A Big Buzz at Christmas in 1996 - the year Toy Story was a hit!

These children had a great time at the Ward Jackson Primary School Christmas party at The Venue.
These children had a great time at the Ward Jackson Primary School Christmas party at The Venue.

Christmas is closing in fast – and that means it’s time to dust off the memories of festive seasons from the past.

This week, we’re going back to 1996 for a look at the present which was all the rage, programmes which were must-watch favourites on television, and the best shops for those last-minute gifts.

More of the Ward jackson Primary School children at their Xmas party.

More of the Ward jackson Primary School children at their Xmas party.

Chris Cordner reports.

It’s fair to say there was a real buzz around at Christmas 1996.

But that should be buzz with a capital B as the must-have toy for ’97 was the Toy Story favourite Buzz Lightyear.

They were so popular you pretty much had to go to infinity and beyond to get your hand on one.

The mural which attracted great admiration near the new Uptons store in Hartlepool.

The mural which attracted great admiration near the new Uptons store in Hartlepool.

Elizabeth Cook was one of the Hartlepool and East Durham parents on the hunt for Buzz for her two sons Alan, 11, and Adam, 3.

To put the search into perspective, they were even being sold off at auctions in the region. Yet a chance call came up trumps and thanks went to Asda in Peterlee for coming to the rescue.

When the Cook family phoned, they had a solitary Buzz left which had been reserved but never collected.

Elizabeth got the toy for £24.99, which was a bargain compared to the £80 that someone paid for Buzz at an auction in Newcastle.

Do you remember the rush to buy Buzz in 96 or is there another toy from a bygone year that you had to have?

Get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk

The children of Ward Jackson Primary school had a wonderful Christmas that year. They held their festive party in a town night club and here are two photographs of them dancing the day away.

Were you a pupil and do you remember your big day out at Venue?

If you were planning to chill in front of the television that year, there were plenty of options.

Noel Edmonds hosted a Telly Addicts Christmas special on BBC1 and it was all kicking off on EastEnders where Mark was flying into a panic, and Ruth confronted Mrs Woods.

Over on ITV, Vera was waiting for Jack to be discharged from hospital in Coronation Street.

And Bruce Forsyth was in fine form, hosting The Price Is Right.

The season of goodwill turned to tragedy for the Dixons in Brookside on Channel 4.

If it was live entertainment you were after, Norman Collier was starring in Cinderella at the Forum Theatre in Billingham.

Or you could enjoy some wonderful cabaret acts at town clubs such as the Iona Social Centre, the Belle Vue Social Club, Owton Manor Social Club and Hartlepool Workingmen’s Club.

Back in Hartlepool, what about the shopping scene? You could stock up on Christmas drink at Beer Barrel in Murray Street.

And everything from microwaves to the latest ladies’ jumpers were up for grabs at Uptons in Middleton Grange Shopping Centre.

But what are your memories of Christmases past in Hartlepool? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk