In Focus 1984

1984 (MCMLXXXIV) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1984th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 984th year of the 2nd millennium, the 84th year of the 20th century, and the 5th year of the 1980s decade.


Music in Focus


1984 was a year of several huge selling releases, including at the time the biggest selling single ever. Six singles this year sold over a million copies, the joint highest number ever along with 1998. Out of the top 10 biggest selling songs of the 1980s, six of them all peaked in 1984 including the entire top 4.

One of the biggest bands of the year was Frankie Goes to Hollywood, a five-piece from Liverpool fronted by Holly Johnson. Their debut single “Relax” was banned by the BBC for sexually suggestive content, and was number 1 for five weeks. Their second single “Two Tribes” referenced the ongoing cold war and featured a music video of lookalikes of American president Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Konstantin Chernenko violently fighting, and was number 1 for nine weeks in the summer, both songs selling over a million. In November they made chart history when their third single, “The Power of Love”, also made number 1. They were only the second band in chart history to have their first three releases all go to number 1, following Gerry & The Pacemakers twenty years earlier; however, it would be their last. Their album “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” also reached number 1.

Wham! had their first number 1 single this year after four earlier top 10 hits, the upbeat “Wake Me Up Before You Go Go”. This would soon be followed by their second, “Freedom” later in the year, and their second album Make It Big also reached the top. One of the members of the band, George Michael, also released a solo single this year, the ballad “Careless Whisper” co-written by his bandmate Andrew Ridgeley. It was number 1 for three weeks and sold over a million.

A big-selling singer who would go on to have many hits over the next two decades first appeared this year, American singer Madonna. Her debut hit “Holiday” reached number 6, and “Like a Virgin” charted three places higher at number 3. From the same country came Prince, who had his first two top 10 hits with “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain”. For both artists, 1985 would bring even more hits as would the rest of the decade.

After eighteen years, Stevie Wonder achieved his first solo number 1 single with “I Just Called to Say I Love You”, from the soundtrack of the film The Woman in Red, selling over a million. He had first charted at the age of 15 with “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)” in 1966, and had previously had a number 1 in 1982 with a duet with Paul McCartney, “Ebony and Ivory”. In 1985 his harmonica playing featured in Eurythmics‘ number 1 hit “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)”.

The Christmas number one single contained over 40 artists. “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, written by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, was made in response to ongoing famine in Ethiopia, so the supergroup Band Aid was formed to sing a charity record about it, all proceeds from the song going to the charity to raise money for help. Popular acts of the day such as Wham!, U2, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Boy George sung on the record.

Not only did the song become the Christmas number one, it sold over three million copies and became the biggest selling single of all time, a record that held for the next thirteen years. The song at number 2, Wham!’s Last Christmas, sold over a million (making it the highest selling song ever not to be number 1) and proceeds from that also went to the charity. Further Band Aid singles would be released in 1989 (Band Aid II) and 2004 (Band Aid 20), both also Christmas number ones.

9 January - first complete performance of Oliver Knussen's Where the Wild Things Are by Glyndebourne Touring Opera at the National Theatre, London.

11 January – BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read announces on air that he will not play the single "Relax" by Frankie Goes to Hollywood because of its suggestive lyrics. The BBC places a total ban on the record at about the same time.

21 January – "Relax" reaches number one in the UK singles chart, despite the BBC ban; it will spend a total of 42 weeks in the Top 40.

14 February – Elton John marries studio engineer Renate Blauel.

1 March – Sting plays his last concerts with The Police at the end of the Synchronicity tour; the band takes a "pause" after the tour and only play a few special events together after this, until 2007, when they would organize a reunion tour.

1 May – Mick Fleetwood files for bankruptcy in the United States.

5 August – Now 3 becomes the 300th album to reach number one on the UK Albums Chart.

23 October – A report on the Ethiopian famine by BBC journalist Michael Buerk is broadcast in the UK and receives an unprecedented public response. Among those watching is Bob Geldof, who is inspired to release a charity record to raise money to help with famine relief.

25 November – The Band Aid single "Do They Know It's Christmas?" is recorded at SARM Studios in Notting Hill, London, by a gathering of performers that includes Paul Young, Simon Le Bon, Bono, Phil Collins, Paul Weller, Sting, Boy George and Tony Hadley.

28 November – The Bring Me Sunshine charity concert at the London Palladium, in memory of Eric Morecambe, includes musical performances by Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Des O'Connor and Ernie Wise.

2 December – Frankie Goes to Hollywood become the first act to take their first three singles to the UK #1 position since Gerry & The Pacemakers in 1963, when "The Power of Love" tops the chart.

3 December – Bob Geldof and Band Aid release the single "Do They Know It's Christmas", which becomes the fastest-selling single of all time in the UK.

11 December - While on tour, Bucks Fizz's tour bus crashes. All members of the group are injured and member Mike Nolan suffers brain damage after falling into a coma.

13 December – George Harrison makes a rare public appearance, joining Deep Purple on stage in Sydney, Australia for their encore rendition of "Lucille".


Number 1 Singles in 1984


DateArtist/sTitleLabelWeeks At #1
14th JanuaryPaul McCartneyPipes Of PeaceParlophone2
28th JanuaryFrankie Goes To HollywoodRelaxZTT/ Island5
3rd MarchNena99 Red BalloonsEpic3
24th MarchLionel RichieHelloMotown6
5th MayDuran DuranThe ReflexEMI4
2nd JuneWham!Wake Me Up Before You Go GoEpic2
16th JuneFrankie Goes To HollywoodTwo TribesZTT/ Island9
18th AugustGeorge MichaelCareless WhisperEpic3
8th SeptemberStevie WonderI Just Called To Say I Love YouMotown6
20th OctoberWham!FreedomEpic3
10th NovemberChaka KhanI Feel For YouWarner Bros3
1st DecemberJim DiamondI Should Have Known BetterA&M1
8th DecemberFrankie Goes To HollywoodThe Power Of LoveZTT/ Island1
15th DecemberBand AidDo They Know It’s Christmas?Mercury/ Phonogram5


Best selling Singles of 1984


PositionArtist/sTitleHighest PositionWeeks At #1
1Band AidDo They Know It’s Christmas15
2Stevie WonderI Just Called To Say I Love You16
3Frankie Goes To HollywoodRelax15
4Frankie Goes To HollywoodTwo Tribes19
5George MichaelCareless Whisper13
6Wham!Last Christmas/ Everything She Wants2n/a
7Lionel RichieHello16
8Black LaceAgadoo2n/a
10Ray Parker JnrGhostbusters2n/a


Best Selling Albums of 1984


1Lionel RichieCan’t Slow Down
2Various ArtistsThe Hits Album 1
3Bob Marley & The WailersLegend
4Wham!Make It Big
5Various ArtistsNow That’s What I Call Music 3
6Michael JacksonThriller
7SadeDiamond Life
8Frankie Goes To HollywoodWelcome To The Pleasuredome
9Billy JoelAn Innocent Man
10Various ArtistsNow That’s What I Call Music 4


Movies in 1984



Television in 1984



  • 4 January – Pat Phoenix leaves Coronation Street for the second and final time as Elsie Tanner goes to live with old flame Bill Gregory in Portugal, having been in the show since its inception in 1960.
  • 7 January –
    • Fraggle Rock debuts on British television on ITV, nearly 1 year after airing on television in America. The series is a co-production by British television company Television South (TVS), CBC Television, U.S. pay television service HBO and Henson Associates.
    • Daytime Ceefax transmissions are renamed Pages from Ceefax following the decision by Radio Times to begin listing daytime Ceefax broadcasts.
  • 16 January – “The Satellite Channel” is renamed “Sky Channel”.
  • 30 January – The BBC’s Panorama documentary strand broadcasts “Maggie’s Militant Tendency” which claims links between several Conservative MPs and far-right organisations both in Britain and Europe. Two of the MPs named, Neil Hamilton and Gerald Howarth subsequently sue the BBC for slander. In 1986 after the BBC withdraws from the case and Hamilton is awarded £20,000 damages.


  • 14 February – An estimated 24 million viewers watch Torvill and Dean win Gold at the 1984 Winter Olympics skating to Ravel’s Boléro.


  • 10 March – British television debut of US teenage science fiction series Whiz Kids, aired as a Saturday feature by most ITV regions. Exceptions are Ulster which airs the series on Sundays and TVS which airs it at a later date.
  • 16 March – Peter Davison’s last serial as the Fifth Doctor in Doctor Who, ‘The Caves of Androzani’, finished; Colin Baker became the Sixth Doctor in the same episode.
  • 22 March –
    • Colin Baker makes his first full appearance as the Sixth Doctor in the Doctor Who serial “The Twin Dilemma”.
    • Horse racing is shown on Channel 4 for the first time.
  • 24 March – The Price Is Right makes its British television debut on ITV. The programme is produced for ITV by Central Television in association with Mark Goodson Productions and Talbot Television.


  • 15 April – Comedian and magician Tommy Cooper dies from a fatal heart attack on live television at the age of 63, during Live From Her Majesty’s.


  • 10 May–14 June – First run of the five-part BBC Schools French language adventure series La Marée et ses Secrets (The Tide and its Secrets), which is repeated each year until 1993.


  • 4 June – The hit animated series Danger Mouse is broadcast on children’s cable network Nickelodeon in the US. It also became the first British cartoon to air on that channel as well as becoming one of the earliest British cartoons to be in syndication in America.
  • 7 June – BBC1 airs the first edition of Crimewatch. The first case to be featured on the show is the murder of Colette Aram, which had occurred the previous year. A man is finally charged with the murder in 2009, and sentenced to life imprisonment in January 2010 after pleading guilty.
  • 23 June – ITV broadcasts the rock concert New Brighton Rock recorded at the event staged in the seaside resort of New Brighton, Merseyside over two days on 21 and 22 May.


  • 28–29 July – BBC2 hosts Jazz on a Summer’s Day, a weekend a programmes devoted to jazz music.
  • 28 July–12 August – BBC Television broadcasts the 1984 Summer Olympic Games. Due to the Games taking place in Los Angeles, the BBC stays on air into the night to provide live coverage of the major events.


  • 25–26 August – For the second time, BBC2 Rocks Around the Clock.
  • 27 August – Technicians at Thames Television walk out on strike over the use of new cameras and editing equipment along with overtime payments for transmission staff. The strike lasts for two weeks but the station is off the air for just one day over the August Bank Holiday weekend. Management and administration staff take over their roles, broadcasting a skeleton service.[


  • 1 September – The Children’s Channel original launched on satellite television.
  • 3 September – BBC1’s teatime news hour is relaunched and now runs from 6pm until 7pm. A new 30-minute long news programme the Six O’Clock News is launched and this is followed by a longer regional news magazine, which is expanded to 25 minutes.
  • 23 September – British single TV drama play Threads premiered on BBC2.


  • 5 October –
    • The very first television programme produced by Maddocks Cartoon Productions The Family-Ness begins on BBC1.
    • BBC2 broadcasts an Open University programme at teatime for the final time.
  • 8 October –
    • BBC2 launches a full afternoon service, consisting primarily of repeats of Dallas and old feature films.
    • The Australian soap Prisoner: Cell Block H makes its British television debut when Yorkshire Television becomes the first ITV region to begin airing the programme in a late night slot. It is followed by all other ITV regions over the following five years.
  • 9 October – The television series based on the children’s books by the Rev. Wilbert Awdry and narrated by Ringo Starr, Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is first broadcast on ITV, becoming one of the most successful children’s TV programmes of all time since Postman Pat on the BBC three years prior. The programme would move to one future station Cartoon Network in the mid 90s, before returning to terrestrial television in 2003 and moving to its new permanent future station Channel 5 three years later.
  • 15 October – Channel 4‘s output increases by 25%. The weekday schedules now begin at 2.30pm instead of 5:00pm, while weekend airtime starts at 1:00pm rather than 2:00pm.
  • 16 October – The Bill, a police TV drama, airs for the first time on ITV. It debuted last year as a pilot show Wooden Top. When the last episode is shown in 2010 it will be the longest-running police procedural in British television history.
  • 19 October – Yorkshire Television broadcasts a special documentary on the birth of Prince Harry.
  • 23 October – BBC News newsreader Michael Buerk gives a powerful commentary of the famine in Ethiopia which has already claimed thousands of lives and reportedly has the potential to kill as many as 7 million people.


  • 3 November – Following the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on 31 October, coverage of her funeral is televised by the BBC and ITV.
  • 21 November – Debut of Alan Seymour’s dramatisation of the John Masefield fantasy adventure novel The Box of Delights. The six part series concludes on Christmas Eve.


1 December – The Cable Authority comes into existence and on 1 January 1985 it takes on the functions granted to it by the Cable and Broadcasting Act 1984, paving the way for fully commercial cable franchise to be awarded on a city-by-city basis.

26 December – Joan Hickson makes her debut as Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple in BBC1’s eponymous television series, with the first part of a three-part adaptation of The Body in the Library. Part two airs on 27 December, and Part three on 28 December.

30 December – BBC1 airs the British television premiere of Kramer vs. Kramer, the Oscar-winning 1979 legal drama starring Dustin Hoffman and Meryl Streep.

Memories of “In Focus 1984” in The 80s

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