Fox scored big with The Simpsons, the animated brainchild of comic artist Matt Groening.
Bart Simpson, the show’s young troublemaking fourth-grader, immediately became an icon for underachievers of all ages, leading to a rapid proliferation of T-shirts bearing Bart’s mantra: “Don’t have a cow, Man”.
Twin Peaks also touched a nerve with viewers but was more of an acquired taste.
Directed by David Lynch, the unsettling, dreamlike series revolved around the question of “Who killed Laura Palmer?”.
The plot became impossibly convoluted – and the ratings dropped severely – by the time detective Kyle MacLachlan got around to solving the mystery – it was her dad (who became a homicidal maniac when possessed by an evil spirit named Bob!)
Far more wholesome was Beverly Hills 90210, an Aaron Spelling production that followed the lives of eight Beverly Hills high school students.
Many ordinary people were made famous by real-life docudramas, including Airport, Pet Rescue and The Cruise. The most sensational example of this was possibly the trial-by-television of American football star OJ Simpson.
The very nature of television began to change in the 1990s. The arrival of satellite TV (and eventually the multi-channel digital age) fragmented the viewing audience. People watched the same amount of TV but it was now spread over a huge array of channels and programmes.
No longer would half the nation be glued to The Morecambe and Wise Show or an episode of Steptoe and Son. Viewers now made individual choices and scheduled their own viewing as they wished. This abundance of choice brought viewing freedom but meant that we began to understand each other less, as we could no longer rely on having the same cultural co-ordinates, no matter what our other differences.
MOST WATCHED TELEVISION IN BRITAIN IN THE 1990S
|1||The Funeral of Princess Diana||BBC1/ITV||06/09/1997||32.10|
|2||Only Fools and Horses||BBC1||29/12/1996||24.35|
|4||Torvill and Dean – Winter Olympics 1994||BBC1||21/02/1994||23.95|
|5||World Cup 1998 (England vs. Argentina)||ITV||30/06/1998||23.78|
|6||Panorama Special – Princess Diana||BBC1||20/11/1995||22.78|
|9||National Lottery Live||BBC1||19/11/1994||20.17|
|10||One Foot in the Algarve||BBC1||26/12/1993||20.00|
|11||Worst of Alright on the Night||ITV||01/02/1992||19.90|
|12||Birds of a Feather||BBC1||25/12/1993||19.39|
|13||You’ve Been Framed!||ITV||19/01/1992||19.30|
|14||Who Wants to be a Millionaire?||ITV||07/03/1999||19.21|
|17||The Trouble With Mr Bean||ITV||01/01/1992||18.74|
|19||More Auntie’s Bloomers||BBC1||27/12/1992||18.40|
|20||Darling Buds of May||ITV||21/04/1991||18.35|