I got a bunch of replies to my “late 90s British culture” question, here and on Twitter. Edited and compiled below.
MUSIC: Big beat. UK Garage. Ibiza. Fatboy Slim. Craig David. “Re-Rewind”. Robbie. Travis. Stereophonics. Kid A. Gomez. “Groovejet”. All Saints. Catatonia. Peak Boyband. So Solid Crew. Basement Jaxx. Belle And Sebastian. Chemikal Underground. S Club 7 and kids pop. Steps. Daphne & Celeste.
TV AND FILM: Spaced. Ali G. League Of Gentlemen. Big Brother. Lock Stock and British gangster films. Goodness Gracious Me. Queer As Folk. Billy Elliott. Zoe Ball. SMTV/CDUK. Who Wants To Be A Millionnaire? Changing Rooms. Topless darts. Robot Wars. Jonathan Creek. Cold Feet. Dom Joly. Banzai. Soccer AM. Docusoaps. Nigella Bites. The Office (dunno if The Office quite belongs to this phase or the next tho)
OTHER STUFF: Beckham. WAGs. Ringtones. SMS. Harry Potter. Good Friday Agreement. Zadie Smith. No Logo. Bacardi Breezers. The Millennium Dome. Mandelson. Y2K. Slow internet. Dotcom bubble. Friends Reunited. EasyJet. Kosovo. Foot And Mouth. Name and shame. Playstation. Nick Hornby. Gail Porter. Moby on adverts.
IMPORTS: Nu-Metal. Ally McBeal. Cher. Buffy. AOL. Sunny D. The Matrix. Audiogalaxy, Napster, Kazaa. Destinys Child. Britney. Eminem. Flaming Lips. Elliot Smith. Borders, H&M. Pokemon. Digimon. French Touch. Placebo.
That’s a good start, it gives some themes to work with trying to get a handle on the period - a complacent time in many ways, prosperous, hedonistic, grimly blokey, not as nationalistic or cartoonish as the mid-90s: a nation at ease with itself, and casually interested in itself - finding virtue and intrigue in the ordinary. The downside is that it’s a pretty beige time, the upside maybe being that space was made for other kinds of “ordinary” to stake a claim as British in a way Britpop hadn’t allowed - Craig David, So Solid, Goodness Gracious Me, Queer As Folk. There’s a ton of stuff that doesn’t fit into that broad picture, but it’s a decent hypothetical frame. Thanks to everyone who responded!
After this you get the high 00s - 02-08ish - which feel different from this, but unpacking how is a job for another day.