Popular entertainment

Introduction of Television

  • Television emerged as a new form of mass entertainment. The number of households owning televisions rapidly increased from only around 15% in 1951 to over 90% by the end of the 1960s.
  • The Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 was a major television event, attracting over 20 million viewers and popularising television.
  • Television also brought global cultures into living rooms across Britain, from breaking news to entertainment including sports, and films-stimulating the growth of popular culture.

Music and Youth Culture

  • The mid-late 1950s saw the birth of Rock and Roll with American artists such as Elvis Presley popular among British youth.
  • In the 1960s, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones emerged as influential figures for British youth culture. These groups contributed to the ‘British Invasion’ of American music cultures.
  • Music became an important form of social expression for young people, leading to the establishment of distinctive youth cultures such as the Mods and Rockers in the mid 1960s.

Cinema and Film

  • Cinema remained popular throughout the 1950s and 60s with Britain producing globally successful films like Lawrence of Arabia and The Bridge on the River Kwai.
  • The film industry also mirrored societal changes. Kitchen-sink dramas emerged in the late 1950s, portraying realistic depictions of working-class life.
  • The James Bond series began in 1962, achieving international acclaim and highlighting the changing role of Britain on the world stage.

Sport and Leisure

  • In 1966, England won the World Cup, a significant national moment, celebrated extensively.
  • More leisure facilities such as swimming pools and sports centres were built, reflecting the increasing disposable income and recreational time.
  • Activities like ballroom dancing, bingo and going to the pub continued to be popular pastimes.

Remember to relate these points back to the broader themes of affluence, austerity and discontent to provide a comprehensive account of the period.