things) and we were introduced for the first time to the threat of AIDS, ‘global warming’ entered common parlance and the Internet was being readied to revolutionise our lives.

This series will take you year by year through the 1980s. Often dubbed ‘the decade of excess’, we will focus on popular culture, politics and world events, sport, music, film and TV (and anything else we can think of that might interest you!)

Sport in 1980

1980 was dominated by the news that 65 countries, including the USA, Argentina, Canada, China, Japan, Israel and West Germany boycotted the 22nd Summer Olympic Games in Moscow because of the Soviet war in Afghanistan. The highlight of the games was undoubtedly the last lap showdown between Sebastian Coe and Steve Ovett in the 1,500m final. Coe beat countryman Ovett and West German Jürgen Straub to win in a time of 3:38.4.


First Division Champions: Liverpool
Top Scorers: Phil Boyer (Southampton) – 20
Second Division Champions: Leicester City
Third Division Champions: Grimsby Town
Fourth Division Champions: Huddersfield Town
PFA Player of the Year: Terry McDermott (Liverpool)
FA Cup Winners: West Ham United  (beat Arsenal 1-0)
League Cup Winners: Wolverhampton Wanderers (beat Nottingham Forest 1-0)
European Cup Winners: Nottingham Forest (beat Hamburg 1-0)
UEFA Cup Winners: Eintracht Frankfurt (beat Borussia Monchengladbach on away goals)
European Cup Winners’ Cup Winners: Valencia (beat Arsenal 5-4 on penalties after a 0-0 draw)
European Footballer of the Year: Karl-Heinz Rummenigge (Bayern Munich)


County Championship Champions: Middlesex


Masters: Seve Ballesteros
US Open: Jack Nicklaus
The Open: Tom Watson
PGA Championship: Jack Nicklaus


US Open: John McEnroe (USA), Chris Evert (USA)
Wimbledon: Björn Borg (SWE), Evonne Goolagong Cawley (AUS)
French Open: Björn Borg (SWE), Chris Evert (USA)
Australian Open: Brian Teacher (USA), Hana Mandlíková (Czechoslovakia)


World Champion: Cliff Thorburn (CAN)

World Events in 1980

Like most other years, the Middle East was front and centre in 1980. Israel and Egypt established diplomatic relations as US President Jimmy Carter brokered talks between Egyptian President Anwar El Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Carter was busy in 1980. In April he severed US diplomatic relations with Iran as talks to free 52 hostages held for 444 days in the US Embassy in Tehran by militant students broke down. In the same month, six Iranian-Arab gunmen seeking Arab national sovereignty for the southern province of Khuzestan stormed the Iranian Embassy in London taking 26 hostages. After the terrorists released five and killed one hostage, the SAS forced entry into the building and in a 17-minute siege that was broadcast live, they killed all but one of the terrorists. The remaining hostage-taker served 27 years in British prisons.

In the world of popular culture, the Mini Metro, CNN and Pac-Man were launched and former TV and film star Ronald Reagan is chosen as the Republican nominee for President in the US.

One of the strangest stories of the year was the release of 86-year old Paul Geidel from prison. He was imprisoned in 1911 for second-degree murder and released in May 1980 after serving 68 years and 245 days – the longest prison sentence in American history. Oddly, he was granted parole in 1974 but decided to stay inside for another six years because he was so institutionalised.

In Australia, one of the most high-profile murder cases in history took place when Lindy Chamberlain was falsely accused and subsequently convicted of murdering her nine-week old baby Azaria. She maintained she saw a dingo leave her tent and after three years in prison, she and her husband were acquitted of all charges. The story was adapted for film, with Meryl Streep playing Chamberlain in A Cry in the Dark for which she was nominated for an Oscar.

Perhaps the most famous event from 1980 was the murder of John Lennon. Mark David Chapman was a security guard from Hawaii who in the morning of 8th December was seen around the Dakota apartment building in New York. Later that evening, Chapman handed Lennon a copy of the Double Fantasy album for signature. Lennon obliged and then asked Chapman ‘is that all you want?’ to which Chapman smiled and nodded. As Lennon passed by the entrance of the building, he glanced around and appeared to recognise the assailant from earlier and within seconds, Chapman fired five hollow-point bullets into Lennon’s back from a Charter Arms .38 Special revolver. Spookily, the surgeon noted—as did other witnesses—that at the very moment he was pronounced dead a Beatles song (All My Loving) played on the hospital’s sound system. Chapman remains in prison and can next apply for parole in 2014.

Music, Film & TV in 1980

The 1980s was a classic decade for entertainment (as those of us of a certain age will attest to) but can you remember what we were all doing in 1980?

At the cinema, we watched –

  • Airplane! With Robert Hayes, Julie Hagerty, Lloyd Bridges and Leslie Nielsen
  • The Elephant Man with John Hurt, Anthony Hopkins, John Gielgud and Anne Bancroft
  • The Blues Brothers with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd
  • American Gigolo with Richard Gere and Lauren Hutton
  • 9 to 5 with Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda
  • Raging Bull with Robert de Niro and Joe Pesci
  • The Shining with Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall
  • Stir Crazy with Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor

On telly, we watched –

  • Coronation Street celebrating its 20th anniversary.
  • The first episodes of Yes, Minister, Hi-De-Hi, Watchdog, Family Fortunes and Juliet Bravo.
  • Dallas, with 21.5 million of us tuning in to find out who shot JR Ewing.

…and on our stereos, we listened to –

  • Another Brick in the Wall by Pink Floyd
  • Atomic by Blondie
  • The Winner Takes It All by ABBA
  • Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie
  • Don’t Stand So Close to Me by The Police
  • D.I.S.C.O by Ottowan

What are your memories of 1980? What were you wearing (and do you still have any of it in your wardrobe)? What toys and games were you playing with? What music, films and TV were you into? Let us know on Twitter @homeofretro or comment on our Facebook page!