1986 in history

1986 in history

Here are some light-hearted facts about 1986, designed to serve as a prep sheet for a radio feature on 1986.

I created this page because when I needed some notes to create a few talking points about 1986 in Ireland I couldn't find any suitable sources, so I thought I'd share what I did find. It applies to 1986 in Britain too.

You can also look at years other than 1986:

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


1986

  • Ferris Bueller's Day Off was released - good for audio

  • The movie Top Gun starring, Tom Cruise, Kelly McGillis, Val Kilmer, Anthony Edwards, Tom Skerrit and some very cool Ray-Bans was released - good for audio

  • Crocodile Dundee, Platoon, Short Circuit, Stand By Me and The Karate Kid II were all released.

  • The stage musical, 'Phantom of the Opera' debuted in London's West End. It became the longest-running Broadway play ever.

  • Catchphrase with Roy Walker and Mr Chips launched on ITV. Casualty and Neighbours aired in the UK for the first time too, and Strike It Lucky and Dempsey's Den aired for the first time.

  • Fuji introduced the disposable camera.

  • The first PC virus, Brain, started to spread in this year.

  • The activity Laser Tag was invented.

  • The United Kingdom and France announce plans to construct the Channel Tunnel.

  • There was a royal wedding at Westminster Abbey when Sarah Ferguson married Prince Andrew.

  • The Oprah Winfrey show made its first debut on national television - good for audio

  • The FIFA World Cup was held in Mexico this year. The crowd took part in a wave which the English-speaking world outside America had never seen before, so it became known as the Mexican Wave.

  • GCSE examinations replaced GCE O-Level and CSE courses.

  • Ryanair opened for business. A flight from Dublin to London Luton cost £99 - much cheaper than the £200-odd the flag-holding competitors were charging.

  • BBC TV stopped taking an afternoon break. It would now broadcast all day, but still take a break overnight. Meanwhile Yorkshire Television was the first British channel to be on air 24 hours a day - at night it would switch to European music channel Music Box.

  • Mike Tyson wins his first ever boxing title.

  • Richard Branson on the 72 ft powerboat Virgin Challenger II breaks the world record for the fastest crossing of the Atlantic, but he was denied the Blue Riband award.

  • A record of more than 1.8 million new cars were sold in Britain. The Ford Escort was the most popular new car.

  • The M25, also known as the London Orbital Motorway, was completed and opened by Margaret Thatcher. The road was massively scaled down from its original planned capacity.

  • Corporal punishment was banned in state schools in Britain. It wasn't banned in private schools until 1998 (2003 in Northern Ireland).

  • More than 30 million British viewers tuned in to the EastEnders Christmas Day episode, where Den Watts served the divorce papers on his wife Angie.

  • In one of their most famous front pages headlines, The Sun newspaper alleged that comedian Freddie Starr ate a live hamster.

1986 in Ireland

  • Hurricane Charley reached Ireland in August. The East and Southeast were the worst hit.

  • Two giant pandas, Ming Ming and Ping Ping, arrived at Dublin Zoo.

  • Dublin Airport was open for the first time on a Christmas Day.

  • Knock Airport in Co. Mayo was officially opened.

  • The first attempt at a smoking ban was made. It didn't work partly due to resistence from the tobacco industry, but it did result in large new warnings on packets and adverts.


While these facts about 1986 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.

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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.