1986 in British television

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List of years in British television (table)

This is a list of British television related events from 1986.



  • 2 January – A special edition of Tomorrow's World travels back a century to discover the latest developments in science and technology from 1886.[1]
  • 4 January – Televised football returns to British television after the contractual dispute from the previous year is resolved.
  • 28 January – NASA's Space Shuttle Challenger spacecraft disintegrates. Pictures from CNN in the United States (owned by Turner Broadcasting System, then owners of American superstation WTBS), are aired in countries around the world.



  • 10 March – The first advert for a sanitary towel is broadcast on British television, on Channel 4.
  • 30 March – BBC2 aired the TWO ident, which stayed until 1991.


  • 1 April – All commercial activities of the BBC are now handled by BBC Enterprises Ltd.







  • 12 October – "Every Loser Wins" performed by the actor Nick Berry begins a three-week run at the top of the UK Singles Chart after featuring in recent episodes of EastEnders. The song was an instant hit on release and went on to win its writers an Ivor Novello Award.
  • 16 October – The first two-hander episode of EastEnders, featuring Den and Angie Watts (Leslie Grantham and Anita Dobson), is aired by BBC1. The episode, in which Angie tells Den she has six months to live after he tells her he wants a divorce, was an experiment as the two-hander format had not been tried in a British soap before, but received well by viewers and critics.
  • 27 October –
    • The Australian soap Neighbours makes its British television debut on BBC1, a year after it was first aired in its homeland.
    • BBC One starts a full daytime television service. Before today, excluding special events coverage, BBC One had closed down at times during weekday mornings and afternoons broadcasting trade test transmissions and, from May 1983, Pages From Ceefax.


  • 13 November – Self-employed hod carrier Michael Lush is killed during his first rehearsal for a live stunt planned for BBC1's The Late, Late Breakfast Show. The stunt, called "Hang 'em High", involved bungee jumping from an exploding box suspended from a 120 ft-high crane. The carabiner clip attaching his bungee rope to the crane sprang loose from its eyebolt during the jump, and he died instantly of multiple injuries. The 15 November edition of Breakfast Show is cancelled after presenter Noel Edmonds resigns, saying he does not "have the heart to carry on".[7]
  • 16 November – Dennis Potter's critically acclaimed television serial The Singing Detective makes its debut on BBC1.[8]


  • 6 December – Doctor Who concludes its The Trial of a Time Lord story arc with part 2 of "The Ultimate Foe". This would mark the final televised appearance of Colin Baker as the Sixth Doctor before he was abruptly fired from the role.
  • 7 December – Jack Rosenthal's original two-hour TV movie of London's Burning, directed by Les Blair is broadcast on ITV. It returns for a full series in February 1988.
  • 13 December – Comedian Duggie Small wins New Faces of '86.
  • 17 December – Ringo Starr narrates his last ever Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends episode, the second series finale, "Thomas & the Missing Christmas Tree".
  • 25 December – 30.15 million tune in to watch "Dirty" Dennis Watts hand wife Angie her divorce papers in EastEnders, making it the highest rated episode of any drama in British television history.[9]
  • 26 December – The Rainbow 30 minute Christmas special, The Colours of the Rainbow is the highest ever rating episode of the show. It was thought that Rainbow would end following this episode, but Thames Television renewed the contract after good ratings.





Channel 4[edit]

Television shows[edit]

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Shows Moved from Moved to
Sesame Street (British syndication) ITV Channel 4
Opportunity Knocks BBC1

Returning this year after a break of one year or longer[edit]

  • 11 September – This Week (1956–1978, 1986–1992)
  • 19 September – New Faces (1973–1978, 1986–1988)






Ending this year[edit]



Date Name Age Cinematic Credibility
3 January Dustin Gee 43 comedian
6 February Dandy Nichols 78 actress (Till Death Us Do Part)
10 March Ray Milland 79 actor
17 September Pat Phoenix 62 actress (Elsie Tanner in Coronation Street)
22 September Janet Davies 59 actress (Dad's Army)
28 October Ian Marter 42 actor and writer
Eddie Waring 76 rugby commentator and presenter
21 December Bill Simpson 55 actor (Dr. Finlay's Casebook)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ http://genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/b1d315b259a445b78da34c8bc5bb655c
  2. ^ Round Britain Whizz at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ ""1986: Prince Andrew weds Sarah Ferguson", BBC News". 1986-07-23. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
  4. ^ "Sunday Premiere: The Monocled Mutineer – BBC One London – 31 August 1986". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  5. ^ "Doctor Who – BBC One London – 6 September 1986". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Casualty – BBC One London – 6 September 1986". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 19 November 2016. 
  7. ^ Sapsted, David (17 November 1986). "Family to delay legal action decision". The Times. 
  8. ^ "The Singing Detective – BBC One London – 16 November 1986". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 March 2016. 
  9. ^ Revoir, Paul (2008-10-07). "The most watched TV shows of all time – and they are all old programmes". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2011-03-03.