What we were watching, reading and listening to in 1980

Sting was at the top of the charts as lead vocalist for band The Police, during 1980.
Sting was at the top of the charts as lead vocalist for band The Police, during 1980.
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EVEN though it was only 35 years ago, it was a whole different time in terms of media. Television shows were reaching three times more viewers than they do today, and music was firmly in the post-punk era.



On the 22 November a record 22.6 million viewers tuned in to see who shot J. R. Ewing, making it the most watched broadcast of 1980. The character was shot in the show’s third season finale, and viewers were left hanging until season four aired - eight months later.


The Police - Don’t Stand So Close to Me spent four weeks on top of the UK singles chart. The single also went on to become the biggest selling song of 1980. It concerns a schoolgirl’s crush on her young teacher which leads to an affair, which in turn is discovered. The Police won the 1982 Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for this song.


The Covenant

Best selling book of 1980, The Covenant, written by James A. Michener, is set in South Africa and home to five distinct populations: Bantu (native Black tribes), Coloured (the result of generations of racial mixture between persons of European descent and the indigenous occupants of South Africa along with slaves brought in from Angola, Indonesia, India, Madagascar and the east Coast of Africa), British, Afrikaner, and Indian, Chinese, and other foreign workers. The novel traces the history, interaction, and conflicts between these populations, from prehistoric times up to the 1970s.

The Bourne Identity

The second bestselling book of 1980 was Robert Ludlum’s spy fiction thriller The Bourne Identity. The story follows a trained killer, Jason Bourne, who has retrograde amnesia and must discover his true identity whilst trying not to be killed by the CIA.