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26.7.18

Birthday Club BC of Anglia Television - 1980 to 2002 - 22 Glorious Years... And A Reunion With Auntie Helen...


A signed... er.. pawed photo of BC in his 1980s glory days.


Happy, happy days of the 1980s! Uncle Michael Speake with BC and Auntie Helen McDermott in the Anglia TV studios in Norwich. BC is undergoing a bit of a spruce-up c.1982/1983 as he had got a bit grubby. Image was very important in those days. Auntie Helen's mascara suffers as a result. 


Uncle Michael, of course, became BC's official biographer in 1986 with the publication of 'BC and the Magic Book'. For some reason the book did not make the top of the year's best seller list, and some of us suspected jealousy and foul play within the ranks of those compiling the list. 


1985, and BC brings a touch of that certain sartorial something to the Birthday Club studio. Not for nothing are the 1980s remembered as the 'Style Decade'.


Boxing Day, 1988, and BC, seen here with a very bright and breezy Uncle Patrick Anthony, is seriously in need of an Alka-Seltzer.

How sad it was that June day in 2002 when it was announced that BC of Anglia Television's Birthday Club was to be retired in July, after twenty-two glorious years with the company. Since his arrival in 1980, he had become a legend in his own tea time. But a discreet online announcement on 22 June 2002 brought an end to those halcyon days:

Anglia spokesman Tom Walshe told the Eastern Daily Press newspaper: 'Anglia has decided that BC will be retired from next month owing to daytime schedule changes. The changes are in line with recently announced plans to give more prominence to regional programmes at peak times, and the time currently devoted to BC's Birthday Club will be allocated to extra regional news.

'BC has had a marvellous run on Anglia for 22 years, and we appreciate that many viewers will be sorry to see him go. But nothing is forever in television.'

Mr Walshe went on: 'Children's ITV has undergone many changes over the past two decades, and it has become increasingly difficult to accommodate BC within the schedule. Requests for birthday greetings have also fallen off markedly in recent times.'

'We can assure all his fans that BC will be given an honourable retirement and we know his memory will live on in the hearts and minds of parents and children all over the East of England.'

Stunned silence reigned across the East of England. Then, of course, came the hot tears, the denial, the relief grief.

A few years later, dear Auntie Helen, Helen McDermott, one of the station's presenters who had had the honour of working with BC right from the start, indeed had helped to draw him to the station in 1980, promising him perks like a limitless supply of lollipops and plenty of presenters to harass assist, sought him out and brought him briefly back to our screens. BC, it turned out, was still living in Norwich. He was living in a secret location because he didn't want to be mobbed. This was very wise. Me and my cousin Brian had been desperate to mob this celebrity of celebrities since 1985, when he was at the peak of his fame. And our desire had in no way lessened over the years.


Auntie Helen takes a puppet replica of BC out to meet a young fan in the 1980s. The real BC, of course, was usually studio-bound because of the ever-present threat of being mobbed - although he did have his own vehicle to attend some public events - BC4U.


BC had put on a bit of weight and Auntie Helen commented on his changed appearance - had he had a facelift, perhaps? But he still had the old magic.

The reunion ended slightly acrimoniously as Auntie Helen discovered the somewhat fickle nature of our hero. But that's what stardom does to people. Or leopards. Or bears. Or whatever he is.


My BC. I made this and based him on the BC who was so familiar to us in the 1980s, using a c.1983 screen capture for the model. From around the late 1980s, BC underwent several cosmetic changes - but denies surgery. If you would like to know how I made him then you are almost as sad as I am. My reasons were simple. I wanted my own BC that I could mob at home.

Anyway, enjoy the reunion with Auntie Helen for one last very special Birthday Club below, and enjoy our original tribute to this star of stars here.

23.7.18

Woopie! Dinky! Yuppie! Buppie! Buzz Words And Phrases Of The 1980s...

Okay, '80s fans, here's our very own fun (and sometimes not so fun) run-down of the words and phrases that 'buzzed' in the 1980s. Some words and phrases simply caught fire in the decade, most originated there. Some truly 'arrived' but were still quite obscure. Hope you enjoy it... from the environment to technology to dosh the 1980s certainly had a lot to say! Many of the words and phrases in this swingorilliant glossary have links for you to find out more information from our archive. Enjoy!

Ableism: Discrimination in favour of able-bodied people.

Achewarly - and similar: AKA 'actually'. Black Type of Smash Hits-inspired... er... dottiness.

Acid House: See 'House Music' below - sub-genre of house, born in Chicago in the mid-1980s. Led to raves, confrontations with the police and all sorts later in the decade.

Acid wash: Blotchy jeans.

Aerobics: A huge fitness fad of the 1980s - pop in your Jane Fonda video or go to the gym, don your bright lycra gym togs and neon pink leg warmers (see 'leg warmers' below) and away you go. And that was just the men.

AIDS: Acronym formed from the initial letters of acquired immune deficiency syndrome. Caused by earlier infection with the retrovirus HIV (see 'HIV' below). Symptoms include opportunistic infections or malignant tumours. The AIDS epidemic had been quietly building for years before it was named in 1982. The UK Government sent an information leaflet to every household in 1987.

Alternative Comedy: Daring, lefty, sometimes ranting, sometimes surreal new brand of comedy. Think The Young Ones. Think French and Saunders. Think The Comic Strip Presents.
Animal Companion: Daft way of saying 'pet'. See 'Politically Correct/Political Correctness' below).

Anorak: Geeky nerdy type, often a fount of useless trivial and pedantic tripe.

Apple Mac: Exciting personal computer, launched in 1984, which made computing much easier for Joe and Josephine Bloggs. The first computer with a mouse had been launched in 1981, but was wildly expensive - retailing at around $20,000. The Apple Mac was much cheaper, had a mouse, and helped to propel the PC into everyday life.

Arcades: As in video game arcades. I recall queuing up in the summer of 1980 at the local cinema which had had a Space Invaders machine installed in its lobby. Wow! As the number of games grew, dedicated arcades appeared. But by then I preferred to spend my money on Miami Vice-chic clothes and Stella Artois.

Band Aid: No longer just sticking plasters in 1984, but the name of a super charity record sung by oodles of luscious pop stars and masterminded by Sir Bob of Geldof.


Barcode: In the early 1980s, barcodes began disfiguring the back covers of books and cropping up on all manner of other purchases. Supermarkets like Sainsbury's (1982) began replacing their push-button tills with barcode scanner models in a gradual roll-out and by the late 1980s the barcode had truly arrived.

BBC Micro Computer: This was the point in the early 1980s when Auntie Beeb decided to start educating kiddies about computers. I was just leaving school. Sigh.

A Benny: Fik person. Named after a Crossroads character. Our men in the Falklands apparently referred to some of the islanders by this name in 1982 and it spread. Benny was last spotted in Crossroads in December 1987, when he went up a step ladder to put a star on top of the Christmas tree and was never seen again. Honestly.

'Bet you can't eat three!': Slogan from a 1980s TV ad for Shredded Wheat. Used and abused ferociously for a few years by Joe Public.

Betamax: A format for VCRs which lost the battle for supremacy with VHS (see below) and Video 2000 (see below) in the mid-1980s, as the video era got underway. Thought to be the superior format by people in the know, but VHS triumphed.

Big Bang: On the stock exchange in 1986. Deregulation. All sorts of things happened at once, restrictions lifted, new electronica, etc, etc.

'Bit of bully': A game of darts - 'Let's 'ave a bit of bully, eh, lads?' - from the TV show Bullseye.

Black Ash: Posh furniture.

BMX: Bicycle motocross. This was the craze that separated the boys who fell off from the boys who didn't fall off.


Body Popping: Kind of robotic dancing, and more (see link). Debuted on Top of the Pops in 1982.

Bog Standard: Absolutely basic and not at all great.

Boom Box/Boombox: Large portable sound systems often carried around on one shoulder. A part of 1980s hip hop culture and essential for street dance. Also known as beatboxes or, most popularly of all in England, ghetto blasters (see 'Ghetto Blaster' below).

Bouncy Castle: Lovely big and colourful inflated castles that began appearing at fetes and other outdoor events in the late 1980s for you and your family to... er… bounce about on - and fall over on.

Break Dancing: Popular with adherents to hip hop. Could result in injuries.

Breaker break!: Hugely popular CB slang (see 'CB Radio' below) - at its height during the illegal craze of 1981 and for a year or two after legalisation, along with 'eyeball', etc, etc, etc.

Breakfast TV: Here and happening in 1983. Frank Baugh and Selena Scott! David Frost and (later) Roland Rat! Happy days!

Brill: Trendy abbreviation of brilliant.

Brighton Nudist Beach: Cor, snigger, wink! England got its first nudist beach on April Fools' Day 1980. Of course, we were all talking about it. And many of us were going down there for a leer. I mean look.

British Telecom/BT: Formerly provided by the GPO, British Telecom transformed our phone services from 1980 onwards, becoming a public limited company in 1981.

BSE: Bovine spongiform enchalopathy. A fatal neurological disease of cattle. Thought to have come about because of infected animal products being fed to cattle in the early 1970s.

Bulldog clips: Large, colourful plastic clips for the hair.

Bunny - as in 'not a happy bunny'. Mock sympathetic phrase, originating in the late 1980s - as in: 'Sharon's not a happy bunny. She's found out they're taking Crossroads off.'

Bunny Boiler: From the film Fatal Attraction. A (usually female) mad, bad and dangerous to know person.

Buppie: A black yuppie (see 'yuppie' below).

Camcorder: Exciting new tech. You could now video your family and friends and see the results straight away on your VCR (see 'VCR' below).

Car Boot Sale: Sunday mornings were no longer for rest and/or getting over the hangover from Saturday night out. No, they were for going off looking for cheap cast-off goodies and collectables at these open air sales.

Cardboard Cities: Homeless people living in groups in makeshift (cardboard) accommodation in the open, under bridges, etc. With unemployment spiralling, cardboard cities sprang up in many places. Although homelessness remains a major problem, cardboard cities are no longer heard of. Do they still exist?

Care Bear: Cutesy, cuddly cartoon bears.

Cashpoint: As more and more people got 'plastic' money, cashpoints proliferated. From 1987 onwards, after the release of the UK's first debit card (see 'Debit Card' below), usage began to go through the roof.

CB Radio: Citizens' band radio. Invented in the United States in the 1940s, became a huge illegal craze here in 1980 and 1981, legalised in November 1981.

C5: An environmentally friendly car which had you sitting very low down amongst loads of exhaust fumes.

Casual: Working class male youths, often football fans, favouring a trendy 'casual' style of dress.

CD-ROM: A compact disc on which text or data is stored as a read-only memory. It revolutionised the publishing business.

Cell Phone: Appearing in cars of a few very rich people around 1982 and then as mobile hand-held devices from the mid-1980s onwards. They seemed mighty wondrous and strange at the time.

Chatline: Phone the numbers and chat to all sorts of people. Then get into a flaming great row with your parents when the phone bill arrived.
Chattering Classes: Guardian reading leftie types, middle class, holding 'liberal' values and fond of wittering on about social and political issues amongst themselves.

CHOOSE LIFE: T-shirt slogan (see 'Slogan T-Shirts' below) by Katherine Hamnett. Popularised by the pop group Wham!

Channel 4: Launched in November 1982. Cor, we've got FOUR telly channels now! Hope Channel 4 isn't too highbrow...

Chill: As in 'chill out'. Trendy youth language about simply hanging out and doing nothing, or, as a piece of advice, not to get worked up about something.

Chrimbo: Liverpool slang for Christmas. Went wide after Brookside began.


Clause 28: After the publication of a ground-breaking children's book called Jenny Lives With Eric and Martin in 1983, the story of a little girl who lived with her gay father and his partner, alarm spread amidst fears that it could cause children to 'experiment with homosexuality'. With the Aids crisis on the rise and gay men being a high risk group, the alarm grew and so the Tories came up with Section or Clause 28 - a new law, stating that:

A local authority shall not:

(a) Intentionally promote or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality.(b) Promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality in a pretended family relationship.

Pretended'? Good grief, what gave the government the right to define what constitutes a family relationship? Anyway, the Clause caused outrage amongst gay rights groups and many other liberal thinkers. In the '80s, feelings often ran high and people were quick to energise. Go to the link at the title for more information.

                                      
Clone: As in Boy George or Madonna clone. Fans who slavishly adopted the fashion looks of their pop idols.
Cold War: The state of armed readiness between the super powers, Russia and America, had held the world in fear since the early 1960s. After an extra chilly patch in the early 1980s, the Cold War ice rapidly and miraculously thawed after the arrival of Mikhail Gorbachev as Soviet Premier in 1985 (see 'Glasnost' and 'Peristroika' below). It was officially declared over in December 1989, according to the likes of major participants in the matter - like Soviet Premier Mikhail Gorbachev. This is refuted by the likes of Wikipedia. Read Mr Gorbachev's views here. I know who I trust. And it doesn't begin with 'W'. Wikipedia has out-grandiosed itself for the last time in this house!
Compact disc: Shiny and new and exciting and quite expensive. Shortened to 'CD' in everyday speech.
Commodore 64: Exciting and now legendary home computer released in August 1982.
Computer animation: Began to hear of this in the 1980s. Did not really compute with me. Channel 4's logo was computer generated in 1982. And Dire Straits came up with a memorable example in 1985.
Conspicuous consumption: The always-had-it-alls were disgusted when the working classes started getting fings too - usually on the back of the credit boom. Definite evidence of greed gone rampant, they said.
Continental quilts: Regarded with suspicion early in the decade - after all, who wanted to sleep with their feet sticking out? - these had become the norm by the end of the decade. Blankets were so passé, dear! Now simply called duvets.
Courgette: Never had a courgette before the 1980s. Never even heard of them. There was a sudden craze for them when they proliferated in supermarkets in the mid-1980s. THE thing to have with your posh nosh. Or Batchelor's Savoury Rice.
                        
Crop Circle: Weird, elaborately patterned circles of flattened wheat appearing in fields gained great media attention in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Signs of ET's visiting us? Mystical symbols to do with the approaching millennium? Daft stunts? You choose.
Cruelty-Free: Consumer products produced with no cruelty to animals involved in their development.
Cubist's Thumb: Nasty disorder brought about by obsessive manipulation of a Rubik's Cube (see 'Rubik's Cube' below).

Dancing Flowers: Cute plastic flowers which moved to music. Immensely popular in the late 1980s when they were released.

Debit card: If you weren't rich enough for a credit card, worry not for in 1987 Barclays issued the Connect Card, the UK's first debit card.

Deelyboppers/Deelybobbers - one of the fashion WOWS! of the decade. See below.

Designer: Clothing and footwear. THE things to be seen in. Or cheap chain store versions if you hadn't got the Wonga (see 'wonga' below).

Designer stubble: Looking masculine and groomed with a bit more than a five o' clock shadow. George Michael and Don Johnson managed it. I looked like a seedy used car salesman. And it could get you told off at work.
Desktop Publishing: A mysterious phrase which originated in the mid-decade and which I heard quite a lot of before the decade's end. Refers to producing material of published quality with a computer and printer.

Dinky: An acronym - acronyms were adored in the 1980s. This one stood for 'dual income, no kids yet'. There was also dink - as dinky but not planning on kids!

Dirty Dancing: Type of fast, erotic dancing inspired by the 1987 film of the same name.

Dirty Den: EastEnders character Dennis Watts.

Discman: Walkman wot played compact discs.

DNA fingerprinting: Unexpectedly stumbled across by Sir Alec Jeffreys in September 1984. Revolutionised crime solving and was utilised well before the end of the decade.

Domain: A region of a computer network, especially the internet (see 'Internet' below). corresponding to a  particular country, organisation, etc, which is used in the network address of individual computers. 

Donkey jacket: The sort of thing the binman wore, black with a black plastic panel. For some reason a popular fashion of the early-to-mid 1980s. Girls as well as boys (girls often liked their name printed on the back panel). 'I've got a new donkey!' was often proudly announced by trendy youths.

Donkey Kong: Influential 1981 arcade game from Japan, featuring a prototype Mario (see 'Mario Brothers/Super Mario Brothers' below).

Dosh: Money.

Dot Cotton: Based on the EastEnders character. People who whinged or moaned excessively were accused of being a 'Dot Cotton'.

Dropdead Gorgeous: Absolutely lovely-to-look-at person.

'E': See 'Ecstasy' below.

Eco-Friendly: Kind to the environment products (see 'Environmentally Friendly' below).

Eco-Terrorist: A participant in eco-terrorism. Violent acts to further environmentalist ends or politically motivated damage to the natural environment.

Ecstasy: Hallucinogenic drug, so named for its effect on the user. Very popular in the acid house era. Occasionally fatal. 

Edgy: Controversial, unusual.

Eighties Man: Also known as the 'New Man' (see 'New Man' below). A sensitive, caring breed of men, not afraid to show emotions, do the housework, etc. Seen, as always, from a feminist perspective and as an expectation placed on men, not as something to actually help them.

Email/E-Mail: Shortening of 'electronic mail' first coined in the 1980s when few knew exactly what electronic mail was. Now we all do.

Environmentally Friendly: Popular phrase, particularly in the mid-to-late decade. You could buy environmentally cleaning products which left chalky deposits all over your bog and bath.

Fabby/Fabbo: Youth slang. Great.

Fandabbydozee - a lovely little catchphrase from Ian and Janet Krankie. Janet, of course, was lovable Scottish schoolboy Wee Jimmie.



Fattist: Discriminating against 'calorifically-challenged people'. Politically correct language (See 'Politically Correct/Political Correctness' below).

Fatwa/Fatwah: An old word which suddenly leapt into the news in 1989 when Ayatollah Khomeini, religious leader of Iran, issued a ruling (fatwa/fatwah) sentencing British author Salman Rushdie to death for his book The Satanic Verses, published in 1988. Rushdie had to go into hiding. The fatwa on him was lifted in 1998.

Feminazi: Man-hating feminists who say things like: 'Of COURSE all men should have longer prison sentences than women and do all the dirty, dangerous jobs! So there! And anybody who disagrees is a rampant, conservative misogynist! We speak for ALL women, everywhere, by the way!'

Feelgood Factor: Associated with the end of the recession, victory in the Falklands, etc. Later boosted further by the credit boom.

Filofax: A revamped version of a boring, little-known diary/personal organiser thingie, formerly favoured by military and medical types. The 1980s version was all singing, all dancing, and very STYLISH. Yuppies loved them. Leftie-types often had similar but called them 'my book of words'.

Flat top: Nice hairstyle - very upstanding with gel or lacquer and a flat top.

Flid - stupid person.

Follicularly Challenged: Bald. Facetious term, in the politically correct style (see Politically Correct/Political Correctness below).

Foodie - trendy food person. In 1984, we got The Official Foodie Handbook, which included advice on how to tell 'psued food' from Nouvelle Cuisine (see 'Nouvelle Cuisine' below). Hmm. 'Food is the opium of the stylish classes' and 'be modern-worship food', it declared. Hmm again... Mind you, at least I stopped cooking with lard in the 1980s and met mayonnaise and peppers and courgettes and all sorts of scrummy things. Including Bejam bubble and squeak portions. YUM! It truly was a decade with something for everybody.

F-Plan Diet: We craved fibre in the 1980s, and the F-Plan diet led the way. Here's an '80s joke; 'Has the bottom fallen out of your world? Follow the F-Plan Diet and the world will fall out of your bottom.'

Frankie Say Relax: And other things. T-shirt slogans associated with the pop group Frankie Goes To Hollywood.


Frogger: Arcade game. Can you get the little froggie safely across the road?
FST: Flatter, squarer tube television - for better picture definition.

FTSE: Pronounced 'footsie'. The Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 index. Founded in 1984, the FTSE is a share index of the 100 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange with the highest market capitalization. Yuppies were always checking the 'footsie' in the mid-to-late 1980s.

Fun pub: A themed public house. The old British Queen round my way became 'Bumpers', a car-themed hostelry, in the mid-1980s. A clapped-out old boozer up the road became 'Hoofers', a horse-themed pub late in the decade. Lovely.

Fun Run: For a decade reviled as 'The Greed Decade', the 1980s actually bulged with charity efforts, and after the first London Marathon in 1981, the concept of the fun run was born. Basically a sponsored run often in a daft outfit.

Garfield: Fat, lasagne-loving cartoon cat from the USA. Made huge waves after his UK debut in the early 1980s.

Garage Music: Dance music genre originating from New York, more soul-influenced and lyrical than much of Chicago house. Like house, it originated in the early-to-mid 1980s, but independently. It now falls under the house umbrella as far as many people are concerned, but the two were regarded as separate in the 1980s.

Gel: Hair gel - new, exciting and didn't harm the ozone layer. But my goodness, it often makes for embarrassing photographs in retrospect.

Gender Bending/Gender Bender: Several gender bending pop stars around in the early-to-mid 1980s and gender bending was in the news. Annie Lennox and Pete Burns did it best. In my humble opinion. But Divine was fabby too. Boy George, he of the sugary pop, looked great in 1982 and 1983. But his music! Goodnight, Doris!

Ghetto Blaster: Large portable sound system, often carried on the shoulder. Part of hip hop culture.


Glasnost: Soviet policy of greater openness and frankness in public statements under Mikhail Gorbachev from 1985 onwards.

Glass Ceiling: A perceived barrier which apparently prevented some members of ethnic minority groups and women from obtaining high powered, high paying jobs. In more recent years, research has added 'Glass Cellar' to the lexicon - the fact that after over fifty years of 'gender equality' campaigning, it is men who still do the vast majority of dirty, dangerous jobs, and account for the vast majority of work place deaths - a barrier which feminism has never even attempted to smash.

Gnarly: American import: Excellent, wonderful, etc. Apparently originally meant difficult and dangerous, being applied by surfers to unfriendly looking seas, then switched in the early 1980s to mean the opposite in youth culture generally.

Gobsmacked: Northern English expression which swept the whole country in the 1980s, meaning shocked, stunned.

Go For It! Trendy catchphrase, saying a lot about the ethos of the mid-to-late 1980s. Didn't matter who you were, or where you come from - GO FOR IT!

Goth: A music scene and fashion. Probably the logical outcome of Punk.

Gilbert the Alien: Snotty green alien on kids' TV. Brilliant.

Glasnost: A declared Soviet policy of greater openness in public statements. One of the central reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev, who became Soviet premier in 1985.

Green Party: Formerly known (or unknown - they weren't very well known at all) as the Ecology Party, the Green Party was named in 1985 and secured 15% of the votes at the European Economic Community elections in 1989 as concern for the environment reached a peak. Sadly, the party failed to gain any seats because of the 'first past the post' voting system.

Greenham Common Peace Camp: Established in 1981 as a protest at the Government's 1980 decision to house Cruse Missiles at the air base there. The camp was manned by all women and adopted a misandrist stance, banning men and adopting the brand new name 'wimmin' (see 'Wimmin' below) as a gender name because it did not contain the word 'men'. All sorts of women were in residence at the camp. A friend of mine went but left after being sexually harassed. Young and idealistic, my friend was disillusioned after she had decided to champion what she regarded as a noble and worthy cause. Funnily enough, to this day she has never been a victim of sexual harassment from men...

Guppy - a yuppie (see 'yuppie' below) who was into environmental (Green) issues. Yes, apparently they actually existed!

Hi-NRG: Style of dance music originating in the early-to-mid 1980s and popularised by the likes of The Weather Girls and Hazel Dean. And not forgetting the wonderful Divine, of course.

Highlights: For the hair. The 1980s took this to extremes, and actually streaked hair blonde. I liked it very much indeed.

Hip Hop: The brand new rap scene rapidly transformed into the hip hop scene as the decade progressed. Stand-out for me: The Message - Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, 1982.

Himbo: Pretty but vacuous male.

HIV: Human immunodeficiency virus. The virus which causes AIDS (see 'AIDS', above).

Hole in the wall: Cash point. As the use of plastic money spiralled in the 1980s, particularly after the arrival of the first debit card in 1987, these proliferated and we started using this trendy little phrase to define them. But it was quicker to say 'cash point' really.

House Music: New style of dance music originating in Chicago in the early-to-mid 1980s.

'I don't really know!': Comedians Les Dennis and Dustin Gee scored a big hit in the 1980s with their impersonations of Coronation Street characters Mavis Riley and Vera Duckworth. The catchphrase of Dennis's Mavis was 'I don't really know!' and this was eagerly parroted across the land. But the real Mavis didn't say it. Until the Christmas 1987 episode. A nation cheered.

Icon: Computer icon. New and mysterious terminology back in the mid-to-late 1980s.

'I Shot JR': It seemed that everybody had shot JR Ewing of Dallas in the summer of 1980. The slogan appeared on T-shirts, badges, Stetsons, and probably oodles of other things as well. But it was Bing Crosby's daughter wot did the dirty deed really.

Information Super Highway: Lurching into our lives midway through the decade was the concept of the ISH. 'Any of a number of projected national, high-speed, high capacity telecommunications networks linking homes and offices and permitting the transmission of a variety of electronic media, including video, audio, multimedia and text.' - John Ayto, 20th Century Words, 1999. The book traces the term's first use in print to 1985.

Internet: 'What is the internet?' asked an article in one mid-1980s school magazine. 'A net for catching fish in!' was the witty answer. It would take the invention of the World Wide Web in 1989 and its implementation in the early 1990s to open the Net open up to the vast majority of us. But it was in the 1980s that the word was first touted around. I couldn't have cared less. Then.

IT: Initials, as today, stand for information technology - this shortened form first appearing in the 1980s.

Jelly shoes. You know.

J.R. Hartley: Not Ewing. Mr Hartley was a dear old gent in a 1983 Yellow Pages ad, who successfully found a copy of his book Fly Fishing by letting his fingers do the walking and using the Pages to phone second-hand book dealers. Became something of a national hero and developed a life of his own, spawning a couple of books about fly fishing and things.

Just Do It! Coined by Nike - highly encouraging when applied to sports or other things.

Kicking: Youth slang - lively, great.

Kissogram/Kissagram: Whoo! Naughty way of having telegrams or greetings messages delivered, usually by a saucily-dressed woman or man who gave yer a kiss. Sometimes caused great embarrassment.

Lager Lout: Gained brief notoriety in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Often well dressed young men, who got very stroppy having consumed large amounts of alcohol.

Lap Top: Computer you could sit on your lap. WOW!

Leg warmers: Became the height of fashion in the early 1980s thanks to the TV series Fame. Even my macho mate Pete had a pair.

Leggings: Often black and lycra and ending around the knee from around 1982 to late in the decade. Nice under a ra ra skirt. Well, sort of. Back in fashion for many years.

Live Aid: Mega pop concert in 1985, from England and America. Masterminded by Sir Bob of Geldof after Band Aid (see 'Band Aid' above).


'Loadsa…': - 'loads of' - as in dosh, money, fings.

'Lovely jubbly!': Great! Popularised by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses.

Lycra: Black or brightly coloured, figure hugging material - go for it!

Mad Cow Disease: BSE (see 'BSE' above).

Mario Brothers/Super Mario Brothers: Fictional plumbers and stars of computer games.
'Matey boots': Friend.

'Mega!': Great. Brilliant. Wonderful.

Mesh: Nice type of top, made of meshed material. Lovely in neon colours.

Microwave: A hot topic of conversation in the mid-to-late 1980s. Are you getting a microwave? Do they cook you from within? Do they make men sterile? Would it mean you won't have to miss the end of each Neighbours episode by saving on cooking time?

Mr Dog: A dog food specially designed for small dogs. Introduced early in the decade and highly advertised throughout. Changed its name to Cesar in 1989.

ME: Myalgic encephalomylelitis. Known of since the mid-1950s. Rather mysterious illness with symptoms including extreme fatigue and headaches. Also known as 'Yuppie Flu' in the mid-to-late 1980s when it was on the rise. See 'Yuppie Flu' below.

Medallion Man: Ugh! Usually knocking-on-to-middle-age geezer, often with chest hair visible through an open necked shirt and a cheap white suit or similar, often actually sporting a medallion. A fashion disaster. Trying to be 'with it', but woefully out of date, though sometimes mixing in modern touches. A medallion man I knew in 1987 looked like a cross between Tom Jones, John Travolta and Don Johnson. Poor bloke. I felt sorry for him, but he was a real prat. Never mind. HE loved him anyway.

Mobile phone: As in: 'Oh my gawd! He/she's got a mobile phone!'. A hand-held cell phone. Evident largely as 'yuppie toys' (see 'yuppie' below) in the second half of the decade after their introduction in the USA in 1984 and in England in 1985, the likes of Del Boy were flogging them before the end of the decade.

Moon Boots: Bright (often pink), padded and quilted big boots. There was a brief but intense craze for them in the mid-1980s.

Moonwalking: Kind of fluid backward walking dance movement.

Mosh: Dancing in a violent manner, involving jumping up and down and banging shoulders and fings.

Mouse: Computer mouse. Formerly applied solely to a type of small rodent. The first commercial computer mice were released in the 1980s.

Mousse: Exciting new development in hair styling. Spray into your hand, watch it swell, then apply it to your barnet and 'style'. Lovely.


Mountain Bike: Very trendy bikes for riding over mountainous terrain.

MTV: Began in America in 1981. In 1985, Dire Straits sang about it - and many of us were chanting along 'I want my MTV' - and finally, in 1989, the newly-launched Sky TV brought it over here.

My Little Pony: Cutesy little pony toys in lovely colours that had leg warmers and castles and things.

New Age Traveller: 1980s hippie-type - looked forward to the mystical millennium, etc. They needn't have bothered. Wore thinks like maroon cords and neckerchiefs.

New Man: Sensitive, new breed of men - free from traditional restraints and allowed to show emotion, etc. No, that's not how it really was. It was a list of demands, largely sponsored by the feminist movement - be sensitive when we want, do the housework (as well as working full time in a tough physical job), etc, etc. Horrible (see 'Eighties Man' above).

New Romantic: Coined by the UK press in 1980 as Spandau Ballet and Adam and the Ants hit the pop scene, this title was applied to the synthy, make-up plastered, ballady types who formed the pop movement which briefly but memorably illuminated the early years of the decade. The pop bands originated from several sources, including the London 'Blitz Kids' scene. By 1982, bands like Duran Duran were incorporating other fashion 'looks' into the New Romantic scene.



Nicorette: Chewing gum to help you kick the fags.

Nimby - another acronym - 'not in my back yard' - as in, 'Of course we need more social housing, but not in my neighbourhood.' Although this acronym originated in 1980, the attitude has been rife for much longer.

Nintendo: Gaming system for you to play games on your telly.

Nite Spot: '80s version of a dance venue, like a dance hall or disco. Usually very trendy.

NOW: Now That's What I Call Music: Fabulous compilations of contemporary chart hogging songs, launched in 1983. From then on, we trendy young dudes and dudettes were often heard to ask other: 'Have you got the latest NOW?' You could also get video versions, which was swingorilliant to the max.



Nouvelle Cuisine: A very posh and expensive way of eating very little.

'Nuclear Power? No Thanks!': Little yellow badge with a smiling sun face expressing one's opposition to nuclear power in favour of more natural solutions. Rampant in the mid-1980s. A great message really. The trouble was the sun face and slogan always looked a little smug to me. As did many of the leftie social worker-types wearing them.


OINK - one income, no kids. Coined by the character Timothy Lumsden, played by Ronnie Corbett, in the BBC sitcom Sorry! late in the decade.

'Old Ma Thatcher': Disrespectful title often applied to our Prime Minister by those of us who found her hard-hearted and more than a bit of an old bag.

Pac-Man: Big in Japan upon his debut as Puck-Man in 1980, and soon big everywhere. One of THE men of the decade. WACCA! WACCA! WACCA!


Paintbrush: Same as a flat top hairstyle, but with a blond/other coloured top. Hair looked like it had been dipped in a pot of paint.

PC: Personal computers or political correctness - abbreviation applied to both during the 1980s. And police constables, of course (see 'Personal Computer' and 'Politically Correct/Political Correctness' below).

Pear shaped: Something wrong - 'This project has gone pear shaped, matey!'

Perestroika: The reform of the Soviet economic and political system under Mikhail Gorbachev, who became Soviet premier in 1985.

Person: As in 'wait person' rather than 'waiter' or 'waitress'. I never understood the necessity myself.

Personal Computer: Wow! Like the BBC doodah! Like the Apple Mac! You could do all sorts - like write poetry and shopping lists and play games and check-out Prestel and maybe even send and receive electronic mail as the decade progressed. The World Wide Web was not invented until 1989 and not up and running until the early 1990s, so I found the whole thing too naff and complicated. Probably a passing fad, this computer malarky, I thought. The term personal computer was increasingly becoming abbreviated to 'PC' before the end of the decade, leading to confusion over police constables. The 1980s also saw the 'PC' abbreviation applied to politically correct lingo (see 'Politically Correct/Political Correctness' below) but it wasn't in common usage.


Personal Organiser: Wallet or folder with loose-leaf sections for storing personal information. Favoured by yuppies (see 'Filofax' above and 'Yuppie' below).

Phone Card: Launched by BT in the mid-1980s - don't bother with loads of loose change - simply carry a phone card!

Phone home: Everybody was saying it after they watched the movie ET.

PIN: Personal identity number. Okay, so you've got one of those new fangled debit cards, so go along to the cashpoint, pop it in, tap in your PIN and discover just how little you have in your bank account.

Pixie Boots: Lovely fashion for girlies. I also seem to remember something called 'elf boots'.

Plonker: An affectionate and exasperated way of saying 'idiot'. Popularised by Del Boy in Only Fools and Horses.

Politically Correct/Political Correctness: These terms began to enter the lexicon of the way wot we peasants spoke around 1987 and were originally treated by many with irony. Were you calorifically challenged? Were you a sex worker ('nice work if you can get it!'). Tongues slid into cheeks and most people I knew thought it all slightly ridiculous. So did I. In fact, although I go out of my way not to offend anybody, I'm still not convinced. In the 1990s, political correctness grew and grew and beyond that it into the 21st Century it has become monstrous. Some words are 'in', others 'out' - some words once deemed offensive have been 'reclaimed' (WOT?!) - you can even call gays 'queers' now, which was something considered offensive (though many people did it) in the 1980s. I largely associate modern day political correctness with the Great And The Priggish. Sticks and stones, that's what I was always told... Shortened to 'PC' during the mid-to-late 1980s, by the growing band familiar with the term.


Poll Tax: Or, more properly, the Community Charge. Replacing the domestic rates system with this was not popular. From late 1988 onwards protesters began to mobilise. The Iron Lady was not for turning. 


Pong: Early computer game based on the game of tennis. Seemed slow and boring. I never actually met an enthusiast for this game, despite being a teenager from 1978 to 1984.

Pop Video: Promos had existed for pop songs for many years before the 1980s, but the '80s saw the beginnings of the Pop Video age. This was really revved up after the debut of dedicated music TV channel MTV (Music Television) in America in 1981. In 1981, UK newspapers were describing videos as 'films' or 'promos'. But a few years later things were very different. A pop song without an often highly expensive video was almost unimaginable, and the video became as much a part of the experience as the song.

Pot Noodle: Rising into the stratosphere in the early part of the decade, these lovely little pots of powder, dried veggy bits and dried noodles made a tasty snack when hot water was applied, and with new flavours arriving all the time and a handy little sachet of sauce with each one, were a taste sensation.

Power. Power dressing (see 'power dressing' below). Power ballads. Power nap. Power breakfast. Power lunch. Power walking. Power shower... The '80s loved the 'power' prefix (see below).

Power Ballad: Think of Jennifer Rush or Bonnie Tyler belting it out with big hair. You've got it!

Power Breakfast: Often a business meeting at breakfast and/or grub deemed worthy of setting you up for the day.


Power Dressing: A powerful way of dressing, usually achieved by the use of increasingly large shoulder pads as the decade progressed. Seen by some as a feminist icon, but in reality adopted by many men too. Including me.

Power Lunch: What are you a wimp? But if you must have lunch, remember that certain foods are 'wimp' and others 'power'. And be sure to mix that lunch with a little business.

Power Nap: An (often) tiny nap taken at some point during the day to ensure you are at the height of your mental powers - fit for business, fit for life later.

Power Shower: Trendy showers of the mid-to-late 1980s. See link.

Power Walking: Fitness walking.  Burn those calories without having to jog or run!

Puffball Skirt: Puffy skirt which was briefly a fashion sensation - from around late 1986 to 1988.

'PURlease!': A laboured way of writing 'please' - accentuating.

Ra-ra skirt: Little skirts, made of light material. Often layered. Went great with leggings, leg warmers, pixie boots and a Fame tank top.

Rave: Often illegal acid house parties, held in fields or large barns. Locations were kept secret for as long as possible to fox the fuzz (see 'Warehouse Party' below).

Red Nose Day: Began in 1988. Making money for worthy causes with a plastic red nose on. Wonderful!

Red Wedge: Formed in 1985. Collective of left wing pop musicians, actors and writers who tried to convince youth not to vote Tory in the mid-to-late 1980s. It failed. I was a young leftie, and never voted Tory, in fact Thatcher infuriated me, but the trendy, elitist burblings of Red Wedge did not appeal to me either. In fact, I thought Red Wedge was cr*p.


Right on one matey!/On one matey!: Popular T-shirt slogan from the acid house era. From the 1988 choon We call it

Right To Buy: Your own council house. Was around for yonks before, but it depended on your local council. In 1980 it became a right for all. And a highly controversial piece of legislation it was too! All right to give folk the right to own their own homes, but were the council houses being replaced by other social housing at the same rate?

Roland Rat: With his pals, including Kevin the gerbil, was said to have saved TV-am and became an '80s megastar.

Roller Blade: Type of roller skate dating from 1985 with wheels set in one straight line beneath the boot, thus creating an ice skating movement.

Roller Disco: Great fun at places like Rollerbury. A huge craze in the early-to-mid 1980s. Kind of grooving to records on a pair of skates. Oh yus!


Rubik's Cube: Thus named and released by Ideal Toys in 1980, the Cube, the invention of one Erno Rubik, then took over the world.

Safe Sex: Practicing safe sex, seen as particularly important after the discovery of AIDS early in the decade.

Satellite: Satellite TV. 'Are you getting satellite?' was often heard in the run-up to the launch of Sky TV in 1989 (see 'Sky TV' below).

Scratch card: No National Lottery in the 1980s, but this was the decade when the scratch card first burst upon us. Nip over to the newsagents and pick up a card. Wow! You won £1.50! You've already spent two quid on scratch cards today? Oh well, never mind..

Shaggy perm: Loadsa perms in the 1980s, as gel and mousse and other delights hit the shops and encouraged us to experiment (and probably distress) our tresses. There was also the spiral perm, the corkscrew perm, the 'oh my gawd, you look dreadful!' perm... etc... etc...

Shell suit: You know.

Shopaholic: Somebody addicted to shopping. With the freedom to buy that came with the mid-1980s credit boom, there were quite a few shopaholics about and so this word was coined just for them.

Sizeist:/Sizist Don't you go discriminating against people on account of their size, matey boots, or there'll be trouble!

Sky TV: Satellite TV. Launched in 1989. What a thrill! 



Sloane Ranger: Posh wally (see 'wally' - below).

Slogan T-shirts: A whole range of these with the text resembling banner newspaper headline print, first produced by Katherine Hamnett from 1983 onwards, including 'WORLD WIDE NUCLEAR BAN NOW', 'STOP KILLING WHALES' and 'CHOOSE LIFE', the last named being immortalised by the pop group Wham! Frankie Goes To Hollywood purloined the idea for their 'Frankie Say...' T-shirts.


'So angry I could throw the phone down!': Mr Angry on Steve Wright In The Afternoon on BBC Radio 1. A hugely popular catchphrase.

Social Democratic Party (SDP): British political party formed in 1981 by the 'Gang of Four' (Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Shirley Williams and William Rodgers). Merged with the Liberals in the late 1980s to become the Liberal Democratic Party - or Lib Dems for short..

Space Invaders: Passion for and supply of this arcade game reached critical mass in the early 1980s.

Spin Doctor: Somebody employed by a political party to put their doings in a favourable light to the general public. Wily devils.

Stone washed: Jeans and jean jackets.

Studio Line (AKA Stu..Stu.. Stu.. Studio Studio Studio Line): Wonderful stuff to apply to your hair for your very own look.


Swingorilliant: Slang for great music, said with tongue firmly in cheek. I believe it originated from the Smash Hits! magazine.

Synth-pop: Wonderful pop music made with a synthesizor. Think Depeche Mode. Think New Order. Think Pet Shop Boys. Think Soft Cell. Think Human League.

Telethon: From the very first Children In Need in 1980, the telethon was here in England and very happening. Dress up like a frog! Sit in a bath of baked beans! Help the needy!

Tetris: Computer game. Invented in Russia in the mid-1980s. Was making waves here before the end of the decade.



Thatcherism: Whatever old Ma Thatcher was doing. Her political and economic policies during her three terms. Or nearly three terms. She went a bit early, as I recall. She loved privatising things and cutting things back, as I remember. 

That's My Dog! Afternoon game show (well, it was shown in the afternoons where I lived) starring dogs, their owners and Derek Hobson. I used to love it when I got home after an early shift. It was one of the mid-to-late 1980s wonders, screened from 1984-1988 and made by largely forgotten ITV regional company Television South West (TSW).

Train-Spotter: Geeky, nerdy type.

Trivial Pursuit: Very popular game, released in America in 1982 and here in 1984. Brightly coloured cheese-shaped wedges and an elegant box design all added to the appeal. Often shortened to 'Triv'.

Transformers: Robots in disguise. Toys for boys. Yes, lads turn your juggernaut into a robot! Woohoo!


Tubular: American import. Great.

Uni: University. In the 1980s far fewer people attended university and we tended to refer it by its full title. Via characters in Australian soap operas (the earliest I recall being Mike Young in Neighbours) the abbreviation 'uni' became prevalent in England.

VCR: A video cassette recorder.

VHS: Became the victor in the VCR formats battle of the early-to-mid 1980s as VCRs became affordable and began to sweep the nation.

Video: A promo for a pop song - or a VCR - 'Are you getting a video? Very posh!'.

Video 2000: Another VCR format which lost the battle to VHS (see 'VHS' above).

Virtual Reality/Virtual: Doing things that seem real but are actually simulated by a computer. Quote from Whole Earth Review, 1989: Virtual Reality is not a computer. We are speaking about a technology that uses computerized clothing to synthesize shared reality.

Walkies! Say it like Barbara Woodhouse. Endless fun. Also say 'SIT!' Even more fun. Dear old Barbara. Never to be forgotten, she found sudden fame in her early 1980s TV series Training Dogs The Woodhouse Way.



Walkman: Also known as a personal stereo. Launched in the UK in 1980 and initially known as the Sony Stowaway.

Wally: Wallies were fik and had poor taste. They even had their own 'How To Be A...' book. The early-to-mid-1980s were saturated with them. One newspaper TV columnist even had a 'Wally Of The Week' award. And then there was the 'Wally of the Year Award'...


Wannabe: Somebody aping the style of a favourite celebrity might be dubbed a Madonna wannabe, for instance.

Warehouse Party: A warehouse or other spacious building was often used for an acid house thrash. The locations were usually kept secret for as long as possible to prevent the Old Bill from getting involved and putting a stop to it (see 'Rave' above).


Watchman: The Walkman played cassettes, the Discman played compact discs, and before the decade was out we got the Watchman - a miniature telly - in the same series.



Wet: A politician with liberal or middle-of-the-road views, particularly a Tory opposed to Maggie Thatcher's monetarist policies. She enjoyed purging her cabinet of them.

Windows: Formerly just something you looked out of, this all changed in 1985 when Microsoft released its first version of the computer program.

Wine bar: 1980s wine bars were a must for the upwardly mobile and they sprang up everywhere, often called things like 'Crusts' or 'Cobblers'. Remember 'OK, YAH, DOWN THE WINE BAH!'?

Wimmin: Women. Coined around 1982. Popular word at places like Greenham Common as the 'Feminist Movement' continued its descent into rampant misandry - 'wimmin' did not contain the word 'men'..

'Wicked!' - once meant bad, evil - but from around 1988 onwards in trendy youth circles meant great and happening.


Wonga: Dosh.

Woopie: Acronym. Well off older person.

'Worra swizz!' What a swindle!

Yale cardigan: Like the American college. Brief but popular youth fashion of the early 1980s. Called 'Y' cardigans, 'cos they had a big 'Y' on them.

'You CANNOT be serious!': Much parroted phrase brought about by John McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1981.

'You got an ology?!': Slogan from a BT ad starring Maureen Lipman as the wittily named Beattie Bellman in 1987. Went very wide and is still sometimes heard today. A person, listing sociology or biology as an academic achievement, would be told: 'You've got an ology? You're a scientist...'



Yuppie: Young urban professional - first recorded in May 1980, 'yuppie' blossomed from being a disapproval word for high earners taking over working class neighbourhoods in Chicago, to those that consumed conspicuoully to the max under the Reagan/Thatcher governments and elsewhere. Basically, the word was first applied to quite everyday dosh-makers pricing poor plebs out of their own neighbourhoods then to Gordon Gekko and his ilk. The 'yuppie' term was applied indiscriminately to anybody getting a bit flash round my way, from the age of about eighteen to about the age of forty-five. Forty five! Young?! Well, of course it is. I'm... slightly older... and I'm still young!

Yuppie Bashing: Yuppies were not popular with some, being the most potent representation of 1980s capitalism. But that was no excuse! One prospective mugger got slugged by a yuppie's mobile phone in the late 1980s. This yuppie bashed back!


Yuppie Flu: ME - based on the notion that ME (see 'ME' above) was initially often seen to manifest itself in high achievers with high pressure lifestyles.

Yuppie Puppy: A young yuppie or the offspring of a yuppie couple.

Yuppify: Former working class areas being bought up by yuppies and going all up-market with fancy bars, gyms and nouvelle cuisine restaurants, etc.

Yuppie Water: Bottled water. Loved by yuppies as the 1980s progressed, and slowly seeping downwards towards the rest of us as a trend. In the 1990s, it became perfectly respectable to fork out for bottles of water, darling! Take my advice: tap is just as refreshing in a bottle and just as easy to carry.

ZX Spectrum: Far better than 1980's ZX80, or 1981's ZX81, the Speccy is a computing legend.