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What happened in 1971? - UK

Reg Varney, star of On the Buses
Reg Varney, star of On the Buses. The film 'On the Buses' was the most popular British film of 1971 Image by Hans Peters/Anefo licensed under Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported.

We look at events, new products, films, music and fashion from 1971.

In the news


For more information see How much did things cost in 1971?


The films that made the most money in the UK in 1971 were:

Source: 'Richard Burton top draw in British cinemas' by Peter Waymark, published in The Times 30 December 1971 page 2

In the same year Glenda Jackson won the Oscar for the Best Actress for playing Gundrun Brangwen in D H Lawrence's 'Women in Love'.

The James Bond movie, 'Diamonds are Forever' was released in December 1971. It was a very successful film, but was released too late to make it onto the 1971 list.


In 1971 TV critics named the police drama 'Softly, Softly' as the best television drama of 1971. 'The Comedians' which featured some lesser-known stand-up acts from the working men's club circuit was named as the best comedy series. Another comedy show, 'The Two Ronnies' debuted in April 1971.

The best television play was 'Edna the Inebriate Woman' by Jeremy Sandford. It told the story of an alcoholic homeless woman. The play was shown as part of the BBC's 'Play for the Day' series.

The best documentary was 'The Sorrow and the Pity'. It described the collaborative Vichy French Government in World War II. The programme included interviews with Germans, French collaborators and French resistance fighters. The best current affairs series was 'World in Action'.

Peter Cook's show 'Where Do I sit' was named the worst programme of the year.

Source: 'Richard Burton top draw in British cinemas' by Peter Waymark, published in The Times 30 December 1971 page 2.

Children's TV

Children's TV programmes starting in 1971 included:

Source: The Encyclopaedia of Cult Children's TV by Richard Lewis


Pop group Middle of the Road
Middle of the Road's single 'Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep' reached number 1 in 1971 and spent 34 weeks in the charts Image by Punt (ANEFO) licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication

The best-selling pop records of 1971 were:

Source: UK Top 100 Singles by Paul Gambaccini, Tim Rice and Jonathan Rice, published by Guinness in 1993

World records

Chay Blyth became the first person to sail single-handedly east to west around the world. He took 293 days. His yacht was called 'British Steel'. The Duke of Edinburgh and Prince Charles welcomed him home at Hamble, near Southampton. [2]

Royal news

Prince Charles joined the Royal Navy. He had already earned his wings as a pilot at RAF Cranwell. He parachuted into the English Channel as part of his training.

Emperor Hirohito of Japan visited Britain in 1971. It was a controversial visit and the first one the Emperor had made to Britain since Japan's defeat in World War II.

Princess Anne rode her horse, Doublet, to victory in the European Three-Day Event Horse Trials.

'The Country Life Book of Britain in the Seventies' by Ronald Allison, published by Book Club Associates in 1980


Arsenal beat Liverpool to win the FA Cup. In 1971 Arsenal achieved the Cup and League double by also finishing top of the First Division. (There was no Premier League in 1971).

Chelsea won the European Cup-Winners' Cup.

Specify won the Grand National at Aintree ridden by John Cook. It was a close race and a fast finish. The owner was Fred Pontin, famous for Pontins Holiday Camps.

Mill Reef, ridden by Geoff Lewis, won the Derby at Epsom.

Stan Mellor became the first National Hunt (jump racing) jockey to ride one thousand winners.

The British Lions Rugby Team defeated the New Zealand All Blacks in New Zealand. They were the first British team to win a series against the All Blacks in New Zealand.

British Prime Minister, Ted Heath, captained Britain's yachtsmen to victory in the Admiral's Cup at Cowes, Isle of Wight.

Joe Bugner defeated Henry Cooper to become British, European and Commonwealth heavyweight boxing champion.

Jackie Stewart won the Formula 1 drivers' championship.

Fashion news

The big fashion hit of 1971 was hot pants. They were short shorts for women. According to Sarah Drummond of the Daily Express, they made mini-skirts look prudish.[3] In the summer they were banned from the Royal Enclosure at Ascot. By October 1971 the fashion was over, according to the Daily Mirror's Felicity Green. [4]

Read more: Fashion in the 1970s - UK.


The Toy of the Year in 1971 was the Katie Kopykat writing doll.

Other toys and games launched in 1971 included:


In 1971 around 90% of households had a television set, but only 69% had a 'fridge and 64% had a washing machine.

To get an idea of what new products people were interested in I had a look at the Consumers' Association (Which?) reports for 1971.

In 1971 Which? reviewed:

Continental quilts were new in the early 1970s. Most people in the UK used sheets and blankets.

Cassette tape recorders had been around since the 1960s, but were more popular in the 1970s.


New models launched for the UK market in 1971 were:

The Morris Marina was the car that was meant to save British Leyland.


[1] BBC Handbook 1973, published by the BBC in 1972, page 225

[2]'The Country Life Book of Britain in the Seventies' by Ronald Allison, published by Book Club Associates in 1980, page 42

[3]'Hot Pants!' by Sarah Drummond, published in the Daily Express 11 December 1970, page 7

[4]'Where have all the hot pants gone?' by Felicity Green, published in the Daily Mirror 13 October 1971, page 17

More on 1971

More on the 1970s

By Steven Braggs, May 2021

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Christopher Bentley

I'm here with thinking a lot about my vintage coffee grinder over this past few days on account of my having to replace a blown fuse in the motor unit, which I could do since I have another two of them, so took one out of one of them. It's actually made in a country that no longer exists - the German Democratic Republic and it's a Komet RG 25, the other (completely compatible) RG 25 motor units being under the AKA brand. I use it in tandem with a percolator made in a factory that no longer exists, too - Sona in Stratford-upon-Avon. I thought that there was an article somewhere on the Web mentioning the ground coffee revival of the early 1970s and here it is...and I'm still in the midst of that revival! To see about my interest in especially the early 1970s and the former Soviet Bloc please see my 'Gravatar'

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles

Retrowow - vintage, retro and social history

★ Mid Century ★ Facts & Figures ★ Collectibles ★