1972: The year of kidnappings, the boy Pharaoh and calls for a 'people's vote' to join the EEC

Tutankhamun, his tomb and his treasures, at the Museum of Museums, Manchester, 2010
Tutankhamun, his tomb and his treasures, at the Museum of Museums, Manchester, 2010

This week in 1972, and members of the public were queueing all night outside the British Museum in London for their first glimpse of the Tutankhamun exhibition.

When the doors opened, there were 1,500 waiting to file through the exhibition, which featured some of the finest items found in the tomb of the boy Pharaoh at Luxor in Egypt by

archaeologist Howard Carter, in 1922. By the end of the day, 4,400 people had viewed the exhibition – and the museum’s shop had completely sold out of replica Egyptian costume jewellery.

Calls were growing for a “people’s vote” on whether Britain should join the Common Market. Labour Party chairman Anthony Wedgwood Benn warned to act without the consent of the people would be “extremely dangerous” and pointed out that people in Denmark, Norway and Ireland were all going to be allowed to vote on whether they wanted to join the EEC. A poll in one national newspaper showed at least 78 per cent of people were in favour of a referendum on the issue.

Meanwhile, three British radar technicians were kidnapped in Turkey, where they had been helping to install new equipment for the Turkish Air Force in the north west of the country. The three men were being held as hostages by left-wing activists who were calling for the release of three members of the People’s Liberation Army – who had been sentenced to death for armed subversion, kidnapping and bank robbery.

British Prime Minister Edward Heath had contacted his Turkish counterpart Nihat Erim to express his concern over the incident, but the Turkish prime minister has warned that his country would not give in to blackmail over the kidnappings.

And in the world of entertainment, Edinburgh played host to the Eurovision Song Contest, where the New Seekers were hoping to win the coveted title with their song Beg, Steal or Borrow. They were forced to settle for second place after the competition was won by Luxembourg’s Vicky Leandros with Apres Toi. It was the second competition entry for Miss Leandros, who could sing in seven languages.

Also in 1972, US president Richard Nixon and his secretary of state Henry Kissinger were named Time Person of The Year.

That year, the word ‘retro’ was added to the dictionary.

J Edgar Hoover, the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States and an American law enforcement administrator, died in May 1972, at the age of 77.

Also in 1972, Oasis singer Liam Gallagher was born.

The best-selling children’s book that year was Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume.

British LGBT-themed drama film Sunday Bloody Sunday was awarded the BAFTA for Best Film. And people were watching Emmerdale Farm on TV.

The top-selling 20 singles of 1972 were:

1. Amazing Grace – The Pipes and Drums

2. Moudly Old Dough – Lieutenant Pigeon

3. Puppy Love – Donny Osmond

4. Without You – Nilsson

5. I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing – The New Seekers

6. Son Of My Father – Chicory Tip

7. Rock and Roll – Gary Glitter

8. Metal Guru – T Rex

9. Mother Of Mine - Neil Reid

10 Telegram Sam – T Rex

11. America Pie – Don McClean

12. Mama Weer All Crazee Now – Slade

13. School’s Out – Alice Cooper

14. YouWear It Well – Rod Stewart

15. Beg, Steal or Borrow – the New Seekers

16. Vincent – Don McLean

17. Clair – Gilbert Sullivan

18. My Ding-a-Ling – Chuck Berry

19. How Can I Be Sure – David Cassidy

20. Sylvia’s Mother – Dr Hook and the Medicine Show