Popular Entertainment and Fashion

Music and Radio

  • Music greatly evolved within this period: from skiffle and radio to rock-n-roll, pop and punk.
  • The BBC was obliged to include regular light music and classical music broadcasts, while local popular music was largely ignored.
  • Radio Luxembourg and the pirate radio ships, in the 1960s, popularised rock and pop by broadcasting them into the UK from off-shore.
  • Bands like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones gained international fame, greatly influencing music worldwide.
  • The punk rock era began in the late 1970s with bands like the Sex Pistols and The Clash challenging social norms.

Television and Film

  • TV ownership hugely increased, turning it into the dominant form of entertainment.
  • BBC held a monopoly on TV broadcasting until 1955, when ITV was introduced, featuring a more commercial and populist approach.
  • ‘Kitchen sink’ dramas addressed social issues, reflecting the changing society.
  • British Cinema depicted a mixture of styles and themes, from war films to surreal comedies.


  • Initial austerity, due to World War II’s aftermath, slowly gave way to more daring and diverse trends.
  • Mary Quant initiated the mini-skirt revolution in the 1960s, symbolising the era’s liberal attitudes.
  • Clothing became a form of self-expression, with different styles associated with different subcultures.
  • The late 1970s introduced punk fashion focusing on aggressive, rebellious, and confrontational designs.


  • Increase in disposable income and leisure time led to the growth of spectator sports like football.
  • Television brought sporting events into homes, reaching a wider audience. The 1966 World Cup, hosted by England, showcased the power of sport through television.
  • The Olympics held in 1948 (also known as the Austerity Games) and 1956 marked important historical events.
  • Competitive sports grew in school curriculums, recognising the role of sports in society.

The period from 1951 to 1979 saw an increase in leisure time and spending power which greatly influenced the entertainment industry and fashion, mirroring the societal changes of the time.