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Episode 1. With Dylan Jones

Eighties music is often dismissed as a joke - all drum machines and big hair. But - as acclaimed author Dylan Jones argues in this film – the 1980s should be looked on as the most creative, radical and innovative decade in pop. 

This was the decade when the world-conquering genres of rap, hip-hop and modern dance music were launched, while guitar-driven indie flourished in a constellation of scenes spread out across the UK that sowed the seeds of Britpop. And a technological revolution was changing how music was made, filling the charts with a starburst of innovative records. 

Meanwhile, the launch of MTV turned pop into a visual medium, allowing artists as varied as U2 and Eurythmics to take charge of how they presented themselves. 

Featuring interviews with Nile Rodgers, Bananarama, Primal Scream’s Bobby Gillespie, Mark Ronson, Trevor Horn and Soul II Soul’s Jazzie B.


Episode 2. True Originals

Dylan Jones has written books about many musical eras - their shining stars and defining moments - but the time that fascinates him most is the 1980s. It was an exciting, explosive super-decade, in which a dazzling array of new genres emerged while video really did kill the radio star. 

It was also an age of innovators and icons, of style and substance. Here, Dylan celebrates some of the stars who created the timeless legacy of the 1980s. From stellar BBC archive performances from the likes of Madonna, Depeche Mode, Sade, Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys and Tina Turner to iconic MTV-era gems from Billy Idol, Eurythmics, U2, Janet Jackson, Prince and many more. 

It also features rarely seen archive television footage from the BBC vaults, including Terry Wogan interviewing Grace Jones, Bruce Springsteen on the Old Grey Whistle Test and Adam Ant performing his own stunts in a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the Prince Charming video.


Episode 3. Alternative Voices

The 1980s was a time when artists in both the UK and US were delivering powerful social commentary in their songs. Dylan Jones selects some of the finest alternative voices from this era. 

From The Cure on Top of the Pops at the beginning of the decade to The Stone Roses' debut TV performance in 1989, this episode takes a comprehensive look at the alternative music of an entire era. It also features powerful live performances from Billy Bragg, Tracy Chapman, Bronski Beat and The Selecter. In addition, there are archival gems from Pixies, The Smiths, Suzanne Vega, The Fall, REM and many more.


Episode 4. Hip-Hop to House

The 1980s was an era in which a fusillade of new genres emerged, and many are still with us today, such as hip-hop and house. Dylan Jones has mined the archives to select some of the most crucial tracks in the rise of these two genres. 

From a young Kurtis Blow making his Top of the Pops debut to the sonic bombardment of Public Enemy and the sampling skills of Bomb the Bass, this episode showcases the evolution in rap and house music across the decade. There are rare archival interviews and stellar performances from Run-DMC, Salt ‘N’ Pepa, S’Express, Cookie Crew and Neneh Cherry, as well as iconic videos from Herbie Hancock, The Beastie Boys, M/A/R/R/S, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, and many more.