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.








  • 10 August – Debut of Channel 4's music show The Word.
  • 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 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.[12]
  • 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 –
  • 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.[13][14]


  • 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.[15][16]
  • 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 – 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.[18]





Channel 4[edit]

Sky One[edit]

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

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


  1. ^ Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-37057-2. 
  2. ^ Kingsley, Hilary (1990). The EastEnders Handbook. BBC books. ISBN 978-0-563-36292-0. 
  3. ^ New York Times; March 29, 1990; British TV Names Bombing Suspects
  4. ^ "First Tuesday: Sonia's Baby, BFI profile". 
  5. ^ "Broadcasting Bill". Hansard. 10 May 1990. Retrieved 10 April 2009. 
  6. ^ "TV Listings for Saturday 19 May 1990". Radio Times. BBC. Retrieved 24 January 2015 – via BBC Genome Project. 
  7. ^ Thomas, Deborah (6 July 1990). "Letters From An Innocent Man". Catholic Herald. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  8. ^ "Countdown". UKGameshows.com. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Wilkes, Neil (22 June 2000). "Simpsons Mania on Sky One". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 May 2014. 
  10. ^ "Frankenstein's Baby". BFI. 
  11. ^ "First Tuesday: Swing Under The Swastika, BFI profile". 
  12. ^ "Gulf Crisis: Trevor Mcdonald Talks To Saddam Hussein: Special:". Itn Source. ITN. 11 November 1990. Retrieved 6 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Dugdale, John (20 November 2000). "Broadcasting Act, 1990". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 April 2009. 
  14. ^ "The Broadcasting Acts of 1990 and 1996". Ofcom. Archived from the original on 2009-05-08. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  15. ^ "Chunnel birthday". Evening Mail. Birmingham Post & Mail Ltd. 2 December 2000. 
  16. ^ "Channel Tunnel Handshake | Historic tunnel handshake joins Britain to France". Baltimore Sun. Tribune Company. 2 December 1990. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  17. ^ Happy Birthday Coronation Street at the Internet Movie Database
  18. ^ The Coronation Street Birthday Lecture at the British Film Institute's Film and TV Database