The year 1987 proved to be a tumultuous yet remarkable period for the United Kingdom, filled with both tribulations and triumphs that reshaped the nation. From devastating disasters to cultural milestones, 1987 marked a complex chapter in Britain’s history.

The year was bookended by tragedy, starting with the horrific King’s Cross underground station fire in London that killed 31 people in February. Months later in November, a devastating fire at Kings Cross again killed 31, underscoring safety concerns.

Politically, Margaret Thatcher won a historic third term as Prime Minister during a bitterly contested general election in June, while her Conservative government faced conflicts like the miners’ strike. Abroad, the IRA’s bombing campaign intensified on the British mainland.

Yet 1987 also bore witness to momentous achievements that defined the era. Rick Astley’s era-shaping “Never Gonna Give You Up” debuted, bringing the dance-pop sounds of Stock, Aitken and Waterman to prominence. On television, Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson’s comedy series Bottom captured Britain’s cultural zeitgeist.

The nation swelled with pride when yachtsman Robin Knox-Johnston became the first to sail solo around the world nonstop. Meanwhile, Virgin Atlantic Airways flew its inaugural flight from London to New York, showcasing British innovation.

From song to stage to sport, the successes of 1987 demonstrated Britain’s resilience and spirit despite formidable challenges. Revisiting the key pop culture moments, news events and icons that emerged during this pivotal year provides a lens into a nation in transition. For Britain, 1987 marked both an ending and new beginning.

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Rick Astley Claims No.1 with “Never Gonna Give You Up”

In 1987, English pop singer Rick Astley took the music world by storm with his massively successful chart-topping single “Never Gonna Give You Up”. The infectious dance-pop track, released in July 1987, shot straight to #1 on the UK Singles Chart and went on to become the year’s best-selling single in Britain.

“Never Gonna Give You Up” encapsulated the bubbly synth sounds of hit-making trio Stock Aitken Waterman, who produced the song. Astley’s soulful tenor vocals were backed by a groovy bass-line and percussion, with the synth arrangement giving it an upbeat, danceable quality. The instantly memorable chorus featured Astley promising undying devotion to a lover, cementing the track as a wedding dance-floor staple.

The single dominated charts globally, hitting #1 in 25 countries including America. In the UK, “Never Gonna Give You Up” became a radio staple and sold over 1.2 million copies, spending seven weeks at #1. Its popularity was fuelled further by its iconic music video featuring Astley energetically dancing and lip-syncing amidst vivid backdrops.

Astley’s smooth crooning and boyish charm in the video made him an overnight star. The track earned numerous accolades, including Best British Single at the 1988 BRIT Awards. Rick Astley took home the award for Best New Artist at the 1988 MTV Video Music Awards.

The runaway success of “Never Gonna Give You Up” propelled Astley’s debut album Whenever You Need Somebody to the top of the charts. Landing in the midst of the Second Summer of Love in Britain, the single’s upbeat sound and romantic lyrics provided a feel-good antidote to troubled times.

Thirty years later, “Never Gonna Give You Up” remains etched in popular culture thanks to the internet meme of “Rickrolling”. But in 1987, the track cemented Rick Astley as one of the year’s biggest breakout acts. His chart-topping debut kicked off a successful pop career and delivered one of the most ebullient and enduring hits of the 1980s.

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Pet Shop Boys Unveil Actually

In 1987, British synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys cemented their reputation for crafting cleverly observed tales of modern life through danceable electronic rhythms with the release of their acclaimed second album Actually. Hitting shelves in September 1987, it built upon the artistic and commercial success of their 1986 debut Please, spawning several iconic hit singles including “It’s a Sin” and “What Have I Done to Deserve This?”.

Actually found Pet Shop Boys expanding their sonic palette while retaining their trademark slick, synth-driven production aesthetic. Behind the controls once again was producer-parter Stephen Hague, whose pristine digital ornamentation gave Actually its polished sheen. Many critics considered it a perfect encapsulation of PSB’s arch, detached personas.

Lyrically, lead singer Neil Tennant’s wry observations of relationships, sexuality and politics provided a more introspective, socially incisive depth compared to their debut. Songs like the uptempo, tongue-in-cheek banger “It’s a Sin” satirised Tennant’s Catholic upbringing through its themes of guilt and repression. It became an immediate fan favourite, hitting #1 on the UK singles chart.

Other highlights included the stunning ballad “What Have I Done to Deserve This?” featuring guest vocals from Dusty Springfield. Springfield’s dusky, velvety tones lent emotional potency to the song’s melodramatic orchestration and lyrical melancholy. It became Pet Shop Boys’ second chart-topping single from Actually in Britain.

In fact, all four singles released from the album – including the wistful final single “Heart” – reached the UK Top 10, underscoring its success. Actually received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with many critics declaring it a masterful sophomore effort and one of the strongest synthpop records of the decade. It topped the UK Albums Chart and went triple platinum in Britain.

Propelled by its stellar singles and sleek MTV-friendly music videos, Actually cemented Pet Shop Boys as leading lights of the synthpop genre in the late 1980s. Their seamless blend of danceable electronic rhythms and thoughtful lyrics created an achingly cool postmodern pop sound that stood out from the crowd and left an influential legacy on British music. Thirty-five years later, Actually remains a synthpop essential.

George Michael Releases Faith

1987 saw George Michael step into the spotlight as a solo superstar with the release of his smash hit album Faith. The record marked his debut since disbanding pop duo Wham! and showcased Michael’s artistic maturity through a set of slickly-produced pop/R&B anthems. Faith spawned an impressive string of transatlantic chart-topping singles.

Michael wrote, arranged and produced every track on Faith, guiding its creation from start to finish. Sonically, it incorporated dance beats and gospel-influenced vocals into a radio-friendly blend of pop, soul and funk. Lyrically, Michael dug deeper into personal topics like sexuality, relationships and longing.

The album’s first single “I Want Your Sex” caused controversy with its provocative themes, but shot to #2 in the UK and US. Follow-up singles “Faith”, “Father Figure”, “One More Try” and “Kissing a Fool” all reached #1 across the Atlantic, making Michael the first artist to achieve four US and UK chart-toppers from one LP.

Faith received widespread critical acclaim praising Michael’s skilled song craft and emotive singing. His good looks and charisma in sophisticated music videos directed by Andy Morahan boosted his heartthrob status. The album topped charts worldwide, selling over 25 million copies globally and catapulting Michael to solo stardom.

At the 1988 Grammy Awards, Michael took home Album of the Year for Faith. The record is often credited with helping popularise R&B/soul influences in mainstream 1980s pop. Driven by its string of hit singles and Michael’s masterful vocals, Faith cemented his status as Britain’s biggest pop export alongside artists like Phil Collins and Paul Young.

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Only Fools and Horses Special Breaks Viewing Records

In December 1987, the cherished British sitcom Only Fools and Horses captivated the nation with its festive Christmas special episode “The Frog’s Legacy”. Premiering on 25 December, the feature-length special starring David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst drew a staggering 24.3 million viewers in the UK – over half the country’s population at the time.

The record-smashing viewership figures affirmed Only Fools and Horses’ status as Britain’s most popular comedy, with nearly one in two Brits tuning in to see what wheeler-dealer Derek “Del Boy” Trotter and his less streetwise younger brother Rodney were up to this Christmas.

Written by series creator John Sullivan, “The Frog’s Legacy” sent the Trotter brothers on a European misadventure to Amsterdam to retrieve a valuable 18th century double Albert gold watch left to them by their late Uncle Albert. Getting their hands on the antique watch proves to be only half the challenge, as the luckless duo struggle to sneak it back through customs at Dover.

Their hilarious mishaps attempting to conceal the watch – including a botched smuggling effort that sees them strip down inside a cardboard box – cemented the episode as an all-time Christmas comedy classic. Sullivan’s sharp dialogue and situational humour shone through as the Peckham lads narrowly avoided arrest thanks to fast-talking Del Boy’s patter.

According to consolidated rating figures, Only Fools and Horses peaked at over 19.6 million viewers during the cliffhanger second half of “The Frog’s Legacy” as the nation waited with bated breath to see if Del Boy could talk his way out of trouble. The numbers eclipsed the previous British sitcom viewership record of 19.3 million held by a 1986 special.

Nearly 35 years later, the Only Fools and Horses 1987 Christmas episode still proudly holds the record for the highest audience in UK television history for a single comedy broadcast. For British viewers in the late 1980s, the Trotters had undoubtedly become their favourite sitcom family, with the show’s perfect blend of humour, adventure and warmth capturing the zeitgeist.

The Only Fools and Horses phenomenon had started in 1981 starring David Jason as hustling market trader Del Boy and a young Nicholas Lyndhurst as his impressionable sibling sidekick Rodney. Week after week, episode after episode, these disparate yet lovable brothers from Peckham wormed their way into the hearts of the British public throughout the decade.

So on that record-breaking Christmas night in 1987, it felt like the entire nation gathered excitedly around the telly to catch the Trotters’ latest misadventure unfold. The soaring viewership was a testament to the show’s special place in British pop culture and the abiding affection audiences held for its characters. For UK sitcoms, Only Fools now marked the benchmark to beat.

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Hollywood Blockbuster Fatal Attraction Thrills

In 1987, the provocative psychological thriller Fatal Attraction gripped moviegoers and became one of the decade’s most discussed and commercially successful films. Starring Michael Douglas as a married man who has a brief, intense affair with Glenn Close’s alluring but unstable book editor, the movie tackled risqué themes of infidelity, obsession and morality with chilling intensity. Its shocking storyline and stark examination of impulses spinning out of control earned Fatal Attraction both critical acclaim and box office dominance.

Adapted from a 1980 short film by screenwriter James Dearden, Fatal Attraction centred on successful, happily married New York lawyer Dan Gallagher (Douglas), who has a passionate weekend tryst with alluring editor Alex Forrest (Close) while his wife Beth and daughter Ellen are out of town. Intoxicated by Alex’s simmering sensuality, Dan finds himself falling into the grips of an illicit affair.

But when Dan tries to gently end the dalliance and return to his normal suburban life, Alex refuses to let go, becoming increasingly unhinged and psychotic. A terrifying campaign of harassment and intimidation ensues as the scorned Alex terrorises Dan’s family, even kidnapping his daughter’s pet rabbit and boiling it in a scene that became iconic.

Close delivered a chilling, Oscar-nominated performance as the damaged and deeply unstable Alex, complete with jagged bob haircut and bulging, wild eyes. Her unsettling intensity made Alex one of cinema’s most memorable villains and introduced the term “bunny boiler” into the pop culture lexicon. Douglas skilfully portrayed Dan’s moral disintegration as his casual indiscretion returns to destroy his family and life as he knows it.

With its provocative storyline centred on marital infidelity and featuring graphic love scenes, Fatal Attraction generated significant controversy upon its release in 1987. Conservative groups slammed the film as immoral and decried its shocking violence. But moviegoers flocked to see its lurid thrills and morally complex tale of domesticity gone wrong unfold onscreen.

Propelled by word-of-mouth surrounding its shocking content, Fatal Attraction became the highest grossing film of 1987 domestically in the US. Overseas, it took the second highest box office spot. All told, Fatal Attraction earned over $320 million worldwide on a $14 million budget, making it one of the most profitable and successful films of the 1980s.

Beyond its commercial success, Fatal Attraction earned widespread critical praise for its potent examination of modern gender roles, marriage and the dangerous fallout when shared assumptions explode. In Dan and Alex’s tryst-turned-nightmare, critics saw a cautionary tale about bourgeois complacency and the beast within lurking beneath civilised veneers.

The film’s shocking kitchen sink finale, in which a crazed Alex attacks Dan’s family only to be killed by Beth, scared and thrilled audiences simultaneously. This operatic climax cemented Fatal Attraction as a conversation-starting cultural event that stayed with viewers long after leaving the theatre.

Ultimately, the phenomenal response to Fatal Attraction proved mainstream audiences had an appetite for slick, adult-oriented psychological thrillers tackling risque themes if the filmmaking quality was there. Its impact could be felt through the late 80s and 90s as studios green lit more mature, provocative titles like Basic Instinct aiming to recapture the Fatal Attraction formula.

Decades later, Fatal Attraction stands tall as an era-defining blockbuster that broke boundaries and took Hollywood into more sensationalistic, lurid territory. The film’s powerful themes of disastrous moral compromises and passions spinning out of control remain disturbingly resonant. For better or worse, Fatal Attraction unleashed darker human impulses onto the screen in a way that changed cinema forever.

Remembrance Day Bombing During BBC Broadcast

On November 8, 1987, the solemn Remembrance Sunday ceremony at London’s Enniskillen Cenotaph was shattered when the IRA detonated a bomb without warning, killing 11 people and injuring over 60. The impact reverberated across Britain, with a later bomb detonation disrupting the next day’s Remembrance Day two-minute silence broadcast live on the BBC.

The devastating attack occurred on one of the most significant and sensitive days of mourning in the British calendar. Remembrance Sunday commemorates Britain’s war dead, with veterans, families and communities gathering to pay respects. The IRA bomb devastated the gathering Enniskillen crowd including elderly veterans, inflicting the IRA’s worst atrocity of the Troubles.

Global outrage ensued targeting the brutality and callous timing of the attack. As Britain attempted to grapple with the tragedy, the BBC prepared to broadcast the traditional two-minute silence from London’s Whitehall on Remembrance Day, November 9. Millions were expected to tune in to watch the Queen lead the somber tribute.

But as Big Ben’s chimes faded signalling the silence’s start, a massive bomb exploded on a walkway 100 yards from the Cenotaph ceremony. The huge blast rocked the BBC’s live footage, overwhelming shocked broadcasters. Panic erupted onscreen as crowds fled the smoke-filled scene.

It soon emerged no one was killed by the London detonation due to police evacuating the area after receiving a coded IRA warning. However, the planned disruption to Britain’s national Remembrance Day observance marked a grave humiliation. The IRA had pierced even this solemn occasion with terror.

In the aftermath, outrage swelled at the attack’s calculated cruelty given its timing on the day commemorating war victims just 24 hours after Enniskillen. Margaret Thatcher called the perpetrators “cruel and evil”. The Archbishop of Canterbury condemned the bombing as a “double obscenity”.

While no one was harmed due to the evacuation, the psychological and symbolic damage cut deep, striking at cherished British traditions honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. That even Remembrance Day’s sombre meaning could be so brutally violated dealt a body blow to the nation.

However, the episode summoned Britain’s resolve to defy the face of terror. Leaders emphasized Remembrance’s message of honouring sacrifice for freedom must prevail. The public rallied behind veterans processing at the ceremony’s relocated continuation, defiantly singing hymns together.

The chaotic images of smoke and chaos disrupting the hallowed two-minute silence beamed worldwide became an unforgettable moment. For the IRA, it was a propaganda coup in their bombing offensive. But for most Britons, attempting to disrupt Remembrance Day only strengthened their unity and commitment to peace.

While a dark day, November 9, 1987 highlighted courage as light overcoming darkness. The IRA designed the bombing as a show of strength, but its result was to magnify indomitable British values of honour and resilience. This stood as Enniskillen and Remembrance Day’s lasting legacy.


Great Storm of 1987 Batters Britain

In October 1987, the Great Storm, one of the most destructive and intense extratropical cyclones on record, unleashed mayhem across England, France and the Channel Islands, resulting in 19 deaths and massive infrastructure damage estimated at over £2 billion. With winds peaking at 115 mph, the tempest shredded trees, collapsed power lines, destroyed buildings and caused navigational disasters.

The storm formed over the Bay of Biscay on October 15, 1987 and moved rapidly northeast, powered by the jet stream. As it approached Britain, pressure gradients increased dramatically, creating a “sting jet” – an extremely rare meteorological phenomenon producing localised zones of ferocious winds.

Overnight on October 15-16, these extreme winds hammered southern Britain and northern France. Gusts exceeded 100 mph in many areas with a top speed of 117 mph recorded on the Isle of Wight. Across the region, approximately 15 million trees were uprooted and blown down in just a few hours, clogging roads and crushing vehicles.

In London, howling winds smashed shop fronts and windows, injuring many. Falling masonry killed four people outside London Waterloo station. At sea in the English Channel, winds whipped up 50-foot waves that overwhelmed and sank small vessels, killing four people aboard the Marchioness pleasure boat.

The most devastating damage came from the toppling of power and phone lines. Over 130 high-voltage pylons were felled in the storm, cutting electricity to over 1.5 million households. Entire regions faced days without power, causing significant business disruption. The phone system also faced near collapse.

In the storm’s aftermath, Britain grappled with the cleanup and rebuilding effort as communities pulled together amidst the destruction. The gale-force winds changed the landscape forever, felling over half of Britain’s trees and making the Great Storm one of the country’s worst natural disasters of the 20th century.

Scientists later determined the unusual ferocity stemmed from a combination of meteorological factors that fuelled the storm’s rapid deepening over the ocean. However, Britain’s lack of hurricane-rated infrastructure also contributed to the high winds’ destructive toll.

Nonetheless, the nation displayed characteristic British resilience in the face of adversity. Within a week, power was restored and debris cleared as communities rallied together in the spirit of the blitz. For those who endured the terrifying night, the Great Storm of 1987 would be forever etched in memory as one of Britain’s most punishing tempests.

Deadly Fires at King’s Cross Station Bookend Year of Tragedy for London Transport

The year 1987 was marked by twin tragedies at London’s bustling King’s Cross underground station, as two devastating fires just months apart claimed 31 lives each and shattered public confidence in the tube’s safety standards. For Britain’s capital, the station name became forever synonymous with unfathomable loss and the urgent fight for change.

The first horrific blaze occurred without warning on February 18th, 1987, sparked by a discarded wooden match landing on a wooden escalator. The resulting inferno raced up the escalator startlingly fast, fuelled by lacquers, paints and oils into a roaring fireball. Lacking functioning sprinklers or smoke extraction, the intense fire raged out of control, filling ticket hall with lethal cyanide gas and toxic fumes.

This “flashover” effect created an choking backdraft that prevented escape and rescue. With no firewalls installed, the fire swirled down adjoining escalators also laden with combustibles. Scenes of panicked commuters collapsing and perishing while engulfed by swirling flames unfurled in just minutes.

When the smoke finally cleared, 31 people lay dead, including station workers valiantly trying to aid passengers. With no alarm raised for 23 minutes after ignition, the fire’s breakneck speed and toxicity resulted in Britain’s worst-ever underground disaster.

Hard questions mounted about neglected safety standards, outdated wooden construction and poor containment efforts that allowed the small blaze to turn so deadly so quickly. But urgency to enact reforms soon dissipated.

Then, astonishingly, a second lethal fire struck King’s Cross just nine months later on November 18, 1987, sparked by an unseen buildup of grease and dirt under a Piccadilly Line escalator. The intense heat ignited the grease, creating billowing, choking diesel-like smoke that overwhelmed the station and tunnels.

This time, toxic fumes blocked the exits and stairs as passengers tried escaping. Scenes of huddled bodies overcome by fumes unfurled tragically once more, an eerie echo of February’s horrors. The final death toll stood again at 31 lives lost, many from just feet away from escape.

Two catastrophic fires and 62 deaths in one year at London’s busiest station ignited public outrage and demands for accountability from transit authorities. The disregard of safety despite previous warnings highlighted during public inquiry became a national scandal.

Ultimately, the deadly 1987 fires proved a turning point for the underground. Sweeping reforms were enacted, including replacing wooden escalators, installing heat detectors, smoke exhaust systems, automated fire doors and hydrants. Strict prohibition of combustible materials, surfaces and cleaning products were enacted.

These safety upgrades took on renewed urgency after the 1987 tragedies, ultimately saving countless lives. While the scale of loss can never be reversed, the legacy of reform borne from those terrible days remains saving Londoners today.

The families of those lost continue honouring their memory by advocating for better safety standards in public spaces. In deadly hindsight, the intrinsic hazards of the King’s Cross labyrinth were laid bare in 1987 for all to see. Thanks to the changes enacted since, such catastrophic loss of life can never again occur in London’s bustling underground transportation networks.

Yet the twin horrors of that fateful year remain indelible reminders of the urgent need for vigilance and prevention against catastrophe, both natural and manmade. For riders passing daily through King’s Cross, the station’s name will forever carry that somber legacy.

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Acid House Rave Scene Emerges

In 1987, a new youth movement emerged in Britain driven by acid house music and underground drug fuelled rave parties. Fusing hypnotic electronic dance beats with psychedelic drug experiences, the scene saw thousands of young people gather in warehouses and fields for all-night revelry.

Acid house originated in Chicago where DJs like Marshall Jefferson created a unique squelchy, trippy sound using Roland TB-303 synthesisers and TR-808 drum machines. This futuristic electronic music spread via Ibiza nightclubs to Britain, where it was wholeheartedly embraced.

Tracks like “Pump Up the Volume” by M/A/R/R/S and “Theme from S’Express” by S’Express topped the UK charts, signalling this new dance sound’s popularity. Club nights featuring acid house saw ecstatic crowds dancing energetically for hours. MDMA, known as Ecstasy, heightened the music’s sensory pleasures.

By late 1987, DJs and promoters were organising illegal warehouse parties and outdoor raves, often facilitated by criminal gangs. Attendees numbered in the thousands, dancing intoxicatedly through the night and unity through the communal vibe and altered consciousness induced by Ecstasy.

Tabloids seized on lurid depictions of crazed, drug-addled crowds at these events, dubbing acid house a dangerous craze. But participants saw the rave scene as promoting togetherness, hedonism and freedom from authority. Underground tactics constantly shifted locations and information phone lines to evade police.

In just a couple years, acid house and rave culture went from underground oddity to nationwide phenomenon embraced passionately by thousands of British youth seeking liberation through dance, music and drugs. The scene’s DIY, anti-establishment ethos captured the zeitgeist and transformed clubbing.


Conservatives Win Third Straight Election

The 1987 UK general election saw the Conservative Party under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defy political gravity by securing a historic third consecutive term in government – a feat unmatched since the early 1800s. Campaigning on the slogan “Britain is Back”, Thatcher leveraged her image as the “Iron Lady” who revitalised the economy after years of decline. Despite trailing in early polls, the Tories won a 100-seat majority, allowing Thatcher to continue her bold right-wing agenda.

When Thatcher called the election on May 11, 1987, few expected anything but a close race. Many predicted her controversial leadership would galvanise opposition after two tumultuous terms which saw high unemployment and unrest despite economic recovery.

Labour leader Neil Kinnock was energetic in attacking Thatcher’s record. The Alliance between the Liberals and Social Democrats also posed a threat. But doubts remained regarding both opposition leaders, opening a narrow path for Thatcher.

The Conservatives campaigned on nationalist themes, using images of a British flag being raised with “Britain is Back” and “Keep Britain Great” slogans. Thatcher cast herself as the steely leader who reversed national decline, tapping into patriotic pride.

Stumping across 36 constituencies, Thatcher used her formidable public presence to sway undecided voters. Televised leader debates provided a platform to dominate Kinnock. The Tory press trumpeted impending victory.

When polls closed on June 11, 1987, the Conservatives won 376 seats – a loss of 21 but still a 100-seat majority. Labour trailed with 229. The Alliance failed to capitalise on its early lead, winning just 22 seats.

Thatcher had earned her place in history as the longest continuously serving PM since Lord Liverpool in 1812. Despite trailing early on, she crafted a winning narrative of security and strength no rival could match. Her election triumph cemented Thatcher as the dominant political force of the era.

Many attributed the landslide win to the “Falklands Factor” – residual goodwill from Thatcher’s decisive leadership during the 1982 conflict. Other analysts credited rising prosperity and home/share ownership under Conservative tenure, despite incomes lagging behind 1980s growth.

Critics alleged Thatcher scare mongered regarding Labour and Alliance economic plans while glossing over high unemployment and inequality. Her publicity team cast doubts on Kinnock through campaign attacks some deemed dishonest.

Nonetheless, the Conservatives’ 1987 victory gave Thatcher a mandate to continue reshaping Britain in line with her monetarist, free market-oriented philosophy. She replaced several Cabinet members with loyalists to pursue more radical policies like the infamous Poll Tax.

But trouble loomed. Thatcher’s domineering leadership style sowed discord, stoking rivalries with senior Tories like Nigel Lawson and Michael Heseltine. By 1990, this discontent would fracture the Party, leading to her downfall.

Yet in 1987, Thatcher was undeniably at the peak of her powers – a conviction politician harnessing patriotism and economic optimism to buck historical odds and lead her Party to an unprecedented third straight victory. For better or worse, Britain would continue feeling the force of her uncompromising vision throughout this term.

Zeebrugge Ferry Disaster Kills 193

On March 6, 1987, the MS Herald of Free Enterprise passenger ferry capsized just outside the Belgian port of Zeebrugge, resulting in the deaths of 193 passengers and crew. It stands as one of Britain’s worst-ever maritime disasters.

The Townsend Thoresen ferry was carrying 459 passengers, 80 crew members, and over 80 vehicles when it left Zeebrugge bound for Dover with the bow doors open. Water rushed in and destabilised the vessel, causing it to capsize in just 90 seconds.

Many passengers were trapped inside the sinking ferry and drowned. Others escaped into the freezing water, with some rescued by boats from the harbour. In total 193 of the 539 people aboard perished. Most victims were British citizens, including several families.

An official inquiry found negligence by the assistant boatswain responsible for closing the bow doors caused the disaster. Management failures regarding safety procedures and crew training also contributed. The report blasted the company’s “disease of sloppiness” regarding basic precautions.

The scale of the preventable tragedy sparked criticism over relaxed enforcement of safety standards under Margaret Thatcher’s deregulation push. It led to tighter rules for ferries and made the phrase “Zeebrugge” synonymous with maritime incompetence in Britain.

The capsizing of the Herald was one of Britain’s deadliest peacetime disasters, leaving a deep wound from so many lost on a routine passage between Britain and the continent.

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Mike Tyson Knocks Out Tyrell Biggs In 7

In October 1987, American boxer Mike Tyson displayed his fearsome punching power by knocking out previously undefeated heavyweight Tyrell Biggs in the seventh round at London’s Wembley Arena. The victory showcased Tyson’s intimidating talent and cemented his reputation as the dominant heavyweight of his era.

The 21-year-old Tyson entered the Biggs fight with a perfect 29-0 record compiled of spectacular knockouts. Tyrell Biggs was also undefeated at 15-0 and 1984 Olympic super heavyweight gold medalist. But few gave him a chance against “Iron Mike” Tyson’s brute force.

As expected, Tyson relentlessly stalked Biggs around the ring unleashing his trademark power punches. Biggs attempted to keep Tyson at bay with his long jab, but Tyson bulled through to land thunderous hooks and uppercuts, eventually flooring Biggs with an overhand right in the 7th.

Biggs bravely beat the count but was ruthlessly dispatched moments later as Tyson unleashed a final barrage of heavy blows that forced the referee to stop the contest. The emphatic win took Tyson to 30-0 with 28 knockouts and further bolstered his intimidating, superhuman reputation.

The Wembley Arena fight underscored that no heavyweight, however skilled, could withstand Tyson’s speed and power when he was at his peak. After thrilling British boxing fans with his latest demolition, the boxing world lay at Tyson’s feet.

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Stephen Roche Wins Cycling’s Triple Crown

In 1987, Irish road racing cyclist Stephen Roche remarkably won cycling’s ‘Triple Crown’ – victorious in the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and UCI Road World Championships in the same year. It was an unprecedented achievement cementing Roche as a legend of the sport.

Roche began his historic year by winning the gruelling Giro d’Italia stage race in May, the first Irishman to claim the honour. Just two months later, he rode to victory in cycling’s most prestigious event, the Tour de France.

Despite struggling with injury and illness during the race, Roche displayed immense grit and determination. He wore the leader’s yellow jersey for just five days, but it included the final stage into Paris where he finished safely in the pack to seal his win.

Next up was the men’s road race at the UCI Road World Championships in Austria in September. In atrocious rainy conditions, Roche broke from the lead pack with 30 kilometres remaining and held on to cross the line first, utterly exhausted.

With this final victory, Roche completed cycling’s Triple Crown – winning the Tour, Giro and World Championships in a single season. It was an incredible triumph of strength, stamina and unwavering resolve from the Irishman.

Roche became just the second rider ever to achieve the Triple Crown, matching the feat of cycling legend Eddy Merckx. His gritty, come-from-behind ride to Tour victory also earned him the nickname ‘The Comeback Kid’.

The magnitude of Roche’s 1987 Triple Crown achievement cemented his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists the sport has seen. It was a true testament to the immense physical and mental fortitude required to endure and conquer cycling’s most demanding events.

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Fatima Whitbread Wins World Javelin Gold

In August 1987, British athlete Fatima Whitbread capped off a record-breaking season by winning the gold medal in the javelin throw at the World Championships in Rome. Her winning throw of 77.44m was a new world record.

Going into the 1987 World Championships, Whitbread was already having a career-best year. She set a new British record of 74.76m in May. Then in June, she exceeded the world record with a throw of 77.44m, breaking the previous mark set by Petra Felke.

Whitbread’s trailblazing form made her the favorite for world gold. In the Rome final, the fierce rivalries with German and Soviet throwers Felke and Olga de Narocha intensified. But Whitbread took the lead on her first throw of 73.32m.

On her fifth attempt, Whitbread unleashed her record-shattering 77.44m throw. Despite strong challenges from her rivals, no one could match it. Whitbread had won Britain’s first-ever women’s javelin world title.

Still in her mid-20s, Whitbread’s breakthrough 1987 season affirmed her status as the dominant female javelin thrower. Her prodigious strength and textbook technique saw records tumble. With Olympic gold her remaining target, Whitbread’s triumph heralded an exciting new era in British athletics.

The year 1987 proved a turbulent yet memorable one for the United Kingdom, marked by both tragedy and achievement. Britain weathered natural disaster in the Great Storm of October, which unleashed devastating winds that killed 19 and damaged over 15 million trees. The nation also endured heart-rending human disasters, including two fatal fires at King’s Cross underground station and the capsizing of the Herald of Free Enterprise ferry which claimed 193 lives.

Sectarian bloodshed continued to scar Northern Ireland, with the grim nadir reached in the Remembrance Day bombing at Enniskillen, which killed 11 innocents gathered to honour the war dead. This atrocity was followed by a disrupted Remembrance Day ceremony in London, piercing even the nation’s solemn traditions.

Yet amidst the tumult, Britain also produced moments of national joy and pride. Margaret Thatcher made history by winning a third consecutive term as Prime Minister – a feat unmatched since the early 1800s. On television, comedy ruled supreme with shows like Blackadder the Third and Only Fools and Horses, whose Christmas special drew record viewership figures.

In cinemas, homegrown films like Wish You Were Here and Hope and Glory won acclaim, while the dark blockbuster Fatal Attraction fascinated moviegoers. In music, George Michael’s Faith topped the charts on both sides of the Atlantic as acid house and rave culture took root among disaffected youth.

On the sporting stage, Stephen Roche remarkably achieved cycling’s Triple Crown by winning the Tour de France, Giro D’Italia and World Championships in a single year. Sprinter Linford Christie and javelin thrower Fatima Whitbread brought Britain glory by capturing gold at the World Athletics Championships.

For all its trials, 1987 showcased Britain’s resilience and capacity for achievement. The nation’s vibrant culture and tenacious sportspeople provided uplifting distractions that helped counterbalance the year’s grave misfortunes.

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