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Q: life in London in teh late 70's ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: life in London in teh late 70's
Category: Relationships and Society
Asked by: gaucho34-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 27 Jul 2003 11:28 PDT
Expires: 26 Aug 2003 11:28 PDT
Question ID: 235685
how can I find information about the following aspects of life in
London durign teh late 1970's: films, television, plays, home decor, music,
restaurants, political events, etc. It is to build a background for a
story set in  North London  in 1977 about an actor
Subject: Re: life in London in teh late 70's
Answered By: tehuti-ga on 27 Jul 2003 19:40 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello gaucho34

Here are some of the events that made news in Britain in the late
1970s, courtesy of the “On this day” feature of the BBC News web site
(the URLs will take you to the full report).  I’ve given the political
background to the then government, and taken the news events up to the
end of 1979, since I do not know to what date your book will extend.

Political events:

James Callaghan replaced Harold Wilson as Prime Minister of a Labour
government in April, 1976.
At this time, Labour’s position was precarious, but Callaghan was able
to survive due to the fact that the opposition was not united. 
However, after by-election defeats and a couple of defections by
Labour MPs, in March 1978 Callaghan agreed to a parliamentary
arrangement with David Steel and the Liberal Party which became known
as the 'Lib-Lab Pact'. This was unpopular in both parties and ended in
August 1978.
“Callaghan could have gone to the country in the Autumn of 1978. The
economy was improving and the Government had recovered some of its
popularity. There was considerable speculation and controversy in the
Cabinet about when the best time to go would be. Callaghan sought to
end the speculation by singing an old Marie Lloyd song 'Waiting at the
Church' to the TUC Congress. This was misunderstood in some quarters
and he put the country's mind at rest in a broadcast in which he
confirmed that he would not call an election until 1979. He was
expecting that another round of pay policy would demonstrate to the
electorate the success of his economic policy.”
However, the pay policy collapsed. The government, trying to bring
inflation down from the then figure of 10%, had wanted to keep public
sector pay rises under 5%, but a strike by tanker drivers resulted in
them getting a rise of 14%, and others were not happy to settle for
“By the end of January, water workers, ambulance drivers, sewerage
staff and dustmen were involved in industrial action, heralding the
'Winter of Discontent'.
“The lasting images from the time are of rubbish in the streets and
reports of bodies lying unburied in mortuaries. As all this was just
starting to escalate, the prime minister had gone to an economic
conference in Guadeloupe in the West Indies.  Looking tanned, Mr
Callaghan returned to be asked how he was going to deal with the
problem. "I don't think other people in the world would share the view
[that] there is mounting chaos," was what he actually said.”
However, the Sun (low-level tabloid newspaper) used the headline
'Crisis? What Crisis?' and these words became linked to Callaghan as
if he had said them.
January 22,BBC report of public sector strike and demonstration in

The Conservatives publicity campaign, with the slogan “Labour isn’t
working”, launched in March 1978, had attracted a lot of attention
over the year. The campaign focused on education, unemployment and

In March, 1979, Callaghan lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament
by one vote, having survived a similar vote a few months earlier, and
was forced to call an election.  After 15 years of Labour government,
the Conservatives won the General Election of May, 1979 and Margaret
Thatcher became the first female Prime Minister of Britain.  She had
already made a name for herself in the early 1970s, when, as Minister
for Education and Science in the government of Edward Heath, she
abolished the provision of free milk in British schools, thus earning
for herself the epithet “Maggie Thatcher, Milk Snatcher”.

Other UK events that had people talking

4 June 1977 
“Five British plane-spotters imprisoned in Greece for spying have been
released after 10 weeks in jail.  An Athens appeal court last week
reduced their original sentence from 10 months imprisonment to six,
and allowed them to exchange the balance of their jail terms for
… The five members of the West London Aviation Group, all aged between
20 and 28, have denied they are guilty of spying and insisted at the
trial they were simply engaged in an innocent hobby.

June 1977 saw the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
From the BBC report June 7: “More than one million people have lined
the streets of London to watch the Royal Family on their way to St
Paul's at the start of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations.
The Queen, dressed in pink on her Jubilee Day and accompanied by
Prince Phillip, led the procession in the golden state coach. Despite
the rain thousands camped out over night to try to get a better view
of the procession as it made its way down the Mall and through
Trafalgar Square, Fleet Street and Ludgate Hill.
…  Across Britain millions of people tuned in to watch events on the
television and many more celebrated with their own street parties.
Roads were quiet and many took the day off work.”

10 June 1977
“An elusive goldfish-eating perch with a prodigious appetite has
finally been netted after two years on the rampage in a Kent pond.
The fish - nicknamed Jaws - was caught by two Southern Water Board
engineers equipped with a rowing boat, fishing net - and a 240v stun
Former trawler skipper Alf Leggett has accused Jaws of eating 3,000
goldfish in his Ickham breeding lake near Canterbury. “

The Grunwick dispute: 
“June 27, 1977 - Home Secretary Merlyn Rees has appealed for calm
following two weeks of violent clashes outside the Grunwick film
processing factory in north London.
Mr Rees was visiting the factory in Willesden where between 500 and
600 pickets were gathered at the two entrance gates watched over by a
similar number of police.
… The protest began last August led by an Asian worker Jayaben Desai.
Her son was claiming unfair dismissal from the factory and she had
just walked out of her own job in a dispute with the management.  Mrs
Desai took advice from Brent Trades Council, which encouraged her to
fight for union recognition at the factory.  Conditions at Grunwicks
are reported to be appalling. Most of the staff are immigrants and
wages are low.”
“The Grunwick dispute lasted for almost two years. 
On a particularly brutal day in November 1977, when 8,000 people
turned out to protest, 243 pickets were treated for injuries, 12 had
broken bones and 113 were arrested. Jayaben Desai and three other
workers went on hunger strike.  The conciliation and arbitration
service ACAS was eventually forced to withdraw from the dispute faced
with lack of co-operation from the management.
The strikers called off the dispute on 14 July 1977 [error – should be
1978]. None of the 130 or so workers sacked during the strike was

11 July 1977
“The Gay News and its editor Denis Lemon have been found guilty of
blasphemous libel in the first case of its kind for more than 50
The case was brought as a private prosecution by the secretary of the
National Viewers and Listeners Association, Mary Whitehouse.  She
objected to a poem and illustration published in the fortnightly paper
last year about a homosexual centurion's love for Christ at the

13 August 1977
“More than 200 protesters have been arrested after demonstrations in
Lewisham against a National Front (NF) march.  Approximately 110
people, including 55 police officers, were injured during the
disturbances in south east London.  For much of the day the 3,000
police officers on duty in Lewisham had managed to avoid a
confrontation between the extreme right-wing NF and opposing groups.
… The march at Lewisham was one of a series planned by the National
But after serious violence at a rally in Birmingham in the West
Midlands some councils took steps to stop NF events on public order
… In 1977 the NF candidate in the West Bromwich by-election won 16.2%
of the vote.”

16 September 1977
“Pop star Marc Bolan has been killed in a car crash in south-west
The 29-year-old former T-Rex singer was killed instantly when the car
being driven by his girlfriend, Gloria Jones, left the road and hit a
tree in Barnes.
… Phillip Evans-Lowe was driving to work at a local diary when he
witnessed the smash.
"When I arrived a girl was lying on the bonnet and a man with long
dark curly hair was stretched out in the road - there was a hell of a
mess, I rushed to get the police," he said.”
“A few days after the crash fans broke into Mr Bolan's home and stole
most of his possessions.
Gloria Jones went back to America after recovering from the accident.
She was later summonsed to appear in court in London on charges of
being unfit to drive and driving a car in a dangerous condition, but
she never returned to face the allegations. “

15 November 1977
“Princess Anne has given birth to a boy - the first royal baby to be
born a commoner for more than 500 years.”

6 July 1978 
“Eleven people have been killed and seventeen injured in a blaze on
the Penzance to Paddington sleeper train. Early reports suggest that
the fire was started by a discarded cigarette or an electrical fault
near one of the top bunks in a second class compartment.
… It is the worst accident on Britain's railways since 1915 when 226
died in the Quintinshill crash in Dumfriesshire.”

25 July, 1978: Louise Brown, the world’s first “test tube baby” was
born in Oldham and District General Hospital thanks to a technique
pioneered by consultant gynaecologist Patrick Steptoe and Cambridge
research physiologist Robert Edwards

20 August 1978
“Two people have died and nine have been injured after an attack on a
bus carrying Israelis in central London.  The bus was taking staff of
Israeli airline El Al on a stopover in London to the Europa Hotel in
Mayfair when it was fired on.  An air hostess and a man, believed to
be one of the attackers, died.  The ambush happened at just after 1330
BST when the coach pulled up at the hotel which is close to the US
embassy in Grosvenor Square.
… Eye-witness Richard Oldridge saw the attack. "Suddenly a man
appeared and ran alongside the coach.  Somebody closed the coach doors
and the man produced a machine gun from his shoulder bag and started
firing," he said.  At that point he had dived inside a nearby pub for
cover, Mr Oldridge added.”

11 September 1978
“Writer and broadcaster Georgi Markov has died of blood poisoning,
four days after he said he was stabbed with an umbrella at a London
bus stop.
… Mr Markov, who defected to the West in 1969, said he had felt a
stinging pain in his leg while waiting for a bus on Waterloo Bridge,
and turned to see an unidentified man picking up an umbrella.
The dissident Bulgarian was on his way to the Bush House headquarters
of the BBC World Service, where he has made often critical broadcasts
about the communist regime in his home country.
“Coroners ruled the following year that Georgi Markov had been
"unlawfully killed" after being injected with the deadly poison ricin.
Nobody was charged, but it was widely believed to have been the work
of the Bulgarian Secret Service backed by the KGB. “

15 September 1978
“One of the most wanted members of the West German Baader-Meinhof gang
has been detained in London.  Astrid Proll, 31 is suspected of having
been a member of the left-wing extremist group and its successor, the
Red Army Faction.  Miss Proll was working in a West Hampstead garage
under a false name when officers from Special Branch arrested her.”

20 September 1978
“Police have launched a massive manhunt for the killers of a young
Carl Bridgewater, 13, was shot in the head at close range yesterday
afternoon at an isolated farmhouse near Stourbridge in Staffordshire.”
“Four men were convicted of the murder of Carl Bridgewater and jailed
for life in 1979.
Michael Hickey, Vincent Hickey, and Jimmy Robinson were in prison for
18 years before their convictions were overturned.  The fourth,
Patrick Molloy, died in prison in 1981.”

27 October 1978
“Four people have been killed and four others seriously wounded after
a gunman opened fire at two separate locations in the Midlands. The
attacks happened on the Bustleholm estate, Wednesbury and later at a
service station in Nuneaton.”
“Following the attacks roadblocks were set up across the area and
police were told to be on the look out for a man who "has gone berserk
and embarked on a journey of death and violence".
On 28 October 1978 Barry Williams, a neighbour of the first victims,
was arrested in Buxton, Derbyshire and charged with the murders after
a car chase through the county.  Barry Williams was sentenced to
indefinite detention in Broadmoor in 1979.  He served 15 years, but
there was outrage when he was released to live in a Birmingham hostel
just six miles from Andrew Road, West Bromwich, the scene of the first

23 November 1978
“A Birmingham nightclub has been ordered to open its doors to black
and Chinese people.
… The first complaint was from the sales manager of a local cosmetics
company who tried to book Pollyannas for a Christmas party.  But the
reservation was refused by Genture Chairman John Weston-Edwards when
he discovered a large proportion of the group were black.  “I think we
have to limit all sorts of people, and coloured people fit into that
category” said nghtclub manager John Weston-Edwards. In the second
case, the club owner told a university lecturer she could not bring a
group of students to Pollyannas because they were Chinese.”

9 February 1979 
“Football club Nottingham Forest has just clinched Britain's first £1m
transfer deal.
England forward Trevor Francis signed for Brian Clough's League and
Cup winning side this lunchtime in Nottingham after eight seasons with
Birmingham City.
The total cost to Forest - whose average League gate is 30,000 people
- will be £1,180, 000, including VAT and 5% fees for Francis and the
League Provident Fund for ex-footballers.”

30 March 1979
“Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Airey Neave has been killed by a
car bomb as he left the House of Commons car park.”
“The inquest into Airey Neave's death was told the bomb was attached
to the car by magnets and the timer started by a wrist watch. A
tiltswitch was used to activate the bomb when the car started.
The Irish National Liberation Army claimed they carried out the
killing and said Mr Neave was targetted because he was engaged in
"rabid militarist calls for more repression against the Irish people".

23 April 1979.  The extreme right wing National Front chose the town
hall in Southall for a St George’s day election meeting.  Southall, a
borough of west London, has a very high proportion of residents
deriving from India and Pakistan.  Police sealed off the area to try
and prevent protesters organized by the Anti-Nazi League (a left-wing
grouping) from reaching the town hall.
“In the confrontation that followed, more than 40 people, including 21
police, were injured, and 300 were arrested. Bricks and bottles were
hurled at police, who described the rioting as the most violent they
have handled in London.  Among the demonstrators was Blair Peach, a
New Zealand-born member of the Anti-Nazi League. A teacher for special
needs children in east London, he was a committed anti-racism
activist.  During an incident in a side street 100 yards from the town
hall, he was seriously injured and collapsed, blood running down his
face from serious head injuries. He died later in hospital.
… Another witness, 24-year-old Parminder Atwal, took the injured
teacher into his house and called an ambulance.  He said, "I saw a
policeman hit a man on the head as he sat on the pavement. The man
tried to get up, fell back and then reeled across the road to my
house." “
The verdict of the inquest was “misadventure” and no formal charges
were made against any police officers.

22 June 1979
“Former Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe has walked out of the Old
Bailey a free man, after a jury cleared him of the attempted murder of
Norman Scott.
Mr Thorpe, who resigned as leader in 1976 amid allegations that he had
had a homosexual affair with Mr Scott, hailed his acquittal as "a
complete vindication".
Mr Thorpe and three other men were charged with conspiracy to murder,
after the bungled assassination attempt of Mr Scott on a deserted moor
in Southern England. “
Original story of accusation: 20 November 1978

27 August 1979, an IRA (Irish Republican Army) bomb kills the Queen's
cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, on his boat in Ireland.  One of the
earl's twin grandsons, Nicholas, 14, and a 15-year old boy helping out
on the boat also died.  The IRA statement said: "This operation is one
of the discriminate ways we can bring to the attention of the English
people the continuing occupation of our country."
BBC news story of the event:

2 September 1979
“Police have discovered the body of a young woman - thought to be the
12th victim of the "Yorkshire Ripper" - in an alleyway near the centre
of Bradford.
… A tape-recorded message sent to police earlier in the year from a
man claiming to be the Ripper, said that he would strike again in
September or October.
Pressure is mounting on the police, who appear to be no closer to
identifying the murderer since the killings began in 1975.”
(He was finally caught in January 1981)

21 September 1979
“An RAF plane has crashed onto houses in a Cambridgeshire town,
killing two men and a young boy.  Both the pilots ejected safely when
the two Harrier jump jets collided at about 8,000 ft (2,438 m).  One
of the planes broke up in midair and fell harmlessly into a field but
the other dropped onto the centre of Wisbech, destroying two houses
and a bungalow.  Several people were injured in the accident -
including a mother and her baby who were in one of the semi-detached
houses hit by the jet. “

3 October 1979
“Seven people have been arrested for invading the pitch in the South
African Barbarian's opening game against Devon.  The culprits were
cautioned by police and threatened with £600 fines unless they kept
the peace.  But although several thousand anti-apartheid campaigners
were expected to converge on Exeter in protest against the rugby tour,
the final turnout did not number more than 300.”

13 November 1979
“The Times newspaper has been published for the first time in nearly a
year. The paper's disappearance from news stands followed a dispute
between management and unions over manning levels and the introduction
of new technology.
… It was the first break in the production of the Times, known
affectionately to its readers as "the Thunderer", since it was founded
in 1788.”

Music – here is a small taster of what was going on at the time.  I’ve
focused mainly on 1977, because there is a huge amount of material out

This was the era of punk rock.

The Sex Pistols made the leading BBC news story on 6 January 1977 when
EMI ended its contract with them. “In a statement, the company said:
"EMI feels it is unable to promote this group's records in view of the
adverse publicity generated over the past two months."
The move follows the group's appearance on ITV's Today programme six
weeks ago in which they used strong language.    Reports that they had
sworn at Heathrow Airport staff and spat at each other while waiting
to board a plane for the Netherlands yesterday proved to be the final
… The four-man band - Johnny Rotten, Steve Jones, Paul Cook and Sid
Vicious - had only served three months of the two-year contract, worth
£40,000, and published one album - Anarchy in the UK.
… Asked whether he would sign up another punk rock group, Sir John
[EMI managing director] told the BBC: "Certainly. I am told there is a
demand for this style of music and provided we can have groups that
don't attract the adverse publicity this group has had, we'll
certainly want to be in it."

12 October 1978
“Punk Rocker Sid Vicious has been arrested on suspicion of murder
after the body of his girlfriend Nancy Spungen was found in their New
York hotel room.
The former Sex Pistol and Miss Spungen were staying in a room at the
Chelsea Hotel in Manhattan.”
“Sid Vicious was widely regarded as becoming a Sex Pistols member more
for his behaviour than his musical ability.  Sid Vicious' violent
stage acts, self-mutilation and scorn for convention shocked the
Establishment but made him the punk world's hero. Sid pleaded not
guilty to murder and was bailed for £50,000. He overdosed on heroin
and died before any trial in February 1979. He was 21.”

History of punk music in England: 1976-1981
Mentions the 100 Club in London as scene of a groundbreaking gig in
“They initially played in front of small and hostile crowds but
eventually gaining a burgeoning audience who were easily
distinguishable by their uniform of ripped clothing and dyed hair.”

January 1 - The Clash headline the gala opening of the London music
club, The Roxy.
January 12 - Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards is fined 750
pounds for possession of cocaine which was found in his wrecked car on
May 19, 1976. Richards was charged an additional 250 pounds for court
costs and found "not guilty" of possession of LSD. 

“The Eurovision Song Contest 1977 was the 22nd Eurovision, it was held
in United Kingdom on May 7th and the presenter was Angela Rippon [came
to fame as a TV newsreader]. Marie Myriam was the winner of this
Eurovision with the song, L'oiseau Et L'enfant.” Second was the UK
entry, “Rock Bottom” by Lynsey De Paul and Mike Moran. 

“To millions of casual visitors, Camden Town [London] is nowadays
famous for its markets and the diversity of its shops and stalls -
here it is possible to find just about anything from any country and
culture on the planet! But its also worth remembering that Camden Town
has played an important part in the recent history of British popular
… In the 70's other important music venues opened in Camden including
Dingwalls (1973), the Music Machine (1977), (which became the Camden
Palace in 1982), and the Electric Ballroom (1978). At the same time
several local pubs introduced live music including the Carnarvon (now
Fusilier and Firkin), the Royal Exchange, the Monarch, the Devonshire
Arms, the Falcon, Underworld, the Dublin Castle, and the Good Mixer.” 

“In 1976 Punk Rock was rejected by the music industry, the media and
established venues for it's unsavory behaviour. So when a small dingy
Covent Garden club was open for hire on December 14th, Generation X
and Siouxsie And The Banshees were choice cuts to do the honours. The
healthy demand was obvious to all including Andy Czezowski (Chelsea
manager and club owner) who with a bit of insight launched the
official opening tonight on the 1st January 1977. The Roxy Club,
London WC2, opened it's doors exclusively for Punk Rock and became the
focal point of this new phenomenon for at least a 100 nights. In it's
short existence the club featured every available UK punk band with
the Clash headlining the opening night with support coming from from
Mr Czezowski boys Chelsea.” 
This is part of the Punk Archives, which offers a day-by-day
collection of punk-related stories for 1977  Index at
If you want to follow the punk trail here, you will be able to collect
a list of names and London venues.

From Google’s cache:
“There might be some who remember Dave [Ellis] from his days as an
itinerant guitarist and songwriter back in the 70s, working the
circuit alongside the likes of Gordon Giltrap, Keith Christmas and
John Martyn. A Dave Ellis solo album (released on Sonet Records)
earned him national exposure via appearances on the BBC's Old Grey
Whistle Test and In Concert shows. From the folk clubs he found
himself graduating to support slots for the Edgar Broughton Band, at
London's Rainbow Theatre, and Rod Stewart, at Reading Festival. Dave
was also a familiar name on the posters outside those famous bastions
of the then London music scene, The Marquee and The Roundhouse.

“The Roundhouse is a historic steam engine repair building that became
a legendary venue in the 1960s and 70s. This is where punk and glam
rock started, where The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd
made their names and The Doors played their only UK gig. It hosted the
most spectacular and controversial theatrical performances of its day
including works by Peter Brook and the Living Theatre from New York.”
From the Roundhouse web site

“The Marquee Club was a London landmark during the '60s and '70s, and
the name was a legend in itself. The Wardour Street venue closed in
1996, having hosted some of the biggest names and most exciting bands
of the last three decades. The Rolling Stones legendarily played their
first gig there, and U2 and David Bowie were among the acts who have
graced its stage. The Who trashed their gear there, and later Sex
Pistols were banned for doing the same after their first proper London
gig.” (NME web site)

Iron Maiden
Formed in London, England, in 1976, Iron Maiden was from the start the
brainchild of Steve Harris
… Named after a medieval torture device, the music was suitably heavy
and hard on the senses. The heavy metal scene of the late '70s was
widely regarded as stagnant, with only a handful of bands proving
their ability to survive and produce music of quality. It was just at
this time that a new breed of young British bands began to emerge.
This movement, which began to break cover in 1979 and 1980, was known
as the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal, or NWOBHM. Iron Maiden were
one of the foremost bands in the genre, and many would say its
definitive example.
…   The group made its live debut at the Cart & Horses Pub in
Stratford, London, in 1977, before honing its sound on the local pub
circuit over the ensuing two years. Unable to solicit a response from
record companies, the group sent a three track tape, featuring Iron
Maiden, Prowler and Strange World, to Neal Kay, DJ at North London's
hard rock disco, the Kingsbury Bandwagon Soundhouse. Kay's patronage
of Iron Maiden won them an instant welcome, which translated itself
finally into the release of THE SOUNDHOUSE TAPES on the band's own

Reggae was big at that time.  The URL below gives the play lists for
gigs by Bob Marley and the Wailers at the Rainbow Theatre June 1-4 
From the Bob Marley Super Site

Genesis played at the Rainbow in January 1977, and at Earl’s Court in

Queen were also at Earl’s Court in June 1977
You can see the playlist of 31 items here from an advert selling an
unofficial video:

Another important London venue is the Hammersmith Odeon:

“Anyway it's 26 February 1977 and we're at the Hammersmith Odeon. My
last Procol concert for 18 years! Something Magic / Conquistador /
Beyond the Pale and a straight Grand Hotel . . . no frills. During
Mark of the Claw various coloured police-type revolving lights were
switched on. A great number. The Worm and the Tree was played,
Pandora's Box / Unquiet Zone and Salty Dog.
The high spot of the evening was the encore. It was almost as if
Procol were saying goodbye. There was Wizard Man and This Old Dog but
nothing could have prepared us for a rousing finale of Heartbreak /
Willy and the Hand Jive / Not Fade Away and Jambalaya before cruising
in to A Whiter Shade of Pale” 

Other bands who appeared there in 1977 include:

Meatloaf, Thin Lizzy, 
Black Sabbath in March 
Here is a ticket stub showing the price was £2.50
Status Quo
Peter Gabriel (24-26 April, and at New Victoria Theatre London on
April 30) 
Eric Clapton (27 April) 
Jethro Tull, among other appearances in London
“10/2/77 Golders Green Hippodrome London, UK 
 First 60 mins. broadcast on BBC 'Sight & Sound' TV & radio show,
19/2/77 (BBC2, 18:30); included:
11/2/77 Hammersmith Odeon London, UK 
11/2/77 Carlton Tower Hotel London, UK 
 An (after show?) party to celebrate the Hammersmith show ('highlight'
of the first UK tour in two years), attended by a number of UK
celebrities, incl. Melvyn Bragg & Graham Chapman. Ian brought a
six-pack of lager.
12/2/77 Hammersmith Odeon London, UK 
13/2/77 Hammersmith Odeon London, UK (You can see
the full set list on the web site)

Pubs were an important part of the musical life:
“Pub rock experienced its hey-day in the 1970s when an altogether new
gig circuit provided an independent alternative to established concert
venues. This was before the economic slump of the 80s and the rapid
growth of pub chains. It was a place where talent-spotters could make
their mark. The idea was to persuade pub landlords, who had few
customers, to let bands play in front of eager audiences. It worked,
and the pub rock scene was born, a movement that later helped pave the
way for a musical revolution -in the form of punk, with bands such as
Ian Dury and The Clash leading the charge.” . 

Here are listings of the top 5 singles, albums and artists from the
British charts for 1977
And here are the UK No1 hits for 1975-1979 

BTW Backdate is a site specialising in the Sixties and Seventies, with
masses of links and a UK focus.  You might find it useful to dig
around there   


At the National Theatre, its Director, Peter Hall, himself directed
the following plays in 1977:
BEDROOM FARCE by Alan Ayckbourne with Michael Gough, Joan Hickson,
Michael Kitchen, Polly Adams, Stephen Moore, Maria Aitken
THE COUNTRY WIFE by William Wycherley with Albert Finney, Ben
Kingsley, Elizabeth Spriggs
1977 VOLPONE by Ben Jonson with Paul Scofield, Ben Kingsley, John
Gielgud, Paul Rogers, Elizabeth Spriggs, Ian Charleson (Peter Hall web

A web site of Royal Shakespeare Company memorabilia shows that some of
their 1977 productions in London at the Aldwych Theatre and RSC
Warehouse were:

KING LEAR (Aldwych) with Donald Sinden, Michael Williams
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (Aldwych) with Patrick Stewart, Peter
Woodward, Richard Griffiths
MAN AND SUPERMAN - Shaw (Aldwych) with Richard Pasco, Susan Hampshire,
Nigel Havers;
PILLARS OF THE COMMUNITY - Ibsen (Aldwych) with Judi Dench, Ian
McKellen, David Waller;
PRIVATES ON PARADE - Nichols (Aldwych) with Denis Quilley, Nigel
Hawthorne, Ben Cross; THE COMEDY OF ERRORS(Aldwych) with Judi Dench,
Roger Rees, Michael Williams, John Woodvine; 1977: WILD OATS - O'Keefe
(Aldwych) with Jeremy Irons, Norman Rodway, Lewis Fiander, Lisa
Harrow; dir:Williams
DESTINY - Edgar (Aldwych) with Ian McDiarmid, Michael Pennington, Greg
Hicks, John Nettles, Bob Peck, Cherie Lunghi;
ROMEO AND JULIET (Aldwych) with Ian McKellen, Francesca Annis, Roger
Rees, Greg Hicks, John Woodvine, Michael Pennington, David Waller
THE DAYS OF THE COMMUNE - Brecht (Aldwych) with Ian McKellen, Greg
Hicks, Alfred Molina, Bob Peck, Nickolas Grace, Mike Gwilym, Cherie
Lunghi, Paola Dionisotti, Ruby Wax, Ian McDiarmid;
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING (Aldwych) with Donald Sinden, Judi Dench, Ian
McDiarmid, Bob Peck, John Woodvine
MACBETH (RSC Warehouse) with Judi Dench, Ian McKellen, Roger Rees,
Greg Hicks, John Woodvine, Bob Peck, Ian McDiarmid;
SCHWEYK IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR - Brecht (RSC Warehouse) with Nickolas
Grace, Bob Peck, Ian McDiarmid, Michael Williams
BINGO - Bond (RSC Warehouse) with Patrick Stewart, David Waller; 
BANDITS - C.P.Taylor (RSC Warehouse) with Alfred Molina, Cherie
Lunghi, Bob Peck, Greg Hicks;
THAT GOOD BETWEEN US - H.Barker (RSC Warehouse) with Ian McDiarmid,
Patrick Stewart, Alfred Molina, Barbara Leigh-Hunt, Cherie Lunghi,
John Nettles
FACTORY BIRDS - James Robson (RSC Warehouse) with Roger Rees, Peter
Woodward, Pippa Guard, John Nettles
1977: THE BUNDLE - Edward Bond (RSC Warehouse) with Bob Peck, Patrick
Stewart, Alfred Molina, John Nettles, Greg Hicks 

A few London musical theatre shows for 1977 are listed at 
There are separate links with detailed information about “I Love My
Wife” (Opened Ethel Barrymore Theatre 17 April, 1977 (857 perfs)
Prince of Wales Theatre, London 6 October, 1977 (401 perfs) 
and “Privates on Parade”, which seemed to be a one-off performance by
the RSC at the Aldwych Theatre, London - 17 February, 1977 

Cinema lists the following as the best films of 1977:
Annie Hall; Close Encounters of the Third Kind; The Goodbye Girl;
Julia; New York, New York;
Saturday Night Fever; The Spy Who Loved Me;  Star Wars; Suspiria; The
Turning Point 

27 December 1977
“The long awaited blockbuster Star Wars hits UK screens today as
thousands of people flock to see the movie setting the US box office
Bracing the cold weather, young and old queued from 0700 GMT in London
at the Dominion, and Leicester Square cinemas, to snatch up
non-reserved tickets which are otherwise booked until March.
…  for those queuing today nothing will satisfy them but a chance to
see the film itself - easy targets for touts trying to sell £2.20
tickets for £30.”

Key British films that appeared in 1977 are listed as being: Joseph
Andrews, A Bridge Too Far, The Cassandra Crossing, Jabberwocky
“Confining discussion to the 1970s (although this longer term view is
helpful), in retrospect the picture is not as bleak as it might
…  successful television series, especially situation comedies (e.g.
Dad's Army, The Likely Lads, Porridge), were translated into films,
not equally as successfully.
… many British films were dependent upon American money and American
stars, and hence had to be "internationalised" in order to recoup
production costs (The Cassandra Crossing … for example). Film
traditions which had seemed original in the late 1950s and 60s were
still churned out, but became increasingly tired, tiresome and
formulaic: the 'Carry On' tradition ended with Carry On Emmanuelle,
confirming the degeneration into smuttiness, and James Bond became
less innovative and increasingly self-deprecating and tongue in cheek.
However, there were high points: the emergence of new and imaginative
directors such as Ken Russell, David Puttnam, Derek Jarman and the
Monty Python team (Handmaid Films), or directors who had made their
name in television (Ken Loach); critically acclaimed films such as
Loot, Luther, and The Long Good Friday; and films which attempted to
be original, even if they quickly became cause Celebes (e.g. Straw
Dogs, A Clockwork Orange or Jubilee).”  (NE Wales Institute of
Higher Education)

Television – again just some tasters

Are You Being Served?  BBC 
It is set in an old-fashioned department store where its loyal, but
decidedly eccentric, staff serve up schoolboy humor laden with double

Dr Who
Doctor Who is the world's longest-running science fiction TV series,
which started as a children’s programme in 1963, but became a cult
In 1977, your hero might have been slightly embarassed to admit that
he enjoyed watching the 4th Doctor, Tom Baker (1974-1981) 

Rumpole of the Bailey (1977-1992)
“Rumpole of the Bailey is, quite simply, one of the finest television
series, and it has served as a model for all law dramas that followed
it. Edgy and satirical, Rumpole is based on John Mortimer's books of
the same name. Esteemed actor Leo McKern portrays the antihero
Rumpole, a determined and committed criminal defense barrister”

The Sweeney (1974-1977) Thames TV
“Despite being given strict guidelines on speaking parts, locations
and structure, writers were expected to produce scripts very quickly
and individual episodes were filmed within 10 working days. Based on
this frenetic schedule, the result was a choice parade of slags, blags
and assorted lowlife, played out across fantastic London locations
with a gritty humour that set the agenda for many of the small-screen
cop shows to follow.” 

'Arena' (BBC, 1975 - )
long running BBC2 arts programme with a particular emphasis on popular
'Dad's Army' (BBC, 1968-1977)
classic sit com set in the Second World War, following the exploits of
a home guard unit
'Morecambe and Wise Show' (ITV, 1961-1968, BBC, 1968-1977)
variety show starring Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise with famous guest
'It's a Knockout' (BBC. 1966-1987), (Channel 5, 1999-)
comedy game show where members of the public participated in often
bizarre activities
'Blue Peter' (BBC, 1958 -)
long lasting children's magazine programme 
'Magic Roundabout' (BBC, 1965-1977) [this became a cult show]
animated children's series starring Florence, Zebedee, Dougal and
'Tiswas' (ITV, 1974-1982)
anarchic Saturday morning children's programme with sketches, and
celebrity gunging 

BBC TV broadcasts for May 9 1977 are available at: 
“Ten years after colour transmission had begun on BBC2; but four out
of the eight schools programmes on this day were still being shown in
“It was Badger Watch all week on BBC1 for ten minutes each night
before closedown. For the first time, we were told, infra-red cameras
would give viewers a unique opportunity to observe a colony of wild
badgers. In contrast, BBC2 offered an hour of bizarre comedy - but
both were repeats, Monty Python and Spike Milligan.”
“Other programmes of note this week include Saturday's Bruce's Choice,
in which Mr [Bruce] Forsyth bowed out of the Generation Game (first
time round anyway); and a show more associated with the 1960s, Z Cars
[a police series], was still going, with its latest series showing on
Tuesdays at 8.10. The Queen's Silver Jubilee was marked with a series
of plays on Tuesdays at 6.50, under the banner Jubilee, reflecting
life in the last 25 years.”

And the 10 most popular programmes for Christmas Day 1977 were:
1. Mike Yarwood's Christmas Show
3. The Generation Game
4. George and Mildred
5. Wednesday at Eight
6. Coronation Street
7. This is Your Life
8. Crossroads
9. This England
10. The Liver Birds

Coronation St web site

“During the soap's heyday in the 60s and 70s, when it was called the
Crossroads Motel, it reached audiences of 18 million.  It was seen as
a TV institution, although wobbly sets and wooden acting were also
part of the experience.” 

Liver Birds
Female flatmates in Liverpool - sitcom

Allo Allo
“Rene Artois (Gordon Kaye) just wants enough peace and quiet to run
his cafe and "'ave it off" with his waitresses without his wife Edith
(Carmen Silvera) catching him out.
Unfortunately, there's a small matter of a war to contend with.” 

London Weekend Television (LWT)
The Fosters  (1976 - 1977)  (comedy with Norman Beaton & Lenny Henry)
 Mind Your Language  (1977 - 1986)  (politically incorrect comedy with
Barry Evans)
 The South Bank Show  (1978 - )  (arts documentary strand presented by
Melvyn Bragg)
 The Professionals  (1977 - 1983)  (Macho action drama)
Weekend World  (1972 -1988)   (flagship ITV current affairs) 

Top rated UK TV shows for 1977
1. Mike Yarwood Xmas (BBC)
2. Morecambe and Wise Christmas Show (BBC)
3. Jubilee Royal Variety (ITV)
4. You Only Live Twice (ITV)
5. Sale of the Century (ITV)
6. Generation Game (BBC)
7. George and Mildred (ITV)
8. This is Your Life (ITV)
9. The Benny Hill Show (ITV)
10. Cornonation Street (BBC)
11. Oh No It's Selwyn Froggitt (ITV) 
12. Doctor on the Go (ITV)
13. The Cuckoo Waltz (ITV)
14. Miss Jones and Son (ITV)
15. Robin's Nest (ITV)
16. Eurovision (ITV)
17. Miss World 1977 (BBC)
18. Wednesday at Eight (ITV)
19. Charlie's Angels (ITV) 
20. The Two Ronnies (BBC) 

This is Your Life is a show that looks at the life of an individual. 
You can see listings of who was covered throughout 1977 (and every
other year) at

Generation Game details at:

George and Mildred

Selwyn Froggit

The Two Ronnies

Décor etc
1970s stuff – NB the Party Seven is a can containing 7 pints of bad

1970s chairs

Italian 70's leather bedroom suite comprising bed, dressing table ,
wardrobe stool and pouffee (seconf from bottom)

Just a description on an ads site, but I’m sure you can visualize it. 
I can – I used to have one then!!!
“1970s Chrome and Smoked Glass table and chair set. Octagonal brown
smoked glass top, on a stand (made of four "U" shaped chrome tubes
lying on their sides!) Glass bevel-edged for safety. 4 Chairs -
Classic Bauhaus design - one loop of chrome tube making the chair
surround with flat seats and backs attached.”

Lucky black cat vases

70s Furniture, décor, lighting etc – the company is based in France,
but should be reasonably relevant content – you need to click on the
thumbnails at the top of the page to get a larger view

“During the mid-1970s, Ringo Starr had a succesful career designing
furniture with his partner Robin Cruikshank.   These are some examples
of their work taken from their adverts in "Design" magazine at the

Habitat shops – first one opened in 1964
Following its success, he [Terence Conran] spent the next 20 years
developing an international chain of Habitat and Conran stores, which
led him to millionaire status. A unique source for stylish, practical
and affordable design, Habitat introduced Britain to a range of French
cookware, all displayed in a simple environment of white walls and
quarry-tiled floors.  The shop was a huge success in London. The
famous, including Beatles stars John Lennon, and the late George
Harrison as well as Julie Christie bought furniture there.  Mary Quant
designed the staff's outfits and bought whole table settings of linen,
crockery and glassware for her dinner parties.” 


“ delightful local little Italian located just off Kensington High
Street at the Holland Park end, has welcomed many a famous face over
the years,
…Once upon a time, in the 1970s, the Trattoo - as it was known then -
was quite one of the most social and famous restaurants in London,
under the ownership of then renowned Mario and Franco Restaurant
Group; welcoming celebrities, royalty, and the London ‘in’ crowd.” 

Rock Garden
“In the 1970s Rock Garden set out to bring something different to
London; Rock Garden features a great menu along with live
entertainment all for one price. The menu offers a variety of burgers,
lamb, seafood, ribs, steak and more. The drink menu is extensive. Some
of the hottest bands around, as well as many up and coming acts are
featured on the Rock Garden stage” 

Descriptions of traditional British eating places that would apply to
the 70s as well.
Special mention of:
“Indian restaurants didn't truly proliferate until the 1970s when
there were dramatic increases in the number of  restaurants and in the
sophistication of the establishments.”
“during the late 19th and early 20th century, fine dining at
restaurants and in hotels became both fashionable and popular. A
number of aristocratic institutions which were established during this
period remain today - Claridges,  Simpson's-in-the-Strand, The Savoy,
Café Royal, The Criterion and the Ritz to name a few.” 
Café Royal

“My lovely husband took me to Le Petit  Prince on Holmes Road in
Kentish Town for my birthday.  It's a couscous joint and really
reasonable.  This French couple started it in the 1970s, but leased it
out and the standards fell.  The French couple is back and the
couscous is really good.  We had the CousCous Imperial for two, which
had merguez sausages, grilled lamb (chops and en brochette), stewed
chicken and so on.  Couscous grains, vegetables in broth and harissa
were served "au volonte", which means all you can eat and it was only
23 pounds.  We stirred lots of harissa into the couscous to satisfy
our need for heat.” 

Ristorante La Barca 
 “This most traditional of Italian restaurants – sadly a breed that is
tending to die out, as everything in London becomes more and more
trendy – opened in 1977, and had remained fantastically popular ever
since, with Londoners and visitors alike appreciating its homely
atmosphere. They will proudly tell you that the décor has not altered
since the start, and it shows”
80 Lower Marsh Street, London SE1 7AB 

Rowley's Restaurant  
Opened in 1977 and has been famous around the world since then for
it's Entrecote Steak and secret herb butter sauce, which is left to
sizzle on the table, accompanied by an unlimited supply of 'the best
French fries in London'. 

“The Greenhouse restaurant originally opened in 1977 by owner David
Levin and gained a reputation for its great British food and chefs,
amongst them Gary Rhodes.”
27a Hay's Mews, London, W1X 7RJ 

The Stockpot Restaurant
“We have been eating at this restaurant for many years, For a
reasonable price you get a god wholesome meal. It is plain but good.
They have a good selection of foods. They also make a good cup of tea.
Their sweets are very good. Last time I was there they also served
alcoholic beverages. When we first went there in 1976 I do not
remember them serving alcohol.”
18 Old Compton Street, Soho

Speaking of Soho, the restaurants of China Town would be another
“Soho is an area of London's West End in the City of Westminster. It
is roughly the area between Oxford Street on the north, Regent Street
on the west, Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square on the south, and
Charing Cross Road on the east. The area to the west is Mayfair.
… Parts of Soho have a shadowy reputation. The area has been at the
heart of Britain's sex industry for at least 50 years. The 1970s was
the height of the area's seediness; in an area stretching from China
Town along Wardour Street, and up Old Compton Street, there were over
250 unlicenced shops, cinemas, clip joints and illegal bars.
… Chinatown is centered on Gerrard Street and is a mix of restaurants
and import companies. Several festivals are held throught the year
including the Chinese New Year.”,_London,_England 


Not specifically UK focused, but might be of interest

If your hero likes gadgets:
“Purpose of Pocket Calculator Show:
to collect and celebrate personal memories of all integrated
circuit-based consumer products from the electronics revolution of the
1970s and 1980s. Share your original stories related to the golden age
of consumer electronics, and together we'll demonstrate why there has
never been another era abounding more originality, excitement and

and other weird and wonderful things:
The Bad Fads Museum
“While the name of this site is BAD FADS, please note that this is
neither an indictment nor an endorsement of any of the fads mentioned.
As you know, during the '70s the word "bad" could alternately mean
"good!" Thus, this site was created to take a fun and nostalgic look
at fashions, collectibles, activities and events which are cherished
by some and ridiculed by others.”
Has sections on fashions, collectibles, activities and events.  

I hope this has given you the information you were seeking, but please
request further clarification if required.

Search strategy:  key words included: 1970s, Seventies, 1977, “London
music scene”, theatre, musicals, television, BBC, ITV, restaurants,
“Peter Hall”, London, “Royal Shakespeare Company”, and names extracted
from the information that was retrieved.
gaucho34-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $20.00
thank you very much - it is an abundance of riches - with this plus
the sites listed, I have enough for several books instead of some
simple story background -  That's excellent!

Subject: Re: life in London in teh late 70's
From: tehuti-ga on 28 Jul 2003 04:11 PDT
Glad to have helped; thank you very much for the generous tip.  This
question certainly brought back some memories. Although I was a
postgrad in Bristol at the time, my family home was in London. I wish
you great success with your story, and with the trilogy that will
surely follow it ;)
Subject: Re: life in London in teh late 70's
From: intotravel-ga on 29 Sep 2003 16:18 PDT
One of those summers, the summer of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, was
very hot in London, as I remember: baking hot. That was 1977, I think,
and the streets were plastered (and painted) with signs about the
Jubilee; you definitely couldn't forget it!

The Sex Pistols chose that time of royal patriotic fervor to release a
song which included the words:
God save the Queen, 
She ain't no human being.
lyrics -

I remember that when the Pistols first started recording, there was
some anxiety about them among the chattering classes; they were seen
as sexist, they could not be easily typecast in the Right-Left
politics of the time; and there was suspicion about punk rock in
Sample perspective at:
But many of the people suspicious of them then probably hold the
opposite point of view now!

The streets of north London would also have had some banners or
notices in relation to squatting as well as Grunwick (support the
strikers, join the picket lines) and Lewisham (anti-fascism,
anti-racism slogans). Houses that were squatted sometimes had signs up
outside or in the windows; and there were "legal squats" as well as
illegal ones.

"Joe Strummer was part of the Elgin Avenue squatter community in west
London. Back in the 70s, when I was a student, I squatted in Carlton
Vale (just off Elgin Avenue) and then co-led a squat in south London,
with 'Mr' Elgin Avenue, Piers Corbyn (brother of Member of Parliament

background on squatting, from the squatters' point of view:

Keywords included "Piers Corbyn," very prominent at the time; his
brother, Jeremy, became a Member of Parliament (he is one of around
six MPs who are 'out' as gay).

P.S. Important to note that some of the suburbs that are trendy now
were pretty run-down in the late '70s, eg Camden Town.
Subject: Re: life in London in teh late 70's
From: intotravel-ga on 29 Sep 2003 16:27 PDT
Suburb is not really the right term for Camden Town, cf. my previous

More about the Sex Pistols:
"In the mid-seventies, the Sex Pistols, the most controversial
rock-and-roll band ever, erupted out of London, offending everyone
from members of Parliament to the rock establishment it sought to
unseat. With its raw, anarchic sounds, aura of sex and violence,
outrageous behavior, and concerts that frequently degenerated into
near-riots, the band changed the rules of rock-and-roll forever. Add
to that the early death of band member Sid Vicious, by heroin
overdose, and you have all the ingredients for a legend."

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