1990 in British television

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List of years in British television (table)

This is a list of British television related events from 1990.



  • January – ITV networks Emmerdale to 19:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
  • 1 January – Mr. Bean debuts on ITV.




  • 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.[5]
  • 14 April – BBC2 begins showing the 91-part 1988 Indian serial, Mahabharat, a dramatisation of the epic poem the Mahabharata. The programme is shown in Hindi with English subtitles, and repeated the following day in a late night slot on BBC1.[6][7]
  • 16 April – BBC1 airs Wogan on Ice, a special edition of Terry Wogan's chat show that gives viewers a rare chance to see ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performing together. The pair, who achieved success during the 1984 Winter Olympics, are appearing together in the UK for the first time since 1985.[8]
  • 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.[9]
  • 19 May – Helen Rollason becomes the first female presenter on BBC1's Grandstand.[10]
  • 22 May – ITV airs "Trojan Horse", an episode of The Bill in which the character PC Ken Melvin (played by Mark Powley) is killed off while trying to park a booby trapped car, when a bomb explodes.
  • 27–28 May – ITV stages its second nationwide Telethon.
  • 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.





  • 2 September – The long-running animated series The Simpsons is broadcast in the United Kingdom for the first time, making its debut on Sky1.[15] Call of the Simpsons is the first episode to be shown on Sky.
  • 5 September – New BBC building at White City opens.
  • 7 September – After an eight-year absence, The Generation Game returns on BBC1 with Bruce Forsyth as returning host and Rosemarie Ford as hostess.[16]
  • 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.[17]
  • 23 September – Debut of the Screen One drama Sweet Nothing, which deals with subject of homeless young people in London.[18]
  • 24 September – Joan Bunting wins the 1990 series of MasterChef.
  • 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 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.
  • 9 November – The Word is moved from 6pm to a late night timeslot.
  • 11 November – At 10.40pm ITV airs an ITN News special in which Trevor McDonald talks to Saddam Hussein. In his first interview with a British broadcaster since his country's invasion of Kuwait in August, the Iraqi President calls for talks and attempts to link the ongoing Gulf crisis with the Palestinian issue.[23]
  • 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 –
  • 22 November – Following Margaret Thatcher's resignation as Prime Minister, the evening's edition of Question Time, broadcast from London's Barbican Centre, is transmitted in two parts, with two different panels. The first part features Enoch Powell, David Owen, James Callaghan and Simon Jenkins, while Michael Howard, Nigel Lawson, Paddy Ashdown and Roy Hattersley are the panellists for the second part.
  • 25 November – Episode three of the ninth series of Spitting Image concludes with a film showing footage of Britain's homeless crisis over which plays a parody of Dionne Warwick's 1964 song "Walk on By". The piece is introduced as one of the legacies of Margaret Thatcher's government, and is rare for the series in that no puppets were used.[25]
  • 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.[26][27]


  • 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.[28][29]
  • 2 December – ITV screens a repeat of Episode One of Coronation Street as the soap approaches its 30th anniversary.
  • 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 –
  • 25 December –
    • Steven Spielberg's 1982 science fiction adventure E.T. makes its British television debut on BBC1.[31]
    • 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.[32]
  • 26 December –
  • 31 December – New Year's Eve highlights on BBC1 include the network television premiere of the romantic comedy Roxanne, a modern retelling of Edmond Rostand's 1897 verse play Cyrano de Bergerac.[34]





Channel 4[edit]

Sky One[edit]

  • 2 September – The Simpsons (1990–present) (Repeated on BBC1 & BBC2 from 1996–2004 & Channel 4 from 2004–present)


New channels[edit]

Date Channel
March The Movie Channel, The Sports Channel, Galaxy, The Power Station, Now
June The Computer Channel

Defunct channels[edit]

Date Channel
November The Computer Channel
1 December Now
2 December Galaxy

Television shows[edit]

Changes of network affiliation[edit]

Shows Moved from Moved to
Towser BBC1 Channel 4
The Clangers
Ivor the Engine BBC2
Noggin the Nog






Ending this year[edit]



Date Name Age Cinematic Credibility
8 January Terry-Thomas 78 actor
14 January Gordon Jackson 66 actor (Upstairs, Downstairs, The Professionals)
23 January Derek Royle 61 actor
8 April Doreen Sloane 56 actress (Coronation Street, Emmerdale, Brookside)
2 May David Rappaport 38 actor (Time Bandits, The Wizard)
21 May Max Wall 82 comedian and actor
30 June Lynne Carol 76 actress (Coronation Street)
14 November Malcolm Muggeridge 87 journalist, author and media personality

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Quantum Leap – BBC Two England – 13 February 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 11 October 2016. 
  2. ^ Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-37057-2. 
  3. ^ Kingsley, Hilary (1990). The EastEnders Handbook. BBC books. ISBN 978-0-563-36292-0. 
  4. ^ New York Times; March 29, 1990; British TV Names Bombing Suspects
  5. ^ "First Tuesday: Sonia's Baby, BFI profile". 
  6. ^ "Mahabharat – BBC Two England – 14 April 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  7. ^ "Mahabharat – BBC One London – 16 April 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  8. ^ "Wogan on Ice – BBC One London – 16 April 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  9. ^ "Broadcasting Bill". Hansard. 10 May 1990. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  10. ^ "TV Listings for Saturday 19 May 1990". Radio Times. BBC. Retrieved 24 January 2015 – via BBC Genome Project. 
  11. ^ Thomas, Deborah (6 July 1990). "Letters From An Innocent Man". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  12. ^ "Countdown". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "EastEnders – BBC One London – 5 July 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 14 October 2016. 
  14. ^ "Miracles – BBC One London – 31 August 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  15. ^ Wilkes, Neil (22 June 2000). "Simpsons Mania on Sky One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  16. ^ "Bruce Forsyth's Generation Game – BBC One London – 7 September 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  17. ^ "Frankenstein's Baby". BFI. 
  18. ^ "Screen One: Sweet Nothing – BBC One London – 23 September 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  19. ^ "First Tuesday: Swing Under The Swastika, BFI profile". 
  20. ^ "Twin Peaks: 1 – BBC Two England – 23 October 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  21. ^ "Keeping Up Appearances – BBC One London – 29 October 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  22. ^ "The Sentence – BBC Two England – 30 October 1990". BBC Genome. Genome.ch.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  23. ^ "Gulf Crisis: Trevor Mcdonald Talks To Saddam Hussein: Special:". Itn Source. ITN. 11 November 1990. Archived from the original on 19 July 2011. Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  24. ^ "Inside Story Special – BBC One London – 20 November 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  25. ^ Hill, Dave (25 June 2011). "End homelessness? Where will they go?". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 22 October 2016. 
  26. ^ Dugdale, John (20 November 2000). "Broadcasting Act, 1990". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  27. ^ "The Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  28. ^ "Chunnel birthday". Evening Mail. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. 2 December 2000. 
  29. ^ "Channel Tunnel Handshake | Historic tunnel handshake joins Britain to France". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. 2 December 1990. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  30. ^ Happy Birthday Coronation Street at the Internet Movie Database
  31. ^ "ET – BBC One London – 25 December 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 16 October 2016. 
  32. ^ The Coronation Street Birthday Lecture at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database
  33. ^ "My Left Foot". ITN Source. ITN. 26 December 1990. Retrieved 26 October 2016. 
  34. ^ "FILM Roxanne – BBC One London – 31 December 1990". BBC Genome. BBC. Retrieved 29 January 2017.