1989 in history

1989 in history

Here are some light-hearted facts about 1989, designed to serve as a prep sheet for a radio feature on 1989.

I created this page because when I needed some notes to create a few talking points about 1989 in Ireland I couldn't find any suitable sources, so I thought I'd share what I did find. It applies to 1989 in Britain too.

You can also look at years other than 1989:

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


1989

  • George W. Bush is sworn in as President of the USA.

  • The Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Daniel Day Lewis appeared on stage in Hamlet and claims he saw the ghost of his father, causing him to never appear on stage again.

  • The Simpsons aired on TV for the first time - good for audio [NB: the original first episode was delayed until 1990, but a later episode, Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire aired in December 1989] First Lady Barbara Bush said it was "the dumbest thing I had ever seen".

  • The 'World Wide Web' was born in this year.

  • Pop band Five Star took phone calls from young fans on Going Live, holding giant cordless phones. One caller, named Eliot Fletcher, was able to say "I'd like to ask Five Star why they're so fucking crap, they're fucking -" before being cut off.

  • Batman, Back To The Future 2, The Little Mermaid, Dead Poets Society, When Harry Met Sally, My Left Foot, Quantum Leap, Look Who's Talking and Honey I Shrunk The Kids were in the cinemas.

  • The 'Del Boy falling through the bar' scene of Only Fools and Horses aired: still regarded as one of the greatest comedy moments of all-time - not good for audio, it's a visual gag!

  • Nintendo released the Game Boy.

  • Julian Clary's TV show 'Sticky Moments' began. It was a parody game show filled with gay sexual innuendo. Newspaper reporters instantly developed an obsession with Clary's private life - they couldn't believe that a celebrity was being so proudly gay.

  • Sky Television began broadcasting as the first satellite TV service in Europe. Eurosport was launched too.

  • The first GPS satellite was launched into space.

  • Polly Pocket was the popular children's toy.

  • BBC sports show Grandstand staged an April fools joke, where a large fight between staff took place in the background of the show.

  • The House of Commons was televised live for the first time.

  • 27 million people watched Alan Bradley get hit by a Blackpool tram in Coronation Street.

  • Jeremy Paxman took over Newsnight, where he became infamous for his sarcastic quips at the show's expense.

  • Home and Away was first shown on ITV.

  • The reality crime show Cops aired this year and became the longest-running prime-time show in the US.

  • Edgy teenage drama Byker Grove was shown for the first time. It starred local child actor Declan Donnelly as Duncan but no Ant - he joined the next year.

  • Seinfield and Birds Of A Feather were shown for the first time.

  • This was the year the Berlin Wall famously started to be brought down. David Hasselhoff was the headliner at the Freedom Tour Live concert.

  • Fair City first aired on Irish television in this year as an urban alternative to Glenroe.


While these facts about 1989 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.