Icons of England
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1970-1980

The Sex Pistols and Pink Floyd, Bohemian Rhapsody and Bowie; and the first of the Mr Men books

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1970: Mr And Mrs Clark And Percy

This famous portrait by David Hockney depicts fashion designer Ossie Clark and his soon-to-be wife, Celia Birtwell - not forgetting their white cat, Percy. This is possibly one of Hockney's most famous paintings, exemplifying his clear, almost photographic, style.

1971: First Mr Men book published

Roger Hargreaves invents the Mr Men series in response to a question from his son: "What does a tickle look like?" Each book is 15p.

1971: Immigration Act

This act consolidates previous legislation aimed at limiting immigration. Applicants now need a work permit and only qualify if they have a parent or grandparent born in England. The same rules do not apply to areas of the former Empire that have predominantly white populations, such as Australia.

SS Empire Windrush

1971: Alan Ayckbourn goes to Scarborough

Prolific playwright Alan Ayckbourn is appointed artistic director of the Stephen Joseph Theatre-in-the-Round in Scarborough. This theatre premieres all of his subsequent plays, including Absurd Person Singular, The Norman Conquests and A Chorus Of Disapproval.

1971: Beginnings of English Punk

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren open a shop on London's King's Road

03 Jun 1971: No Sex Please, We're British

This farcical comedy by Anthony Marriot and Alistair Foot runs in the West End for more than 15 years - its title alone helps to define the English attitude to sex.

01 Jan 1972: Greenwich Mean Time replaced

GMT is supplanted as the international standard by Coordinated Universal Time.

1972: Liberty cinema opens

The Liberty was the new name for the old Palace Cinema in Southall. After 1972 it did not show any English language films, concentrating on Bollywood imports instead. Sunday afternoon cinema outings are fondly remembered by many locals. One of these fans, Surjit Phander, rescued the cinema from demolition and it re-opened in 2001 as the Himalaya Palace with a swanky three screens!

1972: Mr Benn swaps his bowler hat

The children's programme Mr Benn is first broadcast - only 13 episodes are ever made! Our bowler-hatted hero visits a fancy dress shop, chooses an outfit and has an adventure in every episode. And the shopkeeper always appears when it is time to go home.

30 Mar 1972: Bloody Sunday massacre

British soldiers open fire on unarmed demonstrators, protesting the policy of internment without trial. Thirteen people are killed outright, a number of others wounded. In the ensuing outcry, Britain takes over direct rule of Northern Ireland.

06 Jun 1972: David Bowie's alter ego appears

Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars LP is released. It's all about glitz, glamour and sexual ambiguity and nobody has done anything quite like this before. The definitive concept album?

1973: Delia explains it all for you

Delia Smith first starts teaching us to cook on the TV show Family Fare.

1973: Pink Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon

Pink Floyd are the ultimate progressive rock band, a massive phenomenon around the world. This is their most famous album. Everyone has it - don't you?

1974: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John Le Carré creates the template for the modern spy novel.

1974: Original Alice proof auctioned

The proof sells at Sotheby's for £1,700. It is particularly interesting because it contains an episode with a wasp wearing a wig that was dropped from the first edition at Tenniel's suggestion.

Alice In Wonderland

05 Oct 1974: Guildford pub bombings

As part of a concerted attack on mainland Britain this year, the IRA bomb the Horse and Groom Pub in Guildford, causing many deaths and casualties and shocking the public. The "Guildford Four" are wrongly convicted and this pattern is repeated with the Birmingham bombings.

1975: Bohemian Rhapsody wins a Novello

Five minutes and 55 seconds of extravagant genius! Queen were told that it would never be a hit because it was too long, but after DJ Kenny Everett played it 14 times in two days, there was no stopping the phenomenon. Often copied but never bettered, the song was accompanied by a ground-breaking video that is credited with beginning the music video craze.

19 Sep 1975: Fawlty Towers opens for business

The ultimate nightmare English small hotel as created by John Cleese and Connie Booth. Only 12 episodes of this agonisingly funny series are ever made.

15 Oct 1975: Cod War with Iceland begins

This was actually the third of three Cod Wars, disputing the right of Iceland to fish at an ever-increasing radius from its own shores. NATO had to intervene after seven months and basically decided in favour of Iceland. This was a severe blow to the British fishing industry and on the supply of cod for food.

1976: National Theatre opens

Under the auspices of Lord Olivier, the National Theatre opens on the South Bank in Lasdun's landmark concrete pile.

1976: Jamme Masjid Mosque opens

This mosque occupies what was built as L'Eglise Neuve in the late-18th century by Protestant Huguenot settlers to the Spitalfields area of London. Subsequently, this building on the corner of Fournier Street and Brick Lane became the Society for Promoting Christianity among Jews, then a Methodist Chapel, then, in the late-19th century, the Machzikei Hadass Synagogue.

1977: Sex Pistols denied number one spot

God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols is kept off the no. 1 spot in the week before the Silver Jubilee, sparking rumours of a Conservative conspiracy.

1978: First Hitchhiker episode broadcast

The radio series The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, written by Douglas Adams, went on to become a trilogy of five books, a TV programme and a film. Adams was a pioneer of internet technology (the Guide was an early imagining of the possibilities) - check out h2g2 on the web, a Hitchhiker's Guide to Life the Universe and Everything that you can read and update yourself!

1978: Crop circles start hitting the news

How do these beautiful shapes formed from flattened corn arise? Are they caused by landing UFOs or magnetic fields from within our planet? Was it all started by Doug Bower and Dave Chorley, two Hampshire-based artists in 1978 as a bit of a joke? Or are they part of a Ministry of Defence conspiracy to hide the more frightening truth?

25 Jul 1978: World's first test-tube baby

Louise Brown, the world's first test-tube baby is born healthy and strong. The procedure of "in vitro" fertilisation gives hope to many infertile couples and is a scientific break through.

Dec 1978: Winter of Discontent

The phrase is taken from Shakespeare's Richard III and was applied to the winter of 1978-9 by The Sun newspaper. Widespread strikes by the trade unions brought the country to its knees, rubbish went uncollected and event the gravediggers were on strike. The Labour government fell in 1979, ushering in Margaret Thatcher and a long stretch of Tory rule.

1979: Life Of Brian causes controversy

The Life Of Brian is Monty Python's take on what it would be like to be an ordinary, every day bloke and find out you were the Messiah.

1979: Viz is born

First 150 issues of Viz go on sale in a Newcastle pub for 20p.

03 May 1979: Margaret Thatcher becomes PM

Britain get its first female Prime Minister.