‘vivid, brilliantly researched … Turner may be an anorak, but he is an acutely intelligent anorak’
Francis Wheen, New Statesman
‘a masterful work of social history … told with much wit’ Roger Lewis, Mail on Sunday
The 1970s. Strikes, power-cuts, the three-day week, inflation, Paki-bashing and the dead left unburied. Or, from another perspective, a period dominated by Morecambe & Wise, glam rock, detective fiction, club football, Get Carter, The Sweeney and The Good Life.
It was the best of times and the worst of times. Wealth inequality was at a record low, but industrial disruption was reached a record high. These were the glory years of Doctor Who and Coronation Street, but the darkest days of the Northern Ireland conflict.
In 1978 London Weekend Television launched a new series, The South Bank Show, announcing that it would cover ‘the consumed arts – cinema, rock, paperbacks and even television.’ It was an acknowledgement that if you wanted to understand modern Britain, you had to look at popular culture. Crisis? What Crisis? follows that lead, telling the story of Britain in the 1970s through the soaps and sitcoms, the music and movies, the fiction, fashion and sport of the time. And it adds one crucial ingredient: politics considered as one of the ‘consumed arts’.
This is not an insider’s account of the crises that wracked Britain in that decade. Rather it is a viewer’s history, a world seen through the eyes of the mass media, in which Enoch Powell, Margaret Thatcher and Tony Benn jostle for space with David Bowie, Hilda Ogden and Margo Leadbetter.
Alwyn W. Turner is the author of The Biba Experience and Cult Rock Posters. He lives in London.