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75 Years


Historic moments from the 1980s


1980 - Who Shot JR?

Who shot JR?
Dallas, the American TV series about Texan oilmen and their families had ended on a cliffhanger. Viewers around the world were obsessed by the mystery of who shot the main character, JR Ewing. In the United States, there were even questions from the government.

Listen to the media moment for 1980

1981 - Sadat killed

Anwar Sadat
It was a choreographed state occasion when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was reviewing troops, surrounded by ambassadors and international dignitaries. Suddenly a group of soldiers leapt off their truck and ran with guns blazing towards the President.

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1982 - Falklands War

British soldiers
When Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, Britain went to war to liberate the small British population there. The BBC did not take sides and robust questioning about the war didn't please Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

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1983 - Journalists struggle in El Salvador

El Salvador fighter
As fighting raged in the Central American jungles, radio came from the guerrilla controlled zones. Broadcasting was done from tunnels, as protection from air attacks and leftist journalists brought a mix of news, and music an alternative to the government approved stations.

Listen to the audio moment for 1983

1984 - Indira Gandhi assassinated

Indira Gandhi
Mrs Gandhi's son, Rajiv was campaigning in West Bengal when the attack happened. He first heard of his mother's death on the BBC World Service. All India Radio was not given clearance to broadcast the news until six o'clock that evening, five hours after the BBC.

Listen to the media moment for 1984

1985 - Feed the World

BBC correspondent Michael Beurk cradles a starving Ethiopian baby
With coverage of the Ethiopian famine, journalists galvanised a huge public reaction. The pop world took notice and stars led by Bob Geldof, staged Live Aid to raise money for famine relief. An estimated 1.5 billion viewers across 100 countries watched the live broadcast.

Listen to the media moment for 1985

1986 - The Chernobyl Disaster

Gas mask at Chernobyl
When a nuclear reactor in the Ukraine exploded spreading radioactivity across Europe, the Soviet authorities at first denied there was a problem on their soil. After 24 hours the source of the pollution couldn't be hidden any longer and Radio Moscow had to admit the facts.

Listen to the media moment for 1986

1987 - TV in Iceland

Children watching TV
Most Western countries had television seven days a week from the 1950s onwards but not Iceland. In fact up until 1987 there was no television at all on Thursdays. But even a country as small as Iceland can't hold back progress forever.

Listen to the media moment for 1987

1988 - TV evangelist sex scandal

Jimmy Swaggart cries for forgiveness
American TV evangelist Jimmy Swaggart brought in millions of dollars in donations on his shows. In May 1988 he publicly begged for forgiveness after it was revealed he'd been seeing a prostitute. TV evangelism is a staple of TV schedules around the world.

Listen to the media moment for 1988

1989 - Berlin Wall falls

Germans climb on to the Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall stood as the ultimate symbol of the East-West Cold War divide. When Communist authorities allowed East Germans cross freely to the west, the TV pictures of East and West Germans partying on the Wall symbolised the changes taking place in Eastern Europe.

Listen to the media moment for 1989
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