These are the top 50 most significant cultural moments of the last 50 years

London’s first Gay Pride march and the release of David Bowie’s iconic ‘The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars’ – both in 1972 – were the first events to make the list.

The 80s boasted the highest number of cultural highs – 14 - including Torvill and Dean’s unforgettable ice skating performance at the Winter Olympics, the launch of satellite TV and the debut episode of EastEnders.

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Other significant events included the Sex Pistols’ first gig (1975), the Queen opening Buckingham Palace to the public (1993), the publication of the first Harry Potter book and the appearance of Banksy’s first mural (both 1997).

This year’s re-emergence of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’, thanks to the latest Stranger Things season on Netflix, also made the list.

Dr Ruth Adams, senior lecturer in cultural & creative industries at King’s College London, was commissioned by Honda to curate the list to mark the 50th anniversary of the Honda Civic.

The car, which launched on July 12, 1972, has gone on to sell over 27.5 million units worldwide, with order books for the 11th generation hybrid model opening today (July 12).

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Cultural events are the 'social glue'

Dr Ruth Adams said: “Certain cultural events take on a significance not just for the individuals who were there, they become part of our collective memory and identity.

“These events represent our shared experience and sensibility. We see ourselves reflected in them – often at our best, sometimes at our worst.

“They shape what sociologist Benedict Anderson described as the ‘imagined community’ of a nation, the ‘social glue’ that binds us together.

“The mass media and, latterly, social media have brought these events into our homes and on to our screens giving us a sense of togetherness with others in this national audience.

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“The UK has become a ‘smaller’ country over the past half century; we are ‘closer’ to one another than ever before.  Car ownership becoming a reality for most has allowed people to travel more freely than previous generations, broadening outlooks and facilitating mass participation in leisure and culture.

“Opportunities have been seized to transform cultural moments into enduring movements, with a capacity to change attitudes and even legislation, making manifest a vision of a more mobile, diverse and tolerant culture.”

Timeless emotional attachment

A OnePoll survey of 2,000 people commissioned by Honda revealed which life events they associated with the car they had at the time, with first jobs (22 per cent), being on holiday (20 per cent) and having a child (19 per cent) emerging top.

In addition, 41 per cent said they go for a drive to process a big piece of news and nearly a third (30 per cent) said they were in the car listening to the radio when a major world event happened.

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Rebecca Adamson, head of automobile at Honda, said: “Fifty years and eleven versions of Civic has given us the opportunity to reflect on what was happening at the time, and exponential progress in so many aspects of society.

“Cars have been part of our movement, and although the cars we drive have constantly evolved over the last five decades, the emotional attachment we feel with them, and the association of memories with them, is timeless.”

50 iconic cultural moments

1972 - London's first Gay Pride march takes place 

1972 - David Bowie releases ‘The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust & the Spiders from Mars

1973 - Slade's ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ takes the Christmas No.1 slot for the first time

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1974 - ABBA wins Eurovision Song Contest with ‘Waterloo’ at the Brighton Dome

1975 - The Sex Pistols play their first ever live show

1977 - Saturday Night Fever brings disco to the cinema 

1977 - Star Wars takes UK cinemas by storm 

1979 - The UK elects the first ever female Prime Minister  

1980 - The Rubiks Cube launches in the UK 

1980 - PacMan computer game is released 

1981 - MTV launches with the first video being ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ 

1981 - The first London Marathon and Great North Run take place

1982 - Channel 4 launches on 2nd November 

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1983 - Breakfast TV launches on BBC1 at 06:30 on 17 January

1984 - London Fashion Week launches at Olympia

1984 - Torvill and Dean make history with their ice skating performance at the Winter Olympics

1984 - Satellite TV launches in the UK 

1984 - Band Aid is formed and releases ‘Do they Know It’s Christmas’

1985 - The first episode of Eastenders airs on BBC One 

1985 - The original Live Aid event is held at Wembley Stadium

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1987 - Scott (Jason Donovan) and Charlene (Kylie Minogue) marry in ‘Neighbours’

1988 - Acid House scene erupts across the UK, leading to the birth of rave culture

1991 - Linda McCartney launches the first meat-free food range in UK supermarkets 

1993 – The Queen announces the opening of Buckingham Palace to the public for the first time

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1994 - The Channel Tunnel (or ‘Chunnel’ as it was known) opens, connecting the UK to mainland Europe

1994 - First television broadcast of Glastonbury Festival

1995 - Damien Hirst wins The Turner Prize

1996 - Girl Power movement begins with the arrival of The Spice Girls

1996 - England hosts and reaches semi-finals of Euro 96, with ‘Three Lions’ becoming the unofficial national anthem

1997 - The first Harry Potter book, ‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ is published, introducing a new generation to reading 

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1997 - New Labour comes to power, with D:Reem’s ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ as the theme tune 

1997 - Banksy's first mural appears in Bristol 

2000 - The first series of Big Brother launches in the UK

2000 - the first home broadband service is installed in Basildon

2000 - Tate Modern opens in London, attracting over 40 million visitors since launch

2002 - The first season of Pop Idol airs, with Will Young declared the winner

2003 - England wins the Rugby World Cup

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2004 - The first season of Strictly Come Dancing airs, won by Natasha Kaplinsky and Brendan Cole

2005 - YouTube launches, changing the way videos are shared and watched

2010 - The first episode of The Great British Bake Off is aired on BBC Two

2011 - 50 Shades of Grey is released and becomes the best-selling British book of all time

2011 - Prince William marries Kate Middleton

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2012 - London bathes in the glory of the Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 

2013 - Disney's 'Frozen' inspires kids worldwide… cue the singing of ‘Let it Go’ 

2014 - Everyone (it seemed!) did the Ice Bucket Challenge 

2014 - The first same-sex marriages take place in the UK

2017 - TikTok launches, bringing dance routines to social media 

2020 - Sir Captain Tom Moore achieves a UK no.1 cover with ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ alongside Michael Ball

2021 - England hosts, and reaches the final of the Euros

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2022 - ‘Stranger Things’ sends Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up That Hill’ to No.1 37 years since it launched


Honda Civic model story highlights

1972 – Civic Gen 1 launches on July 12th, and goes on to sell 27.5 million units over the next 50 years

1979 – Civic Gen 2 is launched, and the range extends to include a sedan, hatchback and wagon

1983 – Honda debuts the Civic Gen 3, with a wider wheelbase and more angular design

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1987 – A new range of engines accompanies the Civic Gen 4, featuring Honda’s VTEC (Variable Valve Timing and Lift Electronic Control) system

1991 – The Civic Gen 5 debuts a sleeker and more aerodynamic form

1995 – Civic Gen 6 arrives, and in 1997 the first performance-focused Civic Type-R is unveiled

2000 – A new Civic is launched for the new millennium, the Civic Gen 7 which adds hybrid technology in 2001

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2005 – The Civic Gen 8 offers even more futuristic styling, making it one of the most distinctive cars on the road

2011 – The Civic Gen 9 blends strong performance and efficiency with improved interior comfort

2017 – The all-new Civic Gen 10 arrives, and is a major leap forward

2022 – Civic Gen 11 completes Honda’s 2022 ‘Electric Vision’ commitment to electrify all mainstream models

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