We're wrong to think 1980s is all about Thatcher, says TV historian Dominic Sandbrook


Historian Dominic Sandbrook has argued that the 1980s would have been the same even if Margaret Thatcher had fallen under a bus.

The author, who has previously examined the 1960s in his book White Heat and the 1970s in books including State Of Emergency and Mad As Hell, has now turned his attention to the 1980s for a new documentary series.

How far did Margaret Thatcher affect the 80s?

Writing in the Radio Times, he explained: "Just as we so often misremember the '60s, so I think we've been getting the '80s wrong, too."

The decade will be the subject of The 80s With Dominic Sandbrook, starting on Thursday August 4 on BBC 2 at 9pm.

The academic and TV presenter, who is a visiting professor at King's College London, said: "No other prime minister has ever been so closely associated with the way we remember a particular decade.

Historian Dominic Sandbrook is examining the 80s

"It would be easy to talk about the '60s without mentioning Harold Wilson, the '90s without John Major.

"But the '80s without Thatcher? Unthinkable. Whether you love or loathe her, she dominates the story."

However, Mrs Thatcher did not have the impact people thought she did, Sandbrook, 41, has argued.

The 80s with Dominic Sandbrook will air in August

"I think that if Thatcher had fallen under a bus in 1979, the story of '80s Britain would have been much less different than we think," he said.

"Mass unemployment, conflict in the coal mines, even wine bars and shoulder pads were probably all coming anyway.

"The truth is that the Iron Lady has become a convenient get-out, a way for the rest of us to pretend we live in a country that somebody else made."

This week's Radio Times is on sale now.