1981 in history

1981 in history

Here are some light-hearted facts about 1981, designed to serve as a prep sheet for a radio feature on 1981.

I created this page because when I needed some notes to create a few talking points about 1981 in Ireland I couldn't find any suitable sources, so I thought I'd share what I did find. It applies to 1981 in Britain too.

You can also look at years other than 1981:

1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1985 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008


1981

  • Only Fools and Horses was first aired in this year. Viewing figures were disappointing and the show was about to be cancelled, but the repeats did quite well and they decided to give it another go - good for audio

  • The IBM Personal Computer is released, with the slogan "life begins with a disk drive". It cost $1,565 and was designed so you could use your TV as the display monitor - an actual monitor cost more.

  • Tom Baker left Doctor Who after seven years and was replaced by Peter Davison.

  • Postman Pat was first broadcast on BBC One.

  • Bergerac, Falcon Crest, Dynasty and Hill Street Blues were all shown on TV for the first time.

  • The DeLorean DMC-12 sports car with its big gull-wing doors was introduced in this year. It was made in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland.

  • Muhammad Ali finally retires with career record of 55 wins and 5 defeats.

  • 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and 'Superman II' were released in this year

  • Nintendo released Donkey Kong.

  • The first 24-hour video music channel MTV (Music Television) was launched. The first song was Video Killed The Radio Star.

  • At Wimbledon, John McEnroe lost his temper with an umpire. He shouted "you cannot be serious".

  • A long winter saw severe snow storms across the UK in December.

  • A worldwide television audience of over 700 million people watched the Wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul's Cathedral in London on July 29th. More than 30 million viewers watched in Britain.

  • In this year the Eurovision Song Contest came from the RDS in Dublin, presented by Doireann Ni Bhriain. UK pop group Bucks Fizz won with 'Making Your Mind Up' - good for audio

  • Ronal Regan is elected president and in the same year he was shot in the chest in Washington.

  • Queen's Greatest Hits became the best-selling album in the UK.

  • The musical 'Cats' premieres in London's West End.

  • The first Homebase opened in Croydon.

  • Ozzy Osborne bit the heads of two doves at a press conference.

  • The first London Marathon started with 7,500 runners.

  • The first game of paintball was played in Henniker, New Hampshire, using a device Charles Nelson had created to mark trees from a distance.

  • The first ever Slane Concert was held at Slane Castle (Ireland) featuring performers Thin Lizzy, Hazel O'Connor, The Bureau, Megahype, Rose Tattoo, Sweet Savage, and U2 in the summer of this year.

  • The first IRFU match went ahead in South Africa after a 20-year absence.

  • The Ilac Centre opened its doors in Dublin.

  • Garret FitzGerald replaced Charles Haughey as an Taoiseach.


While these facts about 1981 have been checked against third-party sources (and have been used on air before!), they are provided in good faith to inspire your research and no guarantee is made about their accuracy or their uniqueness.

1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984 | 1985 | 1986 | 1987 | 1985 | 1988 | 1989 | 1990 | 1991 | 1992 | 1993 | 1994 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008

Tedious about the author bit

I write about media, exploring, heavy machinery and lists. I produce radio with an attitude accurately described as "amusingly surly".

I don't pretend to be anything close to a big player in the media industry. I'd like to think that's an advantage. Instead I try to remain well-read and approach things from a considered viewpoint, even if I absolutely hate the way the industry is going.

Legally bland

Any similarities with real-life events or wealthy international firms is probably coincidental. No products endorsed. I'm powered by Monster Munch.

© 2019 Johnathan Randall.