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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 June 2007, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
BMXs and ZX Spectrums
Blue Peter's Peter Duncan on a BMX
Choppers were out, BMXs were in
The Magazine is compiling a people's history of modern Britain - featuring your written memories and photos. We started with the 1950s, the 1960s and the 1970s and continue this week with the 80s.

It was the decade of Thatcher, yuppies and chunky mobile phones.

But many of you were oblivious to the political drama and the social changes sweeping Britain because you were growing up.

BMX bikes, Rent-a-Ghost and ZX Spectrum computers were more important.

Here is a selection of your comments on childhood in the 80s.


I was in my teens during the 80s. Memories: Sitting my O levels and CSEs in 1987 - We were the last ones as GCSEs came in the following year. Getting my blouse signed on my last day of school and the traditional leavers egg and flour fight. Tizwaz, No 73, "Frankie says..." T shirts, "Poodle" perms, rah-rah skirts, Puff ball skirts, leggings, That Levi 501 advert with Nick Kamen in the laundrette. Adam & The Ants (doing the dance to Prince Charming at disco's) Duran Duran (I was hopelessly in love with John Taylor), Curiosity Killed the Cat, Wham, A-ha, Bros (wearing Grolsch bottle tops on Doc. Martins) Band Aid, Live Aid, Sport Aid.
Jo Burke, London, England

Anna Herriman, 1981
I have several memories of the 1980s that are rather distinctive to the decade. First was that we got our first home computer in 1984 when I was 9 - Commodore 64..it was great fun and the games and graphics were really simple compared with those today - my favourite game was Manic Miner which used to take 15 minutes to load and we used to get colourful stripes on the TV whilst we waited!
Anna Herriman, 2007
Second, I remember my old body worn hearing aid which I wore throughout most of the 1980s. I am profoundly deaf and I was stuck with this huge and heavy "box" hearing aid strapped onto my chest with cords trailing to my ears. I couldn't hear anything through it so I ended up chewing through the pink twisted wires until I got to the copper bit!! I also remember riding yellow and red BMX bikes doing wheelies and jumps over steps and then falling off grazing my elbow. I didn't wear a helmet then!
Anna Herriman (right, in 1981 and 2007), Oxford, England

I was born in 1978 and have some great memories of being a kid in the 80s. My dad drove a yellow Reliant Robin and we took our holidays camping in Ramsgate, Hastings and Broadstairs (about 20 miles away!). I used to rush home from school to watch T Bag, He-Man and She Ra, and Rent-a-Ghost, and a day off school meant Rainbow and Button Moon at lunchtime. For a treat I'd be allowed to stay up to watch Tales of the Unexpected (and then not be able to sleep!). I remember watching Prince Andrew's wedding in the TV room at primary school. My friends and I pretended to be The Goonies, played with our My Little Ponies and we ate Mr Freeze ice poles and Curly Wurlies. I'd beg my mum to buy Super Mousses. I started buying Smash Hits in 1987 and in 1988 when I was 10, I never thought I'd love anyone more than Kylie & Jason. Well, apart from Michael Jackson! Judy Blume was a great source of knowledge for us girls at that time, too.
Michelle, Isle of Sheppey, Kent

Three letters. BMX. It was the start of the best times for me, having a bike that you could learn to do tricks on, riding with my mates without a care and enjoying the freedom that transport gave you, building ramps from "borrowed" wood from building sites and then using them all summer long, great days and the start of an excellent sport.
Richard, London
BMX bikes with spokey dokeys on the wheels and running home to watch Fame with leg warmers on! Bouncing up and down on a disc-o, or gliding up and down on roller-boots. Rainbow & Jamie & the Magic Torch were the best shows ever!
Stacie Lithgow, Manchester

I was eight years old in 1980, and remember this... walking home from school alone with a key on a piece of string around my neck all day, being at the park all day from 9am till 6pm during the school holidays with my friends, only going home for tea and a bath.
Louise Rushin, 2007
Having to go to the corner shop for my mum on my bike for 20 dunhill,5lb of potatoes n American tan tights, eating Jublees straight out of the freezer, BMX bikes replacing the chopper. Music was brill. Duran Duran. I wore a sleeveless denim jacket which had numerous badges and back patches on it of that group. Double glazing just replacing the single glazed windows, central heating, shag pile carpet and heavy velour curtains. Mum and dad struggling to pay the mortgage they just got when interest rates went up and up and up, my dad working and me hardly ever seeing him and my mum doing two jobs. Being scared of "the bomb" and Russia. Fab New Years Eve parties with Abba blasting out.
Louise Rushin, Gornal, Dudley

I remember the 80s as being very grey. I was 5 in 1980 so it was the decade I grew up in. I remember Top of the Pops and other TV programmes using a lot of bright neon colours and bubble writing as well as neon colours everywhere else. Otherwise everything was grey and dull. I may have been only a youngster but I knew the clothes were bad!
Heather, Wolverhampton

I remember starting school and there being no computer in the classroom, I remember some really bad storms (possibly the one Michael Fish got wrong), I also remember that there were a lot fewer cars on the road. I went back to the town where I spent my childhood recently and was amazed by how many cars there were parked on the street where I lived, I am sure that there were never quite so many when I was a child.
Sarah McDonald, Edinburgh

I remember the popularisation of home computers, the Apple Mac, the IBM PC, the BBC Micro, all arrived in the first half of the decade. MORPGs also first appeared in the 80's with MUD/MUD II/SHADES on PSS/Micronet/Prestel.
80s Computer Geek, Brighton, UK

80s Memories include Transformers, Breakdancing, digital watches, Scalextric, Star Wars Toys, The Big Trak, and computers.
Alastair, Berkhamsted

Having been born in 1981, politics didn't really mean a great deal to me during the 80s. It was mainly about toys and mucking about with friends and great TV.
Adam Judge
On the toy front Castle GreySkull, He-man picking a fight with Skeletor, launching Action Man's jeep down the stairs (smashing it through my parents window next to the door), oh and lego - castles, towns and a petrol station were all things that could be built with those little bricks, hours of fun! On the TV front there was some absolute classics, Trap Door, that was great, a little blue thing made out of plasticine living its life out in some house the trap door! Button Moon - awesome viewing, some cartoon about a golden eagle and some chap flying on the back of it was particularly good, as was Thundercats.
Adam Judge, Reading

The early home computers, especially Sir Clive's ZX Spectrum with its seven colours, beeps, bog roll printer and rubber mat keyboard, and the even more primitive ZX81, for which somebody managed to write a chess game in 1k of RAM. The limitations of computers like this forced amateur programmers to take control of them on a fundamental level, proving in the process that less can be more. My friends and I stayed off the streets and lounged around each other's bedrooms writing working games in machine code, usually with the latest Dire Straits album playing continuously on tape. Mike Start, you were and still are a genius.
George Lee, Vancouver, Canada (ex Letcombe/Wantage, Berks)

Born in '76, so most of the 80s were my formative years. Luminous socks were all the rage as were snow washed jeans to go with them. Going Live on a Saturday morning with Gordon 'T' Gopher. Was allowed to stay up late sometimes and watch 'Moonlighting' and 'Miami Vice'. Watching them now brings back those emotions I felt growing up. New technology everywhere - we even had an Atari 2600 games console - ace! Had a great time - really miss the 80s!
Craig Mulvaney, Newcastle Upon Tyne

I was born in 1980 and have to say that the 80s were great! The music was fantastic, Queen at the height of their power, Michael Jackson, Spandau Ballet, Wham, Madonna. We had Live Aid - The original and best global jukebox. The TV was great too. As a kid we had The Muppets, Count Duckula, Transformers, Grange Hill was at its best and of course we still had Doctor Who. The movies of the 80s were brilliant too, Ghostbusters, The Goonies, Back to the Future etc. What an awesome decade!
Stuart Turner, North Shoebury, Essex

I loved 80s music, like Depeche Mode or Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Star Wars, the toys really boomed in the 80s, and BMXing. I was a mad BMXer with a blue and yellow super cool Raleigh Burner!! Those three things made me so happy!! When I look back to the 80s it revives so many fun memories
Justyn Taylor, Cardiff
Ahhhhh!!! The memories, the year I fully discovered pop music, the Top 40 with Tommy Vance. The year all my schoolfriends said we would keep in touch, yet no-one ever did! But most important of all, I remember Ian Foreman, who I fell in love with in 1984. I wonder what he's doing now?
Sandra, Chadwell Health

I remember sitting cross legged in my Ellesse tracksuit and Nike Destiny as our junior school head teacher announced to us all in assembly that he was no longer allowed to hit us and everyone cheering as though we were used to being whipped.
Daniel Brown in 1980
We used to stand in the bus queue at a quarter to four reading the dates on our 2p coins waiting for the school bus to take us home. Once on the bus we busied ourselves by chewing the yellow square bus ticket as we swapped footy or Garbage Patch kid stickers - "got, got, got, 'ant got, got, swap yer Luther Blissett and Norman Whiteside for the Liverpool badge". I remember how we all got excited when we got on a double decker bus whose stairs wound the opposite way to usual. Once off the bus we raced home in our parkers with our black and yellow Midland Bank bags to watch He-man and the Masters of the Universe or T-Bag while Andy Crane danced to the theme to Round the World in Eighty days in his broom cupboard. The only time I could play on my brothers Spectrum was when I was off school sick and even then I had to make sure that I turned it off with enough time for the power pack to cool down so he wouldn't know.
Daniel Brown in 2007
My dad used to spoil my viewing of Get Fresh or Saturday Superstore by playing Don Williams on the 'stereo'. Going everywhere on our BMXs with the yellow horn fitted to my handle bars which made police car and ambulance sirens or maybe a crushed can of Panda cola in the back wheel to make my Eddie Merckx BMX sound like a motorbike. A chorus of mums shouting their kids in for Sunday dinner "Daaaaannniiieelllll! Diiiiiiinnnerrrrr!" That's what I hated about the 80s most - being called in for dinner as your best game of sponge tennis throughout the Wimbledon season drew to its climax. "Awww. Muuuummmm, can I have a bit longer???" The cruellest of all - "Can you tape me?" Being replaced by "can you copy me?"
Daniel Brown (right, in 1980 and 2007), Barnsley

The band I loved at the beginning of the 80s was Madness and by the end Madonna. Dodgy discos where they played Duran Duran and Human League. Used to go to Woolworths every Saturday morning and get a new single. The BMX was in and so were Roller Boots from Zodiac. Wimpy was our town's "burger restaurant" - no McDonalds or Pizza Huts. Jeans were skin tight, no more flares and "Frankie Says Relax" huge white t-shirts and Wham t-shirts were the fashion must have.
Paula , Runcorn, Cheshire

Paul Hedges in the 80s
The 80s for me were all about growing up. Leaving school, joining the Army and seeing the world. Having our first computer at school. Space Invaders machines. Music that ranged from Ska through electronic all the way to the dark gothic. Add to this Stock, Aitken and Waterman and Acid house music. We had bad fashion but lots of fun. And the best bit was having two wonderful daughters brought into the world
Paul Hedges, Milton Keynes
As I was three in 1980 most of my 80s memories are of TV programmes like Blue Peter, Mr Ben and Pigeon Street! I was really into Aha but most of my friends were Brossettes so we all wore our bandana scarves tied round our necks. Other memories are of brownie camps at Fivie (NE Scotland) and school trips to see films like The Never Ending Story
Sal Greenwood, New Mills England

I was brought up in Cardiff in a quiet suburb. I used to go out with my friends ALL DAY on my bike without a mobile phone, and without my mother being petrified that I would be attacked. Memories include Lucky Bags, Sherbert Fountains, Vesta Curry, Arctic Roll. Mum sewing(she mended everything), Terrapins in school, playtime in school that always ran over one hour on a Friday afternoon, teachers smoking in class, endless games of skipping, Bull Dogs, Kiss Catch, Cindy Doll, Banana Splits, Double Deckers, Belle and Sebastian, Hair Bear Bunch. We feared very little, everyone worked hard and we saw lots of our family. Now in my 40s they were definitely good times
Lorna Meazey, Witney Oxon

I remember living in a cul-de-sac in Bristol in the early 80s, playing for hours in the road with all the children who lived there. My mum used to have conversations with another mum across the road by shouting from our front door. We had an old white car and every time you went round the corner the passenger door would swing open. One day, my sister fell out of the car on the way to school so she got the day off. All the mums stayed at home during the day and I just remember playing outside a lot.
Mary Speculand, Bristol

I remember long hot summers and knowing every kid on the street. We spent all day in the park and rode our Tomahawk bikes, go-karts and roller skates. Man, we all loved our wheels. The ground at the swing park was rough concrete and we all had skint knees - the bigger the cut/bruise/or graze, the prouder we felt. I remember neon socks, jelly bean shoes and ra-ra and puff ball skirts, chunky jewellery from Razzle Dazzle and big shoulder pads. You know you are a grown-up when your generation invented today's retro look! I remember being allowed to stay up late to watch Dallas and Moonlighting. I loved Saturday Swap Shop and Rainbow. Greasy crisps in cellophane wrappers. Aunty Mary's for Sunday roast and wearing that year's Christmas/Sunday dress from Goldbergs. Sunday night bath and watching That's Life. I remember Cremola Foam and getting a pound a week in pocket money: it would last a week including a trip to the swimming baths. I remember Christmas 1984 when Santa was particularly generous and I received a ghetto blaster, a Polaroid camera and my first computer - a Commodore Vic 20. You had to load games into a separate cassette player which would take about half an hour. I remember thinking this would be good practice because by the year 2000 we will all be on space ships anyway.
Julie Kelly, Glasgow

Born in 1975 I did most of my growing up in the 80s. My memories include playing football every night until it got dark, pretending to have seen ET at the cinema, top loader BetaMax video recorders, CB radio, sirens that you fitted to your bike, bunny hopping my BMX everywhere, watching Kickstart on the TV, Grange Hill, ZX Spectrum 48k+ versus Commodore 64 games, Battlestar Galactica and my absolute favourite toy ever 'a Nelsonic Pacman watch (joystick not buttons)'.
Mark Boughen, Thetford, Norfolk
Growing up on an island, playing kick the can on the beach without a care in the world, being able to walk into each others houses by just knocking the door and going straight in, big hair, spandex, baseball boots tied tight. Yeah, I was a rocker! Life was wonderful back then. Miss those days with a passion, best time of my life.
Nicola Baillie, Glasgow

All the children on the estate playing outside whilst parents sat about talking. Water shortages because of the hot weather, although we never heard of this happening abroad. Hardly ever seeing my dad because he had to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day just to pay the mortgage, thanks Maggie. The end of half-penny sweets at the corner shop. Being sent to the shop by mum for her cigarettes and then rejoicing when she had to start going herself. Watching the Challenger Shuttle disaster on the big TV at school. Being forced to watch the 1981 Royal Wedding because it was patriotic and Live Aid because Queen was on. Other things I remember, GCSE exams, luminous towelling socks, thinking Shakin' Stevens was cool, the Manchester Baggy scene, curtain hair cuts, bell bottom jeans and Paisley shirts.
Paul Webster, Burnley

My biggest memory is of holidays abroad. I guess my parents' was the first generation to go abroad for holidays regularly. We mostly went to Spain and Portugal and I can remember the excitement of going to the airport, the long bus journeys through the night from Malaga to the resort, meeting German and Scandinavian people my own age, Sangria, Calamari and on and on. It's a shame but it all seems so passe now! Still, Spain will forever be fixed in my mind as a paradise, exotic and alluring.
Phil Mason, Hull

Being born in 1975 the 80s were MY era, and how I miss them. Living in Catterick Village North Yorkshire I had unlimited freedom to roam across the countryside and around the village on my Raleigh Striker. I went sticklebacking in the village beck, built stepping stones and dams on hot summer days. Espana 82 was my first real World Cup and I had to get the sticker album and mascot (a tomato I think), Phillip Scofield was not grey! My Commodore 64 was the fastest PC ever! (I can fit all those games onto one disk now.) Come on Eileen was my first single and I had denim dungarees. The Falklands war hit hard in our community being so forces orientated and many friends lost fathers. That changed my outlook for life. Always looking for fun not dwelling on the past - ironic I write this now! Thank you Percy. You laughed at the sound a soda stream maker made when the fizz was full. Jimmy Saville fixed it for everyone long before Bob the Builder could! Snickers were Marathons, Starburst were Opal Fruits and we went Back to the future! I miss the 80's, but who ya gonna call?
Stuart Mann, Warrington UK

I have fond memories of the 80s. Every Friday I used to go shopping with my grand parents in Weston-s-Mare and they used to buy me a Star Wars figure or vehicle each time. Then I'd leg it out into the streets to play with my mates, who had their own sizeable collections!
Rob Baker, Bristol

The 80s for me was all about Care Bears, My Little Ponies, Rainbow Bright, Thundercats, Turtles, Swingball, ZX Spectrum and Walkmans. Along with horrible free school milk that was always off, Ice pops and Smiths and Tudor Crisps.
Marianne Laggan, Newcastle upon Tyne

I was at school in the 80s and I can remember we had a lot more freedom than kids do now. Also I swear mars bars and curly whirlys were bigger
Lena Martin, Bournemouth
I was born in 1983, so my memories are hazy! But I do remember 'the teenagers' walking round with boomboxes and the fella up the road going ape when his son shredded some perfectly good jeans in the name of fashion.
Corrie, Bradford

Born In 1980 When Pigeon Street was still on TV I was still small enough to sit on Dad's knee. With a BBC computer up the stairs, Repton and Chuckie Egg were our main cares. Visiting the village post-office for our penny sweets, While the Berlin wall was falling around German feet. Getting a video recorder for the very first time, And the Pet Shop Boys were singing in mime. Having an Excellent Adventure with Bill and Ted, And Thatcherism was born so it is said. Technology and the economy picking up pace, Family holidays in a Toyota Hi-Ace. This was the 1980s for me, Nothing else like it as far as I can see.
Helen, Paris, France

I have vivid memories of bawling my eyes out cause E.T had to go back. Falling off my BMX the going to hospital, I was visited by my sister and her punk mate who wasn't allowed into the ward by her sister. A 10p mixture of sweets would last ages and chocolate bars seemed huge.
Kevin, Edinburgh
Transformers, Superman, Spiderman cartoons ahhh growing up in the 80's was great.....wait a minute didn't I just go and see Spiderman 3 last week and isn't Transformers the movie coming out soon! It's the 80's all over again, right now, I'm a kid again! Brilliant! The 80s did set the mould for Britain today!
Dave Alexander, Ayr, Scotland

My memory of 80's is the fantastic TV.I remember being nine or ten and looking forward to every Saturday night. Programmes like the A-Team, Magnum PI, Airwolf, Knightrider, Miami Vice were staple food growing up. Oh to be back there again!
Matt, Cheshunt

Saturday mornings frantically switching between BBC1 (swopshop) and ITV (tizwas) with a exploding mouth of spacedust laced with sodastream - which was rather like a combination of attention deficit disorder and an exceptionally potent amphetamine....
Steve Morgan, Oxford

I was born in 1967, I hit my teens in the 80s, and what a time we had. We went out in the morning and never came home till tea time. You could leave your doors open for friends and family to just walk in. you can't do that now. People never had to worry about us. We always felt safe wherever we went. The music was fantastic and I still love dancing to it now, although some people says its cheesy.
Carol, Leamington Spa

My fave memory of the early 1980s is the CB radio craze which took over the housing estate we lived on. Everyone chatting well into the night to someone who probably lived across the road!
Amanda, Cardiff, Wales

OTHER 80s MEMORIES
The cartoons for kids were so much better than today's offerings. He-man, Mask, Dungeons & Dragons, Transformers and Thundercats were all awesome if a little bit camp. And who can forget the bits at the end where Optomus Prime or He-man gave sage like advice like "don't do drugs" and "Don't talk to strangers". Perhaps that's what we are missing with today's cartoons. Maybe then there would be less gun crime and more pretend sword fights in the park. Kids TV in the 80's was at it's peak.
Tim Bulmer, Thirsk

My brother getting a Grifter bike for Christmas, early in the 80's, and pouting all Christmas Day as our Mother reckoned it was too frosty to go out and ride it!
Tracey Farley, Neath, South Wales

I remember blue ice poles, orange jubilees and sand pits. Victoria Park on hot summer days, boating on the pond. Total freedom as us kids roamed the streets on our Chopper and, if we were lucky, our BMX, bikes. Out the house and into the lanes aged 3+ - someone's mum was always on call and we felt safe, in our gangs of all ages, scruffy and happy. I wonder if those same lanes are empty now..
Olivia Drennan, Glasgow, Scotland

In the early 80s I got my first computer, and games were played on that, but not to the exclusion of time outdoors. Then towards the end of the decade, when I was in secondary school, I remember there being for the first time tremendous pressure to have a ridiculously over-sized sports bag made by Head and some Reebok 'Pump' trainers. Things were changing for the worse.
Paul Johnson, Santa Clara, USA

I was born in 1977 so was a child of the 80's. I remember nagging my mum for a ra-ra skirt and pixie boots. We never had games consoles, ipod etc.. I was happy with my walkman listening to Bros and Five Star. I remember when an Atari games console turned up at Youth Club. We were all amazed.. how things have come on! Summers were spent riding our bikes and playing outside. I loved being a kid of the 80's and would hate to be a kid in 2007. I limit my son to TV and gaming and make him play outside with his friends as I want him to have happy childhood memories like I have!
Clare Reader, Ludlow, Shropshire

I was a teenager in the late 80s and remember 8-bit computing allowing the everyday person to embrace technology in their own home. All my mates were talking about the latest computer games that were generally made in someone's bedroom and making them a nice profit as well. Not forgetting... Manic Miner! The all-time classic that everyone played but few mastered completely and what did you get at the end? A chance to start again! D'oh!
Steve Godrich,

I do remember the influx of acid colours. I suppose the reason my mother never worried where I was, was due to the fact I was always wearing neon pink or green clothes and could effectively still be seen no matter how far I wandered! I also recall 'Dash' jumpsuits being quite stylish! Going to Clarks was always cool because you got to have your foot measured in the foot eating machine!
Fiona, New York

I remember playing football all day everyday and playing rugby. We played out on the streets but there was really nothing else. I remember a lot of sadness too though and only now do I really realise what that was. My mother was on her own and we were at my Dads on weekends. The contrast between my home life with my Mum and weekends with my high flying wealthy father seems to sum up all that was going on in the decade. E.T. was released in the decade too and, for me, it was everything, a little boy whose mother has all the problems in the world, wearing bad jumpers with crap hair and a BMX bike, looking forward to playing somewhere.
Peter, Cardiff

"Soda Stream" cream sodas with a vanilla ice cream float. For me, the 80's was still a time that you could enjoy a carefree childhood and innocent early teenage years.
James Holland, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire

No such forward thinking as BMXs in my house. I was bought a BMX-like and very British Raleigh Grifter for my 8th birthday in 1983. A great behemoth of a kids bike which I doubt any pre-teen was able to actually lift. Quite symbolic of the old English way of always doing things being phased out really...
Andy, Ex-pat in Toronto, Canada





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