What Happened In The UK In 1997?

What Happened In The UK In 1997?

Here are the biggest news, sport and entertainment stories of 1997…

Diana, Princess of Wales, died in a car crash in Paris having apparently being pursued at high speed by photographers on motorbikes. It was thought that the driver of her car was drunk at the time but that was disputed by many; some believing that the whole event was a conspiracy plot involving MI5 and the Royal Family. Whatever the true cause of her death; the UK united in paying tribute to her and, after an unprecedented week of mourning, millions watched her funeral on TV.

Also causing much debate was the announcement of the birth of the world’s first successfully cloned mammal. Scientists in Scotland were responsible for the birth of Dolly the sheep and media around the world heralded it as one the most significant scientific breakthroughs of the decade. For some though, it raised moral dilemmas amid fears that the technique could be used to clone humans; church and animal rights groups stirring up most of the ethical controversy.

Politically, the Conservative Party finally fell after 18 years in power following a landslide general election victory by the Labour Party; Tony Blair becoming the youngest British prime minister of the century at 43.

One of the first changes the new government made was to ‘stub’ out tobacco sponsorship in the sports world; resulting in snooker, darts and cricket losing out on substantial amounts of advertising money. Formula One racing looked like being the biggest casualty but, a week after implementing the ban, Tony Blair specifically exempted that one sport from the new law (Anything to do with the £1 million Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone had donated to the Labour Party before the general election?).

Elsewhere in sport, a lone yachtsman, Tony Bullimore, miraculously survived for five days at sea after his boat capsized in the Southern Ocean. He sheltered in the upturned hull of his yacht and survived on chocolate and water until he was randomly spotted by a passing Australian navy ship.

Entertainment wise, 1997 belonged to the Teletubbies; Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po saying “eh-oh” to the nation for the first time. Made for toddlers, the show soon became cult viewing for children, students and adults alike; people finding much amusement in multi-coloured aliens running around in a dome. Such was its success that is also produced a chart topping single!

The cinemas saw another homegrown film take centre stage; low budget ‘The Full Monty’ being the big box office hit. The story told of a group of ex-steelworkers from Sheffield who transformed themselves into strippers in order to make money during hard times. It was equally popular on both sides of the Atlantic and was nominated for four Oscars.