In Focus 1985

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1985 (MCMLXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1985th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 985th year of the 2nd millennium, the 85th year of the 20th century, and the 6th year of the 1980s decade. The year 1985 was designated as the International Youth Year by the United Nations.

Music in Focus

The biggest British musical event of 1985 was the Live Aid concert in London’s Wembley Stadium on 13 July. Held to follow up the previous year’s charity record “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, the biggest-selling single ever at the time, popular acts such as The Who, U2 and Queen performed in front of an estimated audience of 1.9 billion viewers. It raised £150 million to help famine in Ethiopia, and a similar event would happen 20 years later in 2005, with Live 8.

After the huge success of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”, several more charity songs reached number 1 this year. USA for Africa, inspired by Band Aid, released “We Are the World”, a song written by Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie, while David Bowie and Mick Jagger released a cover of “Dancing In The Street”, the music video being premiered at Live Aid and all proceeds going to the charity. In May, a fire at a football stadium in Bradford killed 56 people, and supergroup The Crowd released a charity cover of popular football anthem “You’ll Never Walk Alone” in tribute.

British rock band Dire Straits released their album Brothers in Arms in May, one of the first ever albums to be released on compact disc and the format’s first million-seller.[1] It went on to become the UK’s best-selling album of the entire decade and remains one of the top ten best-selling albums of all time in the UK. Four singles were released from the album, including the UK number 4 hit and US number 1 “Money for Nothing”, which referenced American music channel MTV and had a groundbreaking video featuring early computer-generated imagery. When a European version of MTV launched in 1987, it was the first video ever played on the channel.

Jennifer Rush entered the top 75 in June with the power ballad “The Power of Love”, which remained in the chart for months without entering the top 40. When it finally did in September, it quickly hit number 1, where it remained for five weeks and was the biggest selling single of the year. It sold over a million copies, however it would be the last single of the decade to do so, and there would not be another million-seller until 1991.

Many songs this year competed for the Christmas number one single, and the entire top 3 from 1984 re-entered the chart this year; Paul McCartney’s “We All Stand Together” at number 32, Wham!’s “Last Christmas” at number 6, and Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” at number 3. There were also attempts from Bruce Springsteen with a cover of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”, and ventriloquist Keith Harris released a cover of “White Christmas” with his green puppet Orville the Duck.

However, the Christmas number one went to Shakin’ Stevens with the song “Merry Christmas Everyone”. It had been intended to be released in 1984, but was kept back a year due to the Band Aid charity single. Still a widely known Christmas song in the 21st century, it re-entered the chart in Christmas 2007 on downloads alone, at number 22.

John Rutter, hitherto best known for his popular modern carols, acknowledged his classical roots with his Requiem, which was premièred in October in Sacramento, California. Less than eight months earlier, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Requiem had its première in New York. Paul Miles-Kingston, the boy soprano who won a silver disc for his recording of the “Pie Jesu” from that work, became Head Chorister of Winchester Cathedral in the same year. The prolific Peter Maxwell Davies (who had moved to Orkney in 1971) produced one of his most popular works, An Orkney Wedding, with Sunrise, notable for featuring the bagpipes as a lead instrument. Veteran Welsh composer Daniel Jones, produced his 12th symphony, at the age of 73, whilst 80-year-old Michael Tippett began work on his last opera, New Year.

Number 1 Singles in 1985

DateArtist/sTitleLabelWeeks At #1
19th JanuaryForeignerI Want To Know What Love IsAtlantic3
9th FebruaryElaine Paige & Barbara DicksonI Know Him So WellRCA4
9th MarchDead Or AliveYou Spin Me Round (Like A Record)Epic4
23rd MarchPhilip Bailey & Phil CollinsEasy LoverCBS/ Virgin4
20th AprilUSA For AfricaWe Are The WorldCBS2
4th MayPhiyllis NelsonMove CloserCarrere1
11th MayPaul Hardcastle19Chrysalis5
15th JuneThe CrowdYou’ll Never Walk AloneSpartan2
29th JuneSister SledgeFrankieAtlantic4
27th JulyEurythmicsThere Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)RCA1
3rd AugustMadonnaInto The GrooveSire4
31st AugustUB40 With Chrissie HyndeI Got You BabeDep Int’l1
7th SeptemberDavid Bowie & Mick JaggerDancing In The StreetEMI America5
5th OctoberMidge UreIf I WasChrysalis1
12th OctoberJennifer RushThe Power Of LoveCBS5
16th NovemberFeargal SharkeyA Good HeartVirgin2
30th NovemberWham!I’m Your ManEpic2
14th DecemberWhitney HoustonSaving All My Love For YouArista2
28th DecemberShakin’ StevensMerry Christmas EveryoneEpic2

Best selling Singles of 1985

PositionArtist/sTitleHighest PositionWeeks At #1
1Jennifer RushThe Power Of Love15
2Elaine Paige & Barbara DicksonI Know Him So Well14
3MadonnaInto The Groove14
4Paul Hardcastle1915
5Sister SledgeFrankie14
6David Bowie & Mick JaggerDancing In The Street14
7Phylis NelsonMove Closer11
8A-HaTake On Me2n/a
9Feargal SharkeyA Good Heart11
10ForeignerI Want To Know What Love Is13

Best selling Albums of 1985

PositionArtist/sTitle
1Dire StraitsBrothers In Arms
2Phil CollinsNo Jacket Required
3MadonnaLike A Virgin
4Bruce SpringsteenBorn In The USA
5Tears For FearsSongs From The Big Chair
6Various ArtistsNow That’s What I Call Music 6
7Various ArtistsNow The Christmas Album
8Various ArtistsNow That’s What I Call Music 5
9Paul YoungSecret Of Association
10Various ArtistsThe Hits Album 2

Movies in 1985

Television in 1985

January

  • 1 January –
  • 2 January – Channel 4 begins airing the acclaimed series A Woman of Substance, a miniseries based on the novel of the same name by Barbara Taylor Bradford. The series airs over three consecutive nights.
  • 3–6 January – The UK’s last VHF 405-line television transmitters close down.
  • 4 January – Channel 4 achieves its highest ever audience as 13.8 million viewers tune in for the final part of the mini-series A Woman of Substance.
  • 7 January – The BBC ends its experiment with afternoon broadcasting and from this date afternoon Pages from Ceefax is shown on BBC1 between the end of lunchtime programmes and the start of children’s programmes and on BBC2 Ceefax pages are shown continuously between 9am and 5.25pm apart from when Daytime on Two is in season and when sporting events are being shown.
  • 11 January – BBC2 debuts Victoria Wood as Seen on TV.
  • 18 January – Debut of The Practice, a twice-weekly medical drama intended to become Granada‘s second soap produced for the ITV network. But viewing figures are not as healthy as had been hoped, and the series first run ends in May. It returns for a second series in 1986 before being axed.
  • 20 January – American television sitcom The Cosby Show is broadcast in the United Kingdom for the first time.
  • 23 January – A debate in the House of Lords is televised for the first time.
  • January – Thames Television makes a deal with international distributors for US production company Lorimar to purchase the UK broadcasting rights for US drama Dallas, thus taking it from the BBC and breaking a gentlemen’s agreement between the BBC and ITV not to poach each other’s imported shows. Thames have paid £55,000 per episode compared to the £29,000 paid by the BBC. The deal is condemned by both the BBC and other ITV companies, who fear the BBC will poach their imports in retaliation, and push up prices. In response to the Thames deal, the BBC plan to delay transmission of the episodes they already have so that they will clash with the episodes being shown by Thames. Ultimately, however, pressure from several ITV companies (especially Yorkshire Television) to the Independent Broadcasting Authority forces Thames to sell the series back to the BBC at a loss. The controversy leads to the resignation of Thames managing director Bryan Cowgill, who feels the board have not supported him; he leaves the company in July.[

February

  • 4 February – US detective drama Miami Vice makes its British television debut on BBC1, with the feature-length episode “Brother’s Keeper“.
  • 12 February – Debut of Television, a thirteen part Granada documentary series narrated by Ian Holm that explores the history of television.
  • 18 February – BBC1 undergoes a major relaunch. At 5.35 p.m., the legendary mechanical “mirror globe” ident, in use in varying forms since 1969, is seen for the last time in regular rotation on national BBC1. Its replacement, the COW (Computer Originated World, a computer generated globe) debuts at 7pm. On the same day, computer-generated graphics replace magnetic weather maps on all BBC forecasts, and Terry Wogan‘s eponymous talk show is relaunched as a thrice-weekly live primetime programme. EastEnders launches the following day.
  • 19 February – EastEnders, the BBC1 soap opera, goes on air.[

March

  • 17 March – BBC2 begins a two-part presentation of The Executioner’s Song, a film about the life of killer Gary Gilmore, who demanded the implementation of his death sentence for two murders he committed in Utah. The second part of the film is shown on 24 March.
  • 19 March – BBC1 begins showing The Day the Universe Changed, a ten-part series in which science historian James Burke looks at how advances in science and technology have shaped western society over the last five centuries.
  • 29 March – Play School is shown in the afternoon for the final time.
  • 30 March – Doctor Who goes on an unexpected hiatus following the broadcast of part 2 of Revelation of the Daleks due to a dispute between the show’s staff and BBC controller Michael Grade, a notorious detractor of the show; Doctor Who would resume airing the following year.
  • 31 March – BBC1 begins airing a season of films directed by Francis Ford Coppola, beginning with the Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now, a film inspired by the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness. This is the first showing of Apocalypse Now on British television.[

April

May

June

  • 5 June – The first episode of Bulman airs.

July

August

  • August – After a series of high-profile football hooliganism and a dispute between the Football League and the broadcasters over revenue, televised league football is missing from British screens until the second half of the season. The Charity Shield and international games are the only matches screened.
  • 1 August – The nuclear war docudrama Threads is repeated on BBC2 as part of the After the Bomb series.[
  • 13 August – ITV airs the US intergalactic whodunit Murder in Space. The film is shown without the ending, and a competition held for viewers to identify the murderer(s). The film’s concluding 30 minutes are shown a few weeks later, with a studio of contestants eliminated one by one until the winner correctly solves the mystery. There is a prize of £10,000.
  • 30 August –
    • Debut of Granada’s ill-fated “continuing drama series”, Albion Market. The series – set in a market in Salford and intended as a companion for Coronation Street – is panned by critics and suffers from poor ratings. It is axed a year later.
    • The weekday lunchtime Financial Report, broadcast on BBC1 in London and the south east, is broadcast for the final time ahead of the launch of a lunchtime regional news bulletin for viewers in the BBC South East region.

September

  • 1 September – Debut of the drama series Howards’ Way on BBC1.
  • 2 September – A regional news bulletin is broadcast after the Nine O’Clock News for the first time.
  • 3 September – BBC1’s EastEnders moves from 7.00pm to 7.30pm to avoid clashing with ITV’s Emmerdale Farm, which airs in the 7.00pm timeslot on Tuesdays and Thursdays in many ITV regions.
  • 7 September – The American sci-fi adventure series Otherworld makes its British television debut in the HTV region. The series is aired by the Anglia, Border, Central, Grampian and Granada regions from 2 November 1985, with most other companies starting to screen it in 1986 (the exception being Thames/LWT which never aired it).
  • 9 September – Children’s BBC premieres on BBC1.[
  • 10 September – ITV airs the Wales vs Scotland World Cup qualifier from Cardiff‘s Ninian Park. The match – played against the backdrop of escalating football hooliganism – is notable for the death of Scotland manager Jock Stein, who collapsed shortly before Scotland secured their place in the 1986 FIFA World Cup.
  • 15 September – ITV airs Murder in Space: The Solution, in which the puzzle of the sci-fi murder mystery is finally solved.
  • 28 September – After 20 years ITV‘s Saturday afternoon sports programme World of Sport is aired for the last time.

October

  • 2 October – The Times reports that Thames Television have paid the BBC £300,000 in compensation to make up for the additional costs it paid for new episodes of Dallas.
  • 3 October – Roland Rat, the puppet rodent who saved an ailing TV-am in 1983 transfers to the BBC. Commenting on the move, he says, “I saved TV-am and now I’m here to save the BBC.”
  • 5 October – The first weekend horse racing is shown on Channel 4.
  • 28 October – A documentary in ITV’s World in Action series casts doubt on evidence used to convict the Birmingham Six of the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings.[

November

  • 11 November – The 1,000th episode of Emmerdale Farm, which airs the following day, is celebrated with a special lunch attended by Princess Michael of Kent. Not recognising any of the cast members she later admits that she never watches the show.
  • 14 November – A special edition of Tomorrow’s World examines how effective the proposed Strategic Defense Initiative (Star Wars) might be at destroying any nuclear weapons launched at the United States.[

December

6 December – BBC1 airs John Lennon: A Journey in the Life, an Everyman special marking the fifth anniversary of the murder of John Lennon. The programme includes archive footage of Lennon, dramatisations of parts of his life, and contributions from some of his friends. 9 December – 25th anniversary of the first episode of Coronation Street.25 December –

26 December –

31 December – New Year’s Eve highlights on BBC1 include Gone with the Wind, The Magnificent Seven, and a version of Terence Ratigan‘s The Browning Version with Ian Holm, while Terry Wogan welcomes in 1986 from BBC Television Centre.


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