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The 80s

A family gives up its 21st-century technology and travels back in time. The family embrace the 80s, where TV and shopping dominated our leisure time.

Like many modern families, the Ashby-Hawkins home is stuffed full of tablets, computers, phones and gadgets to distract them in their spare time. But for one summer, they agreed to give up all their 21st-century technology and travel back in time to discover the radical transformation of our leisure time since 1950.

The family's own home becomes their time machine as they are transported back to a different decade each week. Guided by presenters Giles Coren and social historian Polly Russell, the family's entire experience is underpinned by the Family Expenditure Survey, a government study which ran from the 1950s right through to 1999. The survey's detailed spending records give us the best possible clue as to what families were doing with their leisure time across the five decades.

The family embrace the 80s, where TV and shopping dominated our leisure time. It is also the decade where technology arrives in our homes in a significant way. Kids Daisy and Seth are thrilled by the new VCR and home computer, and there is even a pager for Steph, who is now a shoulder-padded 80s businesswoman. Dad Rob has got plenty to occupy him - when he is not trying out the kids' CB radio, his home sunbed, or having his highlights done, he is shopping for a Don Johnson makeover with 80s fashion guru Caryn Franklin. But what does the arrival of all this stuff mean for family life?

59 minutes

Last on

Sat 18 May 2019 15:00

Music Played

Timings (where shown) are from the start of the programme in hours and minutes

  • 00:02


    Baggy Trousers

  • 00:04


    Fade To Grey

  • 00:05



  • 00:10


    Video Killed The Radio Star

  • 00:12

    The Cure

    A Forest

  • 00:13


    Crazy Little Thing Called Love

  • 00:13

    Jerrold Immel


  • 00:15

    The Human League

    Don't You Want Me

  • 00:15

    Kool & The Gang


  • 00:20

    The Pointer Sisters

    I'm So Excited

  • 00:21

    Tv Themes

    The Young Ones

  • 00:21

    Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

    The Message

  • 00:26

    New Order

    Blue Monday

  • 00:28


    Club Tropicana

  • 00:31



  • 00:33

    Frankie Goes to Hollywood

    Two Tribes

  • 00:35

    Giorgio Moroder, Philip Oakey

    Together In Electric Dreams

  • 00:39

    Band Aid

    Do They Know It's Christmas?

  • 00:40


    Take On Me

  • 00:41

    Spandau Ballet


  • 00:41

    Talking Heads

    Road To Nowhere

  • 00:44

    Pet Shop Boys

    In The Night (Extended Mix)

  • 00:48

    Eurythmics, Aretha Franklin

    Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves

  • 00:49

    Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield

    What Have I Done To Deserve This?

  • 00:51

    Fleetwood Mac


  • 00:53

    D Mob

    We Call It Acieed (feat. Gary Haisman)

  • 00:54

    Soul II Soul

    Keep on Movin' (feat. Caron Wheeler)

  • 00:58

    Culture Club

    Karma Chameleon


Role Contributor
Presenter Giles Coren
Expert Polly Russell
Executive Producer Emily Shields
Series Producer Nancy Bornat
Director Tom McCarthy
Producer Tom McCarthy
Production Company Wall to Wall Media


Back in Time...

Back in Time...

Families travel back in time to experience how food, leisure and society has transformed.