22 March – Prime MinisterMargaret Thatcher tells the House of Commons that journalists have a "bounden duty" to assist the police investigation into the corporals killings by handing over their footage. Many have refused to do so fearing it could place them in danger.
23 May – Three gay rights activists invade the BBC studios during a Six O'Clock bulletin of the BBC News to protest about the introduction of Section 28, a law preventing schools from teaching their students about homosexuality. Protesters can be heard chanting as Sue Lawley continues to read the news, prompting the presenter to comment "we have been rather invaded by some people who we hope to be removing very shortly".
29–30 May – ITV stages the first Telethon, a 27-hour nationwide fundraising effort involving participation and input from all of the regional broadcasters around the country. Its aim is to raise money for disability charities across the United Kingdom.
1 July – Australian series The Flying Doctors makes its British television debut on BBC 1. Initially aired on Fridays at 8.10pm, from 20 August, it is moved to a Saturday early evening slot.
19 July – The Bill broadcasts the first episode of its fourth season and switches to a year-round serial format.
26 July – Anna Wing makes her final appearance as EastEnders matriarch Lou Beale, dispensing words of wisdom and advice to her family before retiring to her bedroom to slip away. Her final words in the soap are: "That's you lot sorted. I can go now." The character has died by the following episode, and at her funeral, her on-screen son Pete (played by Peter Dean) proposes a toast to that "bloody old bag". Wing herself died, aged 98, in 2013.
7 September – Repeat showing of Paul Hamann's death row documentary Fourteen Days in May, telling the story of the final days of Edward Earl Johnson as he awaits execution on Mississippi's death row. The film is followed on 14 September by The Journey, in which lawyer Clive Stafford Smith returns to Mississippi in an attempt to posthumously clear Johnson of the crimes to which he always professed his innocence.
8 September – Channel 4 drops plans to invite Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams to appear on an edition of its late night discussion programme After Dark following objections from other contributors.
9 September – Casualty returns to BBC1 for a third series, moving from its previous Saturday evening slot to Friday evenings.
5 October – ITV begins airing the Australian soap Richmond Hill in a 2.00pm slot on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the first time the channel has networked an Australian soap. However, some regions (including Central and Granada) opt out of networking the series when it is cancelled by Australia's Channel Ten in 1989.
19 October – Home SecretaryDouglas Hurd issues a notice under clause 13(4) of the BBC Licence and Agreement to the BBC and under section 29(3) of the Broadcasting Act 1981 to the Independent Broadcasting Authority prohibiting the broadcast of direct statements by representatives or supporters of 11 Irish political and military organisations.The ban lasts until 1994, and denies the UK news media the right to broadcast the voices, though not the words, of all Irish republican and Loyalist paramilitaries. The restrictions – targeted primarily at Sinn Féin – means that actors are used to speak the words of any representative interviewed for radio and television.
In the House of Commons, an amendment introduced by the oppositionLabour Party condemning the government's decision over the broadcasting ban as "incompatible with a free society" is rejected, despite some Conservative MPs voting with Labour.
24 November – Frank Ruse, a left-wing Labour councillor for Liverpool City Council accompanies Liverpool's Pagoda Chinese Youth Orchestra to London for an appearance on Blue Peter. He is given a Blue Peter badge, but later receives a BBC headed letter requesting its return. The letter (later discovered to be a forgery) claims the programme had been approached by the office of Labour leader Neil Kinnock expressing concern that a councillor with hard-left views had been given a Blue Peter badge. Upon receiving the returned badge, the BBC writes back to Ruse stating that it had not sent the letter. The incident prompts Ruse to start an enquiry to find out who sent the hoax letter.
11 December – Launch date of the Astra Satellite. The satellite will provide television coverage to Western Europe and is revolutionary as one of the first medium-powered satellites, allowing reception with smaller dishes than has previously been possible.
The final edition of It's a Knockout to air on BBC1 is another celebrity special, It's a Charity Knockout From Walt Disney World, featuring teams of celebrities from the United Kingdom, United States and Australia. The series returns to S4C in 1991.
"Ding Dong Merrily", the London's Burning Christmas special, and the only episode of the series to have a title, is broadcast by ITV as part of its Christmas Day line up.