Breaking down 1996 into its biggest news, sports and entertainment events; here’s what happened…
In 1996, two tragedies struck the hearts of the British people, and the entire country felt sympathy for the people of Dunblane and Manchester. In Dunblane, a deranged gunman opened fire at a local preschool school, killing an entire class and their teacher. Later this year, in a direct response to these unfortunate events, the government announced it would outlaw virtually all handguns in the UK.
In Manchester, a huge bomb devastated the busy central shopping district just as it was packed with eager Saturday shoppers. Police managed to start evacuations ahead of the blast, but dozens were still killed or injured. The damage was so great that the incident led to a full renaissance of Manchester city centre.
The ’96 news also included the first genetically modified (or GM) food to be marketed in a UK supermarket. Modified tomato puree has attracted all the controversy, with some critics calling it “Frankenstein food.”
The sporting world is dominated by the European Football Championship (Euro 96) hosted by England. England’s highly-anticipated group stage against Scotland was capped by Gaza’s wonderful goal that finally sealed the victory for the hosts. Backed by home, the Three Lions went all the way to the semi-finals and the whole country went football-crazy as it looked like England were really going to win their first major tournament since ’66 and then, as really should have been expected That way, they lost to Germany on penalties.
In entertainment, carrots topped the charts with Chris Evans reinventing the chat show format with his hit show “TFI Friday.” Showcasing celebrity gossip, the trendiest bands and friendly lads, the impromptu, chaotic show once made Evans the most sought-after man on TV. A group of lawyers in their thirties garnered high ratings on the BBC rate; “This Life” is a bit like “Friends” in America, but with more “bad” behavior and disrespect.
The big screen was blessed with “Trainspotting,” one of the crown jewels of British filmmaking. Despite featuring heroin, needles, vomit, and disgusting toilets, it was the coolest thing to do this year, bringing Ewan McGregor from scratch to “Star Wars.” A more family-friendly film in 1996 was Toy Story; it was the first feature-length film to be animated entirely by computer. The results were so spectacular that people flocked to watch “Woody” (the pull-string cowboy) and “Buzz Lightyear” (the high-tech space ranger) battle it out, eventually becoming little Andy’s favorite toy.