THE CHANNEL TUNNEL
Ideas for a Cross-Channel fixed link appeared as early as 1802, but British political and press pressure over compromised national security stalled attempts to construct a tunnel. The eventual successful project, organised by Eurotunnel, began construction in 1988 and opened in 1994. Eleven tunnel boring machines, working from both sides of the Channel, cut through chalk marl to construct two rail tunnels and a service tunnel. The project came in 80% over its predicted budget.
THE DEATH OF DIANA
What started as a fairy tale in the 1980s ended in tragedy in the 1990s. In 1996 Prince Charles and Princess Diana divorced. Diana was pursued by the media following the revelation of her friendship with Dodi Fayed. On 31 August 1997 the two of them left the Hôtel Ritz Paris followed by paparazzi into the Pont de l'Alma road tunnel where their car crashed. Britain was stunned by the death of Diana and public and press pressure on the Royal Family resulted in her having a state funeral. Over a million people lined the route of the funeral cortege to Westminster Abbey and along her final journey to the Spencer family home in Northamptonshire.
One of the country's most recognisable and celebrated footballers of the 1990s, Paul Gascoigne's life on and off the pitch has been an eventful one. During the World Cup in 1990 he showed his vulnerable side, shedding tears of frustration after his booking in the semi-final against Germany ruled him out of a potential appearance in the final. The passion that 'Gazza' showed made him a national hero and the aftermath of England's run in the 1990 World Cup saw Gascoigne reach the peak of his popularity as "Gazzamania" swept England.
- adopted the term "New Labour" and moved away from the Labour party's traditional left wing position towards the centre ground. Blair subsequently led Labour to a landslide victory in the 1997 general election. At 43 years old, he became the youngest Prime Minister since Lord Liverpool in 1812. Blair is the Labour Party's longest-serving Prime Minister; the only person to have led the Party to three consecutive general election victories.
NOEL'S HOUSE PARTY
Essential Saturday night viewing for a large majority of Britain's television watching public for much of the nineties, Noel's House Party was a mixture of slapstick humour and cash or fun games starring celebrity guests and members of the public. In the NTV segment Noel Edmonds would surprise viewers watching the show in their own home where a hidden camera had been planted. Unsuspecting celebs were just as likely to be surprised by a 'Gotcha Oscar.'
Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po arrived in 1997. Although the programme was aimed at children between the ages of one and four, it had a substantial cult following with older generations, mainly university and college students. Notable for its high production values, the programme rapidly became a critical and commercial success in Britain and abroad and won a BAFTA in 1998. A massive television phenomenon with rights to the show sold in every corner of the globe, Teletubbies made the BBC £23m in 1998 alone.
THE SPICE GIRLS
- arrived on the pop music scene in 1996 with their debut single 'Wannabe', which hit number-one in over 30 countries, immediately establishing the group as a global phenomenon. The Spice Girls were credited as the pioneers of commercial teen pop in the late 1990s, with their debut album selling more than 23 million copies worldwide, the best selling album by a female pop group in history. They have sold over 75 million records which also makes them the best selling female group of all time.
- formed in Manchester in 1991 have had eight UK number-one singles and eight UK number-one albums, and won fifteen NME Awards, nine Q Awards, four MTV Europe Music Awards and six BRIT Awards, including one in 2007 for outstanding contribution to music and one for the best album of the last 30 years as voted by the BBC Radio 2 listeners; they have been nominated for three Grammy Awards. Although the band split up in 2009, as of 2018, they had sold an estimated 77 million records worldwide.