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Rewind To 1981

Read this year's headlines in our monthly calendar of events and discover snippets about everyday life with our FLASHBACK facts. It's time to go back to the inaugural launch of the space shuttle, the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana, Botham's Ashes, CND protests and the summer of riots. It's time to go back to... 1981.

Timeline '81 Close All

January
The hunt for Yorkshire Ripper ends when lorry driver Peter Sutcliffe is arrested in Sheffield
"One In Ten" (Daily Mirror) – with the latest rise in unemployment 10% of the working population is without a job
Minutes after Ronald Reagan is sworn in as US President the 52 American hostages held captive in Iran are released
Mike Read is the new host of Radio 1's Breakfast Show
Labour MPs Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, Bill Rodgers and David Owen (the "Gang of Four") form the Social Democratic Party (SDP)
Japanese car manufacturer Datsun announces it will open a UK factory - Teeside is one of the possible locations
The Beat's Too Nice To Talk To is in the Top 10

The most watched TV show this year is ITV's The Benny Hill Show

February
Rock ‘n' Roll pioneer Bill Haley dies from a heart attack at the age of 53
Margaret Thatcher meets Ronald Reagan during a four-day visit to the US
Despite a £500M profit British Gas is to raise its prices by 25% this year
French-owned Talbot cars is to close its Glasgow factory with a loss of nearly 5,000 jobs
The Times and The Sunday Times are bought by Rupert Murdoch's News International
Football League matches kick off on a Sunday for the first time
Ultravox's Vienna is the unofficial No. 1

A single ticket to New York costs £77 with British Airways

March
Ronald Reagan survives an assassination attempt in Washington
The Sinclair ZX81 computer is released – it will sell 1.5M units worldwide
Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer announce their engagement
Bobby Sands begins a hunger strike at Prison Maze demanding IRA inmates to be recognised as political prisoners
Tom Baker makes his final appearance as Dr Who – Peter Davison is the new doctor
Over 7,000 runners start the first-ever London Marathon
(We Don't Need This) Fascist Grove Thing by Heaven 17 is a minor hit

A new mortgage carries an interest rate of 15%

April
The Space Shuttle Colombia blasts off from Cape Kennedy on its maiden voyage
Riots erupt in Brixton – more than 300 people are injured and 150 buildings damaged in one of the worst civil disturbances in Britain
Aldaniti ridden by Bob Champion holds off favourite Spartan Missile to win the Grand National
Hunger striker Bobby Sands wins the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election
The Compact Disc is demonstrated for the first time in Europe
Steve Davis wins the World Snooker Championship
Bucks Fizz win the Eurovision Contest and top the UK charts with Making Your Mind Up

A Mothers Pride sliced white loaf costs 29p at ASDA

May
IRA prisoner Bobby Sands dies after a 66-day hunger strike
Peter Sutcliffe stands trial at the Old Bailey accused of murdering 13 women
The Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Cats opens at the New London Theatre
The 100th FA Cup is won by Tottenham Hotspur after they defeat Manchester City in a replay
Reggae superstar Bob Marley dies of cancer in Florida
Pope John Paul II survives an assassination attempt at St Peter's Square in Vatican City
Treason by Teardrop Explodes makes the Top 20

Top Of The Pops is shortened to 30 minutes and starts at 7:30pm

June
Wanting to become famous Marcus Sarjeant fires 6 blank shots at the Queen during the Trooping the Colour
Israel is widely condemned after an air raid destroys a French-built nuclear reactor in Iraq
The 12th James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only opens in UK cinemas
Prince Phillip causes uproar after he says that the unemployed were complaining about their enforced leisure time
Seven Britons die after an explosion on a Greek container ship in Rotterdam Harbour
Shergar wins the Derby
Bruce Springsteen's The River is his second UK hit

The Ford Cortina remains Britain's bestselling car

July
More than 20M viewers watch the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer
Race riots explode in Toxteth Liverpool – more follow in other major cities across the UK
The police receive a bumper 13% pay rise – a long-serving constable now earns £10K a year
Steven Spielberg's Raiders Of The Lost Ark is released in the UK
John McEnroe beats Bjorn Borg to win his first Wimbledon singles title
Thirty-year-old actress Jane Seymour weds her third husband
The stunning Ghost Town by The Specials is the UK No. 1

UK unemployment rockets by one million to reach 2.61M

August
Ian Botham's incredible performances as batsman and bowler help England win the ashes against Australia
Thirteen people die when a Wessex helicopter carrying gas rig workers crashes in the North Sea
The IBM PC is released in the US – it will eventually standardise the computer market
Video Killed The Radio Star is the first video aired on US music channel MTV
Steve Ovett sets a new mile world record only for Sebastian Coe to break it 48 hours later
Moira Stuart is BBC's first black newsreader
Duran Duran have their biggest hit yet with Girls On Film

From the ad pages: "Love A Babycham"

September
Women camp at Greenham Common to protest against the deployment of nuclear weapons at the US airbase
The first episode of comedy Only Fools And Horses airs on BBC1
Dennis Healey narrowly defeats Tony Benn in the election for the Labour Party deputy leaderd
Norway beat England in a World Cup qualifier in Oslo
Practical joke show Game For A Laugh with Jeremy Beadle debuts on ITV
Simon & Garfunkel hold a free concert in New York – the audience is estimated to be half a million
Soft Cell's incredible cover of Tainted Love is No. 1

Newspaper bingo sweeps Britain with tabloids introducing card-based games

October
Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is assassinated during an army parade
The hunger strikes at Prison Maze end – in total 10 inmates have died
Bryan Robson moves from West Bromwich Albion to Manchester United for a record £1.5M
The premiere of Jaws on ITV draws 23M viewers and is the most watched TV event of the year
Brazilian Nelson Piquet driving a Brabham Ford wins the F1 Championship
The first episode of Brideshead Revisited is broadcast on ITV
Invisible Sun by The Police peaks at No. 2)

The average UK house price is £23,798

November
Bomb expert Bob Howorth dies while trying to defuse an IRA bomb in a Wimpy restaurant in London's Oxford Street
Shirley Williams wins the Crosby by-election overturning a Conservative majority of 20,000
England come through a World Cup qualifying group for the first time in 20 years with a 1-0 win over Hungary at Wembley
Tomorrow's World gives the first public demonstration of the CD player and plays a promotional copy of Living Eyes by The Bee Gees
Actress Natalie Wood drowns in mysterious circumstances while on a boat trip off the Californian coast
The first issue of Computer & Video Games magazine hits the newsagents
Queen and David Bowie's unique collaboration Under Pressure is No. 1

The cost of a colour TV licence is £46 – black and white £15

December
The Penlee lifeboat disaster claims the lives of 16 people who die in heavy seas off Cornwall
Film actress Elizabeth Taylor separates from her sixth husband Senator John Warner
The first case of AIDS in the UK is diagnosed
The Commodore VIC-20 is the first colour computer priced under £200 – it will be the first micro to sell 1M units worldwide
Severe snow storms hit the UK – even Big Ben freezes making the famous clock lose an hour
The BBC Sports Personality of the Year is Ian Botham
Human League's huge hit Don't You Want Me is No. 1

At Debenhams an Atari TV Games Centre costs £93.95