memories of 1970

memories of 1970
Image by brizzle born and bred
In 1970, the self-made builder’s son Edward Heath came to power promising a "quiet revolution" that would turn around the fortunes of Great Britain PLC.

The 1970s began under Tory rule, with Ted Heath as Prime Minister. Yet it was a very different kind of Tory party. Heath was a liberal Conservative who believed in a “third way”. He was pro-union and pro-EEC, and launched the Department of the Environment. He favored devolution of power to Scotland and Wales. When Rolls-Royce aircraft engines was about to go bankrupt, he led a successful move to nationalize the company until it could be returned to a stable financial footing.

Then things started to go wrong, as they did almost immediately when council workers went on strike in October 1970 (a foretaste of the “winter of discontent” eight years later), Heath quickly buckled to the prevailing conventional political and economic wisdom. Failing industries were bailed out or nationalised. And as the government pumped up demand in a bid to contain rising unemployment, a succession of baroque incomes policies were conceived to keep a lid on inflation.

Of all post-war decades, the 1970s has undoubtedly had the worst press, but the truth is that most ordinary families in 1970s Britain were better off than ever. "With higher wages for the working classes, access to affordable housing, free health care, free higher education and low levels of crime, all in a much less unequal society, life then was superior to life as experienced by most of us today".

First Range Rover was launched in January 1970

You’d have paid £1,998 for a Range Rover in 1970.

With its four-speed manual gearbox, headrest-free plastic seats and exposed metal surfaces, few would call it luxurious now. But in an era where you could buy cart sprung cars without seatbelts or power brakes, the coil sprung, all-wheel-drive, alloy-bodied Range Rover was an upmarket and rarefied thing that was faster and more comfortable than many saloons on road, as well as capable of leaving them for dead off it.

Whatever you think of big 4x4s, the same applies to the current version, although unlike the original, its boot would suffer if you chucked some hay bales or a sheep into it.


Average house price
1970: £4,852
2014: £188,000

Average weekly wage
1970: £32
2014: £479

Cinema ticket
1970: 90p
2014: £8.50

Loaf of bread
1970: 9p
2014: £1.37

1970 you were likely to die at 68

You smoked heavily. You missed out on university. You didn’t take foreign holidays. You didn’t have a car. You had a job in a factory. And you were likely to die at 68.

It sounds like a pretty grim picture nowadays, but hold on a minute. That was probably you – at least if you were a man in 1970.

If you were a woman back in 1970, much of that catalogue might have applied to you too, and in addition, you were married and would have had your first baby before you were 25, and you were spending a fifth of the household income on food (whereas these days, your biggest expenditure will be on energy bills, probably for all those gadgets you own).

It shows that during the course of over four decades, our lives, while similar in broad outline, have changed in a myriad subtle ways: we are living longer, being educated for longer, being alone more, taking more holidays and are healthier in some ways (fewer of us smoke) but are less healthy in others (more of us are obese).

With the benefit of over 40 years’ hindsight, life in 1970 appears to have been ludicrously cheap. A loaf of bread cost 9p and the average weekly wage was around £32. Today, a loaf costs 53p and weekly wages are about £475. Property prices have also risen. In 1970, homebuyers could expect to pay £4,975 for a house. Today, their children would not get much change from £140,000.

It was a similar story on the roads. The Range Rover, which was launched in 1970, could have been yours for £1,998. Almost a quarter of a century later, a 4.4 litre Range Rover Vogue will set you back £57,700. The Mini, which celebrated its 11th birthday in 1970, cost around £600. Its redesigned descendant now sells for £10,500.

A glance at Britain’s social life in 1970 is equally intriguing.

A trip for two to the cinema cost less than 90p, compared with at least £9 today, while a bottle of plonk was about £1. Today it is £4.55. For those with more spirited and extravagant tastes, a bottle of whisky cost £2.69 back then, compared with £12 now.

Pub prices, too, seem foreign. A pint of lager in your local was 20p, a far cry from today’s average of £2.10. And cigarettes, which enjoyed a lot more popularity then, were 20p for 20. Today, the habit costs about £4.65 a pack.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. Prices have gone up but so has our spending power.

And some things have even risen for the better. In 1970, the average life expectancy in Britain was 72. Today, it is 77 – giving us five more years of spending.

Life expectancy is perhaps the most notable single change. In 1970, when Edward Heath had just become Prime Minister and The Beatles were breaking up, for men it was 68.7 years and for women it was 75 years; over 40 years on, these figures have shifted substantially. Male life expectancy is now 77.8 years, and for women it is 81.9 years. Doubtless the fall in heavy smoking has played a part in that. In 1974, 24 per cent of men and 13 per cent of women in Britain who smoked regularly were classed as heavy smokers, whereas in 2008 the figures were 7 per cent of men and only one in 20 women.

But not all of us have become more healthy as the years have gone by: many of us have piled on the pounds. Although figures recording obesity only go back 15 years, there is a clear increasing trend.

1970 Music

1970 Music continues to make significant impact with the largest ever rock festival held on the Isle of Wight with 600,000 people attending, including some of the biggest name in music including Jimi Hendrix and The Who. This is also the year The Concord makes it’s first its first supersonic flight. Another significant change is the age of voting is now lowered to 18 in the US.

The Isle of Wight Festival takes place . 600,000 people attend the largest rock festival of all time. Artists include Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors, Chicago, Richie Havens, John Sebastian, Joan Baez, Ten Years After, Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Jethro Tull.

Jimi Hendrix dies of barbiturate overdose in London age 27

Janis Joplin dies in a cheap motel from a heroin overdose age 27

Simon and Garfunkel release their final album together, Bridge Over Troubled Water. The Title Track won the Grammy for song of the year.

The Beatles break up. By the end of the year, each member had released a solo album.

George C. Scott gives one of film’s most memorable performances in Patton. He won the Best Actor Oscar for his turn as the title character, but refused the gold statuette.

The first festival at Glastonbury

The first Festival was held on the day after Jimi Hendrix died, over a two day period and before long “word had got around”. It was the Blues festival at the Bath & West Showground that had inspired Michael Eavis to begin a festival of his own although on a smaller scale.

The first festival at Glastonbury was not free and was decidedly overshadowed by the 1971 event, probably for good reasons . This festival was very sparsely attended , despite having Marc Bolan , Ian Anderson, Keith Christmas , Quintessence , Stackridge , Al Stewart, Amazing Blondel and Sam Apple Pie on the bill- hmmmm, perhaps thats why so few people showed up. Not exactly household names – even in 1970 – although all very respectable acts in their own right .

Badly advertised, poor organisation , not exactly an auspicious start to one of the longest running rock festivals of all time. But it was a nice site and the precedent was set as regards having a festival in the area.

Apparently government health inspectors visited the site as part of a report they were compiling about health standards at rock festivals. Interestingly, after all these years of warnings about the health hazards of food /sanitary conditions at festivals, I have yet to hear of a severe outbreak of food poisoning occurring.

Acts included: Marc Bolan, Keith Christmas, Stackridge, Al Stewart, Quintessence

Attendance: 1,500.

Price: £1 including free milk from the farm.

1970 Timeline

1 January – The age of majority for most legal purposes was reduced from 21 to 18 under terms of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.

The half crown coin ceased to be legal tender.

The National Westminster Bank began trading following merger of National Provincial Bank and Westminster Bank.

Control of London Transport passed from the London Transport Board (reporting to the Minister of Transport) to the London Transport Executive of the Greater London Council, except for country area (green) buses which passed to London Country Bus Services, a subsidiary of the National Bus Company.

4 January – The Who drummer Keith Moon fatally runs over his chauffeur with his Bentley while trying to escape a mob outside a pub. The death is later ruled an accident.

16 January – John Lennon’s London art gallery exhibit of lithographs, Bag One, is shut down by Scotland Yard for displaying "erotic lithographs"

18 January – The grave of Karl Marx was vandalised by anti-Germanic racists at Highgate in London.

21 January – Fraserburgh life-boat Duchess of Kent, on service to the Danish fishing vessel Opal, capsized with the loss of five of the six crew.

22 January – A Boeing 747 landed at Heathrow Airport, the first jumbo jet to land in Britain.

26 January – Rolling Stone Mick Jagger was fined £200 for possession of cannabis.

Simon & Garfunkel release their final album together, Bridge Over Troubled Water. It tops the album chart at regular intervals over the next two years, and becomes the best-selling album in Britain during the 1970s.

February – Chrysler UK launched its new Hillman Avenger small family car, which would be built at the Ryton plant near Coventry and compete with the likes of the Ford Escort and Vauxhall Viva.

11 February – The film The Magic Christian, starring Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr, is premiered in New York City. The film’s soundtrack album, including Badfinger’s "Come and Get It" (written and produced by Paul McCartney), is released on Apple Records.

13 February – Garden House riot, Cambridge: A demonstration at the Garden House Hotel by Cambridge University students against the Greek military junta led to police intervention; eight students subsequently received custodial sentences for their part in the affair.

English band Black Sabbath released their self titled debut album in the U.K., credited as the first major album in the heavy metal genre.

14 February – The Who records Live at Leeds in Yorkshire, England.

19 February – The Prince of Wales joined the Royal Navy.

23 February – Rolls Royce asked the government for £50 million towards the development of the RB 211-50 Airbus jet engine.

28 February – Led Zeppelin perform in Copenhagen under the pseudonym The Nobs, to avoid a threatened lawsuit by Count Eva von Zeppelin, descendant of airship designer Ferdinand von Zeppelin.

2 March – Ian Smith declared Rhodesia a republic breaking all ties with the British Crown, four years after the declaration of independence. Wilson’s government refused to recognise the new state.

6 March – The importation of pets was banned after an outbreak of rabies in Newmarket, Suffolk.

12 March – The quarantine period for cats and dogs was increased to one year as part of the government’s anti rabies measures.

13 March – The Bridgwater by-election became the first election in which 18-year-olds can vote. Tom King won the election for the Conservative Party.

17 March – Martin Peters, who scored for England in their 1966 World Cup final win, became the nation’s first £200,000 footballer in his transfer from West Ham United to Tottenham Hotspur.

19 March – David Bowie marries model Angela Barnett.

21 March – British-born singer Dana wins the 15th annual Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland with the song "All Kinds of Everything".

23 March – Eighteen victims of thalidomide were awarded a total of nearly £370,000 in compensation.

1 April – Everton won the Football League First Division title.

10 April – Paul McCartney announced his departure from The Beatles.

11 April – Chelsea and Leeds United drew 2-2 in the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium, forcing a replay.

16 April – Dr Ian Paisley entered the Parliament of Northern Ireland after winning the Bannside By-election.

18 April – British Leyland announced that the Morris Minor, its longest running model which had been in production since 1948, would be discontinued at the start of next year and be replaced with a new larger car available as a four-door saloon and three-door fastback coupe, and possibly a five-door estate by 1975.

29 April – David Webb scored the winning goal as Chelsea defeated Leeds United 2-1 in the FA Cup final replay at Old Trafford, gaining them the trophy for the very first time. Last year’s winners Manchester City clinched the European Cup Winners’ Cup with a 2-1 win over Górnik Zabrze of Poland in Vienna, Austria.

8 May – The Beatles’ last album, Let It Be, is released.

16 May – The Who release Live at Leeds which is their first live album. Since its initial reception, Live at Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time.

19 May – The government made a £20 million loan available to help save the financially troubled luxury car and aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls Royce.

22 May – A tour by the South African cricket team was called off after several African and Asian countries threaten to boycott the Commonwealth Games.

23/24 May – Hollywood Festival, Newcastle-under-Lyme is staged featuring a line-up including The Grateful Dead, Black Sabbath, Free, and Jose Feliciano. Everyone is completely upstaged by the previously unknown Mungo Jerry, whose debut single "In the Summertime" becomes the best-selling hit of the year.

24 May – The Britannia Bridge, carrying the railway across the Menai Strait, was badly damaged by fire.

28 May – Bobby Moore, captain of the England national football team, was arrested and released on bail in Bogotá, Colombia, on suspicion of stealing a bracelet in the Bogotá Bracelet incident.

29 May – Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act abolished actions for breach of promise and the right of a husband to claim damages for adultery with his wife.

1 June – Harold Wilson was hit in the face with an egg thrown by a Young Conservative demonstrator.

2 June – Cleddau Bridge, in Pembrokeshire, collapsed during erection, killing four, leading to introduction of new standards for box girder bridges.

4 June – Tonga became independent of the UK.

10 June – Just a few months after the Conservatives had enjoyed opinion poll leads of more than 20 points, opinion polls were showing Labour several points ahead of the Tories with eight days to go before the general election. If Labour won the election, it would be a record third consecutive general election win for the party and would probably result in the end of Edward Heath’s five-year reign as Conservative leader.

13 June – Actor Laurence Olivier was made a life peer in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list. He was the first actor to be made a lord.

14 June – England’s defence of the FIFA World Cup ended when they lost 3-2 to West Germany in the Mexico quarter final.

17 June – The bodies of two children were found buried in shallow graves in woodland at Waltham Abbey, Essex. They were believed to be those of Susan Blatchford (11) and Gary Hanlon (12), who were last seen alive near their homes in North London on 31 March this year.

British Leyland created a niche in the four-wheel drive market by launching its luxury Range Rover, which was to be marketed as a more upmarket alternative to the utilarian Land Rover that had been in production since 1948.

David Storey’s Home premiered at the Royal Court Theatre.

18 June – The General Election was held, the first in which 18-year-olds could vote.

19 June – The General Election proved to have been won by Edward Heath’s Conservative Party by a majority of 30 seats, a major surprise as most of the opinion polls had shown that Harold Wilson’s Labour were likely to stay in power. Among the new members of parliament are Neil Kinnock and John Smith for Labour, and Kenneth Clarke, Kenneth Baker, Norman Fowler and Geoffrey Howe for the Tories.

21 June – British golfer Tony Jacklin won the U.S. Open.

22 June – The Methodist Church allowed women to become full ministers for the first time.

26 June – Riots broke out in Derry over the arrest of Mid-Ulster MP Bernadette Devlin.

29 June – Caroline Thorpe, 32-year-old wife of Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe and the mother of his two-year-old son Rupert, died in a car crash.

3 July – Three civilians were killed and 10 troops injured when British Army soldiers battled with IRA troops in Belfast.

4 July – 112 people were found dead among the wreckage of a British Airways Manchester to Barcelona aeroplane that went missing yesterday. The wreckage was found in the mountains of Northern Spain, and there were no survivors.

8 July – Roy Jenkins became deputy leader of the Labour Party.

12 July – Jack Nicklaus won the Open Golf Championship at St Andrews, defeating fellow American Doug Sanders in an eighteen-hole play-off.

15 July – Dockers voted to strike leading to the docks strike of 1970.

16 July – A state of emergency was declared to deal with the dockers’ strike.

16–25 July – The British Commonwealth Games were held in Edinburgh.

17 July – Lord Pearson proposed settlement of docks strike.

30 July – The docks strike was settled.

31 July – The last issue of grog in the Royal Navy was distributed.

9 August – Police battled with black rioters in Notting Hill, London.

20 August – England national football team captain Bobby Moore was cleared of stealing a bracelet while on World Cup duty in Colombia.

21 August – The moderate Social Democratic and Labour Party was established in Northern Ireland.

26–31 August – Third Isle of Wight Festival attracted over 500,000 pop music fans, with appearances by Jimi Hendrix, The Who, The Doors and Joan Baez.

27 August – The Royal Shakespeare Company’s revolutionary production of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Peter Brook, opened at Stratford.

9 September – BOAC Flight 775 was hijacked by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine after taking off from Bahrain—the first time a British plane had been hijacked.

17 September – Jimi Hendrix makes his last appearance, with Eric Burdon & War jamming at Ronnie Scotts Club in London. Hendrix dies the following day from a barbiturate overdose at his London hotel, aged of 27.

18 September – American rock star Jimi Hendrix, 27, died in London from a suspected drug-induced heart attack.

19 September – The first Glastonbury Festival was held.

September – The Album musical Jesus Christ Superstar, by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, was released.

3 October – Tony Densham, driving the "Commuter" dragster, set a British land speed record at Elvington, Yorkshire, averaging 207.6 mph over the flying kilometre course.

5 October – BBC Radio 4 first broadcast consumer affairs magazine programme You and Yours; it would still be running forty years later.

12 October – After a debacled launch only 18 months previously, British Leyland announce a much improved Austin Maxi featuring a new gearchange, increased engine size and much improved trim, answering many of the critical points raised by the motoring press at the car’s original launch.

15 October – The government created the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of the Environment.

Thames sailing barge Cambria, the last vessel trading under sail alone in British waters, loaded her last freight, at Tilbury.

The last narrowboats to carry long-distance freight commercially on the canals of the United Kingdom arrived with their last load, coal from Atherstone for a west London jam factory.

19 October – British Petroleum discovered a large oil field in the North Sea.

23 October – The Mark III Ford Cortina went on sale. At launch a full range of models are offered including 2 door and estate variants. Unlike previous models this Cortina was developed as a Ford Europe model sharing the floor-pan with the similar German Ford Taunus

25 October – The Canonization of the Forty Martyrs of England and Wales by Pope Paul VI took place.

17 November – The first Page Three girl appeared in The Sun.

20 November – The ten shilling note ceased to be legal tender.

27 November – The Gay Liberation Front organised its first march in London.

10 December – Bernard Katz won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Ulf von Euler and Julius Axelrod "for their discoveries concerning the humoral transmittors in the nerve terminals and the mechanism for their storage, release and inactivation".

26 December – Athlete Lillian Board, 22, died in Munich, West Germany, after a three-month battle against cancer.

31 December – The Beatles split up after 10 years.

Richard Branson started the Virgin Group with discounted mail-order sales of popular records.

The last forced child migration to Australia took place.

Nijinsky became the first horse for 35 years to win the English Triple Crown by finishing first in the Epsom Derby, 2,000 Guineas and St Leger.

Mathematician Alan Baker won a Fields Medal.

Trade union membership now accounts for nearly 50% of the workforce.

Computer Floppy Disks Introduced.

memories of 1975

memories of 1975
Image by brizzle born and bred
1975 UK murders and IRA dominated the headlines

1975 In the UK inflation continues to spiral out of control reaching 24.2% the price of Petrol increased by nearly 70% in one year, but the US sees a start back down with US inflation going down to 9.2%, both governments use interest rates as a way of trying to control inflation with the US Federal Reserve at 7.25% and The Bank of England at 11.25%. Meanwhile one of the true success stories of modern times when Bill Gates and Paul Allen create the company Microsoft. The First of the new hobby computers are starting to appear including Altair 8800 and the battle for Video recorder standards of VHS and Betamax starts. This is also the year the Vietnam war finally ends.

In January 1975 Margaret Thatcher challenged Heath for the leadership of the Conservative Party. On 4th February Thatcher defeated Heath by 130 votes to 119 and became the first woman leader of a major political party. Heath took the defeat badly and refused to serve in Thatcher’s shadow cabinet. He considered Thatcher to be a right-wing authoritarian and like another former Conservative prime minister, Harold Macmillan, Heath constantly criticized her policies.

Back to the future? Britain’s 1975 referendum on Europe, 67% of Britons voted to stay in the European Economic Community

40 years ago, Harold Wilson announced that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Community would be held within six months. On 23 January 1975, Prime Minister Harold Wilson announced that a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community would be held within six months. Forty years on, the pressure for a similar in-out referendum on EU membership is mounting. David Cameron has promised to hold a vote no later than the end of 2017.

The circumstances that produced the 1975 referendum and those that may well produce another in the near future are uncannily similar. In the early Seventies, Labour was split over Europe. The parliamentary party was overwhelmingly in favour of Britain’s membership of the Common Market, but much of the rank and file wanted out. When Tony Benn, the unofficial leader of Labour’s anti-marketeers, first put forward the idea of holding a referendum, the party leadership snubbed his proposal. But, as Jim Callaghan presciently remarked in 1970, the referendum idea was "a little rubber life raft into which the whole party may one day have to climb".

Five years later, the whole party had indeed clambered into the little rubber life raft and the Conservatives poured scorn on them for doing so. Margaret Thatcher derided Labour’s decision to hold a referendum as, "a tactical device to get over a split in their own party". She accused the government of being, "incapable of making a decision’ and ‘passing the buck to the people".

Those words could come back to bite Thatcher’s successors at Tory HQ.

Britain’s Worst Road Accident

Though the number of road users has continued to rise year-on-year, it may surprise some that the number of road deaths annually has plummeted since the figure reached its peak in 1966, when 7985 died on Britain’s highways. Vehicles have improved, with better brakes and the introduction of airbags a major help; and testing – the MOT test brought in in 1960 – is another reason for the fall, key systems like brakes checked as part of that work.

It was, however, a brake problem that led to Britain’s worst road accident, a coach crash in rural North Yorkshire in May 1975. Pensioners from Thornaby-on-Tees on a mystery tour organised by a former Mayor of the town were travelling on a 45-seater coach, heading for Grassington where they were to have tea, having visited Ripon and Knaresborough already.

On an exceptionally steep downward slope on the B6265 between Pateley Bridge and Hedben the stand-in driver missed a gear, and when he tried to slow the coach with his brakes they rapidly overheated and failed. In the subsequent investigation it was found that part of the braking system was inoperative. The coach careered down the one-in-six hill, slammed through a barrier and a bridge parapet, and fell upside-down into a garden 5m below, the glass-fibre roof of the coach crumpling uselessly.

Before he died at the scene the trapped driver told those who arrived to help the injured what had happened, his story confirmed by experts later. In all 33 people died in the crash.

Accident black-spots these days tend to have remedial work done on them to reduce their dangers. It is a tragedy that such thinking had not apparently applied to Dibbles Bridge and its approaches, the scene of the 1975 crash, for in June 1925 another coach crash on the same spot had claimed seven lives.

End of the IRA Balcombe Street siege

Four fugitives, two hostages, a car chase and a shoot-out; details of the Balcombe Street Siege read like a Hollywood script. Amid a tableau of bombings and executions, the six days of the siege in Marylebone were perhaps the most tense and dramatic of all the IRA’s activity, the crisis played out in front of a television audience of millions.

Mid-seventies London had long grown accustomed to the fear of bombings. The IRA’s campaign had arrived in the nation’s capital, immediately increasing tensions among the security forces. 35 people had died between 1974 and 1975, and there was no sign of any ceasefire, and then on 6th December, what began as a car chase ended in a hostage crisis in central London.

A huge undercover police operation had been put in place to track an IRA cell down. Scotts Restaurant, Mayfair , had been bombed a month earlier, and police surveillance on the building witnessed shots being fired into the restaurant from a stolen Ford Cortina. The men responsible were a notorious IRA active service unit and with the police in pursuit, a desperate car chase careered round London’s West End.

The police had commandeered a taxi cab, and unarmed, dodged bullets and traffic, eventually chasing the IRA unit into a block of flats on Balcombe Street.

Flat 22B was home to John and Sheila Matthews. Their front door was rushed and both were taken hostage – John Matthews was tied up with a pair of his wife’s tights while the gang demanded a safe passage to Ireland. That was only ever to remain a demand, and a stand-off ensued that would last the best part of a week. Chief negotiator on behalf of the police was Peter Imbert. He applied pressure on them to release the hostages, feeding their captors false information and denying them food. After six days the Balcombe Street gang surrendered.

Eddie Butler, Hugh Doherty, Harry Duggan and Joe O’Connell, were arrested and tried at the Old Bailey on seven counts of murder and conspiracy to cause explosions. Found guilty, they would spend the rest of their lives in prison. They were released under the Good Friday Peace Agreement of 1998.

First Episode of Fawlty Towers

Monty Python had finished by 1974, and for the last few shows John Cleese ’s involvement was only partial. The seeds for his next major project had though already been sown during a hotel stay with the other Pythons in Torquay in 1970 where the owner of the establishment had been incredibly rude to his guests. From that experience came Fawlty Towers, written with his wife (from 1968 to 1976) Connie Booth, who also appeared in the show.

The first episode, as of course intended, set the tone for the subsequent 11: Basil displays his gullibility and idiocy in his snobbish fawning over a conman posing as a member of the aristocracy, treating his other guests – including the undercover detective who saves Fawlty’s bacon – with rudeness and even ill-disguised contempt.

When the idea was permeatng through the BBC hierarchy it was much criticised, Head of Light Entertainment Bill Cotton thinking it unfunny; and another executive less than perceptive suggested the scene be shifted out of the hotel. But it was made, just 12 perfectly honed episodes. More than three decades later it is still regarded as one of the best ever British sitcoms, a classic in the theatre of embarrassment where we are not just laughing at Basil but at a bit of ourselves.

News Headlines


May 2015 – Police investigating the 1975 murders of a woman and a teenage girl 40 years ago have launched a fresh appeal for information.

Eve Stratford, 22, who worked at London’s Playboy club, was found with her throat slashed at her home in Leyton, east London, on the evening of 18 March 1975.

Six months later, on 3 September, 16-year-old Lynne Weedon was attacked and raped in an alleyway near her home in Hounslow, west London, as she returned from a night out with friends. She was found barely alive at an electricity sub-station the next morning and died a week later.

The murders were linked in 2004 after a DNA match was found in samples taken from the victims, who were not thought to have known each other.

POLICE failures meant officers failed to connect vital clues which could have led to Yorkshire Ripper Peter Sutcliffe being arrested years earlier than he was.

15 August 1975 – A 46-year-old Halifax woman Olive Smelt was severely injured in a hammer attack in an alleyway in the town.

2011 – The Yorkshire Ripper’s second victim has died at the age of 82. Olive Smelt was attacked by Peter Sutcliffe at the start of his six-year reign of terror in August 1975. Mrs Smelt, then 46, was struck twice on the head with a hammer and slashed with a pickaxe near her home in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Crucially, police refused to believe Mrs Smelt when she told them her attacker had a Yorkshire accent.

27 August 1975 – A 14-year-old, Tracy Browne, was badly injured in a hammer attack in a country lane at Silsden, near Keighley.

Tracy Browne was a 14 year old schoolgirl when she was battered by the well described Sutcliffe who masturbated on her while touching her genital area. Tracy gave the police an accurate description of Peter Sutcliffe and it is amazing that it was not compared with the later descriptions such as Marilyn Moore’s and Doctor Bandara’s.

It is surprising that the police who interviewed Ripper suspects were not briefed on all descriptions of attackers of women in the area especially as Sutcliffe was well known to a number of detectives for more than three years before his arrest. Marcella Claxton gave a description of her attacker but this was never published to my knowledge. Her assailant’s white car, referred to in the newspaper article, was similar to one seen at the scene of the Lesley Moleseed murder about three months later but never traced.

30 October 1975 – West Yorkshire Police launched a murder investigation after 28-year-old prostitute Wilma McCann was found dead in Leeds.

Wilma McCann worked as a prostitute in Leeds. She was the first publicly acknowledged victim of the Ripper, who was to be branded as such after the linked murder of Emily Jackson in Leeds on the 20th January 1976 some 11 weeks later. Jackson’s murder was immediately linked to the murder of Wilma McCann because they were both prostitutes and in the same area and within a short interval of time and both were murdered with brutal violence by only 2 or 3 blows to the head, accompanied by sexual ritual. The Ripper was believed to have used a stone or some other blunt instrument to strike her down first. The subsequent murders were carried out with a hammer. Wilma had her throat cut. She received multiple stab wounds and was stripped. B blood semen was found on her. Only minimal details were released by police about her injuries.

‘Black Panther’ serial killer Donald Neilson

Neilson was the UK’s most wanted criminal in the 1970s after a string of robberies in which he shot dead three postmasters and murdered a young girl for her inheritance. He was given four life sentences in 1975 and was one of a small group of prisoners who were told they would spend the rest of their lives behind bars.

He got his nickname for the way he reacted when two police officers approached him after he aroused suspicion walking along a street as he prepared for a heist – they described him as having ‘fought like a cornered animal’. But it was his murder of Lesley Whittle that shocked the nation when she was found hanging from a wire noose in a drain system in March 1975. He planned to kidnap her after reading that Lesley, 17, had inherited £82,000 from her father. He broke into her family home in Shropshire and bound her with sticking plaster while her mother slept.

He left a note demanding £50,000 and threatened Lesley’s death if she involved the police. The teenager was kept at the bottom of a 54ft ventilation shaft linked to a disused mine in Kidsgrove, Staffordshire while there were several botched attempts to deliver the money.

During her kidnap, Neilson shot dead a security guard while attempting to rob a freight terminal. When police discovered his car a week later, they also found tapes of Lesley’s voice recorded in the underground chamber. Her body was eventually discovered hanging – although Neilson claimed that she accidentally slipped. Police said the most likely explanation was that he flew into a rage after a ransom drop went wrong.

It wasn’t until Christmas in 1975 that he was caught when police stumbled across him in Mansfield and matched his fingerprints to the ones in the ventilation shaft.

In 1976, Neilson was given four life sentences for his crime spree. It had been suggested he may be released at some point because of the length of time he had served but the High Court ruled he should stay in prision.

Serial killer Donald Neilson died in 2011 following a long struggle with motor neurone disease 35 years after being jailed. The prolific prisoner, dubbed the Black Panther during his 70s crime spree, died in hospital after being taken there from his cell at Norwich Prison.

TV presenter Ross McWhirter shot dead by IRA

Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter has been shot dead outside his North London home. Mr McWhirter was hit at close range in the head and chest at 1845 GMT. He was taken to a local hospital, but died soon after being admitted. The well-known author and BBC Record Breakers presenter recently offered a reward of £50,000 for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers.

Scotland Yard said no group had yet claimed to be behind the attack. The two gunmen are thought to have waited in the garden of the couple’s Enfield house for an hour while Mr McWhirter was in the house preparing to go out to the theatre. When Rosemary McWhirter arrived home, she got out of her blue Ford Granada and was approached by two men holding pistols. She ran into the house as her husband came to the front door and seconds later heard two shots. The killers then used her car to escape. Police later found the car abandoned a few miles away in Tottenham.

Mrs McWhirter and her two sons, Iain and James, were taken to a secret address soon after the murder, where they are being guarded around the clock. Mr McWhirter edited the Guinness Book of Records with his twin brother, Norris, and also worked closely with Guinness Director David Hoy, who said the outspoken critic of the IRA was aware he could be in danger. "He took normal precautions recommended by the police and always looked under his Mercedes – he also varied his routes home," he said.

The IRA gang who killed Ross McWhirter and carried out dozens of other attacks in London throughout 1975 was apprehended two weeks later. Martin O’Connell, Edward Butler, Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty exchanged shots with police in central London on 6 December and escaped to a flat in Balcombe Street, taking two hostages.

The four men were arrested after a six-day siege, charged with 10 murders and 20 bombings and jailed for life in 1977.

They were freed in April 1999 under the terms of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement – the multi-party peace deal for Northern Ireland.

Norris McWhirter continued to edit the Guinness Book of Records until 1985 and presented BBC’s Record Breakers until 1994. He died in April 2004.

London’s Spaghetti House siege

The crisis began on 28 September when nine staff of the Spaghetti House chain gathered to collect the week’s takings amounting to almost £13,000. Three men burst in and led the staff, all Italians, down into a small basement storeroom. One man managed to escape and alert the police who quickly cordoned off the area. The gunmen held the rest in a storeroom, which was cramped and hot but well-stocked with tins of food. Over the next couple of days they released two hostages who became ill.

‘Hostages are coming out’

When it became clear the police would not give in to the gunmen’s demands, the siege finally ended at 0340 GMT today and Franklin Davies, the gang’s leader, shouted out: "The hostages are coming out." Commander Christopher Payne ordered them out one by one and the Italians emerged tentatively before collapsing into the arms of police and being taken by ambulance to hospital for check-ups. The Metropolitan Police had taken a hard-line but tactful approach to the situation.

It had dismissed the group’s claim it was part of a Black Panther splinter group, the Black Liberation Army, fighting against capitalism and the oppression of black people. After referring to Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, Sir Robert Mark, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, had refused their demands for a plane and safe passage to Jamaica. But the group had been given a radio, coffee and cigarettes in exchange for the release of two hostages who were unwell.

The freed hostages were Mario Roscelli, Enrico Mainini, Gino Barni, his brother Bruno, Renato Nasta and Giovanni Scrano. Two of the gunmen who are West Indian – Wesley Dick, aged 24 and Anthony Gordon Munroe, aged 22 – have been charged at Cannon Row Police Station. Davies, a 28-year-old Nigerian student, is being questioned at St George’s Hospital. Police had found him lying in the cellar with a gunshot wound and a .22 pistol beside him.

Praise for police

The Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, has sent a telegram to Sir Robert praising him for the successful handling of the siege, the first of its kind in Britain. At a news conference at Scotland Yard, Sir Robert paid tribute to the 400 officers who worked on securing the safe release of the hostages. He also praised Italian Consul General Mario Manca whom he described as "a sensitive, gallant and truly unselfish man" and presented him with a mounted crest of the coat of arms of the Metropolitan Police.

At the height of the siege, Mr Manca had offered himself as a substitute for one of the hostages who was taken ill and then released. Sir Robert also thanked the hostages and their relatives for their patience and fortitude, and also the press for their careful reporting of the situation.

Four days later The Spaghetti House re-opened for business. It later emerged the police had used a fibre-optic miniature camera squeezed through a hole in the cellar to monitor conditions inside. A psychiatrist, Dr Peter Scott, had advised on the mental state of those in the cellar. They had also worked with the news media to demoralise the gunmen by broadcasting radio reports saying there was no chance of them getting any concessions from the authorities.

One of the Italian hostages helped to break through the atmosphere of tension and mutual distrust and began a friendship with ringleader Franklin Davies. After the siege had ended he even visited him in prison in the weeks leading up the trial and was allowed not to testify against him. In June 1976 the trial opened in uproar when the three defendants refused to recognise the authority of the court, turned their backs on it and held up a defiant poster. They were sent back to cells for the duration of proceedings.

Davies was jailed for 22 years, Dick for 18 years and Munroe for 17 years for attempted robbery, having firearms with intent to rob and imprisoning eight hostages.

Davis campaigners stop Test match

Campaigners calling for the release of robber George Davis from prison have vandalised the pitch at Headingley cricket ground in Leeds. They dug holes in the pitch and poured oil over one end of the wicket. The walls surrounding the ground were also daubed with the now- familiar slogans demanding the release of Davis, the east London minicab driver jailed for his part in an armed robbery. The damaged pitch was discovered early on Tuesday by the head groundsman, George Cawthray.

Mr Cawthray said: "When I first saw the damage it did not sink in. I was amazed. I thought I should be able to repair the holes but it was the oil that did the damage."

The campaigners’ actions led to the final match between England and Australia on Tuesday being abandoned. It was declared a draw robbing England of the chance to win back the Ashes and the trophy.

‘Mistaken identity’

Detectives are searching for several men believed to have travelled from London to Leeds on Monday. Four police officers from Leeds have travelled to London to assist the Metropolitan police in their investigations

Davis, 34, who was sentenced to a 20-year term last year, is serving his sentence at Albany Prison on the Isle of Wight. His supporters say he was the victim of mistaken identity and did not take part in a payroll robbery in Ilford, Essex, when a police officer was shot and injured.

Since Davis’ imprisonment they have organised marches, petitions and fund-raising events to increase public awareness of his case.

In May two campaigners – Davis’ brothers-in-law Jim and Colin Dean – carried out a seven-hour roof-top protest at St Paul’s cathedral in London.

Four people were tried for digging up the pitch at Headingley. Three received suspended sentences but one, Peter Chappell, was jailed for 18 months. After the Headingley incident an internal inquiry was set up to investigation the Metropolitan police’s handling of George Davis’ case.

He was released in May 1976 after Home Secretary Roy Jenkins said there was serious doubt about his identification – which was based on the evidence of two police officers. However in July 1978 he was jailed for 15 years after pleading guilty to taking part in a bank robbery.

Davis was freed in 1984 but three years later he was sentenced to 18-months for attempting to steal mailbags.

Dozens killed in Moorgate Tube crash

A London Underground train crashed at Moorgate, killing the driver and at least 29 passengers and injuring more than 70 in the worst-ever Tube disaster.

The final death toll was 43. The cause of the crash remains a mystery.

The driver had been in good health and had not taken any alcohol or drugs, and was considered an unlikely suicide candidate.

He had worked for London Underground since 1969 and was known to be a careful, conscientious driver.

The guard, 18-year-old Robert Harris, admitted that he had not noticed the train getting faster as it pulled into the station.

Investigations carried out after the crash confirmed the brakes had not been applied and the driver had not even raised his hands to protect his face at the moment of impact. Nothing was wrong with the train, the signalling equipment or the track, nevertheless new safety measures were introduced after the tragedy.

1975 Timeline

6 January – Brian Clough, the former manager of Derby County and more recently Leeds United, was appointed manager of Football League Second Division strugglers Nottingham Forest.

14 January – Heiress Lesley Whittle (17), the daughter of late bus operator George Whittle (1905–1967), was kidnapped from her home near Bridgnorth in Shropshire by Donald Neilson.

24 January – Donald Coggan was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury.

6 February – Jensen, the luxury car maker, made 700 workers redundant – cutting its workforce by two thirds.

11 February – Margaret Thatcher defeated Edward Heath in the Conservative Party leadership election to become the party’s first female leader. Mrs Thatcher, 49, was Education Secretary in Mr Heath’s government from 1970 to 1974.

13 February – Britain’s coal miners accepted a 35% pay rise offer from the government.

The film Slade In Flame, starring the members of Slade, premieres at the Metropole Theatre in London.

26 February – A fleeing IRA member shot and killed an off-duty Metropolitan Police officer, Stephen Tibble, 22, as he gave chase.

28 February – A major tube train crash at Moorgate station, London, killed 43 people.

1 March – Aston Villa, chasing promotion from the Football League Second Division, won the Football League Cup with the only goal of the Wembley final against Norwich City being scored by Ray Graydon.

2 March – Los Angeles Police make a routine traffic stop that turns out to be Paul McCartney and his wife Linda. Linda is arrested for having 170 to 225 grams (six to eight ounces) of marijuana in her pocketbook.

4 March – Actor Charlie Chaplin, 85, was knighted by the Queen.

7 March – The body of teenage heiress Lesley Whittle, who disappeared from her Shropshire home in January, was discovered in Staffordshire. She had been strangled on a ledge in drains below Bathpool Park near Kidsgrove.

22 March – The Shadows represent the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest in Stockholm, Sweden. They come second.

25 March – A large National Front rally in London protested against European integration.

26 March – British Leyland released their new family saloon, the Morris 18-22 wedge styled by Harris Mann to replace the ageing Austin 1800 Landcrab range. There were Austin, Morris and the luxury Wolseley versions at launch, However, in less than six months the entire range was rebranded as the Princess and the marque Wolseley was consigned to history.

27 March – The film version of The Who’s Tommy premieres in London.

5 April – Manchester United clinched promotion back to the First Division one season after relegation.

7 April – Ritchie Blackmore plays a final show with Deep Purple in Paris before quitting to form his own group, Rainbow.

9 April – The comedy film Monty Python and the Holy Grail was released.

13 April – A 22-year-old woman was raped at her bedsit in Cambridge. Cambridgeshire Police believed that she was the sixth victim of a rapist who had been operating across the city since October last year. In June, Cambridgeshire Police arrested 47-year-old Peter Cook for the rapes; he was sentenced to life imprisonment in October.

24 April – Unemployment exceeded 1,000,000 for March 1975.

25 April – Pete Ham, founder of the group Badfinger, is found hanged in his London garage. His death is ruled a suicide.

26 April – A conference of Labour Party members voted against continued membership of the EEC.

Derby County won the Football League First Division title for the second time in four seasons.

May – Led Zeppelin returned to the UK to play five sold-out shows at Earls Court in London.

1 May – Vauxhall launched the Vauxhall Chevette, Britain’s first production small hatchback, which is similar in concept to the Italian Fiat 127 and French Renault 5.

2 May – The Rolling Stones announce their forthcoming North American tour by performing Brown Sugar from a flatbed truck on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The occasion was guitarist Ronnie Wood’s debut with the band.

3 May – West Ham United won the second FA Cup of their history by defeating Fulham 2-0 in the Wembley final. Alan Taylor scores both goals.

16 May – Major reorganisation of local government in Scotland under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

27 May – Dibbles Bridge coach crash: a tour coach ran away following brake failure and falls off a bridge near Hebden, North Yorkshire, en route to Grassington, killing the driver and 31 women pensioners on board, the highest ever toll in a UK road accident.

28 May – Leeds United were beaten 2-0 by Bayern Munich of West Germany in the European Cup final in Paris, France. Peter Lorimer had a goal for Leeds disallowed and this sparked a riot by angry supporters, who invaded the pitch and tear seats away from the stands.

31 May – The European Space Agency was established with the UK being one of the ten founding members.

Jim’ll Fix It, presented by Jimmy Savile, is first shown on BBC1 television.

5 June – 67% of voters supported continued membership of the EEC in a referendum.

9 June – Proceedings in Parliament were broadcast on radio for the first time.

13 June – UEFA placed a three-year ban on Leeds United from European competitions for the actions of their fans at last month’s European Cup final.

14 June – Ambulance crews in the West Midlands staged a ban on non-emergency calls in a dispute over pay and hours.
17 June – Leeds United lodged an appeal against their ban from European competitions.

19 June – A coroner’s court jury returned a verdict of wilful murder, naming Lord Lucan as the murderer, in the inquest on Sandra Rivett, the nanny who was found dead at his wife’s London home seven months previously.

30 June – UEFA reduces Leeds United’s ban from European competitions to one season on appeal.

July – The Government and Trades Union Congress agreed a one-year cash limit on pay rises.

5 July – A 36-year-old Keighley woman Ann Rogulskyj was badly injured in a hammer attack in an alleyway in the West Yorkshire town.

1 August – The government’s anti-inflation policy came into full effect. During the year, inflation reached 24.2% – the second highest since records began in 1750 and the highest since 1800. A summary of the White Paper Attack on Inflation is delivered to all households.

4 August – Robert Plant and his wife Maureen are seriously injured in a car accident while vacationing on the Greek island of Rhodes. The immediate future of Led Zeppelin is cast into doubt, as Plant will not recover for quite some time.

14 August – Hampstead entered the UK Weather Records with the Highest 155-min total rainfall at 169 mm.

15 August – A 46-year-old Halifax woman Olive Smelt was severely injured in a hammer attack in an alleyway in the town.

16 August – Football hooliganism struck on the opening day of the English league season, with hundreds of fans being arrested at games across the country – the total number of arrests exceeded seventy at the stadiums of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Leicester City.

19 August – Headingley cricket ground was vandalised by people campaigning for release from prison of the armed robber George Davis. A scheduled test match between England and Australia due to take place there had to be abandoned. This was the climax to a campaign in which the slogan George Davis is Innocent was widely sprayed throughout London.

21 August – 1.25 million are jobless.

23 August – Peter Gabriel leaves progressive rock group Genesis.

27 August – A 14-year-old, Tracy Browne, was badly injured in a hammer attack in a country lane at Silsden, near Keighley.

31 August – Cavalcade of steam locomotives at Shildon, County Durham, to mark the 150th anniversary of the Stockton and Darlington Railway.

September – Chrysler UK launched its new Alpine five-door family hatchback, a modern front-wheel drive car to compete with the conventional Ford Cortina, Morris Marina and upcoming Vauxhall Cavalier rear-wheel drive saloons. The new car was also built in France as the Simca 1307.

5 September – The London Hilton hotel was bombed by the IRA killing two people and injuring 63 others.

19 September – The first episode of the popular sitcom Fawlty Towers was broadcast on BBC2 television.

24 September – Dougal Haston and Doug Scott became the first British people to climb Mount Everest.

27 September – The National Railway Museum was opened in York, becoming the first national museum outside London.

28 September – 3 October – The Spaghetti House siege, in which nine people were taken as hostages, took place in London.

October – Vauxhall announced its second new model launch of the year – the Cavalier, which replaced the Victor, was based on the German Opel Ascona, and was a direct competitor for the big-selling Ford Cortina.

Statistics show that Britain is now in a double-dip recession, as the economy contracted for the second and third quarters of this year.

3 October – The Who release their seventh studio album The Who By Numbers.

7 October – John Lennon finally wins his battle to stay in the United States after the New York Court of Appeals overturns Lennon’s 1972 deportation order.

8 October – John Lennon and Yoko Ono become parents of Sean Ono Lennon at 2:00 AM. The birth heralds the beginning of John’s temporary retirement from the music business as he vows to devote himself to family for the next five years.

9 October – An IRA bomb explosion outside Green Park tube station near Piccadilly in London killed one and injured 20.

13 October – Norton Villiers, the Wolverhampton based motorcycle producer, closed down with the loss of 1,600 jobs after being declared bankrupt.

30 October – West Yorkshire Police launched a murder investigation after 28-year-old prostitute Wilma McCann was found dead in Leeds.

31 October – Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was released. It goes to No.1 for 9 weeks and as of 2012 is the biggest-selling non-Charity single in UK history.

3 November – A petroleum pipeline from Cruden Bay to Grangemouth across Scotland is formally opened by The Queen.

6 November – The first public performance by punk rock band the Sex Pistols took place at St. Martin’s School of Art in London.

12 November – The Employment Protection Act established ACAS to arbitrate industrial disputes, and legislated against unfair dismissal.

16 November – British and Icelandic ships clashed, marking the beginning of the third Cod War.

27 November – Ross McWhirter, co-founder with his twin of the Guinness Book of Records, was shot dead by the Provisional Irish Republican Army for offering reward money to informers.

29 November – Former racing driver Graham Hill, 46, died in an air crash in Hertfordshire.

December – Donald Neilson, 39, was arrested in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, on suspicion of being the "Black Panther" murderer who was believed to have carried out five murders in the last two years.

5 December – Government ends Internment of suspected terrorists in Northern Ireland.

6 – 12 December – Balcombe Street Siege: IRA members on the run from police broke into a London flat taking the residents hostage. The siege ended after six days with the gunmen giving themselves up to the police.

18 December – The official break-up of Faces is announced at a London press conference. Rod Stewart will continue his solo career while Ronnie Wood joins The Rolling Stones.

25 December – Iron Maiden is formed, in Leyton, east London, by bassist Steve Harris.

29 December – Two new laws, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equal Pay Act 1970, came into force aiming to end unequal pay of men and women in the workplace.

The Willis Building (Ipswich) was completed, a key early example of Foster Associates’ ‘high-tech’ architectural style.

The British National Oil Corporation was set up.

First annual payment of Short Money made to the Official Opposition in the House of Commons to help with its costs for Parliamentary business (named after Edward Short, Leader of the House).

Jackie Tabick became the first female rabbi in Britain.

The white-tailed sea eagle was reintroduced to the UK, on the Isle of Rum.


UK TV Adverts 1975

2 January – The Sweeney premieres on ITV.

22 January – 26 February – Drama series The Love School, about the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood is shown on BBC2.

1 April – Premier of Edward the Seventh, a TV drama series, made by ATV in 13 one-hour episodes, and based on the biography of Edward VII by Philip Magnus.

3 April – Meg Richardson (Noele Gordon) married Hugh Mortimer (John Bentley) on the soap opera Crossroads.

4 April – The Good Life premieres on BBC1.

31 May – Jim’ll Fix It makes its debut on BBC1.

19 September – The comedy series Fawlty Towers debuts on BBC2.

25 September – Yorkshire Television premieres Animal Kwackers, the British Version of The American Television Series "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour", but shorter and a lot different than the American Version.

28 October – A James Bond film is shown on British television for the first time, Dr. No on ITV.

9 December – 15th anniversary of the first episode of Coronation Street.

17 December – The Thames Television film The Naked Civil Servant, based on Quentin Crisp’s memoirs is aired on British television. The film stars John Hurt in the leading role.


5 January – Paddington (1975–1986)
4 April – The Good Life (1975–1978)
16 April – Survivors (1975–1977)
31 May – Jim’ll Fix It (1975–1994)
1 September – Angels (1975–1983)


12 May – Rutland Weekend Television (1975–1976)
19 September – Fawlty Towers (1975, 1979)
1 October – Arena (1975–present)


2 January – The Sweeney (1975–1978)
1 April – Edward the Seventh (1975)
20 July – Celebrity Squares (1975–1979, 1993–1997, 2014–present)
6 September – Space: 1999 (1975–1978)
9 September – Shades of Greene (1975–1976)
27 October – The Cuckoo Waltz (1975–1980)

Number Ones Singles UK

"Lonely This Christmas" – Mud
"Down Down" – Status Quo
"Ms Grace" – The Tymes
"January" – Pilot
"Make Me Smile (Come Up and See Me)" – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel
"If" – Telly Savalas
"Bye Bye Baby" – Bay City Rollers
"Oh Boy!" – Mud
"Stand By Your Man" – Tammy Wynette
"Whispering Grass" – Don Estelle & Windsor Davies
"I’m Not in Love" – 10cc
"Tears On My Pillow" – Johnny Nash
"Give a Little Love" – Bay City Rollers
"Barbados" – Typically Tropical
"I Can’t Give You Anything (But My Love)" – The Stylistics
"Sailing" – Rod Stewart
"Hold Me Close" – David Essex
"I Only Have Eyes for You" – Art Garfunkel
"Space Oddity" – David Bowie
"D.I.V.O.R.C.E." – Billy Connolly
"Bohemian Rhapsody" – Queen


Greatest Hits – Elton John
His Greatest Hits – Engelbert Humperdinck
On the Level – Status Quo
Physical Graffiti – Led Zeppelin
20 Greatest Hits – Tom Jones
The Best of the Stylistics – The Stylistics
Once Upon a Star – Bay City Rollers
Venus and Mars – Wings
Horizon – The Carpenters
Wish You Were Here – Pink Floyd
Atlantic Crossing – Rod Stewart
40 Golden Greats – Jim Reeves
We All Had Doctors’ Papers – Max Boyce
40 Greatest Hits – Perry Como
A Night at the Opera – Queen

1975 Sunday July 13th – Rollermania in Bristol

Hitched-up baggy trousers, basketball boots, tartan scarves, police, shrieking girls and near riots . . . you’ve guessed it. Rollermania was in town. It came three times to Bristol in the summer of ’75. There was the day they opened the box office at the Colston Hall for the forthcoming Bay City Rollers show. Then there was the dress rehearsal on May 29th when the band should have appeared but didn’t. And then there was the real thing when the squeaky-clean popsters finally made it to Bristol and brought the house down.

Memories of Summer

Memories of Summer
Image by Julie (thanks for 10 million views)
Red Admiral butterfly feeding on Chrysanthemum flowers at my local garden centre back in August HWW! My parents are coming over tonight from the UK to visit us for a few days so I won’t be on Flickr properly again until Monday. Apologies in advance for my lack of comments. Best get back to cleaning the windows & dusting the spiders 😉

memories of 1977

memories of 1977
Image by brizzle born and bred
1977 The first Apple Computer goes on sale. Quebec adopts French as the official language. Jimmy Carter is elected as the President of United States and the first oil flows through the Trans Alaskan Oil Pipeline. The precursor to the GPS system in use today is started by US Department of defense. Elvis Presley Dies from a heart attack aged 42.

British Public sector trade unions including Firefighters strike for wage increases over the 10% ceiling imposed by the British government. The first ever Quadraphonic concert in London by Pink Floyd. The first commercial flight Concord London to New York. NASA space shuttle makes its first test flight off the back of a jetliner. Voyager I and Voyager II are launched unmanned to explore the outer solar system.

When Britain’s fire crews walked out on national strike, members of the public were advised to take matters into their own hands. Although the armed services, with their so-called "Green Goddess" fire engines, were drafted in, they were seen by many as a last line of defence.

As the strike took hold in the encroaching winter of November 1977, people were encouraged to keep buckets of sand and water at home. And at a time when many still relied on open fires for heating, householders were advised to have their chimneys cleaned. The London Fire Brigade issued its own 11-point safety guide, advising checking for smouldering cigarettes and leaving only essential electrical appliances like fridges plugged in. The strike began on 14 November and lasted for nine weeks, running through to the New Year. At the time fire fighters worked a basic 48-hour week, for which they were paid an average of £71.10, which amounted to £3,700 a year.

The fire fighters finally agreed to settle for a 10% pay rise with guarantees of future increases and they went back to work on 16 January.

Silver Jubilee of 1977

The Queen’s first biggie was the Silver Jubilee of 1977. The two previous monarchs had not reached this milestone; the Queen’s father King George VI died after only 15 years and two months on the throne and her uncle Edward VIII did not even make it to a year.

Britain in 1977 had recently experienced power cuts, a forerunner of the Winter of Discontent.

No wonder the country was in the mood for a party. But celebrations were different then. Children’s parties used to consist of jelly and ice-cream and Pass The Parcel; now they want a cabaret show and expensive goody bags. Similarly, the Diamond Jubilee involves a cast of thousands and many hours of airtime each day over the better part of a week. The Silver Jubilee coverage consisted of less than seven hours in total, mostly on Jubilee day itself, with not a single celebrity in sight – unless you count Margot (actress Penelope Keith) from The Good Life presenting Jubilee Jackanory.

The Royal Family was smaller 35 years ago so the Queen had to carry out all her own Jubilee engagements.

She went on a royal progress through Britain, much of it by car, so that she could be seen by as many people as possible, even if time did not allow for a walkabout in every town. Late in Jubilee year, a newspaper published a picture of her looking weary, with the comment “Well she IS 51.” And now here she is doing just as much at 86.

The tide was already turning in 1977 as that was the first year when foreign cars outsold British ones.

In Silver Jubilee year leisure for most people meant watching your newly-acquired (but in many cases rented) colour TV. There were only three channels – BBC1, BBC2 and ITV – but somehow there was always something worth watching. The Professionals was a favourite, starring Martin Shaw (sporting a bubble perm) and Lewis Collins and their Ford Capri, as was The New Avengers, a revival of the Sixties series, starring Joanna Lumley and her Purdey hairdo, a modern take on the pudding bowl. Roots, the ground-breaking mini-series tracing a black man’s family history from capture in West Africa, was broadcast in April 1977. Morecambe and Wise ruled the comedy roost. A staggering 28million – half the population at the time – watched their 1977 Christmas show, a figure unlikely to be exceeded.

Sadly the same might be said of Britain’s Wimbledon hopes. No one has really come close since Virginia Wade won in Silver Jubilee year in front of the Queen.

Before videos and DVDs, people still went to the cinema and in December 1977 everyone wanted to see Star Wars, a new kind of fantasy film about “a galaxy far, far away”, that spawned the genre that now includes The Lord Of The Rings and even Harry Potter. Meanwhile the pop world was fragmenting. On one side there was glam rock and disco; on the other, punk. The Sex Pistols’ snarling version of God Save The Queen was released in Jubilee week and their manager Malcolm McLaren said it was proof that there were “barbarians at the gate”.

They never made it through. The popularity of the Royal Family surged in Silver Jubilee year just as it had in Diamond Jubilee year.

We are not the same country we were in 1977. But perhaps we are not entirely different either.

Cost of Living

In 1977, 56 per cent of Britons owned one car or more, 74 per cent owned a washing machine. 50 per cent of people had central heating in their homes. Computers, DVD and CD players were non-existent. A couple with two children had an average net income of £363 a week. A single pensioner received an income of £180 a week. We spent 25 per cent of our income on food. We spent 10 per cent of our income on leisure and holidays. In 1977, 93 per cent of men aged 25-54 were in work. However female employment in the same age group was 59 per cent. 26 per cent of jobs were in manufacturing.

Despite the vast majority of adults thinking that things were better in the 1970s, figures from that era suggest that life was not easy.

1977: Star Wars fever hits Britain

Thousands of people were flocking to cinemas in the UK to watch the long-awaited blockbuster, Star Wars – a movie which is already setting US box offices alight. Bracing the cold weather, young and old queued from 0700 GMT in London at the Dominion, and Leicester Square cinemas, to snatch up non-reserved tickets which were otherwise booked until March.

Star Wars, which was first released in America seven months ago, has taken audiences by storm and outstripped last year’s blockbuster Jaws to gross 6m (£108m) at the box office. Carrie Fisher, Sir Alec Guiness and little known Harrison Ford star in this fairytale set in space. Produced by Gary Kurtz, written and directed by George Lucas who directed American Graffitti, the U-classified sci-fi film is a classic epic of good versus evil. It has enthralled audiences under a dazzle of special effects with wizards, heroes, monsters in "a galaxy far, far away".

The 900 people involved in the film included giants, dwarfs, artists and the man who built machines for James Bond. Many of the optical special effects were developed in California by Industrial Light and Magic, a George Lucas company. The on-stage special effects were put together at Elstree studios in Britain. Filming took the cast to Tunisia, Death Valley California, Guatemala and the EMI soundstage at Elstree.

The build-up and hype has led to store wars over Star Wars with products including T-shirts, sweets, jig-saw puzzle, watches and food to name but a few. Mr Lucas has published a paperback version and Marvel comics have produced a special edition to meet the thirst for Star Wars’ merchandise. But for those queuing today nothing will satisfy them but a chance to see the film itself – easy targets for touts trying to sell £2.20 tickets for £30.

1977 The Murders of the Yorkshire Ripper

5 February – 28-year-old homeless woman Irene Richardson is murdered in Leeds, at almost the exact location where prostitute Marcella Claxton was badly injured nine months ago. Police believe that this murder and attempted murder may be connected, along with the murders of Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson and the attempted murders of at least three other women.

Near the body, the police discovered an important clue. The killer had driven his car onto the soft ground of Soldiers Field. The police were able to determine the tire marks as being two India Autoway tires, a Pneumant, and an Esso 110, all cross-ply. With a rear track width of between 4′ 1 1/2" and 4′ 2 1/2", the number of vehicles that it could apply to was twenty-six, including Ford Corsairs. A staggering 100,000 vehicles in West Yorkshire would have to be checked, and before the killer changed any of his tires.

23 April – Prostitute Patricia Atkinson is murdered in Bradford; she is believed to be the fourth woman to die at the hands of the mysterious Yorkshire Ripper.

Patricia Atkinson, aged 32, a prostitute, was the second murder victim in 1977 by Peter Sutcliffe. To the police, the Leeds killer had now expanded his territory to include Bradford. A blood sample showed that Patricia Atkinson had consumed about twenty measures of spirits. The police also found a bloody foot print on a bottom bed sheet from a size seven Dunlop Warwick wellington boot, which matched the foot prints found at the Emily Jackson murder scene. It was clear, from this, and from the injuries sustained, that the Yorkshire Ripper had now expanded his territory to include Bradford. As well, for what would be the only time, he had committed a murder indoors.

26 June – 16-year-old shop assistant Jayne McDonald is found battered and stabbed to death in Chapeltown, Leeds; police believe she is the fifth person to be murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper. About 30 yards into Reginald Street, near an adventure playground, Sutcliffe struck Jayne MacDonald with the hammer on the back of the head. After she fell down, he then dragged her, face down, about 20 yards into the corner of the play area. Her shoes made a "horrible scraping noise" along the ground as he dragged her. He hit her again with the hammer and then pulled her clothes up and stabbed her several times in the chest and in the back.

The slaying of a young girl, not connected to the prostitute trade, an "innocent", brought not only national attention to the case, and outrage from the public not seen in the earlier murder cases, but also caused Chief Constable Ronald Gregory to appoint his most senior detective, Assistant Chief Constable George Oldfield to be in overall charge of the escalating Ripper murder investigations. Peter Sutcliffe claims to have been shocked when he saw the newspaper headlines that Jayne MacDonald had not been a prostitute as he had assumed.

Jayne’s father, Wilf MacDonald, a former railwayman, was to die two years after her murder, never having recovered from the ordeal of her murder.

10 July – Bradford woman Maureen Long, 42 is injured in an attack believed to have been committed by the Yorkshire Ripper in the West Yorkshire city.

Maureen Long had remembered going to the cloak room at the club, and walking towards the city centre. She also remembered his white Ford with the black roof. But the description of her attacker that she was able to provide – white, well-built man, aged 36 or 37, about 6ft. 1in. tall, puffy cheeks, thickish eyebrows, collar-length wiry blond hair, with noticeably large hands – relieved Peter Sutcliffe of some of his worries about being caught. His only concern was the description of his car by the nightwatchman. In August he sold the white Ford Corsair to Ronnie Barker. When it broke down, Sutcliffe reluctantly took it back, stripped the car down, and redistributed the spare parts around the replacement car he had bought in September 1977, a red Ford Corsair.

10 October – Missing 20-year-old prostitute Jean Jordan is found dead in Chorlton, Manchester, nine days after she was last seen alive. Police believe that the Yorkshire Ripper may have killed her; the first crime outside Yorkshire which the killer has been suspected of.

Jean Jordan, also known as Jean Royle, and a prostitute, was killed on October 1 1977 as the Yorkshire Ripper expanded his territory to include Manchester. The events of the murder resulted in the Yorkshire Ripper leaving a clue that could be (and was) directly traced to him. Sutcliffe would also return to the body nine days later to try and recover the incriminating £5 pound note evidence, and when he failed, would carry out the worst attack and mutilations on any of his victims.

The handbag had not been found on October 10th, as it was just outside the police search area. The £5 note, which Peter Sutcliffe had been searching for on his return visit to Manchester, had finally been found. The incriminating note, the police discovered, had been from a batch issued in pay packets days before the murder.

Unfortunately, the five day delay in its discovery, coupled with the delay caused by the fact the body had not been discovered before Sutcliffe returned to it, and other factors, such as the delay by the police it announcing its discovery and the serial number, meant that too much time had passed to further narrow the search for its owner by any public input (see £5 Note Clue for information about the hunt for the owner of the note).

28 October – Police in Yorkshire appeal for help in finding the Yorkshire Ripper, who is believed to be responsible for a series of murders and attacks on women across the county during the last two years.

14 December – 25-year-old Leeds prostitute Marilyn Moore is injured in an attack believed to have been committed by the Yorkshire Ripper.

Marilyn Moore, a 25-year-old prostitute, survived an attack by Peter Sutcliffe, and provided one of the best photofits of the suspect from a known Ripper victim. As well, a clue found at the scene tied this attack to the Irene Richardson murder. Her description of the car was that is was a dark coloured or maroon vehicle, about the size of a Morris Oxford. Sutcliffe was, in fact, driving his red Ford Corsair. The police found an important clue in the tire track evidence that they found at the scene of the attack on Marilyn Moore. The tire tracks where consistent with the tire track evidence found at the Irene Richardson murder scene, the same India Autoway cross-ply tires were on the front wheels. There was no doubt that the Yorkshire Ripper had been the one who had attacked Marilyn Moore.

1977 Timeline

January–June – The United Knigdom holds the Presidency of the Council of the European Union for the first time.

January – The Ford Fiesta goes on sale in the UK.

1 January – The Clash headline the gala opening of the London music club, The Roxy.

3 January – Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary, announces he is leaving the House of Commons to become President of the European Commission.

6 January – Record company EMI sacks the controversial British punk rock group the Sex Pistols for their behaviour on ITV’s Today Show, whose presenter Bill Grundy was also dismissed by his employers for inciting them.

10 January – Clive Sinclair introduces his new two-inch screen television set, which retails at £175.

29 January – Seven Provisional Irish Republican Army bombs explode in the West End of London, but there are no fatalities or serious injuries.

4 February – Fleetwood Mac’s Grammy-winning album Rumours is released, featuring songs that include "The Chain", "Don’t Stop", and "Go Your Own Way".

Police discover an IRA bomb factory in Liverpool.

5 February – 28-year-old homeless woman Irene Richardson is murdered in Leeds, at almost the exact location where prostitute Marcella Claxton was badly injured nine months ago. Police believe that this murder and attempted murder may be connected, along with the murders of Wilma McCann, Emily Jackson and the attempted murders of at least three other women.

10 February – Elizabeth II visits American Samoa.

The three IRA terrorists involved in the 1975 Balcombe Street Siege in London are sentenced to life imprisonment on six charges of murder.

11 February – Elizabeth II visits Western Samoa.

13 February – Anthony Crosland, Foreign Secretary, is seriously ill in hospital after suffering a stroke.

14 February – Elizabeth II visits Tonga.

16–17 February – Elizabeth II visits Fiji.

17 February – George Newman, chairman of Staffordshire County Council, is sentenced to 15 months in prison for corruption.

22 February – David Owen, 38, becomes the youngest post-Second World War Foreign Secretary, succeeding the late Anthony Crosland, who died 3 days earlier.

22 February – 7 March – Elizabeth II visits New Zealand.

28 February – State Opening of the Parliament of New Zealand, by Elizabeth II.

1 March – James Callaghan threatens to withdraw state aid to British Leyland unless it puts an end to strikes.

7–30 March – Elizabeth II visits Australia.

8 March – State Opening of the Australian Parliament, Canberra by Elizabeth II.

12 March – The Centenary Test between Australia and England begins at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

14 March – The government reveals that inflation has pushed prices up by nearly 70% within three years.

15 March – British Leyland managers announce intention to dismiss 40,000 toolmakers who have gone on strike at the company’s Longbridge plant in Birmingham, action which is costing the state-owned carmaker more than £10million a week.

17–23 March – The Prince of Wales visits Ghana.

19 March – The last Rover P6 rolls off the production line after 14 years.

23 March – Government wins a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons after James Callaghan strikes a deal with the leader of the Liberal Party, David Steel.

23–25 March – Elizabeth II visits Papua New Guinea.

29 March – Income tax is slashed to 33p in the pound from 35p in the budget.

31 March – Elizabeth II visits Muscat.

April – Mike Leigh’s comedy of manners Abigail’s Party opens at the Hampstead Theatre, starring Alison Steadman.

2 April – Red Rum wins the Grand National for the third time.

8 April – Punk band The Clash’s debut album The Clash is released in the UK through CBS Records.

11 April – London Transport’s Silver Jubilee buses are launched.

18–30 April – The Embassy World Snooker Championship moves to the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield, and attracts television coverage for the first time.

23 April – National Front marchers clash with anti-Nazi protesters in London.

Prostitute Patricia Atkinson is murdered in Bradford; she is believed to be the fourth woman to die at the hands of the mysterious Yorkshire Ripper.

29 April – British Aerospace is formed to run the nationalised aviation industry.

30 April – Mid Hants Railway reopened.

3 May – HMS Invincible is launched at Barrow-in-Furness by Elizabeth II.

5 May – Silver Jubilee review of the Police at Hendon by Elizabeth II.

Conservatives make gains in local council elections, including winning the Greater London Council from Labour.

7 May – 3rd G7 summit held in London.

Prime Minister of Canada Pierre Elliot Trudeau does a pirouette behind the back of Elizabeth II.

The 22nd Eurovision Song Contest is held in London. With Angela Rippon as the presenter, the contest is won by Marie Myriam representing France, with her song "L’oiseau et l’enfant" ("The Bird and the Child").

13 May – The Silver Jubilee Air Fair is held at Biggin Hill.

15 May – Liverpool F.C. are English league champions for the tenth time.

17 May – Elizabeth II commences her Jubilee tour in Glasgow.

18 May – The UK is among 29 signatories of a Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques.

Elizabeth II visits Cumbernauld and Stirling.

19 May – Elizabeth II visits Perth and Dundee.

21 May – Manchester United win the FA Cup for the fourth time by defeating Liverpool 2-1 at Wembley Stadium in the final. It is their first major trophy since they won the European Cup in 1968.

23–27 May – Elizabeth II visits Edinburgh.

25 May – Liverpool win their first European Cup by defeating the West German league champions Borussia Mönchengladbach 3-1 in the final in Rome.

27 May – Elizabeth II opens the new Air Terminal Building at Edinburgh Airport.

Prime Minister James Callaghan officially opens the M5 motorway, which is now complete with the opening of the final stretch around Exeter, 15 years after the first stretch of the motorway (beginning near Birmingham) was opened.

28 May – Climax of Windsor Silver Jubilee celebrations: Elizabeth II visits the town on her Jubilee tour.

30 May – A gala performance for the Silver Jubilee is held at the Royal Opera House, London.

6–9 June – Jubilee celebrations are held in the United Kingdom to celebrate twenty-five years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, with a public holiday on 7 June.

17 June – Wimbledon F.C., champions of the Isthmian League, are elected to the Football League in place of Workington in the Fourth Division.

20 June – Anglia Television broadcasts the fake documentary "Alternative 3". It enters into the conspiracy theory canon.

Seventeen people are arrested during clashes between pickets and police at the Grunwick film processing laboratory.

26 June – 16-year-old shop assistant Jayne McDonald is found battered and stabbed to death in Chapeltown, Leeds; police believe she is the fifth person to be murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper.

4 July – Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty is sensationally dismissed by the club’s directors due to his affair with the wife of the club’s physiotherapist.

7 July – The first episode of the BBC documentary series Brass Tacks is aired, featuring a debate as to whether Myra Hindley should be considered for parole from the life sentence she received for her role in the Moors Murders in 1966.

10 July – Bradford woman Maureen Long, 42 is injured in an attack believed to have been committed by the Yorkshire Ripper in the West Yorkshire city.

11 July – Gay News found guilty of blasphemous libel in a case (Whitehouse v. Lemon) brought by Mary Whitehouse’s National Viewers and Listeners Association.

Don Revie announces his resignation after three years as manager of the England national football team.

12 July – Within 24 hours of resigning as manager of the England national football team, Don Revie accepts an offer to become the highest paid football manager in the world when he is appointed manager of the United Arab Emirates national football team on a four-year contract worth £340,000.

14 July – Manchester United appoint Dave Sexton, manager of Queen’s Park Rangers and previously Chelsea, as their new manager.

23 July – Chrysler Europe launched the Sunbeam, a three-door rear-wheel drive small hatchback similar in concept to the Ford Fiesta and Vauxhall Chevette.

29 July – Finance Act abolishes the collection of tithes.

August – Government introduces voluntary Stage III one-year pay restraint.

10 August – The Queen visits Northern Ireland as part of her Jubilee celebrations under tight security.

Kenny Dalglish, 26-year-old Scotland striker, becomes Britain’s most expensive footballer in a £440,000 transfer from Glasgow Celtic to Liverpool.

11 August – Cricketer Geoff Boycott scores the 100th century of his career for England against Australia at Headingley, Leeds.

12 August – 19 September – Union-Castle Line RMS Windsor Castle (1959) makes the line’s last passenger mail voyage out of Southampton for Cape Town, the last major British ship to operate in the regular ocean liner trade.

13 August – Battle of Lewisham: an attempt by the far-right National Front to march from New Cross to Lewisham in southeast London leads to counter-demonstrations and violent clashes.

15 August – Rioting breaks out in Birmingham during demonstrations against the National Front.

17 August – Ron Greenwood, general manager of West Ham United, who guided the East London club to FA Cup and European Cup Winners’ Cup glory as their team manager during the 1960s, accepts an offer from the Football Association to manage the England team on a temporary basis until December.

23 August – A new, smaller, £1 note is introduced.

September – Ford launches the second generation of its popular Granada model.

6 September – Car industry figures show that foreign cars are outselling British-built ones for the first time. Japanese built Datsuns, German Volkswagens and French Renaults are proving particularly popular with buyers, although British-built products from Ford, British Leyland, Vauxhall and Chrysler UK are still the most popular.

16 September – Rock star Marc Bolan, pioneer of the glam rock movement at the start of the 1970s with T. Rex, is killed in a car crash in Barnes, London, two weeks before his 30th birthday. His girlfriend Gloria Jones, the driver of the car, is seriously injured.

19 September – Manchester United, the English FA Cup holders, are expelled from the European Cup Winners’ Cup after their fans rioted in France during a first round first leg game with AS Saint-Etienne (which ended in a 1-1 draw) five days ago.

26 September – Freddie Laker launches his new budget Skytrain airline, with the first single fare from Gatwick to New York costing £59 compared to the normal price of £186.

UEFA reinstates Manchester United to the European Cup Winners’ Cup on appeal. However, they are ordered to play their return leg against AS Saint-Etienne at least 120 miles away from their Old Trafford stadium.

3 October – Undertakers go on strike in London, leaving more than 800 corpses unburied.

10 October – Missing 20-year-old prostitute Jean Jordan is found dead in Chorlton, Manchester, nine days after she was last seen alive. Police believe that the Yorkshire Ripper may have killed her; the first crime outside Yorkshire which the killer has been suspected of.

14 October – Fourteen people are injured in a bomb explosion at a London pub.

25 October – Michael Edwardes succeeds Richard Dobson as chief of British Leyland.

27 October – Former Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe denies allegations of attempted murder of and having a relationship with male model Norman Scott.

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols is released in the United Kingdom, and the Sex Pistols perform on a boat on the River Thames shortly afterwards, only for the police to wait for them and several arrests occurred, including that of Malcolm McLaren, the band’s manager at the time.

28 October – Police in Yorkshire appeal for help in finding the Yorkshire Ripper, who is believed to be responsible for a series of murders and attacks on women across the county during the last two years.

14 November – Firefighters go on their first ever national strike, in hope of getting a 30% wage increase.

15 November – The Queen becomes a grandmother for the first time when Princess Anne gives birth to a son.

The first SavaCentre hypermarket, a venture between J Sainsbury and British Home Stores, opens at Washington, Tyne and Wear.

22 November – British Airways inaugurates regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.

3 December – The England football team fails to achieve World Cup qualification for the second tournament in succession.

10 December – James Meade wins the 1977 Nobel Prize in Economics jointly with the Norwegian Bertil Ohlin for their "Pathbreaking contribution to the theory of international trade and international capital movements."

Nevill Francis Mott wins the Nobel Prize in Physics jointly with Philip Warren Anderson and John Hasbrouck van Vleck "for their fundamental theoretical investigations of the electronic structure of magnetic and disordered systems".

12 December – Chrysler Europe announces its new Horizon range of five-door front-wheel drive hatchbacks, which will be built in Britain as a Chrysler and France as a Simca. It will give buyers a more modern alternative to the Avenger range of rear-wheel drive saloons and estates.

Ron Greenwood signs a permanent contract as England manager, despite England’s failure to qualify for next summer’s World Cup. The appointment is controversial, as there had been widespread support for Brian Clough of Nottingham Forest to be appointed.

14 December – 25-year-old Leeds prostitute Marilyn Moore is injured in an attack believed to have been committed by the Yorkshire Ripper.

16 December – The Queen opens a £71million extension to the London Underground which runs to Heathrow Airport.

21 December – Four children die at a house fire in Wednesbury, West Midlands, as Green Goddess fire appliances crewed by hastily-trained troops are sent to deal with the blaze while firefighters are still on strike. 119 people have now died as a result of fires since the strike began, but this is the first fire during the strike which has resulted in more than two deaths.

22 December – The Queen’s first grandchild is christened Peter Mark Andrew Phillips.

25 December – The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show on BBC 1 television attracts an audience of more than 28 million viewers, one of the highest ever in U.K. television history.

27 December – The much-acclaimed Star Wars film, which has been a massive hit in the United States, is screened in British cinemas for the first time.

Inflation has fallen slightly this year to 15.8%, but it is the fourth successive year that has seen double digit inflation.

Colour television licences exceed black and white licences for the first time in the U.K.

Lynsey De Paul teamed up with Mike Moran as the UK entry for Eurovision in 1977, staged at Wembley Conference Centre, and finished in second place with Rock Bottom.

Music Events

1 January – The Clash headline the gala opening of the London music club, The Roxy.

22 January – Maria Kliegel makes her London début at the Wigmore Hall, with a programme of Bach, Kodály, and Franck.

26 January – Fleetwood Mac’s original lead guitarist, Peter Green, is committed to a mental hospital in England after firing a pistol at a delivery boy bringing him a royalties check.

27 January – After releasing only one single for the band, EMI Records terminates its contract with the Sex Pistols.

4 February – Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours is released; it goes on to become one of the best-selling albums of all time.

15 February – Sid Vicious replaces Glen Matlock as the bassist of the Sex Pistols.

10 March – A&M Records signs the Sex Pistols in a ceremony in front of Buckingham Palace. The contract is terminated on 16 March as a result of the band vandalizing property and verbally abusing employees during a visit to the record company’s office.

2 May – Elton John performs the first of six consecutive nights at London’s Rainbow Theatre, his first concert in eight months. John keeps a low profile in 1977, not releasing any new music for the first year since his recording career began eight years previously.

7 May – Having been postponed from 2 April because of a BBC technicians’ strike, the 22nd Eurovision Song Contest finally goes ahead in London’s Wembley Conference Centre.

11 May – The Stranglers and support band London start a 10-week national tour.

12 May – Virgin Records announces that they have signed the Sex Pistols.

7 June – The Sex Pistols attempt to interrupt Silver Jubilee celebrations for Queen Elizabeth II by performing "God Save the Queen" from a boat on the River Thames. Police force the boat to dock and several arrests are made following a scuffle.

12 June – Guitarist Michael Schenker vanishes after a UFO concert at The Roundhouse in London. He is replaced for several months by Paul Chapman until he appears again to rejoin the group in October.

15 June – The Snape Maltings Training Orchestra makes its London debut at St John’s, Smith Square.

25 June – The Young Musicians’ Symphony Orchestra of London, conducted by James Blair, gives the belated première of William Walton’s 1962 composition Prelude for Orchestra.

6 July – During a Pink Floyd concert before a crowd of 80,000 at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, Bassist Roger Waters having become increasingly irritated by a fan until he exerts his frustration by spitting on him. The incident becomes the catalyst for the group’s next album, The Wall.

22 July – The first night of The Proms is broadcast by BBC Radio 3 for the first time in quadraphonic sound.

26 July – Led Zeppelin cancels the last seven dates of their American tour after lead singer Robert Plant learns that his six-year-old son Karac has died of a respiratory virus. The show two days before in Oakland proves to be the band’s last ever in the United States.

1 September – World première at the Royal Albert Hall in London of the expanded version of Luciano Berio’s Coro.

16 September – T.Rex frontman Marc Bolan is killed in an automobile accident.

27 October – The Sex Pistols release their controversial album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, which would be their only studio album.

Number-one singles

Wings – Mull Of Kintyre
Abba – Name Of The Game
Baccara – Yes Sir I Can Boogie
David Soul – Silver Lady
Elvis Presley – Way Down
The Floaters – Float On
Brotherhood Of Man – Angelo
Donna Summer – I Feel Love
Hot Chocolate – So You Win Again
The Jacksons – Show You The Way To Go
Kenny Rogers – Lucille
Rod Stewart – I Dont Want To Talk About It
Deniece Williams – Free
Abba – Knowing Me Knowing You
Abba – The Name of the Game
Manhattan Transfer – Chanson DAmour
Leo Sayer – When I Need You
Julie Covington – Dont Cry For Me Argentina
Johnny Mathis – When a Child is Born
David Soul – Dont Give Up On Us


Mike Yarwood’s 1977 Christmas Show tops the list of most-watched Christmas programmes.

27 March – Jesus of Nazareth, a British-Italian television miniseries dramatizing the birth, life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus based on the accounts in the four New Testament Gospels debuts on British television, starring Robert Powell as Jesus.

28 March – Yorkshire Television and Tyne Tees Television launch a nine-week breakfast television experiment. It is credited as being the United Kingdom’s first breakfast television programme, six years before the launch of TV-am and the BBC’s Breakfast Time. Both programmes run at the same time, with Tyne Tees, Good Morning North, and Yorkshire’s Good Morning Calendar. Both programmes finish on Friday 27 May.

22 April – The original series of motoring programme Top Gear begins as a local magazine format produced by BBC Midlands from its Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham, presented by Angela Rippon and Tom Coyne. In 1978 it is offered to BBC2 where it airs until 2001. In 2002 the series is relaunched in a new format.

7 May – The 22nd Eurovision Song Contest is held in London. With Angela Rippon as the presenter, the contest is won by Marie Myriam representing France, with her song "L’oiseau et l’enfant" ("The Bird and the Child").

6 June-9 June – Television viewers in Britain and around the world watch live coverage of the celebrations of the Silver Jubilee of Elizabeth II, while the soap opera Coronation Street features an elaborate Jubilee parade in the storyline, having Rovers’ Return Inn manageress Annie Walker dress up in elaborate costume as Queen Elizabeth I. Ken Barlow and "Uncle Albert" play Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing respectively.

20 June – Anglia Television broadcasts the fake documentary "Alternative 3". It enters into the conspiracy theory canon.

7 July – The first episode of the BBC documentary series Brass Tacks is aired, featuring a debate as to whether Myra Hindley should be considered for parole from the life sentence she received for her role in the Moors Murders in 1966.

7 September – The Krypton Factor makes its debut on ITV.

18 September – The occasional ITV bloopers programme It’ll be Alright on the Night is first aired.

1 October – Ian Trethowan succeeds Charles Curran as Director-General of the BBC.

26 November – Southern Television broadcast interruption: Just after 5.10pm in the Southern Television ITV region, a hoaxer hijacks the sound of Independent Television News from the IBA transmitter at Hannington, Hampshire, and broadcasts a message claiming to be Asteron of the Ashtar Galactic Command. Thousands of viewers ring STV, ITN or the police for an explanation; the identity of the intruder was never confirmed.

25 December – Both the Mike Yarwood Christmas Show and The Morecambe & Wise Christmas Show on BBC 1 attracts an audience of more than 28 million, one of the highest ever in U.K. television history.

Scum, an entry in BBC1’s Play for Today anthology strand, is pulled from transmission due to controversy over its depiction of life in a Young Offenders’ Institution (at this time known in the U.K. as a borstal). Two years later the director Alan Clarke makes a film version with most of the same cast, and the original play itself is eventually transmitted on Channel Four in 1991.

Colour television licenses exceed black and white licenses for the first time in the U.K.

First edition of BBC Top Gear


2 January – Wings (1977–1978)
15 February – Take Hart (1977–1983)
12 April – Citizen Smith (1977–1980)
7 July – Brass Tacks (1977–1988)
7 September – Secret Army (1977–1979)
17 October – Des O’Connor Tonight (1977–2002)


11 January – Robin’s Nest (1977–1981)
8 May – King of the Castle (1977)
18 May – A Bunch of Fives (1977–1978)
6 September – You’re Only Young Twice (1977–1981)
7 September – The Krypton Factor (1977–1995, 2009–2010)
18 September – It’ll Be Alright On The Night (1977–present)
30 December – The Professionals (1977–1983)