1990 in British television
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This is a list of British television related events from 1990.
- January – ITV networks Emmerdale to 19.00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
- 11 February – Live coverage is aired of the African National Congress leader Nelson Mandela's release from Victor Verster Prison, near Cape Town, South Africa.
- 13 February – The US science fiction series Quantum Leap makes its British television debut on BBC2.
- 20 March – Chancellor John Major delivers the first budget to be shown on television.
- 25 March – British Satellite Broadcasting (BSB) launches on cable in the UK as a rival to Sky Television (which launched in February 1989).
- 26 March – The science fiction soap Jupiter Moon makes its debut on the Galaxy channel. 150 episodes are commissioned, but only 108 are aired before the series is cancelled in December.
- 28 March – ITV broadcasts the Granada Television documentary drama, Who Bombed Birmingham?. The programme, which looks at the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings and the conviction of the Birmingham Six names several people believed to have actually been behind the bombings.
- 3 April – ITV airs the First Tuesday documentary Sonia's Baby, the story of a woman's fight with the medical establishment to have a test tube baby using her late husband's sperm.
- 29 April – BSB launches on satellite television.
- 10 May – The Broadcasting Bill receives its third reading in the House of Commons and is passed with 259 votes to 180.
- 19 May – Helen Rollason becomes the first female presenter on BBC 1's Grandstand.
- 28 May – ITV airs a special edition of Coronation Street as part of its Telethon in which Hilda Ogden (Jean Alexander) returns for a special visit.
- 8 June–8 July – The BBC and ITV provide television coverage of the 1990 FIFA World Cup.
- 15 June - The very first edition of Art Attack with Neil Buchanan is shown on Children's ITV
- 2 July – ITV broadcasts Tom McGurk's film Dear Sarah, a play about Giuseppe Conlon's letters to his wife, Sarah after he was convicted as one of the "Maguire Seven" for allegedly making IRA bombs.
- 6 July – Channel 4 introduced a third weekly episode of its soap Brookside, airing on a Friday evening. The soap now airs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
- 7 July – In Rome, on the eve of the final of the 1990 FIFA World Cup soccer the Three Tenors sing together for the first time. The event is broadcast live on television and watched worldwide by millions of people. Highlight is Luciano Pavarotti's performance of "Nessun Dorma" from Giacomo Puccini's opera Turandot.
- 19 July – MPs vote to make tevevised proceedings of the House of Commons a permanent feature.
- 21 July – Debut of ITV's Stars in Their Eyes, a series presented by Leslie Crowther in which members of the public impersonate their favourite singers.
- 18 August – BSB's second Marcopolo Satellite is launched.
- 25 August – The first series of Stars in Their Eyes is won by Maxine Barrie performing as Shirley Bassey.
- 2 September - The long-running animated series The Simpsons is broadcast in the UK for the first time, making its debut on Sky1. Call of the Simpsons is the first episode to be shown on Sky.
- 5 September – New BBC building at White City opens.
- 9 September – As part of the Screen One series, BBC1 screens the groundbreaking comedy drama Frankenstein's Baby which explores the subject of male pregnancy.
- 30 September – The BSB channel Galaxy airs the pilot episode of Heil Honey I'm Home!, a controversial sitcom featuring a fictionalised Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. The show attracts much criticism and is cancelled after one episode. Several other episodes were recorded, but none have ever been broadcast.
- 2 October – The First Tuesday documentary Swing Under the Swastika airs on ITV. The programme looks at jazz music under the Nazi regime and is narrated by Alan Plater.
- 23 October – David Lynch's critically acclaimed serial drama Twin Peaks receives its British television debut at 9.00pm on BBC2.
- 2 November – BSB merges with Sky Television, becoming British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB). Of BSB's five channels, only two, The Movie Channel and The Sports Channel, remain on air long term, though both are eventually renamed. Galaxy is closed with its transponders handed over to Sky One, Now is replaced in the most part with Sky News and The Power Station remains on air until 8 April 1991 before being replaced by MTV.
- 18 November-23 December - The BBC's serialisation of the Chronicles of Narnia concludes with the fourth and final story, The Silver Chair, being aired in six parts.
- 20 November – Broadcaster John Sergeant's famous encounter with Margaret Thatcher on the steps of the British embassy in Paris. He was waiting for Thatcher in the hope of hearing her reaction to the first ballot in the party leadership contest of 1990, only to be pushed aside by her press secretary, Sir Bernard Ingham, when Thatcher emerges from the building. Sergeant later wins the British Press Guild award for the most memorable broadcast of the year.
- November – The Broadcasting Act 1990 receives Royal Assent. The Act paves the way for the deregulation of the British commercial broadcasting industry, and will have many consequences for the ITV system.
- 1 December – With the media watching, the two ends of the service tunnel of the Channel Tunnel are joined together, linking Britain and France for the first time since the Ice Age. A handshake then takes place between Englishman Graham Fagg and Frenchman Phillippe Cozette, after which British and French workers board trains to complete the first journey between the two countries.
- 7 December - BBC2 broadcasts Your Move, a pioneering interactive show in which the home audience are invited to play chess against grandmaster Jonathan Speelman using telephone voting to select each move.
- 9 December – Cilla Black hosts Happy Birthday Coronation Street, an evening of entertainment on ITV to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Coronation Street. The series reached its 30th birthday on 9 December.
- 25 December – Channel 4 airs The Coronation Street Birthday Lecture, a talk delivered by Labour politician Roy Hattersley in which he discusses aspects of the soap in front of an invited audience, which includes some Coronation Street cast members. The programme also includes some classic clips from the series.
- Unknown – The Greek language channel Hellenic TV – the UK's first foreign-language service to be given a broadcast licence by the Independent Television Commission – goes on air in London.
- 4 January – One Foot in the Grave (1990–2000).
- 26 March – Turnabout (1990–1996)
- 21 April – 8:15 from Manchester (1990–1992)
- 28 June – Waiting for God (1990–1994)
- 2 July – MasterChef (1990–2001, 2005–present)
- 29 October – Keeping Up Appearances (1990–1995)
- 28 September – Have I Got News for You (1990–present)
- 3 October – The Mary Whitehouse Experience (1990–1992)
- 8 January – Nellie the Elephant (1990–1991)
- 7 February –
- 28 February – Spatz (1990–1992)
- 6 March – Chancer (1990–1991)
- 16 April – You've Been Framed! (1990–present)
- 22 April – Jeeves and Wooster (1990–1993)
- 23 April – Families (1990–1993)
- 1 May – The Upper Hand (1990–1996)
- 1 June – The $64,000 Question (1990–1993)
- 15 June – Art Attack (1990–2007 ITV, 2011–present Disney Junior)
- 20 June - Mr. Bean (1990):
- 21 July – Stars in Their Eyes (1990–2006)
- 24 August - Mr. Bean Goes to Town (1990)
- 7 September – The Piglet Files (1990–1992)
- 25 September – The Dreamstone (1990–1995)
- 29 December – The Widowmaker
- February – Cutting Edge (1990–present)
- 15 February – The Crystal Maze (1990–1995)
- 9 August – Drop the Dead Donkey (1990–1998)
- 2 September - The Simpsons (1990–present) (Repeated on BBC1 & BBC2 from 1996–2003 & Channel 4 from 2004–present)
Changes of network affiliation
|Shows||Moved from||Moved to|
|Ivor the Engine||BBC2||Channel 4|
|Noggin the Nog|
- Come Dancing (1949–1998)
- Panorama (1953–present)
- This Week (1956–1978, 1986–1992)
- What the Papers Say (1956–2008)
- The Sky at Night (1957–present)
- Blue Peter (1958–present)
- Grandstand (1958–2007)
- Coronation Street (1960–present)
- Songs of Praise (1961–present)
- World in Action (1963–1998)
- Top of the Pops (1964–2006)
- Match of the Day (1964–present)
- Mr. and Mrs. (1964–1999)
- Jackanory (1965–1996, 2006–present)
- The Money Programme (1966–present)
- The Big Match (1968–2002)
- Rainbow (1972–1992, 1994–1995)
- Emmerdale (1972–present)
- Newsround (1972–present)
- Last of the Summer Wine (1973–2010)
- That's Life! (1973–1994)
- Wish You Were Here...? (1974–2003)
- Arena (1975–present)
- Jim'll Fix It (1975–1994)
- One Man and His Dog (1976–present)
- Grange Hill (1978–2008)
- The Paul Daniels Magic Show (1979–1994)
- Antiques Roadshow (1979–present)
- Question Time (1979–present)
- Children in Need (1980–present)
- Bergerac (1981–1991)
- 'Allo 'Allo! (1982–1992)
- Wogan (1981–1992)
- Brookside (1982–2003)
- Countdown (1982–present)
- Timewatch (1982–present)
- Right to Reply (1982–2001)
- Good Morning Britain (1983–1992, 2014–present)
- First Tuesday (1983–1993)
- Highway (1983–1993)
- Blockbusters (1983–93, 1994–95, 1997, 2000–01, 2012)
- Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends (1984–present)
- Wide Awake Club (1984–1992)
- Spitting Image (1984–1996)
- The Bill (1984–2010)
- Busman's Holiday (1985–1993)
- EastEnders (1985–present)
- The Cook Report (1985–1998)
- Crosswits (1985–1998)
- Telly Addicts (1985–1998)
- Comic Relief (1985–present)
- Bread (1986–1991)
- Brush Strokes (1986–1991)
- Naked Video (1986–1991)
- Boon (1986–1992, 1995)
- Every Second Counts (1986–1993)
- Lovejoy (1986–1994)
- The Raggy Dolls (1986–1994)
- Beadle's About (1986–1996)
- The Chart Show (1986–1998, 2008–2009)
- Casualty (1986–present)
- All Clued Up (1987–1992)
- Going Live! (1987–1993)
- Watching (1987–1993)
- The Time, The Place (1987–1996)
- Allsorts (1987–1995)
- Going for Gold (1987–1996, 2008–2009)
- Chain Letters (1987–1997)
- ChuckleVision (1987–2009)
- I Can Do That (1988–1991)
- After Henry (1988–1992)
- Park Avenue (1988–1992)
- Count Duckula (1988–1993)
- You Rang, M'Lord? (1988–1993)
- You Bet! (1988–1997)
- Playdays (1988–1997)
- London's Burning (1988–2002)
- On the Record (1988–2002)
- Fifteen to One (1988–2003)
- This Morning (1988–present)
- Tricky Business (1989–1991)
- The Channel Four Daily (1989–1992)
- Absolutely (1989–1993)
- KYTV (1989–1993)
- Press Gang (1989–1993)
- Birds of a Feather (1989–1998, 2014–present)
- A Bit of Fry & Laurie (1989–1995)
- Desmond's (1989–1994)
- Mike and Angelo (1989–2000)
- The Simpsons (1989–present)
Ending this year
- Opportunity Knocks (1956–1978, 1987–1990)
- Juke Box Jury (1959–1967, 1979, 1989–1990)
- Sale of the Century (1972–1990 ITV, 1997–1998 Challenge)
- Blankety Blank (1979–1990, 1997–2002)
- All Creatures Great and Small (1978–1990)
- Don't Wait Up (1983–1990)
- Bob's Full House (1984–1990)
- Home to Roost (1985–1990)
- Howards' Way (1985–1990)
- Connections (1985-1990)
- Colin's Sandwich (1988–1990)
- Noel's Saturday Roadshow (1988–1990)
- The Poddington Peas (1989–1990)
- Campion (1989–1990)
- The Labours of Erica (1989–1990)
- 16 May – Thomas Sangster, actor
- 8 January – Terry-Thomas, 78, actor
- 14 January – Gordon Jackson, 66, actor
- 8 April – Doreen Sloane, 56, actress
- 2 May – David Rappaport, 38, actor
- 30 June - Lynne Carol, 76, actress
- 14 November – Malcolm Muggeridge, 87, journalist, author and media personality
- New York Times; March 29, 1990; British TV Names Bombing Suspects
- "First Tuesday: Sonia's Baby, BFI profile".
- "Broadcasting Bill". Hansard. 10 May 1990. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
- Thomas, Deborah (6 July 1990). "Letters From An Innocent Man". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- Wilkes, Neil (22 June 2000). "Simpsons Mania on Sky One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
- "Frankenstein's Baby". BFI.
- "First Tuesday: Swing Under The Swastika, BFI profile".
- Dugdale, John (20 November 2000). "Broadcasting Act, 1990". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2009.
- "The Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-04-10.
- "Chunnel birthday". Evening Mail (Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd). 2 December 2000.
- "Channel Tunnel Handshake | Historic tunnel handshake joins Britain to France". Baltimore Sun (Tribune Company). 2 December 1990. Retrieved 5 May 2014.
- Happy Birthday Coronation Street at the Internet Movie Database
- The Coronation Street Birthday Lecture at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database