EastEnders at 30: What sport was like when BBC soap was born

By Ben DirsBBC Sport
EastEnders at 30: Man Utd FA Cup win, Becker & McGuigan

All this week, the BBC has been celebrating the 30th anniversary of its iconic soap opera EastEnders.

The week culminates with Lucy Beale's killer being revealed on Thursday, while a live show will follow on Friday 20 February at 20:00 GMT.

Meanwhile, old faces will be popping up on various BBC shows all week.

But no amount of scripted drama, an elderly lady smoking in a launderette and lots of people arguing can match the explosiveness of sport. Here, BBC Sport takes a wander down memory lane and remembers what sport looked like when EastEnders first aired in 1985.

Paul Gascoigne

Future England great Paul Gascoigne made his debut for Newcastle at the age of 17 on 13 April 1985, against QPR at his beloved St James' Park. In top-flight football at the time it was common practice for youth team graduates to be made to wear the hair of a senior pro, as part of the initiation process. In the picture above, Gascoigne can be seen sporting the mullet of Chris Waddle, who was nursing a tongue strain.

Steve Cram

Nicknamed 'The Jarrow Arrow', because of his proficiency at archery, Steve Cram set world records in the 1500m, 2000m and the mile during a 19-day period in the summer of 1985. What is less well-known is that Cram supplemented his income by competing on the north-east school sports day circuit. Here he is, having beaten off all-comers in the Jarrow Primary School egg and spoon, for which he won a goldfish.

Barry McGuigan

On 8 June 1985, Barry McGuigan outpointed Panama's Eusebio Pedroza to claim the IBF featherweight crown. With 25,000 crammed into QPR's Loftus Road ground and 20m watching on TV, McGuigan became a hero in Britain and his native Ireland and was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. The rules of boxing were later changed so that fighters were banned from using their children as shields.

Mike Gatting, Ian Botham and David Gower

Having surrendered the Ashes in Australia in 1982-83, David Gower's England regained them on home soil in 1985, winning the series 3-1. Elegant left-hander Gower scored 732 runs at an average of 81.33 in six Tests, with three centuries. Mike Gatting made two tons of his own and Ian Botham starred with bat and ball. The urn recaptured, Gatting and Botham were subsequently reported by Gower for bullying, as pictured.

Europe's winning Ryder Cup team

In September 1985, Tony Jacklin's Europe won the Ryder Cup for the first time at The Belfry in Warwickshire. The United States had not lost a staging since 1957. Scotland's Sam Torrance made the winning putt for a European side brimming with legends such as Seve Ballesteros and Nick Faldo. However, the celebrations were somewhat marred by the revelation that Europe's suits had been stolen from a local brass band.

Zola Budd

At the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, South African-born Zola Budd, competing for Great Britain, caused one of the sensations of the Games when she accidentally tripped home favourite Mary Decker in the 3000m. Budd bounced back in 1985, breaking the 5000m world record. Budd was most famous for running without shoes, although few knew that a genetic quirk meant she was actually born with spikes on the soles of her feet.

Boris Becker and the Duchess of Kent

Seventeen-year-old German Boris Becker arrived at Wimbledon in 1985 unseeded, despite winning the warm-up tournament at Queen's Club. The big-serving Becker came through five-set epics against the seeded Joakim Nystrom and Tim Mayotte before seeing off Frenchman Henri Leconte in the last eight and Anders Jarryd in the semi-finals. In the final, the Duchess of Kent was shown no mercy and dispatched in straight sets.

Steve Davis and Dennis Taylor

The final of the 1985 World Snooker Championship pitted potting machine Steve Davis against chirpy Northern Irishman Dennis Taylor. Davis led 8-0 at one point but Taylor produced one of the great comebacks, forcing a deciding frame. When Taylor eventually beat Davis on the final black, 18.5m people were watching at 12.19 am. Although, it should be noted, there were pages from Ceefax on the other side.

William 'The Fridge' Perry

The UK went American Football mad in 1985 and one of the NFL's first poster boys on these shores was William 'The Refrigerator' Perry. 'The Fridge', as he was more normally known, scored for the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX as his team beat the New England Patriots 46-10. It is often thought Perry earned his nickname because of his size but he actually owned the largest collection of antique fridges in Illinois.

Gary Bailey, Kevin Moran and Norman Whiteside

Manchester United beat Everton 1-0 in the 1985 FA Cup final at Wembley. In normal time, United's Kevin Moran became the first man to be sent off in the showpiece event for a foul on Peter Reid. But Northern Ireland's Norman Whiteside curled in the winner in extra time to steal glory for the Red Devils. Everton goalkeeper Neville Southall later said he had been distracted by the beauty of his left-back, Pat van den Hauwe.