Historian Dominic Sandbrook explores Britain in the 1970s. He looks at sex discrimination laws, football hooliganism and industrial unrest.
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This programme contains some strong language
# All our times have come
# Here but now they're gone
# Seasons don't fear the reaper
# Nor do the wind the sun or the rain
# We can be like they are
# Come on, baby
# Don't fear the reaper
# Baby take my hand
# Don't fear the reaper
# We'll be able to fly
# Don't fear the reaper
# Baby, I'm your man
# La la-la la-la... #
# ..La la-la la-la... #
Maybe you were getting married and having kids,
or getting your first job, or having your first kiss.
Or maybe, like me, you were taking your first steps.
Whatever you got up to in the 1970s,
it's passed from personal memory into our shared national history.
The architects of post-war Britain had hoped that modern capitalism
would give us prosperity
and the welfare state would give us security.
But by the 1970s, this comfortable model was in deep trouble.
And many people had had enough of the way we were.
By the middle years of the 1970s,
the generation shaped by the sacrifice of the Second World War
were looking on in horror as a new Britain erupted around them,
unsettling, aggressive and unashamedly ambitious.
New Year's Eve, 1975.
# You made me love you
# I didn't want to do it... #
And for the nation's delectation,
the Wheeltappers and Shunters Social Club,
hosted by Bernard Manning.
# ..I guess you always knew it... #
The club may have looked authentic but it was actually based here,
at Manchester's Granada Studios.
Home today to ITV's Jeremy Kyle show.
# ..You made me feel so bad... #
Jutting out here into the audience was the stage,
orchestra in the corner, bar behind me,
presided over by the irrepressible Bernard Manning.
They even had a one-eyed barman.
It was his job to pour pints of draught Double Diamond bitter
for the gents and lager and lime for the ladies.
# ..love you. #
The Wheeltappers was prime-time Saturday night TV,
a chance for millions to settle down
for some good old family entertainment.
I love women. From 18 to 30, they're like Asia, hot and exotic.
55 onwards, they're like Australia,
everybody knows where it is, but nobody wants to go there.
'70s Britain was a man's world,
where, like the clouds of high tar cigarette smoke,
casual male chauvinism hung heavy in the air.
Yet that New Year, for the women in the audience,
life was about to change.
Today is the day when the Sex Discrimination Act comes in.
Women at last get the fair deal they deserve.
# Show me the way to go home... #
When Bernard's New Year revellers shook off their hangovers the next morning,
Britain, under the new discrimination law, was transformed.
Fairer and more enlightened.
# No matter where I roam... #
Well, so went the theory.
# ..And you'll always hear me singing a song.. #
I've tracked down a copy
of the Wheeltappers and Shunters Handbook for 1976.
Inside it reports that, thanks to the Sex Discrimination Act,
ladies will now be eligible for election onto the committee.
But which ones?
"After much deliberation it was decided that we should approach
"Raquel Welch, Brigitte Bardot and Linda Lovelace."
The treatment of women at the Wheeltappers
was far from exceptional in '70s Britain.
For thousands of years, man has regarded woman as a thing apart.
goddess and bitch.
You and your kind, men! You're all the same.
Willing me to take my clothes off. And I'm not going to do it, do you hear?
-You'll get me struck off.
-Oh, why are you so forceful!
Across mainstream entertainment,
women were routinely portrayed as sexual playthings.
First, one of our rising stars of the theatre and, I quote,
"She is especially telling in projecting sluttish eroticism."
She is Miss Helen Mirren.
And some people should have known better.
I mean, you are, in quotes, "a serious actress" but do you find
what could best be described as your equipment in fact hinders you, perhaps, in that pursuit?
I'd like you to explain what you mean by my "equipment".
-Well, your physical attributes.
-You mean my fingers?
No, I meant your...
Today it's easy to be shocked by the sexism
on the Parkinson sofa.
But from the bedroom and the boardroom, to academia and politics,
women often faced tremendous obstacles.
Now then, they are very, very busy people, these MPs...
Even in the corridors of power, sexual inequality was hard to shift.
Hello, welcome, come in.
When Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Tory opposition in 1975,
she was one of only 23 female MPs in a House of 516.
Are you going to want to come here too?
Yes, my ambition is to be Prime Minister.
Wonderful! There we are, two generations.
# Which way women, women, which way now
# Women, women, what do you say? #
Maggie and her young friend still had a long way to go.
But now they had the law on their side.
Just moments from Westminster, the new discrimination act
was put to the test.
The El Vino wine bar had been serving the journalists
of London's Fleet Street since Victorian times.
And women here had always known their place.
This is the bar.
And THIS was for the boys.
If you were a woman and you wanted a drink,
you had to go and sit down there at the back, out of sight,
where nobody could see you, and wait to be served.
On the day the Sex Discrimination Act came into operation,
a female journalist came in
and tried to order a drink here at the counter
and the barman refused to serve her.
On the face of it, discrimination pure and simple.
And now, of course, against the law.
# That ain't no way to treat a lady... #
-El Vino's is an old-fashioned sort of place, the last bastion of chivalry,
or the epitome of male chauvinism, depending on your attitude.
What made El Vino's exceptional was that it was patronised by women
who worked in Fleet Street, by and large journalists, so you had
a particularly articulate, ambitious and committed group of women,
sick of being relegated to the back room.
Well, they wouldn't serve us but they refused to give us a reason.
To the horror of the blokes at the bar,
the feminist protesters won their case.
It was a small legal recognition that Britain's women were
no longer content with life in the bedroom and the kitchen.
But, for many women, equal treatment didn't just mean
drinks at the bar after work.
Genuine equality was a question of cold, hard economics.
Equal pay with men? Well, that's just preposterous!
By the mid-'70s, half of all women
weren't only looking after the household,
they were also going out to work.
A higher number than ever before.
It's a part of a woman's life today.
Women have to go to work because I think things are so expensive.
But women and men weren't paid the same.
For every pound a man took home, a woman earned just 75 pence.
And for some women, enough was enough.
Brentford, West London.
# Blues ain't nothing but a good woman gone bad... #
-Equal pay for equal work seems a simple enough notion,
but what is equal work?
Alongside the Discrimination Act,
the Labour government had introduced an Equal Pay Act,
meaning that from 1976, women should be paid the same rate as men.
But Brentford's Trico factory,
which made car windscreen wipers,
continued to pay some of its men MORE than women for the same work.
They take home between £5 and £6 a week more than what the woman does.
In May '76, the Trico women walked out on strike.
They set up their campaign HQ at the nearby Griffin pub.
# I've tried to leave so many times
# But I never got past the door... #
What I have here are some of the photos
the women took of their own campaign.
This is a long way from the stereotypical image of '70s strikes,
the burly men in donkey jackets warming their hands around braziers.
These are the women taking a stand for themselves.
As the summer heatwave set in,
and the British people flocked to the seaside,
the women of Brentford picketed on what the press called
the Costa Del Trico.
ARCHIVE: Two arrests were made
and an already bitter dispute was embittered still further.
The women received support from the most unlikely sources.
Coalminers, steelworkers, dockers. Working-class men.
Many eyes are focused on this dispute,
wondering whether direct action will succeed where talking has failed.
# Who's that knocking on the door? #
After 21 weeks, with the production lines at a standstill,
Trico gave in, bringing an end
to what was then Britain's longest-running equal pay dispute.
That winter, the victorious women marched back into the factory,
the question of sexual inequality now firmly in the public eye.
From baked bean factories to photography labs,
women were leaving the production lines to fight their corner.
Equal pay, equal rights. Hundreds of cases were hitting the headlines.
This was a fundamental challenge to the way things worked.
After years of second-class status,
women of all backgrounds were demanding sweeping change.
What I've got here is a picture of a billboard from the late 1970s,
which says so much about how attitudes were changing.
It's an ad for a car, for a Fiat.
The tagline is, "If it were a lady it would get its bottom pitched."
And underneath someone has spray-painted the words,
"If this lady was a car she'd run you down."
Of course, sexual discrimination hasn't gone away
but it was in the mid-'70s the fight for equality really gained momentum.
Good evening, I'm from the Ministry of Sex Equality.
# Hey, man
# Oh, leave me alone... #
But what about all the men?
This was a moment of reckoning for male identity too.
Brought up on solid foundations of presumption and prejudice,
'70s man was now forced to reconsider attitudes
he'd always taken for granted.
To change the way he thought, spoke and behaved,
to challenge traditional assumptions about everything
from the world of work to his weekend pleasures.
Just 10 years earlier, there had still been one
unashamedly masculine pursuit of which a nation could be proud,
an arena in which 11 young Englishmen had conquered the world.
In October 1976, the heroes of England's famous World Cup victory
reunited for a friendly in Telford.
ARCHIVE: Hairstyles have altered, of course,
and some of the players have become a bit broader around the waist
but, as Bobby Moore led the old team out,
things seemed to have changed very little.
A sell-out crowd packed into
the Bucks Head Stadium to see these icons of the game
back together again and to remember
the greatest moment in English football.
This goal from Geoff Hurst brought back memories
of his third at Wembley 10 years ago.
Bobby Moore, Geoff Hurst, the Charlton brothers,
the heroes of '66 together again.
It's an unashamedly nostalgic image
but it was one horribly out of touch with reality.
CHANTING: Stab, stab, stab the bastards.
Stab, stab, stab the bastards! Stab, stab, stab the bastards!
All we're going for is a good game of football,
a good punch-up and a good piss-up.
We saw clearly the thuggery of a group of hooligans
who could never have claimed to have come along simply to enjoy the football.
If some dirty Northerner spits up at me,
I'll put a fucking pint glass in his head.
Football, the preserve of fathers and sons for generations,
was in crisis.
Many young fans were carried away by a culture of casual violence.
They stood in the street, exposing themselves.
And when I say exposing themselves, I mean exposing themselves.
They've got to put them in jail.
Either that or they've got to publicly birch 'em.
Railway stations, high streets, motorway services,
come Saturday afternoons, these were the realms of football's bootboys.
Every football club had its gangs
and at 3 o'clock on a Saturday,
cities across the land braced themselves for the inevitable.
Wolves attack. Off Marsh to Richards. And it's a goal!
This is Molineux, the home of my team, Wolverhampton Wanderers,
pride of the Midlands.
Wolves stepping up the pressure.
Today the atmosphere's never been more family friendly.
But in August 1975,
Wolves hosted the most-feared club in the country.
# Manchester United Manchester United
# We're the greatest team in the land... #
Football violence was so common
that the Daily Mirror even started running a regular column,
The League Of Violence.
In 1975, Manchester United were well clear at the top.
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.
Police arrangements for the match today.
ALL: We'll support you evermore!
ALL: United! United!
United scored two late match-winning goals
and then their most notorious fans, the Stretford Enders,
went on the rampage.
As the Stretford Enders ran amok,
14 people were stabbed, hundreds of bottles were thrown
and dozens of businesses were looted.
They even ransacked the Wolves club shop.
Police finally managed to corner them here,
outside the Molineux Hotel, using dogs and horses to pen them in.
That afternoon, there were mass arrests from York to Ipswich,
from Southend to Stoke.
Football violence had become a brutal nationwide epidemic.
This is a photograph showing some of the horrific weapons
the police confiscated from suspected hooligans.
There's an axe, a meat cleaver, knives, scissors, daggers, darts.
It's a truly extraordinary assortment of hardware.
Some of the weapons, though, were a little bit more imaginative.
The police even confiscated a hairbrush.
Many older fans were horrified
and nobody captured their disgust better
than the Manchester United legend Sir Matt Busby.
We don't want them.
I wish we could find them and throw them in the river or something.
What made football hooliganism so deeply disturbing
was that it was such a public and unashamed exhibition
of raw, tribal aggression.
Britain was supposed to be the country of the stiff upper lip,
a land where youngsters obeyed the law, the streets were safe,
and a spirit of quiet moderation ruled our daily lives.
But now a new generation, apparently steeped in bloodshed,
appeared to be defying everything that Britain stood for.
But why was the violence escalating now?
In 1977, the Government commissioned a survey into Britain's hobbies.
You've got everything here from fishing and football to darts and DIY.
What all these dry facts and figures show
is that for the ordinary British bloke,
Saturday afternoons no longer revolved around the beautiful game.
For decades, generations of men, young and old,
had watched their local teams side-by-side.
But in the mid-70s, as men developed new interests
and wider responsibilities, that tradition broke down.
At weekends, older men were more likely to be found
wandering round garden centres or DIY stores
than they were standing on the windswept terraces.
Without the role models in the stands,
without the disapproving looks of dads and grandads
to keep the troublemakers in line,
the dynamic of the football crowd shifted.
As living standards had risen and older men invested time and money
in more domestic pursuits, football attendances had begun to slide.
It wasn't just the fact that people were staying away from football because of hooliganism.
It was the fact that people were staying away from football
that allowed hooliganism to thrive.
Once established, the momentum towards greater violence
and greater bloodshed became self-reinforcing.
This wasn't just a story about football.
This seemed to capture so much of what was wrong with Britain.
The scenes of appalling violence
suggested that the nation was tearing itself apart
and that traditional moral values, respected for generations,
had simply collapsed.
-Have you any ideas what you want to be?
# When I was young and just a boy... #
And yet despite the crisis in the stands
and fighting in the streets, most young boys shared the same dream.
# Will it be Arsenal? Will it be Spurs?
# Here's what she says to me... #
If you're going to be a footballer, you'll earn far more than I do.
The stars of the day were paid more than ever before.
Their lifestyles were increasingly touched with glamour and celebrity.
The Jaguar XJS is good value at £10,500.
And soccer stars George Best and Rodney Marsh
can afford that sort of money.
The car. Height of any red-blooded male's ambitions,
supreme status symbol of '70s Britain.
The motor show, with the sparkle of chrome
and a little razzmatazz thrown in.
In October 1976,
London's Earls Court was packed with car enthusiasts.
Sales were on the up, with well over 1 million vehicles a year sold.
BASIL FAWLTY: I'm warning you! If you don't start...
But British motors weren't always easy to love.
One. Two. Three. Right!
That's it. I've had enough. You've tried it on just once too often.
Right! Well, don't say I haven't warned you.
I've laid it on the line to you time and time again!
Right! This is it.
I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!
They were widely seen as poor quality and less than reliable.
Perhaps Basil Fawlty shouldn't have bought British.
For the first time, drivers could now pick from a dazzling range
of international models.
Foreign motors were cheap, smart and, above all, dependable.
No wonder almost half of all our new cars were imported.
But in 1976, the nationalised car giant British Leyland
took the fight to the foreign invaders.
Good looks, appeal, style.
Today's car must have all these features and more besides.
The Rover SD1. S for specialist, D for division.
Even its name oozed machismo.
This was British Leyland's secret weapon.
A sporting-looking car has always been a bird catcher.
Yet the Rover story soon became emblematic of everything
that was wrong with British manufacturing
and a symbol of the decade's wider industrial disarray.
I've joined vintage car fans at Birmingham's NEC.
Among the classics on show is this.
One of the first SD1s off the production line,
still painted in its original colour -
According to the ads, the Rover SD1 was the car of tomorrow today.
And it had some very distinctive features,
this adjustable steering wheel, a fully carpeted interior
and tufted nylon.
Even a cutting-edge cassette player.
There are a few touches especially for the ladies,
like this space here - in front of the passenger seat, obviously -
where you could put your handbag.
Such mod cons didn't come cheap.
In 1975, the struggling motor giant had been bailed out
by the big-spending Labour Government
with well over £1 billion worth of taxpayers' money.
A slice of the cash was invested in the SD1's high-tech home,
a sparkling new factory in Solihull.
The Rover SD1 was built here in Solihull
but the parts came from all across the country.
The manual gearbox from Pengam in South Wales.
The bodywork was built in Swindon.
The nylon carpeting was delivered from Bradford
and the windscreen wipers
from the women at the Trico factory in Brentford.
That is when they weren't on strike.
All of these parts were built by different groups of workers
with different shop stewards, different agendas
and different ambitions.
The Rover SD1 was a national project but that made it vulnerable.
With 17 different unions working across 55 sites,
British Leyland was acutely exposed to the whims of its workers.
All those in favour, please vote.
Almost every day production was disrupted by strikes.
The management have to give way some time or other.
With inflation running at over 20%,
many strikers felt they had no choice
but their incessant demands led to a crisis of authority.
To managers' distress, the unions seemed to be running the show.
The management are closely scrutinised by the trade unions.
They're accountable to all our members on the shop floor.
The trade unions were part of the great trinity of British power.
On behalf of their workers,
union barons broke bread with business and government
to sort out the nation's troubles.
This was the post-war deal.
But on the shop floor,
union power wasn't always about co-operation and consensus.
Often it could be petty, unreasonable
and downright destructive.
At the British Leyland plant on Merseyside, 600 men walked out
because, they said, stray cats had got into the factory.
According to the union,
the cats were using the factory floor as a litter tray.
But when cleaners scrubbed it down,
the union said it was now too wet, people might fall over.
So the men stayed out.
If they don't like making cars, why don't they get themselves another bloody job,
designing cathedrals or composing concertos?
The British Leyland Concerto in four movements,
all of them slow with a four-hour tea break in between.
When the Rover SD1 was launched in the summer of '76,
production ran at just 50% of capacity.
They're not interested in anything except lounging about conveyor belts
stuffing themselves with my money.
Buyers had to wait up to nine months for their new cars to be delivered.
Leyland's much-lauded car of tomorrow today
was fast becoming the car of today tomorrow...
..or maybe the day after.
The Sun's cartoonist captured the common view of life at British Leyland.
Mugs of cocoa,
games of Ludo, copies of Playboy,
the workers all tucked up in bed.
"'Ere," one of them says.
"How did that car get on the assembly line?"
We've just heard that British Leyland's strikers
have been fitting silencers to motor horns
and now the cars don't give a hoot either.
There was, however, another way.
In 1974, Leyland executive George Turnbull
escaped Britain's industrial chaos.
George Turnbull would like all his friends at British Leyland to know
that he is alive and well and making cars in Korea.
Turnbull and many of his best men
joined South Korea's car giant Hyundai.
And in Korea, they did things differently.
Turnbull's greatest asset is a trouble-free labour force
that works without complaint or question.
Turnbull's Korean factory turned out 25 cars an hour,
on time and on budget.
Ironically, they were supplied with parts, equipment and labour
by British Leyland.
Maybe saluting your boss Korean-style was a step too far
but there's no doubt that in the '70s, the militancy of the unions,
of ordinary workers flexing their political muscles,
was becoming a chronic threat to our national interests -
a very British disease.
Years of affluence meant that Britain's workers now demanded wages
and living standards their forebears could never have imagined.
Unfortunately, they weren't quite so keen on
the flexibility, innovation and productivity needed to pay for them.
And in an age of cut-throat global competition,
this spelled disaster for British industry.
Even Prime Minister Jim Callaghan,
the man who was investing so much public money in Leyland,
had a taste of the consequences for British manufacturing.
Not long after Jim Callaghan had come to power,
his office ordered a brand-new Rover
with bullet-proof glass and bomb-proof armour plating.
On his very first outing, Callaghan pressed the button
to activate the state-of-the-art electric windows
and the glass fell in on his lap.
At the end of the journey,
Callaghan handed the pane of glass to his driver
and all he said was, "Don't bring this car again."
But Sunny Jim's woes went far beyond poorly-made motors.
From rising unemployment and rampant inflation,
to wildly profligate spending and borrowing,
his in-tray was overflowing.
By almost every economic measure,
Britain was falling behind its rivals.
One American commentator put it bluntly.
"Goodbye, Great Britain. It was nice knowing you."
Off-licences did a roaring trade this afternoon
after the Budget announcement, as people rushed to beat the increases.
I was stunned, really shocked. I never thought this, never.
In April 1975, Chancellor Denis Healey
delivered the toughest Budget for years,
ramping up the duties on booze in a desperate attempt to balance the books.
Well, I don't drink an awful lot,
just a couple of bottles of sherry, the cheaper kind of sherry.
Back at home, families tuning in to watch a new BBC drama
found little comfort.
In Survivors, 95% of the population
has been wiped out by a future pandemic - The Death.
You have to help me, please. I can't do anything by myself.
Survivors captured the pessimism and paranoia of mid-'70s Britain.
A nation stalked by calamity, where power was up for grabs.
Stay where you are.
All right, Dave. Switch the lights on.
Sorry about that.
You can't be too careful.
Tellingly, the villain was a former trade unionist.
Arthur Wormley, of course! A union man. Chairman, wasn't it?
And the union man's charm was just a front for his dictatorial ambition.
We have assumed authority to maintain law and order in this area.
-By what right?
-You will be executed. Take him away.
No, you have no right to do that. You can't do that.
-His execution is perfectly legal.
-But you're murdering him.
On the surface, Survivors was just an escapist fantasy,
its villain an exaggerated caricature of what was wrong with Britain.
But for many viewers, the threat of a militant union leader
seizing power in a left-wing coup was all too real.
East Lambrook Farm, Somerset.
When the Red Menace comes,
when Britain teeters on the brink of social collapse,
down on the farm there'll be men ready to rally
to the call of a nation in distress.
62-year-old General Sir Walter Walker was horrified
that a once great Britain seemed to be in terminal decline.
Does this country want the Communists to run it or not?
I do not call the Labour Government a Labour Government.
I call it a trades union Government
and I've been studying the enemy within.
These people defy Parliament and they defy the rules of law.
Is there an enemy within,
destroying the spirit and freedom of our home-loving democracy?
Walker received thousands of letters,
many from ex-military men,
keen to join his anti-insurgency group Civil Assistance.
Here we have a merchant banker
who's had previous intelligence experience.
A lawyer in London, previous intelligence experience.
I ask you, when will it all end?
In the event of a crippling general strike,
Civil Assistance planned to seize control of essential public services -
power stations, Heathrow Airport, even the BBC.
Although precisely how Walker and his men would actually do this
remains a mystery.
In February 1975,
Walker summoned his loyal followers for a crisis meeting.
They gathered in secret here, at St Lawrence Jewry Church
in the heart of the City of London.
General Walker told his audience
that whether they liked it or not, civil war was coming.
"Which side are you on?" He asked them.
"The side of decent loyal Britishers or the troublemakers and traitors?"
The forces of darkness are massing for a winter offensive.
There will be a national stoppage.
Socialist Worker, only 10p!
Walker always denied that Civil Assistance was a private army
but of course that's exactly what it looked like.
-Know what those are?
What on earth are these for, Jimmy?
Army equipped to fight for Britain when the balloon goes up.
Reggie Perrin couldn't resist a dig.
Fight against whom?
Communists, Maoists, Trotskyists, Neo-Trotskyists,
Crypto-Trotskyists, union leaders, Communist union leaders.
Atheists, agnostics, long-haired weirdos, short-haired weirdos,
vandals, hooligans, football supporters,
namby-pamby probation officers, punk rock...
Today it's easy to dismiss Walker as a figure of fun,
a paranoid right-wing eccentric.
But in his own rather peculiar way
he was reflecting something that many people felt.
The BBC commissioned a national opinion poll to see
if ordinary people shared Walker's fears of a totalitarian take-over.
two out of three did think there was a genuine threat to democracy.
What the hell are you?
-A bloody Communist?
-If you must know, I'm a liberal.
Without people like us to lead and protect you, you'll never get anywhere.
I wonder how many other sinister secrets you've been hiding from me.
The British people had long been proud of their democratic traditions
but in the mid-'70s, it felt as though everything we held dear
was on the brink of destruction.
Rumours of coups and conspiracies were everywhere,
from high politics to popular culture.
There was talk of the Russians moving in,
of the Army taking over, of the slow death of British democracy.
The nation's morale had reached its lowest ebb.
Even Jim Callaghan had had enough.
As he told the Cabinet during one of their interminable emergency meetings,
"If I were a younger man, I'd emigrate."
Weary of all the doom and gloom,
more and more people were leaving Britain for new lives abroad.
In fact, emigrants outnumbered immigrants.
And it wasn't just people flooding out of the country.
Have you ever been tempted
-to change your sterling into some other currency?
-Very much so.
-How do you feel about people who move their money abroad?
The pound, once the world's strongest currency
and a symbol of British economic might,
sterling was suffering a worldwide crisis of confidence.
On Friday 5th March 1976, after three years of steady falls,
the value of the pound collapsed as foreign investors
rushed to sell their sterling reserves.
By the close of business, the pound had fallen beneath 2
for the first time in history.
It's extremely sad, I think, for the country that the pound should fall.
-Do you recall times like this before?
-Never as bad as this.
As one dealer put it,
"The pound has embarked on a steady, unstoppable descent to hell."
First time for me.
Cheer up, it could be worse.
The state this country's in, you could be free, couldn't you?
Stuck outside with no work and a crumbling economy.
How horrible that'd be.
Nothing better symbolised Britain's national decline
than the helter-skelter plight of the pound.
This was a crisis that lay bare the depths to which the nation had sunk.
More than ever, Britain stood defenceless
before the fierce judgement of the financial markets.
The crisis hit ordinary people where it hurt,
because a falling pound made imported goods more expensive.
All those little luxuries were becoming dearer by the hour.
The pound had another very bad day,
closing at only 2.4 against the Matabele gumbo bean.
By September 1976,
when the Labour Party gathered in Blackpool for its annual conference,
the pound had dropped to just 1.63,
the lowest it had ever been.
The man whose job it was to sort out this mess,
Chancellor Denis Healey, was booked on a flight to Hong Kong.
But as sterling continued to plunge,
Healey cancelled his ticket and changed direction,
heading not to the Far East but to Blackpool.
Desperate times called for desperate measures.
The Government of Great Britain took a drastic step today.
It asked the International Monetary Fund for a loan of nearly 4 billion.
To save sterling, Healey asked the IMF for a £2.3 billion loan.
The biggest bail-out in history.
Having approached the IMF, Healey entered the packed conference ballroom
to inform his party and the watching world.
He was in such a hurry, he hadn't even had time for lunch.
The bureaucratic absurdities of conference protocol
meant that as an unscheduled speaker,
Healey was given just five minutes to deliver the devastating truth.
Let me say, Mr Chairman,
that I don't come with the Treasury view. I come from the battlefront.
Healey knew what his party activists wanted to hear,
that the days of heedless Government spending would last forever.
But that, he told them, was sheer economic fantasy.
The IMF would only save the pound, Healey said,
in exchange for deep spending cuts,
a bitter pill to swallow for a socialist party.
It means sticking to the very painful cuts in public expenditure
on which the Government's already decided.
That's what it means and that's what I'm asking for.
That's what I'm going to negotiate for
and I ask the conference to support me in that task.
As Healey made his way back through the audience,
some of his comrades stood and cheered him but most didn't.
Most stayed where they were.
Many booed him and shook their heads and called for his.
Order, order. Order, please.
The pound had lost a quarter of its value in just a year.
With austerity looming,
Government expenditure had to be held in check.
Debts reduced, spending squeezed.
Here in Blackpool, a Labour Chancellor
turned his back on a key principle of the post-war consensus,
the idea that there would always be more money.
This was a pivotal moment in our post-war history.
In barely five minutes at the podium,
Denis Healey had captured Labour's looming identity crisis.
British politics would never be the same again.
MARGARET THATCHER: The situation of our country grows daily,
indeed almost hourly, worse.
Under Labour, the land of hope and glory
has become the land of beg and borrow.
The nation's fate was in the hands of the money markets
and in November 1976,
London welcomed the men who could save us or sink us.
The IMF sent six international bankers to examine Britain's books.
The IMF mission arrived in London and checked into Brown's Hotel incognito.
People were naturally fascinated by the IMF team - an Englishman,
an Australian, an American, a German, a New Zealander and a Greek.
It sounds like the beginning of some deeply elaborate and incredibly offensive joke,
or perhaps the cast of the latest James Bond film.
8:50 last Thursday morning, the European director of the IMF
begins his most delicate mission ever.
The IMF team checked in under false names,
something Bond would have approved of.
10am, the four remaining members of the team.
These undercover bankers were the most powerful men in the land.
For the next six weeks, they played hardball with Denis Healey.
Finally, on 16th December, the IMF handed the Chancellor
the £2 billion he desperately needed to save sterling.
This is a confidential cable from the head of the IMF,
calling on its member states to come to a humbled Britain's aid.
You can only imagine how the fiercely patriotic Denis Healey
must have felt as he ran his eyes down the list of names.
Belgium, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Sweden and even,
of all people, in to the tune of 1 billion, Germany.
How on earth had it come to this?
PIANO MUSIC: "Somewhere Over The Rainbow"
The City reacted favourably
and as Christmas approached, the pound recovered.
After months of agony,
Healey had dragged Britain back from the brink of bankruptcy.
But I wonder if you lot could give us a contribution to the IMF?
ALL: The IMF?
The International Magicians Fund.
You just wave a wand and you suddenly find your pockets stuffed with money.
Oh. Here you are.
# Somewhere over the rainbow... #
At the heart of the IMF crisis was a harsh lesson.
This was the moment at which British politics
faced up to the raw power of global market forces.
But the bitter medicine seemed to work.
The pound was revived and the panic was over.
The natural order seemed to have been restored.
A quiet coalmining community in the heart of the Welsh Valleys.
In December 1976, panic gripped this little town.
It was facing invasion by a barbarian horde.
Frightened churchgoers gathered outside the town's Castle Cinema,
led by a local pastor.
We do protest that this thing has come to Caerphilly.
Terrible, I think it is. I think it's disgusting.
Well, it's lowering the standard of our people in Caerphilly.
But what was it that had the good people of Caerphilly in such a tizzy?
MUSIC: "In The City" by The Jam
The cult is called punk. The music, punk rock.
Raw, outrageous and crude.
And in the vanguard, The Sex Pistols.
# I don't want a holiday in the sun
# I wanna go to the new Belsen... #
Punk rock has become almost a battle cry in British society.
For many people it's a bigger threat to our way of life than Russian Communism or hyperinflation.
We will be hearing from city councillors in London, in Glasgow
and Newcastle, whose councils have banned punk rock concerts.
For these guardians of public morality,
punk was a frontal assault on British reserve and common decency.
But despite the outcry,
the Pistols' Anarchy tour was on its way to Caerphilly.
That night the old Britain came face-to-face with the new.
Over there were the God-fearing, polite, well-mannered, deferential.
Standing right here was the new generation,
who revelled in being confrontational, insulting, provocative.
Each side was equally bewildered by the other.
# Sleep in heavenly peace... #
How do you feel about the crowd opposite?
They're entitled to do what they want.
Thing is, they're outside freezing. We're in here.
I've got a flyer that was handed out
by the churchgoers outside the concert hall.
They describe punk rock as a rampant evil,
the direct result of our national rejection of God.
But there is hope, they say,
for punks who turn from their wicked ways and embrace redemption.
"The vilest offender who truly believes,
"that moment from Jesus a pardon receives."
# Sleep in heavenly peace
# Sleep in heavenly peace. #
Perhaps God really was on the protesters' side.
Out of 630 tickets, only 60 were sold.
Tonight, some of the original troublemakers are gathering again in Caerphilly...
..to celebrate their modest part in the punk story.
A Sex Pistols tribute band is headlining at the town's Workmen's Hall.
-The first punk in Merthyr Tydfil.
-He was first, I was second.
What was once so shocking has become part of local legend,
a moment not for fear but nostalgia.
GUITAR MUSIC PLAYS
Is anyone here who was here the first time?
Post-war Britain had seen teddy boys, mods,
rockers and skinheads come and go.
There was something different about punk
that made it all the more shocking.
It wasn't just about the gob and the noise.
With their outrageous clothes and their provocative lyrics,
punks were assaulting Britain's most cherished cultural icons.
30 years on, many people still revered
the legacy of our finest hour.
Programmes for tomorrow evening. Dad's Army is on parade at 6:50.
The memory of the war hung heavy in our culture.
From the TV schedules...
-I would not mind having you shot.
-Thank you, sir.
..to the games we played.
For those who hadn't lived through the war and the austerity of its aftermath,
all of this looking backwards would seem intensely stifling.
As one of the Sex Pistols' teenage fans put it,
she hated everybody always harping on about Hitler.
Teenagers sporting swastikas, songs of Nazi death camps,
could there be anything more likely to upset a generation shaped by the war?
It just remains for me to wish you a very good night. Good night.
There certainly could.
# God save the Queen
# The fascist regime... #
For the Pistols had another target, the nation's cherished figurehead.
"God save the Queen The fascist regime
"God save the Queen She ain't no human being
"There is no future in England's dreaming."
It's hard to think of any lyrics that would be more likely
to inflame the great majority of public opinion.
If I thought one of mine was in there, I'd drag them out.
# No future
# No future... #
-What did you think of The Sex Pistols?
I'd let them go to Rod Stewart but not to see this rubbish.
# Come up and see me Make me smile
# I'll do what you want
# Running wild... #
For the originals, punk was great fun.
Unbridled, youthful energy and a chance to be very, very rude.
For millions of others though, it was as though
the forces of anarchy were let loose in '70s Britain.
The days of deference were a distant memory.
But in the summer of 1977, tradition hit back.
# Queen Elizabeth, Queen Elizabeth
# Silver Jubilee... #
In May, the Queen set off on a nationwide tour.
# Queen Elizabeth
# God save you and me... #
After years of disturbing change,
the Silver Jubilee was widely greeted with relief and joy.
-Are you looking forward to it?
-Yes, I am. A good booze-up!
This was the voice of the silent majority.
My first memories are of the Jubilee summer of '77.
I wasn't yet three but I vividly remember how enthusiastically
my parents got involved with the village celebrations.
This photo rather says it all.
The balloons, the flag,
the expression of complete and utter misery.
But actually most people really loved the Jubilee.
Here at last was a chance to forget all the bad news
and pull together as one nation.
On Thursday 9th June 1977,
the celebrations drew to a highly-choreographed close,
a display of pageantry that Britain still did best.
The Queen's river progress deliberately echoed
the Thames journeys of her namesake, Elizabeth I,
another sovereign who had guided her people through troubled times.
Hundreds of thousands of people lined the riverside walkways.
Tens of millions more tuned in to watch at home.
For a few hours at least,
the Queen's people could forget the grim reality of economic decline.
It was time for a party.
And then onto the highlight of the evening.
The finale was a dramatic firework display,
the biggest London had ever seen.
As the Queen looked out on her people below,
the huge crowd struck up Jerusalem.
From up here, life in Britain really didn't seem quite that bad.
'70s Britain remained a country of contradictions,
a place of discord and discontent,
and yet still somehow beneath it all, a land of hope and glory.
Next time - making money,
multiculturalism, and the break-up of Britain.
In the last years of the 1970s,
a troubled nation hurtles into the future.
# Baby, my heart is full of love and desire for you
# Now come on down and do what you gotta do
# You started this fire down in my soul
# Now can't you see it's burning out of control?
# Come on, satisfy the need in me
# Because only your good loving can set me free
# Set me free, set me free
# No, don't you leave me this way
# No, don't you understand? #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Historian Dominic Sandbrook takes viewers on an eye-opening and refreshing journey deep into the 1970s, a decade where the old Britain of the post-war years was transformed into the nation of today.
This episode looks at the Britain of 1975-77. New sex discrimination laws challenged the British bloke, while football hooliganism and industrial unrest heralded the end of the post-war peace. Equal pay and rights meant that women could, technically, work on an equal standing to men. Dominic contrasts their new 'equality' with the epidemic of casual sexism in British culture.
Fighting on the football terraces brought the national game into disrepute, while in industry there was a sense that Britain was slipping out of control: despite the government ploughing millions into British Leyland, the company was unable to control its workforce or to make cars that people wanted.
And in the midst of silver jubilee fever, a different cultural force was challenging society. Punk, embodied by the Sex Pistols, was sweeping the nation.