The nuclear 1980s

The prospect of armageddon cast a long shadow over novelists, film-makers, song-writers and comedians in the first half of the 1980s. Jonathan Hogg introduces eight cultural responses to Britons' fixation with nuclear war as the Cold War grew more frosty

Demonstrators block the gates of the Greenham Common Airbase, tied together with string. The demonstrators were members of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) group. (Getty Images)

This article was first published in the April 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine

1) As nuclear tensions soared, a series of massive protests at Greenham Common made front-page news

A new and potentially ruinous nuclear arms race was firmly back on the international agenda at the dawn of the 1980s. This was the decade of Ronald Reagan’s “evil empire” speech about the Soviet Union, of America’s ‘star wars’ defence project, and of Olympic boycotts. It was also the decade in which US Cruise missiles were stationed at Greenham Common in Berkshire.

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