8 January – Original airdate of the Only Fools and Horses episode Yuppy Love during which Del Boy falls through a bar. A 2006 poll named the scene the most popular of the entire programme, while it was also named 7th Greatest Television Moment of all time in a 1999 Channel 4 poll.
11 February – Australian soap Home and Away makes its British television debut on ITV.
14 February – Debut of Channel 4's Out on Tuesday, the UK's first weekly magazine programme for gay and lesbian viewers. Later changing its name to Out, the programme aired for four series before being axed in 1992.
23 February – Some 23 million viewers tune in to watch the exit of the hugely popular character Den Watts (Leslie Grantham) from EastEnders. Grantham filmed his final scenes in the show in the autumn of 1988 but his exit was delayed into 1989 to avoid the show suffering the double blow of losing Den so soon after his former wife Angie (Anita Dobson) exited in April 1988. The character falls into a canal after being shot, but the character's exact fate is left unconfirmed.
25 February – The long-awaited WBA Heavyweight title fight between Britain's Frank Bruno and America's Mike Tyson is held at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas. Because of the time difference between Britain and the United States, the fight is televised in the UK in the early hours of 26 February. Tyson wins after the referee stops the bout in the fifth round.
2 March – After much publicity, a two-minute advert for Pepsi featuring Madonna's single Like a Prayer is shown during a commercial break on ITV, 12 minutes into The Bill.
15 March – BBC1 airs John's Not Mad, an edition of the QED documentary strand that shadowed John Davidson, a 15-year-old from Galashiels in Scotland, with severe Tourette syndrome. The film explores John's life in terms of his family and the close-knit community around him, and how they all cope with a misunderstood condition.
3 April – Channel 4 launches its breakfast television show The Channel Four Daily. The programme is based heavily on news and current affairs, with segments focusing on sports, finance, lifestyles, arts and entertainment, and discussion. It is axed in 1992 after failing to gain enough viewers and was subsequently replaced by The Big Breakfast.
ITV broadcast live the last game of the season, between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield. Arsenal win the league title with the last kick of the season thanks to a late goal from Michael Thomas. More than 8 million people are said to have tuned in.
22 June – John Craven signs off for the last time on the children's news programme John Craven's Newsround. The show continues under the name Newsround.
28 August–3 September – BBC1 airs News '39, a week of news-style programmes presented by Sue Lawley, marking the 50th anniversary of the start of World War II. Each edition is presented in news bulletin format, reporting on events as if they were occurring in the present.
13 September – The BBC is accused of censorship after banning an interview with Simon Hayward, a former Captain of the Life Guards who spent several years in a Swedish prison after a drug smuggling conviction, just hours before he is due to appear on the Wogan show. The decision, taken by BBC1 Controller Jonathan Powell followed protests from several MPs. The BBC says the subject is not appropriate for a family programme, but will be discussed on other shows.
14 September – Peter Sissons takes over as presenter of Question Time as the series returns after its summer break.
Launch of RTL Veronique, a Dutch private commercial television station broadcasting from Luxembourg. The channel aired to Europe via the Astra Satellite, and attracted attention in its early days due to its late night line up of erotic programmes. The station changed its name to RTL 4 in 1991.