Kids these days have it really easy, with multiple TVs, tablets and other viewing devices available for them to watch their favourite TV show on at their convenience. Back in the 1980s, we only had a few channels to choose from, and were always having to fight to get our mum, dad or sibling away from the television to watch our favourite show.
As a result, we often had no choice but to watch what our parents wanted – though if we were honest, sometimes we enjoyed the shows in question. Below are ten TV shows we bet many of your mums loved watching in the old days.
Launched in 1978, Dallas proved to be one of the most popular and enduring American soap operas of the era. The melodramatic saga following wealthy Texan family the Ewings captivated viewers in the US and all over the world from 1978 to 1991.
Who can forget the iconic ‘Who Killed J.R.?’ storyline, or the moment that Bobby Ewing stepped out of the shower, revealing the show’s entire ninth season was just a dream. Only on Dallas!
9. Sons and Daughters
The 80s saw Australian soap operas enjoy a massive spike in popularity around the globe, particularly in Britain. While youngsters at the time had a great fondness for Neighbours and Home and Away, the mums tended to prefer Sons and Daughters.
Unfortunately for the show’s cast and crew, Sons and Daughters didn’t enjoy the same longevity as Neighbours and Home and Away, ending in 1987 after five years on air.
After Nick Berry found fame as Simon Wicks on beloved BBC soap Eastenders, 1992 saw him take the lead role on ITV police drama Heartbeat. Set in 1960s Yorkshire, the show cast Berry as rural bobby PC Nick Rowan.
Let’s not beat around the bush; must mums tuned in to watch Heartbeat because they fancied the leading man. Even so, the series remained popular after Berry left in 1998, and Heartbeat kept running until 2010.
M*A*S*H (which stood for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital) was an American sitcom following a team of doctors during the Korean War. A spin-off of the 1970 film of the same name, the show proved considerably more popular, running for 11 years – eight years longer than the actual Korean war lasted!
M*A*S*H was one of those shows that we didn’t always completely understand as kids, but it made us laugh anyway, and we were always happy to watch it with our parents.
6. Cagney & Lacey
Proving cop shows weren’t exclusively a boys’ game, Cagney & Lacey ran from 1982 until 1998, and starred Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly as New York police detectives, career-oriented singleton Christine Cagney and married working mother Mary Beth Lacey. (We’ll be honest, though, we often forgot which was which).
As it was shown from a relatable female perspective, 80s mums tended be the biggest fans of Cagney & Lacey – although 80s dads were usually more into Charlie’s Angels, for some reason.
5. The Darling Buds of May
There might have only been 20 episodes made between 1991 and 1993, but The Darling Buds of May had a big impact on British viewers young and old alike. It had a warm family atmosphere, an evocative 50s rural setting, and of course it introduced Catherine Zeta Jones, who promptly became the crush of millions.
Based on the H.E. Bates novels, The Darling Buds of May was rebooted in 2021 as The Larkins, but this couldn’t come close to capturing the same warm and cosy vibe as the 90s show.
Dynasty was so similar to Dallas that as youngsters we often confused the two. Centred on wealthy Colorado family the Carringtons, Dynasty focused more on glamorous mature women and their internal squabbles – most prominently between Linda Evans’ Crystle Carrington and Joan Collins’ Alexis Colby.
Frequently a wild and crazy melodrama, Dynasty might have been aimed squarely at the mums, but we’d be lying if we said we didn’t enjoy all the trash-talking and catfighting!
3. Due South
Who remembers watching Due South? An unusual but enjoyable mix of cop show and sitcom, it ran from 1994 until 1999 and followed Paul Gross as Constable Benton Fraser, an officer in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who relocates to Chicago to solve his father’s murder.
Due South was another of those shows that mums tended to enjoy because of the crush-worthy leading man, but as kids we also found plenty to enjoy.
2. The Golden Girls
Who would have thought that a sitcom about female pensioners would be so popular with all ages? The Golden Girls starred Beatrice Arthur, Betty White, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty as four older women who shared a house in Florida.
It originally aired from 1985 until 1992, and it raised as many laughs for us youngsters as it did for the mums.
1. The Flying Doctors
Sons and Daughters wasn’t the only Aussie show to capture the imagination of maternal audiences around the world back in the 80s. Another particular favourite was The Flying Doctors, which ran from 1986 until 1993.
Mums may have enjoyed the soap opera elements, but us kids enjoyed the fact that it centred on planes and daring rescues in the picturesque outback.