In Focus 1988

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1988 (MCMLXXXVIII) was a leap year starting on Friday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1988th year of the Common Era (CE) and Anno Domini (AD) designations, the 988th year of the 2nd millennium, the 88th year of the 20th century, and the 9th year of the 1980s decade.

In the 20th century, the year 1988 has the most Roman numeral digits (11).

1988 was a crucial year in the early history of the Internet—it was the year of the first well-known computer virus, the 1988 Internet worm. The first permanent intercontinental Internet link was made between the United States (NSFNET) and Europe (Nordunet) as well as the first Internet-based chat protocol, Internet Relay Chat.[1] The concept of the World Wide Web was first discussed at CERN in 1988.[2]

The Soviet Union began its major restructuring towards a mixed economy at the beginning of 1988 and began its gradual dissolution. The Iron Curtain began to disintegrate in 1988 as Hungary began allowing freer travel to the West.[3] The first extrasolar planet, Gamma Cephei Ab (confirmed in 2002) was detected this year and the World Health Organization began its mission to eradicate polio.

Music in Focus

The growing popularity of house music was evident in the charts by the start of 1988, with many songs of this genre becoming big hits, such as “House Arrest” by Krush, “Beat Dis” by Bomb the Bass and “Rok Da House” by The Beatmasters.[1] Acid house band S’Express had two Top 10 hits this year including a number 1 in April with the song “Theme from S’Express”, but the biggest dance hit of the year came from London singer Yazz, who had first had a big hit with producers Coldcut on the song “Doctorin’ The House”.[2] Still with Coldcut, but now with her name billed as the lead artist, her song “The Only Way Is Up” topped the chart for five weeks, becoming the second biggest-selling single of the year, and paved the way for a successful solo career, including the follow-up “Stand Up For Your Love Rights” which hit No.2 in October.

One of the biggest successes of the year was 19-year-old Kylie Minogue, well known to the public from her role in the Australian soap opera Neighbours which had been airing on the BBC since 1986.[3] The popularity of “girl next door” Minogue and her on-screen character Charlene Mitchell ensured chart success. Signed to the production trio Stock Aitken Waterman, her debut international song “I Should Be So Lucky” was number 1 for five weeks, and all of her other solo releases this year – “Got to Be Certain”, “The Loco-Motion” and “Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi” – reached number 2. Her album Kylie was also number 1 for six weeks, the biggest-selling album of the year and the fifth best-selling album of the entire decade. All Kylie’s hits were produced by Stock Aitken Waterman who continued to score hit after hit this year. The production powerhouse also scored Top 10s with Mel and Kim (“That’s The Way It Is”, No.10, February) Sinitta (“Cross My Broken Heart”, No.6, March), Rick Astley (“Together Forever”, No.2, March and “Take Me to Your Heart”, No.8, November), Bananarama (“I Want You Back”, No.5, April), Hazell Dean (“Who’s Leaving Who”, No.4, April), Brother Beyond (“The Harder I Try”, No.2, August and “He Ain’t No Competition”, No.6, November). In September, another star from Neighbours – Minogue’s co-star Jason Donovan – debuted with his Stock Aitken Waterman-produced hit “Nothing Can Divide Us” which reached number 5 and he would go on to outsell even Kylie the following year.

Popular teenage acts other than Minogue to emerge this year included the American singer Tiffany who scored three Top 10 hits including the No.1 “I Think We’re Alone Now” while fellow American teenage star Debbie Gibson also crossed over to the British Charts and had four Top 20 hits. Gibson’s biggest hit was the 1980s-compilation staple “Shake Your Love” which reached number 7 in January. Meanwhile, from Italy came Sabrina whose infamous appearances in skimpy swimsuits became tabloid-fodder throughout the year as her pan-European smash hit “Boys (Summertime Love)” hit number 3 in June and the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced follow-up “All of Me” peaked at number 25 three months later.[4]

New British boyband Bros took five singles into the Top 5 this year including “When Will I Be Famous?” and their only number 1 “I Owe You Nothing”, a re-issue of their first single originally released in 1987. Wet Wet Wet scored the first number 1 of their long run of hits with a cover of “With A Little Help From My Friends” which held the top position for 3 weeks.

Also making her chart debut this year was nineteen-year-old Tanita Tikaram, who launched her career with the critically acclaimed album Ancient Heart, containing the Top 10 hit “Good Tradition” and the intriguing “Twist In My Sobriety” which peaked at number 22 in October.[5] Eddi Reader also rose to prominence during 1988 as the lead-singer of Fairground Attraction. The band made number 1 with the song “Perfect” and followed it up with another Top 10 hit, “Find My Love” and number 2 album The First of a Million Kisses.

Making chart comebacks after long-absences were Cher, re-launching her music career with “I Found Someone”, a number 5 hit written and produced by Michael Bolton. Belinda Carlisle revived her career this year with three Top 10s including the number 1 “Heaven is a Place on Earth” while Kim Wilde scored a career-best three successive Top 10s with “You Came” (No.3), “Never Trust a Stranger (No.7) and “Four Letter Word” (No.6). Pop duo Dollar scored their ninth and final Top 20 hit with comeback hit “Oh L’amour”, a SAW-produced cover of an early Erasure single, which made number 7 in April, and also making a chart comeback was the song “A Groovy Kind Of Love”, originally a hit in 1965 for The Mindbenders, it hit number 1 in September for Phil Collins, taken from the film Buster in which Collins also starred.

Some of the more unusual hits of the year included a remix of the theme tune from the popular television series Doctor Who, by “The Timelords”, who would go on to have huge success in the early 1990s under the name The KLF. Their song “Doctorin’ The TARDIS” (a play on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ The House”) was number 1 for a week in June. A television advertisement for Miller Lite beer used the 1969 song “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by The Hollies, which became a number 1 in September 19 years after its original release, and an advert for Coca-Cola gave Robin Beck a number 1 with the ballad “First Time”. Film and Television actress Patsy Kensit, a teenager in 1988, also reached the Top 10 this year in the band Eighth Wonder. Their Pet Shop Boys-produced UK debut “I’m Not Scared” slowly climbed up the Top 40 and peaked at number 7 in May. The band were more popular in Italy and Japan where they scored several number 1 hits.

The race for Christmas number one was a battle between Cliff Richard, with a career stretching back to the 1950s and his seasonal song “Mistletoe and Wine”, and new star Kylie Minogue with “Especially for You”, a duet with her Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan released to coincide with their characters’ on-screen wedding. Cliff won the battle with the biggest-selling song of the year, but “Especially for You” climbed to number 1 in the new year of 1989, eventually selling just short of 1 million copies.

New classical works by British composers included oboe and trumpet concertos from Peter Maxwell Davies and Michael Finnissy’s Red Earth for orchestra. Devotional works included Nicholas Jackson’s Variations on ‘Praise to the Lord, the Almighty’ and John Tavener’s The Akathist of Thanksgiving. Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin made his Proms debut during the 1988 season, whilst Sir Andrew Davis gave up his role as conductor of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra to become director of Glyndebourne.[

10 March – Andy Gibb dies 5 days after his 30th birthday at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle caused by a recent viral infection and exacerbated by his years of cocaine abuse.[7]
30 April – The Eurovision Song Contest, held in the RDS Simmonscourt Pavilion, Dublin, is won by Celine Dion, representing Switzerland. The UK entry, “Go”, sung by Scott Fitzgerald, finishes in second place after leading for most of the judging

Number 1 Singles in 1988

DateArtist/sTitleLabelWeeks At #1
16th JanuaryBelinda CarlisleHeaven Is A Place On EarthVirgin2
30th JanuaryTiffanyI Think We’re Alone NowMCA3
20th FebruaryKylie MinogueI Should Be So LuckyPWL5
26th MarchAswadDon’t Turn AroundMango2
9th AprilPet Shop BoysHeartParlophone`3
30th AprilS ExpressTheme From S ExpressRhythm King2
14th MayFairground AttractionPerfectRCA1
21st MayWet Wet WetWith A Little Help From My FriendsChildline4
18th JuneTimelordsDoctorin’ The TardisKLF1
25th JuneBrosI Owe You NothingCBS2
9th JulyGlenn MedeirosNothings Gonna Change My Love For YouLondon4
6th AugustYazz & The Plastic PopulationThe Only Way Is UpBig Life5
10th SeptemberPhil CollinsA Groovy Kind Of LoveVirgin2
24th SeptemberHolliesHe Aint Heavy He’s My BrotherEMI2
8th OctoberU2DesireIsland1
15th OctoberWhitney HoustonOne Moment In TimeArista2
29th OctoberEnyaOrinoco FlowWEA3
19th NovemberRobin BeckFirst TimeMercury3
10th DecemberCliff RichardMistletoe & WineEMI4

Best selling Singles of 1988

PositionArtist/sTitleHighest PositionWeeks At #1
1Cliff RichardMistletoe & Wine14
2Yazz & The Plastic PopulationThe Only Way Is Up15
3Kylie MinogueI Should Be So Lucky15
4Kylie Minogue & Jason DonovanEspecially For You2n/a
5TiffanyI Think We’re Alone Now13
6Glenn MedeirosNothings Gonna Change My Love For You14
7Phil CollinsA Groovy Kind Of Love12
8Wet Wet WetWith A Little Help From My Friends14
9The HolliesHe Aint Heavy, He’s My Brother12
10Womack & WomackTeardrops3n/a

Best selling Albums of 1988

PositionArtist/sTitle
1Kylie MinogueKylie
2Cliff RichardPrivate Collection
3Michael JacksonBad
4BrosPush
5Various ArtistsNow That’s What I Call Music 13
6Wet Wet WetPopped In Souled Out
7Fleetwood MacTango In The Night
8U2Rattle And Hum
9Tracy ChapmanTracy Chapman
10Terence Trent D’ArbyIntroducing The Hardline According To?

Movies of 1988

Television of 1988

January

  • 1 January –
    • New Year’s Day highlights on BBC1 include the first network television showing of Roger Donaldson‘s historical drama, The Bounty.
    • BBC2 airs a five-hour Whistle Test special to welcome in 1988. The special, aired from 9.35pm on New Year’s Eve to 2.55am on New Year’s Day, takes a look back through the archives in what is the programme’s final outing. It will be three decades later in 2018 before a new edition of the programme is broadcast.
  • 4 January – BBC1 moves the repeat episode of Neighbours to a 5:35pm evening slot, the decision to do this having been made by controller Michael Grade on the advice of his daughter.
  • 5 January – Actor Rowan Atkinson launches the new Comic Relief charity appeal.
  • 6 January – All ITV regions network Emmerdale Farm in the Wednesday and Thursday 6.30pm slot.
  • 11 January – The first episode of the game show Fifteen to One airs on Channel 4. The show’s first winner is Gareth McMullan, a teacher from Northern Ireland.
  • 25–29 January – TV-am airs a week of live broadcasts from Sydney to celebrate Australia’s bicentenary.
  • 30 January – British television premiere of the James Bond film Octopussy on ITV.

February

  • 5 February – The inaugural Red Nose Day sees Comic Relief air its first A Night of Comic Relief fundraiser on BBC1.
  • 10 February – Debut on BBC1 of Moondial, a six part series adapted from the novel by Helen Cresswell. The series is repeated by BBC1 in 1990.
  • 13–28 February – The 1988 Winter Olympics are held in Calgary, Alberta and broadcast to television audiences around the world.
  • 15 February –
    • An early morning 60-minute news programme – ITN Early Morning News – is launched but is only available in areas which have 24-hour broadcasting. The first 30 minutes of the programme included a full broadcast of ITN’s international news bulletin ITN World News. In addition, brief news summaries are broadcast at various points through the night. The launch coincides with three of the major ITV companies – Scottish, Central and Granada – beginning 24-hour transmission.
    • Red Dwarf makes its debut on BBC2.
  • 20 February –
  • February – Channel 4 starts broadcasting into the early hours, closing down between 2 am and 3 am. Previously Channel 4 had closed down at just after midnight.

March

  • 7 March – ITV’s lunchtime news programme returns to the 1 pm timeslot.
  • 19 March – Two off-duty British soldiers are killed after stumbling into an IRA funeral procession in Belfast. Footage of the incident is captured by journalists and widely broadcast.
  • 22 March – Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tells the House of Commons that journalists have a “bounden duty” to assist the police investigation into the corporals killings by handing over their footage. Many have refused to do so fearing it could place them in danger.
  • 23 March – Film of the corporals killings is seized from the BBC and ITN under the Prevention of Terrorism and Emergency Provisions Acts.
  • 25 March – BBC2 shows Two of Us, a gay-themed television film. It was produced as part of the BBC Schools SCENE series, and intended for young adults. It confronted the Thatcherite government’s attempt to ban gay sex education in schools via the controversial (and since repealed) section 28 legislation. Given this backdrop, the BBC opted not to show it during the day and it was screened late at night on this day, even though it was originally created for a school audience. In 1990 the play was finally shown during the day, when it was broadcast in a lunchtime slot.

April

May

  • 9 May – The youth strand DEF II is launched on BBC2.
  • 19 May – Anita Dobson makes her last appearance in EastEnders, when her character, Angie Watts departs for a new life in Spain.
  • 23 May – Three gay rights activists invade the BBC studios during a Six O’Clock bulletin of the BBC News to protest about the introduction of Section 28, a law preventing schools from teaching their students about homosexuality. Protesters can be heard chanting as Sue Lawley continues to read the news, prompting the presenter to comment “we have been rather invaded by some people who we hope to be removing very shortly”.
  • 29–30 May – ITV stages the first Telethon, a 27-hour nationwide fundraising effort involving participation and input from all of the regional broadcasters around the country. Its aim is to raise money for disability charities across the United Kingdom.
  • 30 May – Yorkshire Television resumes 24-hour broadcasting.
  • 31 May –

June

July

  • 1 July – Australian series The Flying Doctors makes its British television debut on BBC 1. Initially aired on Fridays at 8.10pm, from 20 August, it is moved to a Saturday early evening slot.
  • 17 July – After 1,576 episodes, Farming is broadcast on BBC1 for the final time. It is replaced the following week by Countryfile whose brief was to look at issues reflecting all aspects of the countryside rather than just focussing on farming.
  • 19 July – The Bill broadcasts the first episode of its fourth season and switches to a year-round serial format.
  • 26 July – Anna Wing makes her final appearance as EastEnders matriarch Lou Beale, dispensing words of wisdom and advice to her family before retiring to her bedroom to slip away. Her final words in the soap are: “That’s you lot sorted. I can go now.” The character has died by the following episode, and at her funeral, her on-screen son Pete (played by Peter Dean) proposes a toast to that “bloody old bag”. Wing herself died, aged 98, in 2013.

August

  • 3 August – Brookside is moved from Tuesdays to Wednesdays which means the soap can now be seen on Mondays and Wednesdays.
  • 5 August – The eight part New Zealand thriller Steel Riders debuts on BBC1.
  • 10 August – Debut of Crimewatch File, a BBC1 documentary series in which detectives tell the inside stories of some of the UK’s major criminal investigations during which police appealed to viewers of the BBC’s Crimewatch for help.
  • 22 August – HTV begins 24-hour broadcasting.
  • 31 August – ITV airs a version of The Hound of the Baskervilles starring Jeremy Brett and Edward Hardwicke.

September

  • 1 September – To celebrate BBC Radio 1‘s FM “switch on day”, BBC1’s Top of the Pops is simulcast with Radio 1 for the first time, allowing listeners to hear the programme in stereo. This edition is presented by Steve Wright and Mark Goodier. Top of the Pops is then simulcast weekly with Radio 1 until August 1991.
  • 2 September – TSW, Grampian and Border begin 24-hour broadcasting.
  • 6 September – ITV premieres a new animated series on Children’s ITV Count Duckula (a sequel to the popular children’s animated TV series Danger Mouse) featuring the voice of David Jason.
  • 7 September – Repeat showing of Paul Hamann’s death row documentary Fourteen Days in May, telling the story of the final days of Edward Earl Johnson as he awaits execution on Mississippi’s death row. The film is followed on 14 September by The Journey, in which lawyer Clive Stafford Smith returns to Mississippi in an attempt to posthumously clear Johnson of the crimes to which he always professed his innocence.
  • 8 September – Channel 4 drops plans to invite Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to appear on an edition of its late night discussion programme After Dark following objections from other contributors.
  • 9 September – Casualty returns to BBC1 for a third series, moving from its previous Saturday evening slot to Friday evenings.
  • 12 September – Debut of Stoppit and Tidyup, a 13-part series narrated by Terry Wogan, and partly funded by the Tidy Britain Group charity.
  • 13 September – A brand new children’s cartoon series PC Pinkerton gets its debut on BBC1.[44] The series was produced by Trevor Bond who has also worked on the original Mr. Men series and Bananaman with veteran animation producer Terry Ward and featured the voice of Ian Lavender best known for the playing the role of Private Pike in the hit sitcom Dad’s Army.
  • 14 September – Debut of the eight-part Australian series The True Story of Spit MacPhee on BBC1. The series concludes on 2 November.
  • 17 September–2 October – The 1988 Summer Olympics are held in Seoul, South Korea and broadcast to television audiences around the world. BBC Television provides live coverage, as does ITV, in conjunction with Channel 4. This was to be the final time that ITV broadcast the Olympic Games, and Channel 4’s only broadcast of the Olympics. ITV shows daytime coverage while Channel 4 airs the overnight and breakfast coverage.
  • 18 September – Debut of the BBC political discussion programme On the Record, presented by Jonathan Dimbleby.
  • 20 September – Death, at the age of 54, of actor Roy Kinnear, who the previous day had fallen from a horse during the making of The Return of the Musketeers in Toledo, Spain. He sustained a broken pelvis and internal bleeding, and was taken to hospital in Madrid, where he died from a heart attack, brought on by his injuries.
  • 30 September – Television presenters Mike Smith and Sarah Greene are seriously injured in a helicopter crash in Gloucestershire.

October

  • 3 October –
  • 5 October – ITV begins airing the Australian soap Richmond Hill in a 2.00pm slot on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the first time the channel has networked an Australian soap. However, some regions (including Central and Granada) opt out of networking the series when it is cancelled by Australia’s Channel Ten in 1989.
  • 19 October – Home Secretary Douglas Hurd issues a notice under clause 13(4) of the BBC Licence and Agreement to the BBC and under section 29(3) of the Broadcasting Act 1981 to the Independent Broadcasting Authority prohibiting the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and military organisations. The ban lasts until 1994, and denies the UK news media the right to broadcast the voices, though not the words, of all Irish republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. The restrictions – targeted primarily at Sinn Féin – means that actors are used to speak the words of any representative interviewed for radio and television.
  • 20 October – Debut of children’s 13 episode stop motion animated series Charlie Chalk produced by Woodland Animations the company behind Postman Pat on BBC1 featuring the voices of Barbara Leigh-Hunt and the late Michael Williams and John Wells. The last three episodes will air the next year.
  • 23 October – Final broadcast of Channel 4’s groundbreaking youth music and current affairs programme Network 7.
  • 25 October – As the 25th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy approaches ITV airs the two-part documentary The Men Who Killed Kennedy, a film which explores discrepancies and inconsistencies in the US Government’s official version of events.
  • 30 October –
    • Following the signing of a new four-year deal to show exclusive live coverage of top flight English football, ITV begins showing a live game every Sunday afternoon.
    • First Born, a three-part adaptation of Maureen Duffy‘s novel Gor Saga, debuts on BBC1.

November

  • 2 November –
    • In the House of Commons, an amendment introduced by the opposition Labour Party condemning the government’s decision over the broadcasting ban as “incompatible with a free society” is rejected, despite some Conservative MPs voting with Labour.
    • Evacuation, an episode of ITV’s The Bill features one of the series early prominent events – an explosion at Sun Hill police station.
  • 8 November – BBC1 airs Episode 523 of Neighbours, featuring the wedding of Scott Robinson and Charlene Mitchell (played by Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue), which is watched by 20 million viewers.
  • 13 November–18 December – The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, is aired as a six-part TV serial by the BBC, featuring actors including Ronald Pickup, Barbara Kellerman and Michael Aldridge.
  • 15 November – Premiere of an educational documentary series called Secret Life of Machines on Channel 4. It is hosted by inventor and roboteer Rex Garrod and engineer, cartoonist, artist and writer Tim Hunkin who is also the creator of the series.
  • 21 November – The Welsh children’s favourite Fireman Sam is played in Singapore for the first time with the series being shown on MediaCorp Channel 5.
  • 23 November – The BBC science fiction series Doctor Who celebrates its 25th anniversary and begins the three-part serial Silver Nemesis.
  • 24 November – Frank Ruse, a left-wing Labour councillor for Liverpool City Council accompanies Liverpool’s Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra to London for an appearance on Blue Peter. He is given a Blue Peter badge, but later receives a BBC headed letter requesting its return. The letter (later discovered to be a forgery) claims the programme had been approached by the office of Labour leader Neil Kinnock expressing concern that a councillor with hard-left views had been given a Blue Peter badge. Upon receiving the returned badge, the BBC writes back to Ruse stating that it had not sent the letter. The incident prompts Ruse to start an enquiry to find out who sent the hoax letter.

December

1 December – ITV’s ORACLE Teletext service launches Park Avenue, a teletext based soap opera. It is written by Robert Burns and runs until ORACLE loses its franchise at the end of 1992.3 December – Comedian Steve Tandy wins New Faces of ’88.

10 December – First showing of An Audience with Victoria Wood on ITV.

11 December – Launch date of the Astra Satellite. The satellite will provide television coverage to Western Europe and is revolutionary as one of the first medium-powered satellites, allowing reception with smaller dishes than has previously been possible.

13 December – Central airs the final episode of Sons and Daughters making it the first ITV region to complete the series.

22 December – Singer Neneh Cherry performs her single “Buffalo Stance” on Top of the Pops while seven months pregnant, something that goes on to cause a furore in the media.

24 December – Christmas Eve highlights on BBC1 include the British television premieres of Santa Claus: The Movie with Dudley Moore, and Jagged Edge with Jeff Bridges and Glenn Close.

25 December –

  • The final edition of It’s a Knockout to air on BBC1 is another celebrity special, It’s a Charity Knockout From Walt Disney World, featuring teams of celebrities from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The series returns to S4C in 1991.
  • Ding Dong Merrily“, the London’s Burning Christmas special, and the only episode of the series to have a title, is broadcast by ITV as part of its Christmas Day line up.

26 December – BBC1 airs CivvyStreet, a spin-off episode of EastEnders set during World War II. Later the same evening BBC1 airs Bruce and Ronnie, a Christmas special presented by Bruce Forsyth and Ronnie Corbett, who first appeared together at the 1988 Royal Variety Performance.

26–30 December – As part of a Christmas special, Channel 4 soap Brookside airs five episodes over five consecutive days.

28 December – BBC1 airs the first part of the Australian film Bushfire Moon. The second part is shown on 30 December.

29 December – British television debut of Gremlins on ITV.

31 December – New Year’s Eve highlights on BBC1 include a special edition of Top of the Pops celebrating the programme’s 25th anniversary, and the network television premiere of Perry Mason in the Case of the Sinister Spirit.


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