Breaking 1996 down into the biggest news, sports and entertainment events; here's what happened …
Two tragedies hit the hearts of Britons in 1996, the nation's sympathies going out to the people of Dunblane and Manchester. In Dunblane, a crazed gunman went on a shooting spree in at a local infant school, killing an entire class and their teacher. Later in the year, as a direct response to those ill-fated events, the Government announced that it would be outlawing almost all handguns in the UK.
In Manchester, a huge bomb devastated its busy central shopping area just as it was filling up with eager Saturday shoppers. Police managed to start an evacuation before it blew up but scores of people were still killed or injured in the blast. Such was the damage caused, that the episode led to a total regeneration of Manchester city center.
Also hitting the news in '96 was the introduction of the first genetically modified (or GM) food to go on sale in British supermarkets. Modified tomato puree was the cause of all the fuss with some critics dubbing it a "Frankenstein food".
The world of sport was dominated by England's hosting of the European football championships (Euro '96). The England v Scotland group stage match drew much attention with Gazza's wonder goal ultimately stealing the win for the home team. Cheered on by home support, the 'Three Lions' made it all the way to the semi-finals, the nation going football crazy as it looked as if England were really going to win a major tournament for the first time since '66, then , as really should have been expected, they lost on penalties to Germany.
Entertainment wise, carrot topped Chris Evans re-invented the chat show format with his hit show 'TFI Friday'.Presenting celebrity gossip, the hippest bands and lad friendly guests, this unscripted, chaotic program briefly made Evans the most thoughtful after man on TV . Over on the BBC, a group of thirty-something lawyers were gaining huge ratings; 'This Life' being a bit like the American 'Friends' but with much more 'bad' behavior and saucy goings on.
The big screen was blessed with one of the jewels of the British film-making crown, 'Trainspotting'. Despite featuring heroin, needles, vomit and disgusting toilet bowls, this was the coolest thing of the year and took Ewan McGregor from now to 'Star Wars'. The more family friendly film of 1996 was 'Toy Story'; it being the first feature length movie ever to be animated entirely by computer. The results were quite stunning and people flocked to see 'Woody' (a pull-string cowboy) and 'Buzz Lightyear' (a high-tech space ranger) battle it out to become little Andy's favorite toy.