World Television Day: Most iconic moments in British TV history

Celebrating the wonders of television the right way.

World Television Day is a day to commemorate and celebrate the impact that TV has had on the world. What started as a simple source of entertainment has grown into a global platform for, well, entertainment still, but also information, education, and inspiration.

Television has brought us unforgettable moments, from iconic sporting events to groundbreaking documentaries and captivating dramas. It has introduced us to diverse cultures, broadened our horizons, and sparked our imaginations.

As such, there is much to be thankful for when it comes to TV, so today, we celebrate the impact television has had on our little island by looking at some of the most iconic moments in British TV history.

1966 World Cup Final

Arguably the greatest moment in English sports history, host nation England took on the mighty West Germany in the final of the biggest football competition of all, the World Cup.

Being that it was their team in the final, Wembley Stadium was packed with fans and a further estimated 32 million people watched on from home as Sir Geoff Hurst scored a hat-trick to bring the Jules Rimmet trophy to England for the very first time.

The 32.30 million average audience became the highest-watched special event in UK TV history, an accolade it still holds to this day.

Wedding of Prince Charles & Lady Diana Spencer

42 years ago, roughly 750 million people worldwide watched on as the future King Charles III married Lady Diana of the Spencer family in what was dubbed the “wedding of the century”.

From the public to the royal family, Lady Diana was adored by all, and with Charles’ stature as the heir apparent to the British throne, the wedding became the biggest event on the day for all throughout the commonwealth and street parties were held up and down the United Kingdom.

Apollo 11 Lunar Landing

A moment in time watched by all. Apollo 11 was the first spacecraft to successfully fly to and land on the moon, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first men to walk on the moon.

While it was the US who claimed the glory of having the first man on the moon, the Apollo 11 mission was a monumental achievement for mankind. 

Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon as well as his now iconic line “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” was broadcast live worldwide, with an estimated 600 million people watching.

Live Aid 1985

On July 13, 1985, the world witnessed a monumental event that would forever change the landscape of music and philanthropy: Live Aid. Organized by the visionary duo of Bob Geldof and Midge Ure, this dual-venue concert held simultaneously in London's Wembley Stadium and Philadelphia's JFK Stadium aimed to raise funds for famine relief in Ethiopia.

The sheer scale of Live Aid was unprecedented, bringing together an unparalleled line-up of music icons representing every genre imaginable. 

From the electrifying rock of Queen and U2 to the soulful melodies of Elton John and Diana Ross, the stage was transformed into a global jukebox, broadcasting a message of unity and compassion to an estimated 1.5 billion viewers worldwide and is regarded as one of the most important moments in television history.

Only Fools and Horses - Del Boy falls through the bar

From live events to the best of British entertainment, Only Fools and Horses is one of Britain’s greatest shows of all time. Throughout its seven series, many great moments were spawned and are forever remembered fondly by all in the nation.

But one sticks out as the very best - Del Boy falls through the bar.

It was a simple moment, a bit of classic comedy that in today’s world is a throwaway bit. But back then, it was pure brilliance. 

Sex Pistols interview by Bill Grundy on the Today Show

On 1st December 1976, the then relatively unknown band Sex Pistols took to Thames Television’s Today show to be interviewed by Bill Grundy. What followed was an iconic moment of chaos.

The band members, accompanied by members of the Bromley Contingent, were late replacements on the show and were offered drinks prior to going on air - which they really took the liberty of.

Coming out to the live show visually incredibly intoxicated, they fumbled through the interview, swearing on multiple occasions. Grundy himself also admitted to being drunk, but the newspapers the next day sensationalised the Pistols, in turn bringing more eyes to the band than ever before and punting them straight into the public mainstream.

Opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games

In 2012, England hosted the Summer Olympic Games for the third time, the most for any nation in modern Olympic Games history.

The games that year as a whole were momentous, with many records broken and moments that will live on in history. But it was the opening ceremony that was one of the main highlights.

London went all out with the ceremony, which was entitled Isles of Wonder and was directed by Academy Award-winning British director Danny Boyle. It featured many prominent British personalities, including Queen Elizabeth II who who formerly opened the games.

In the end, the tremendous event that is seen as a love letter to Britain was watched globally by 900 million people, with a peak high of 27 million viewers in the UK.

Funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales

From the highs of the wedding to one of Britain’s saddest occasions, the untimely (and suspicious but we’re not getting into that) death of Princess Diana hit the nation hard.

The subsequent funeral was broadcast live, and it turned out not just to be Britain mourning her passing, but the world over, as an estimated 2 - 2.5 billion people watched globally.

In the UK, an average of 32.10 million viewers watched on, making it the second most-watched special event of all time in Britain.

I’m a Celeb - Katie Price & Kim Woodburn

There were many other moments that could’ve been included, but with the return of I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, we thought it would only be right to include one of the best moments.

Again, there were plenty to choose from, but we’ve gone for the infamous moment of Katie Price and Kim Woodburn’s eating trial from the 2009 edition.

It is infamous for multiple reasons, none less so than hosts Ant and Dec trying and failing to stifle laughter at the theatrics of the two personalities attempting to stomach the horrible 'food items' put before them

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