It's an easy assumption that the 1980s was the video decade, and that MTV made the
decade their own. But that was in America. In the UK promo videos were a weekly,
almost daily, reality of television with Top Of The Pops, Saturday morning kids'
telly and even the tea-
The new decade wouldn't have the kind of technological seismic shift that colour
television had provided at the beginning of the 1970s, but a new visual technology
had been creeping in since the late seventies. Digital video graphics companies like
Quantel and Reilly provided producers with new ways to move from one image to another.
Instead or a cold edit or a wipe, the image could spin horizontally, vertically,
change into a circle or an egg-
While new technology was giving the image conscious British public something new to look at the 'New Romantic' movement in London's West End provided a much needed meeting of new fashion and music. The first wave of punk faded quickly while its fashion became a new visual shorthand for London just as Carnaby Street had done before. Although many of the New Romantic players would become chart regulars like Rusty Egan, Steve Strange, Boy George and Marilyn they would not be given their own TV outlet like Oh Boy or Ready Steady Go. But the public need stars and Boy George from Culture Club would be called up to provide controversy and a good quote. If anyone was an accidental star it would be George. The first two Culture Club singles had received airplay, but had flopped. Then serendipity introduced itself when Shakin' Stevens cancelled a scheduled appearance on Top Of The Pops. Culture Club were invited to promote their third single, Do You Really Want To Hurt Me. Even though it was watered down reggae and George's visual style style was reminiscent of Lene Lovich a few year's previously he was still a shock to many and an instant TV star. We needed George.
Attempts by the British record industry to remind us of its importance would lead
to a series of regrettable award shows throughout the 80s. The Daily Mirror Rock
and Pop Awards would in turn give way to The Brit Awards, created in 1977 to help
promote the now discredited Britannia Music Club. Black dickie bow evenings out were
compatible with the newly emergent money and status hungry yuppie cult, but felt
awkward for a pop culture more used to very public displays of compassion or at the
very least a knowledge of a world outside of the recording studio. Embarrassment
would reach fever pitch with The Brit Awards in 1989 when the live broadcast went
seriously awry when the wrong acts and presenters were cued up, but at least they
were all present at the ceremony. An award ceremony a few months' later should rightly
claim itself as the worst ceremony of all time. The Coca-
The most important event for the music industry in the eighties would introduce itself
on BBC1's Tomorrow's World in 1981. The show's Kieran Prendiville demonstrated the
Compact Disc to, for once, an amazed public. First seen as merely another high-
A commercial alternative to ITV had been on the government's drawing board since
BBC2 came on the air but no concrete proposal had been made until The Broadcasting
Act 1980. As a result Channel 4 and the Welsh-
Much of pop television from the mid eighties onwards owed as much to The Clothes Show as to The Tube. Dress sense was now as important as it had been in the mod era with sharply dressed young ladies and gentlemen now filling the screens. The Style Council, Sade, Thomas Lang (a part time fashion model) all look as they were as much suited for the catwalk as a TV studio. If you had big shoulder pads, long coats, coiffured hair and liked being photographed at jazz clubs then there would be a place for you.
Despite the artifice a news report in November 1984 put everyone in their place. BBC1 News reporter Michael Beurk presented a report on the catastrophic famine in Ethiopia. The following day the images would prompt The Boomtown Rats' Bob Geldof to suggest to Midge Ure of Ultravox that they write a song to help raise funds. By 2015 Band Aid, Live Aid, Comic Relief and Sport Relief have raised over one billion pounds.
Towards the end of the decade the charts saw an influx of cartoon-