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BERGERAC'S ISLAND

JERSEY IN THE 1980s

Remember Jersey in the 1980s? John Nettles does. As star of the BBC series Bergerac it changed his life. Thirty-five years later he looks back to an island in transition…

“Who wouldn’t want to be filming on golden beaches among friendly people with a lovely cast, year in and year out?” 
- John Nettles

World events crowded in on Jersey in the 1980s. There appeared to be no immediate end to the Cold War – the postwar standoff between Russia and the United States. In the age of Mutual Assured Destruction, we were all nervous about which of the superpowers would use the nuclear option first. As a reporter for ITV Channel Television (who supplied the footage for this report) Alastair Layzell was there…

Bergerac’s Island: Jersey in the 1980s looks at every aspect of life in a decade that saw huge changes. Population growth brought pressure on Jersey’s infrastructure. More land was used for housing. Flooding Queen’s Valley to create a new reservoir was controversial. Islanders worried about the building of a nuclear re-processing plant and a nuclear power station on the nearby French coast. All this led to the creation of the environmental pressure group CONCERN one of whose founders was schoolteacher Cyd Le Bail…

"You keep going because you have a firefight to deal with, you have your comrades around you…and you don’t want to let them down"
- Paul Dowden

Over the years many islanders have served their country. In 1982 Britain’s task force sailed to re-capture the Falkland Islands – recently occupied by Argentina. Jerseyman Paul Dowden was with the 4th Field Regiment Royal Artillery, and by the time he reached the South Atlantic the war was well under way…

 

We were on the tail end of Jersey’s tourism heyday. Hotels and guest houses in Jersey found it difficult to respond to the challenge of cheap package holidays in Spain complete with guaranteed sun and en suite bathrooms. All-island coach tours and nightly cabarets – a staple of tourism from the 1940s to the 1970s – continued; but for how much longer? And the Tourism Department still produced a new promotional film every four years, including this in 1985 – Spirit of Jersey

Thirty-six years after Bergerac first appeared on BBC TV British instrumentalist Youngr has re-worked the series' iconic theme tune. In the 1980s, Bergerac regularly attracted 13 million viewers; Visit Jersey, who had the idea of inviting Youngr to work his magic on the theme-tune, hope his performance will have the same effect three decades later...

On 17th October 1987 Islanders woke to a scene of utter devastation. Overnight, Britain had been battered by hurricane-force winds in the worst storm since 1703. In Jersey, the wind reached 98 mph. Among the first responders was firefighter David Brindle. But he was to become a casualty himself…