Wednesday, 14 November 2018


1990 was a TV series that aired in 1977 on the BBC. It starred Edward Woodward in the lead role and was based on the novel by Wifred Greatorex. It was quite groundbreaking in its time, depicting as it did, a dystopian future not dissimilar to the more famous one written by George Orwell that became ‘1984’.

A quick synopsis can be gathered from Wikipedia, but I will include the background summary of the world depicted that I obtained from that source:

This state of affairs was precipitated by an irrecoverable national bankruptcy in 1981, triggering martial law. In the general election, only 20% voted. The economy (and imports) drastically contracted forcing stringent rationing of housing, goods and services. These are distributed according to a person's LifeScore as determined (and constantly reviewed) by the PCD on behalf of the union-dominated socialist government. As a consequence, the higher-status individuals appear to be civil servants and union leaders. An exception to this are import/export agents, which appear to be immune to state control due to their importance to the remnants of the economy. The House of Lords has been abolished and turned into an exclusive dining club. State ownership of businesses appears to be near-total and prohibition of wealth and income appears to be very high. The reigning monarch is male due to the unfortunate death of the previous monarch (Elizabeth II) but his identity is never made clear. The currency is the Anglodollar (replaced the pound sterling in 1982 due to economic collapse) which appears to have little value overseas due to the international boycott of British exports. The armed forces have been run down to the extent that they are little more than an internal security force. This is made clear in one episode where the RAF is depicted as consisting of little more than a handful of Harrier Jump Jets and a few dozen counter-insurgency helicopters. Despite this National Service has been re-introduced (via the Youth Behaviour Control Act 1984 which enforces conscription and Genetic Crimes Act 1985, which makes sexual offences punishable by hanging). It is said that in 1986 two Army Generals and a retired Air Chief Marshal attempted a coup against the government, but it failed. 

Although running the bureaucratic dictatorship, the state appears to shy away from explicit political violence, preferring to set up psychiatric pseudo-hospitals called "Adult Rehabilitation Centres" which employ electro-convulsive treatments to 'cure' dissidents. Ordinary criminals found guilty of traditional and new economic and social crimes are prevented from clogging up the prison system by having short sentences during which they are force-fed "misery pills" (via the Oral Swallowing Induction Device, which was first tested at Ashworth Asylum for the Genetically Defective on Ian Brady and 21 others), which induce severe depression and agony during their incarceration. Despite this, fatalities and injuries do occur due to the PCD's lack of democratic accountability but these are misreported or ignored by the state-controlled press and television or are suppressed by the print unions on the last independent newspaper in the UK. The state can also declare a person to be a "non-citizen" which denies them any entitlement whatsoever to consumer goods, accommodation or food. (This often happens to sex offenders, even ones who have served their sentence and been released.) Labour is controlled by a mandatory closed shop in every workplace. For at least part of the series, the country is on a three-day working week, presumably to conserve energy or to promote full employment through job sharing. Taking a second job ("moonlighting") is illegal as is "parasitism", defined as claiming state benefits while fit for work. Ombudsman's Courts which are fixed in favour of the state are the key part of the legal system. 

Emigration is a key problem with a steady "brain drain" countered by PCD Emigration officers who try to watch every port and airfield. Despite this, professional and skilled labour is fast disappearing from the country in a similar manner to East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. 

So why am I discussing this TV Series from 40 years ago ?

Because recent events that have made the news has made me realise how this dystopian vision is actually in serious danger of becoming a reality. 

In the TV series we have the PCD (Department of Public Control) who dictate every aspect of how one may live your life. There is strict rationing of food, housing and services, with what you get strictly regulated by your ‘Life-score’ (i.e. how useful you are to society). Private businesses are illegal (everybody must work in a mandatory closed-shop ‘Union-controlled’ workplace), taking a second job is illegal (parasitism), Ombudsman’s Courts are fixed in favour of the state, a free press are suppressed by the print unions, Britain is isolated as the rest of the world will not trade with it, emigration is illegal (though escape is still possible as shown by the ‘brain-drain’ which sees the most talented people constantly fleeing to other countries.

In real life Britain of 2018, for the PCD, read Public Health. In real-life Britain 2018, we have Public Health trying to exert an ever greater stranglehold on the civil liberties we used to take for granted (can you guess what ‘Life-Score’ Public Health people would have ?). We have seen the recently introduced Soda Taxes, Sugar taxes, proposals to tax red meat, proposals to put cancer warnings on alcohol (and meat) as examples.

Even the Government depicted in 1990 has eerie parallels to what the Momentum (and Trade Union) controlled Labour party want to do. In recent months we have had various people in the Labour party (and indeed Trade Unions) calling for Press regulation. We have heard John McDonnell calling for Nationalisation of our industries, another Labour MP only this week calling for all housing to be nationalised. The Left are also trying hard to suppress free speech and are always screaming for more and more so-called hate-crimes to be investigated with greater zeal than real crimes. We have even had calls from some quarters of the Left trying to incite people to kill anybody who does not agree with their extreme left-wing views.

The parallels are quite uncanny. The only things in the series that we do not (yet) have in real-life 2018  are the ‘Adult Rehabilitation Centres’ centres and the force-feeding of ‘misery’ pills to prisoners who have very short sentences.

About the only thing depicted in the series (which, as the title suggests, is set in 1990) that they got wrong is that in the 1990 TV Series, everybody still smokes. I put this down to the year that 1990 was actually made as a TV series. In 1977, nobody could have dreamed that smoking would be illegal in enclosed public spaces, let alone that moves would be afoot to banish smoking from ALL public spaces.

I really do recommend you view this TV Series when you have the chance. I believe it is available on DVD, and you can also find episodes on Youtube (and for the tech-savvy you can find it through Bittorrent). There were two series of eight episodes each. The 1970’s filming techniques have not aged well, but the acting is very good and the series ia very dark, gritty drama. Even more so when you take into consideration the 1970’s TV habit of having extremely minimal background music.

It is a dark, apocryphal, scary look into what this country could become. What worries me is that the more I watch the different episodes, the more I see that world becoming a reality with what I am seeing in 2018 ‘modern’ Britain.