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TFI Friday revival: Partying like it’s 1996

Published 12 June 2015

It’s a big night for Channel 4, with this evening’s return of TFI Friday hosted by Chris Evans. And for anyone who thinks it can’t be that long since they used to watch it previously, here’s a fact to make you feel old: TFI Friday was first aired way back in 1996. Blimey.

Remember 1996? John Major’s Conservative government was in its final full year, lagging behind in the polls thanks to the popularity of Labour’s energetic young leader, Tony Blair. It was also the year when Damon Hill was crowned Formula One world champion, Dolly the cloned sheep was born, the Spice Girls released their first single, the Prince and Princess of Wales were divorced, and the IRA bombed Manchester city centre.

It was quite a year, also memorable for the launch of TFI Friday – an irreverent music and chat show hosted by the energetic Chris Evans and aimed at a young, modern audience...catching them at 6pm on a Friday just before they went out. Whether you liked it or not, it signalled the end of the working week and the start of the weekend. It might not have aged well, but it summed up the optimistic 'new lad' culture perfectly.

Lotus Elise

But were the cars of 1996 as exciting as the year? 1996 saw the launch of the Ka (Ford’s innovative new city car), the A3 (Audi’s take on a poshed-up Golf), the SLK (Mercedes-Benz’s new compact sportster), the Elise (Lotus’ brilliant new stripped-out roadster) and the Saxo (Citroen’s latest supermini, destined for major success among baseball cap-wearing teenagers in the years ahead).

Some of the newcomers of ’96 went on to be huge successes, changing their makers’ fortunes in the process. Heck, would Lotus still be here if the Elise hadn’t been exactly the right car for the right time? Equally, it’s hard to imagine a time when Audi didn’t have a compact family hatch in its line-up.

Tonight's show will be important for many reasons. Jeremy Clarkson will give his first interview since being sacked from Top Gear to the man tipped to replace him (he and Evans even get in a lap of the Top Gear test track in Evans' £1m LaFerrari), it'll be packed with celebrities from 1990s and - just the old days - you'll probably watch it with a beer and a sneer. But after that, you'll dig out your cassette of (What's the Story) Morning Glory?, decide you really need to own an Elise (with a tape player), and party like it's 1996 all over again.


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