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TV Pop Diaries
Pop Music on British Television 1955 - 1999

1970

The first major re-boot of the show since it moved to London would occur to take advantage of the new colour television service and to accommodate a longer show. On the 22nd February the first of the new extended editions is broadcast from 7.15 - 8.00 pm. BBC Light Entertainment boss Tom Sloan felt it was time to extend the show, with producer Mel Cornish saying "This will give us scope to widen our coverage of the whole pop scene. Up to now we have concentrated solely on the Top Twenty. Now we shall be broadening it to take in records from the Top Thirty." He also told Melody Maker "In addition to the Top 30, we shall also be including records outside the chart that particularly appeal to us as having hit potential. We are dropping such labels as Tip For The Top."


Tony Blackburn and Jimmy Savile will host alternate shows, while dance troupe Pan’s People will perform a routine in each show. There will also be a weekly prize of the top ten singles to the best dancer and the best dressed member of the audience to be presented by a celebrity. A new title sequence had been designed using a new Perspex logo with Pan's People dancing to the new theme, and while the new titles still retained the "yes, it's number one, it's Top of The Pops" announcement, but this time it was played over a strange animation of the host with a ventriloquist dummy’s mouth. The New Release and Tip for the Top features seemed to have gone, but new releases continued to be featured. Both sections would later be re-included. Not only would the DJs alternate each week, but the producers would swap between Stanley Dorfman and Mel Cornish.


Instrumental hits were used to link between each song which the host was green-screened in front of a light show, provided by TeleVictor's Colourama system, while 'videograms' were provided by Oliver Perneel. They also used something called the 'Crab Nebula Light Show', supplied by Pat Chapman. The set itself was more brightly lit than before presumably because of the colour cameras. Bars made to look like a go-go cage fenced off a section of the audience while large cut out figures were scattered around the studio. Another stage ran around the back of the set to allow the audience to dance more prominently in camera shot providing the now legendary up-skirt shots of girls in mini skirts.


It was good news for viewers in March as the Musicians Union decided to lift their ban on American musical artists appearing on British TV. The American federation of Musicians had imposed their own ban on all foreign artists, with the UK MU retaliating. However, some American artists had appeared.


The chart used every week was compiled by the British Market Research Bureau, who would now provide the chart until 1983. The producers hoped to avoid tied placings which, on one occasion in 1966, resulted in three records tied for number one, but on several occasions in the mid seventies the wrong number one would be announced on a Tuesday, only to be amended hours later, causing anguish to the producers trying to assemble a show.


Producer Johnnie Stewart was given a year's sabbatical and the show was taken over by Mel Cornish and Stanley Dorfman. The new production team introduced an album spot with a chosen act playing two songs from their new LP. Dorfman told Melody Maker "We shall feature artists doing two or three tracks from their albums on Top Of The Pops each week. At present we cover maybe 11 singles. This new policy will mean two or three fewer, but album tracks by soloists as well as groups will be a regular feature. There will also be new sets. Top Of The Pops will be given a new look, one hopes. But Pan's People and the orchestra will be the same." The LP spot  would be dropped when Stewart returned as it was felt that it ruined the flow of the programme, however a new version of the New Release spot would continue until the mid seventies. Dorfman would leave the show in April to work on the forthcoming Glen Campbell series. Brian Whitehouse, who had previously worked on location filming for the show, replaces him.


Colour TV breathed new life into the show and the dancers, both professional and in the audience, became a bigger part of the show's appeal than ever before. The colourful clothing and the girls' mini-skirts (and later hot pants) made it appointment-to-view for the nations' dads. Disc weekly asked the BBC about the dancers, "Because the audience plays such a big part in the visual presentation, we naturally try to get boys and girls who are good dancers and who dress well. Over a period we have built up a reservoir of talent, and we use this quite often. However, there is room for new dancers on the show, provided they fulfil the necessary requirements. If you are in your late teens or early twenties, and can dance well, we suggest you send a photograph to Top Of The Pops, BBC TV Centre, Wood Lane, London, W12."


By 17th September a new time slot 7:05 - 7:45 pm was chosen and the show would stay there with Blackburn and Savile into 1971.


In October session band CCS release a cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love and it is decided that a re-recording of this arrangement, performed by BBC musicians, will be used as the show’s theme from 5th November onwards.


In the past many of the acts were miming and the audience response was real, however with the re-boot this was reversed as many acts sang live and the audience response was canned. In the early seventies when artists were lip-synching a record the microphone cable would trail off the stage, but not be plugged in, however later on dummy mic's would be used instead.


Thursday 12th November 1970 saw the Pops debut of T.Rex whose Ride A White Swan had been a slow climber since its release in September and although this probably wasn't the great glam breakthrough we could see that something new was brewing.


1971

The show continued at the same time slot, but on 11th March Ed Stewart joined Savile and Blackburn in rotation.


The new opening credits featured a woman (in a car and a boat) with garish video effects to exaggerate the colour, although the names of the artists appearing would be added by the middle of the year. The chart run down featuring the number one record now becomes part of the main show itself with a chart hit playing over it, but by the middle of the year it would move to the beginning of the show again.


The new set design was more minimalist that the one from the previous year with larger stages with the audience now in front of them, and a blackout background. Although the set design would change from time to time the basis would remain until the early eighties.


The 25th March show featured another appearance by Marc Bolan's T. Rex, but this time it was noticeable that he had glitter under his eyes, while another band tagged with the glitter/glam label Sweet made their Pops debut a week later. Bowie's legendary Starman clip wouldn't be for another year, but he might have appeared on the 27th May show, backing Peter Noone on piano for his cover of Bowie's Oh You Pretty Things.


In July the Musician's Union ban on foreign artists appearing on the show is lifted after about two years. Curtis Mayfield and his group record a session on June 30th for inclusion in the 8th July show, with The James Gang to follow.


The scheduling of the show proved problematic throughout the summer with the show appearing in differing time slots and lengths, but by late September it seemed to have settled down to 7:25 - 8:00 pm most weeks.


30th September saw American band Seatrain take the final LP Spot selection. The Pops's album alternative The Old Grey Whistle Test had just begun it's fifteen year run over on BBC2.


The show celebrated its 400th show on 11th November with guest appearances by among others Sandie Shaw and Clive Dunn suggesting that perhaps the industry were giving the show less support then they had done in the past. Johnnie Stewart told the Melody Maker "We hope to have a few names dropping in on the show, and Tony Blackburn will be cutting a cake. But we shan't be looking back - just forward to even more shows in the future. We hope that it will continue to run on indefinitely." "We shan't be looking back" suggested his awareness of the lack of an archive.


Caravel Film Services would provide many of the specially shot clips for tracks where the artist could not appear. These would feature location shots with actors or models acting out the lyrics, while sometimes more abstract clips would be provided.


The TOTP orchestra would occasionally be in shot when accompanying a solo singer, seemingly dressed in uniform.


A Sunday newspaper expose alleging that young girls had been given access to stars on the show led to a new security arrangement. Disc revealed in February 1972 "Security at the studios has been tightened since last year's Sunday newspaper scandal, but group-hungry girls still slip through the net and sit themselves somewhere strategic in the bar - their age concealed by make-up and mature-looking figures."


A guest appearance makes part two the 1971 Christmas show one of the classics when Elton John ‘plays’ piano on T.Rex's Get It On even though he's not featured in either of the Christmas shows himself, and it’s Rick Wakeman actually playing on the record they’re miming to.


1972

Savile, Blackburn and Stewart are still the regular hosts as the new year begins with the show parked in the 7:25 - 8:00 pm spot where it stayed throughout the year.


Glam Rock was somehow less potent without its visuals and Top of the Pops made everyone's Glam memories, it's just a shame that so few of the shows exist from this important year.


The opening titles changed slightly to include a carousel and a car on a motorway.


A show in June sees audience members sporting promotional stickers for the band Argent, this might be one of the first occasions when promo people or pluggers gave away items to the crowd, which would become prevalent throughout the seventies.


1973

Top of the Pops begins with a new time slot 6:45 - 7:15 pm, the nearest it gets to being a tea-time show, but also a new DJ arrives. Ed Stewart makes way for Radio 1's Noel Edmonds who begins a run that would last several years on the 1st February. His approach was more music buff-y as he would sometimes mention album titles in his introductions.


The opening credits now include a woman in an old styled American car and a helicopter.


Complaints are made about records not played anywhere near complete, cutting some tracks in half in order to get more songs in the broadcast.


In April the show disappears for a few weeks' returning on Friday 27th April from 6:50 - 7:25 pm where it stayed until late summer.


Jimmy Savile leaves the show for a few weeks in the summer replaced by Kenny Everett who had recently returned to Radio 1 for a series of pre-recorded Sunday lunchtime shows. Savile returns late July re-joining Edmonds, Blackburn and Everett.


The 13th September show sees the Pops return to its proper Thursday spot and a more familiar time 7:25 - 8:00 pm.


All four regular DJs appear together for the 500th edition on 4th October, which to mark the anniversary was given an hour long slot from 7 till 8 pm and featured many of the day's stars either appearing in the studio or contributing filmed messages. During the rehearsals The Who’s roadies pelt Cliff Richard with wigs from the BBC props department. The wigs re-appeared at the end of The Who's own appearance, the full un-cut version of which shows Pete Townshend flicking Vs to the audience while the guitars and drums gets ritually trashed.


Problems of another kind reared its head when The Osmonds appeared in October. Dozens of fans had turned up at Television Centre hoping not only to see their idols, but maybe gatecrash the show. A solitary BBC commissionaire was on duty at his post and while physically checking to see if the gates were secure enough had his hand grabbed and bitten by a fan, leading to not only a tetanus jab for him, but a ban from BBC Television Centre for both The Osmonds and David Cassidy.


8th November sees Radio 1's Dave Lee Travis join the show, replacing Kenny Everett who leaves the BBC to join London's Capital Radio.


The show gets several new credit sequences around this time finishing off with a countdown from 30 to 1.


There was only one Christmas show broadcast this year as the time-slot for the other show was given over to a tenth anniversary special on the 27th December. Very few old clips were used giving credence to the theory that the BBC had already wiped a catastrophic amount of archive material.


1974

Radio 1's Johnnie Walker joins Edmonds, Blackburn, Savile and Travis for a few editions at the beginning of the year, but doesn't last long, however he returns in 1994 as voice-over host for archive clips show Top of the Pops 2. A new credit sequence featuring images of pop stars and album covers is used, while another version a few months later showed images of a pop group, but by October this would be phased out replaced by a chart run down similar to late sixties/early seventies. The closing credits now use a fish eye lens camera view of the dancing audience. Other camera effects would later be introduced over the end credit sequence.


Emperor Rosko and Paul Burnett were occasional hosts, as was Greg Edwards, the show's first black presenter. He quickly left though, joining Kenny Everett at Capital Radio. Despite joining this year Burnett would go missing throughout 1975, only to return the following year.


A strike by BBC production assistants would force the show off the air from 20th June to 8th August. The 15th August show, pre-recorded at the Shepherd's Bush Theatre, saw pop superstars The Osmonds as co-hosts, overturning the ban from the previous year. They were also hosting their own daily show throughout the week for the BBC.


On the 13th September the show moves back to Friday from 7:05 - 7:45 pm and then back to Thursday again on 24th October.


It was during 1974 that the show stopped using clips of the audience dancing to fill the time where the artist couldn’t / wouldn’t appear and a promo clip didn’t exist. They would still be seen dancing at the end of some shows for years to come.


Long-termers Blackburn and Savile were on duty for the Christmas Day show, while Edmonds and Travis took care of part two a couple of days later.


However, the most notable event in this year however crept in very slowly but would grow in strength over the next two years and by 1977 would re-invigorate the show. Disco.


1975

The team of Savile, Edmonds, Rosko, Travis, Stewart and Blackburn continue to take it in turns to present the Pops throughout the year. The only real change would be the gradual phasing out of the show commissioned film clips favouring bought-in promo video clips provided by record companies. This shift to video promotion would help Queen spend nine weeks at number one at the end of the year and set the agenda for promoting music for the next decade or so.


The opening credit film sequence now disappears, leaving it to the host to say hello, followed by the top thirty chart run down with the now familiar Whole Lotta Love theme. The end sequence continues to use the fish eye and other effects lenses.


The inclusion of often bizarre appearances from the more showbiz, middle of the road end of the pop spectrum continues to make the younger audience roll their eyes in disbelief, but cross promotion is deemed important enough.


Despite support for the show early in his career having to re-record songs for broadcast left stars like Elton John frustrated to the point of not wanting to appear. Talking to Record Mirror in March 1975 a spokesman for Elton claimed "In the case of Top Of The Pops, the band is given three hours' studio session time in a studio of their choice (at their expense) or a BBC studio of their choice (at their expense) or a BBC studio to record the backing track under the supervision of a Musicians' Union member. If strings are to be added, they must be done on Wednesday morning by the TOTP Orchestra."


Payments of kind had been made to Radio 1 DJs and producers by record companies and pluggers in the early seventies, lurid stories of which would make newspaper headlines at the time and the inclusion of unknown bands and low chart placed singles would also raise suspicion about Top Of The Pops. London Weekend TV would later drop a Mike Mansfield show as it was revealed that record companies had a direct hand it its financing.


There is no audience present for either of the two Christmas shows, so Travis and Savile try to out prank each other while Blackburn and Edmonds attempt to out pun each other.


1976

The uncomfortable truth for the Radio 1 DJs was that for each one that left, another would replace him and the show would carry one regardless without much notice from the audience and critics, let alone controversy. But the public response to the decision to replace the weekly dance troupe Pan's People with a newer, younger troupe showed the DJs who the stars of the show really were. On the 29th of April the dancers tackled two songs, Andrea True Connection and The Four Seasons and that was it, no thanks or even acknowledgment. Pan's regular Ruth Pearson would give up dancing herself and help assemble the next troupe. A valuable contribution, since the unstoppable march of disco would see the dancers' enter a new phase. Dee Dee Wide had a damaged ankle and had it bandaged for the last few months and left at the end of 1975, Babs had married actor Robert Powell and also decided to leave, Flick by that time had already gone, so a new troupe was inevitable.


6th May 1976 would see the debut of Ruby Flipper, a team of seven dancers, three men and four women (including two from Pan's People). This time around the dancers would occasionally be seen dancing behind a singer as well as their own number. But they wouldn't be as popular as their predecessors and only lasted five months.


There would also be one other new face as ex-ABC and Thames Television continuity announcer turned DJ David Hamilton would join Travis, Savile, Edmonds, Burnett, Stewart and Blackburn in January. Hamilton gave up his other TV dayjob at Thames for a couple years in order to do the show.


The show came under the remit of BBC Television's Light Entertainment department and it was evident by the mid-seventies that the show could be interchanged with Seaside Special or any other family fare. Although Roxy Music and Marc Bolan would occasionally turn up the show was becoming more and more like Crackerjack or Pebble Mill At One. However, no one was expecting Can to turn up.


More and more promo clips are provided by record companies negating the need for the show to film its own clips when an act couldn't make the show, but the TOTP made clips would still occasionally appear.


Still more non-chart acts appeared throughout the year raising concerns that plugging companies were having an undue influence on the show which was supposed to be about the hits. The power of a show with an audience of around twelve million a week could make or break a record, so the temptation to accept a 'favour' would always be there. The matter of chart hyping, directly influencing the chart would hit the headlines the following year.


Eddie and the Hot Rods appear on the 26th September show and although not the year zero of punk just like T Rex in November 1970 it certainly shows there's a change on the way.


The 21st October show sees the debut of the new dance troupe, this time six girls just like Pan's People, but they have no name, so a competition is held to name them. Legs and Co is chosen and they appear with the new name on the 11th November, while the following week new presenter Dave 'Kid' Jensen makes his debut.


Talking to Music Week in 1979 Flick Colby was honest about the demise of the show's most famous aspect. "Pan's People died a natural death. All the original members had left for various reasons. I also felt, prematurely as it turned out, that all-girl groups were a bit chauvinistic. I formed a mixed group — Ruby Flipper — but nobody seemed to like the idea. Then I formed Legs and Co and that seems very successful."


The year seemed to be infected more than ever by novelty records and 'silly' behaviour by the hosts who saw themselves as potential hosts of other Light Entertainment programmes, extending their brand. Despite wanting to be seen on the show the audience looked bored and barely moved compared to just a few years earlier. Many of them took no interest in what they were watching.


The two Christmas shows see Travis and Edmonds bagging the Christmas Day show, while Savile and Blackburn took Boxing Day duties.


1977

The presenting team is now Savile, Edmonds, Travis, Blackburn, Burnett, Hamilton and Jensen, and Peter Powell (with Radio 1 since 1971) would join at the end of the year, while the show keeps a regular time-slot of 7:10 - 7:45 pm.


Five years on, glam-era acts like Suzi Quatro, Mud, Gary Glitter and The Bay City Rollers were still turning up to do the Pops, despite poor sales by this time.


19th May 1977 not only sees The Jam make their debut, but members of the audience are seen pogoing. Something is happening. The following week The Stranglers made their debut, despite not having a top forty hit.


The Pops goes along with the BBC blanket ban of The Sex Pistols' God Save The Queen, but they at least acknowledge it on the chart run-down, however the band themselves aren't subjected to a ban, so Pretty Vacant, Holidays In The Sun and some later releases are played.


Both punk/new wave and disco are regularly represented in the show, however many new releases that would never trouble the charts were still making their way onto the show leading to accusations of pay for play, compromising the integrity of the show. Stories of chart-rigging are now making tabloid front pages, so would in turn suggest a lack of credibility for any show, radio or TV, which was based on that very chart.


The 21st July show bids a fond farewell to the Whole Lotta Love theme as it's replaced by a current hit played over the chart run down, taking us back to the presentation style before the theme was implemented.


1977 sees new visual breakthroughs. The 700th show broadcast in August uses hand-held camera work for the first time, initially used sparingly, and in addition early computer generated graphics which begin to appear in November.


Anyone who sees the shows from about this time can't help but notice a marked deterioration in the quality of the musical accompaniment by the orchestra and the backing singers. Simultaneous timing by musicians and singers was now a coincidence if it happened at all. Check out the first Barry Biggs clip for an excruciating example. Sadly, this would continue until both band and singers were disposed of in the early eighties. Bands were still expected to re-record the backing track to satisfy the Musician's Union myth of keeping music live. Many acts appearing on the show later boast of pulling to wool over the MU rep' eyes.


The Pops studio audience were not average gig-goers, they would probably be more at home with a dance DJ at a nightclub or youth club, but the bravado they show in the Boomtown Rats debut appearance was frankly impressive, pointing to the stage on cue like seasoned pro's. But otherwise, looking at the shows throughout the year the audience boredom threshold was as low as the year before. Despite it being the year that disco broke through they sometimes were barely willing to dance. There were not enough audience members, despite people being turned away, the studio looked bare.


Novelty records were still being played, but by now they were beginning to appear sinister, rather than just out of place.


Despite his previous reservations about the show Elton John takes over hosting duties on December 15th, a task he would do again several years later. It was also during this show that a new video console was implemented using computer generated graphics when wiping from one camera to another.


For several years, the behaviour of some of the presenters was giving some cause for concern backstage, but it would be decades before the public got to know the sad and shameful truth.


Wings' ode to Scots' mist Mull of Kintyre spends many weeks at the top of the chart and sells in excess of two million copies, and over the next year many other singles would sell in their millions, leading to probably the longest spell of million sellers the UK charts would ever see.


Again, there was no audience present for the Christmas shows, but Whole Lotta Love returns to introduce the show.


1978

We didn't expect it but we were about to experience another golden era, despite the fact that real punk and hardcore disco were beginning to feel watered down.


Althea and Donna are the unlucky recipients of probably the worst TOTP orchestra backing ever in January. The band just seemed incapable of playing any contemporary black music. By September things got worse as the drummer had been given syn' drums.


With the inevitable passing of time many of the punk acts seemed to veer more towards pop, making it easy to jump the queue onto the show, while the less hardcore gay disco also made its way to Television Centre. Pretty much every post punk act from wordsmiths like Elvis Costello to street poets like Sham 69 were seen most weeks. Except of course for one. The Clash refused to appear in person as they would have been required to mime, despite miming in their promo clips. Jimmy Pursey defended appearing on the show saying that young fans that couldn't get into the gigs could see them on the telly, something that never occurred to The Clash.


Talking to The Stage in February producer Robin Nash makes a surprising claim "I'd love Top of the Pops to be live. That's when the adrenalin begins to flow. People are using the television medium in the wrong way: rehearse, record, edit - how can you expect an artist to give a performance? I'm always telling new directors that the hardest thing is to sit in a studio with five cameras and only use one."


The show, for probably the first time in its history, found genuine competition and had no option but to try and compete. Thames TV's The Kenny Everett Video Show/Cassette had launched in the summer and its dance troupe Hot Gossip were raunchy, not like the comparatively maidenly Legs and Co. It used promo clips like they were a part of the show, not obviously crowbarred into an otherwise studio bound programme, while the gifted host was genuinely funny, not someone who thought they were funny. But most of all he had earned respect from the people who worked on the show, not contempt, or even disgust.


The BBC's biggest star, both on radio and TV Terry Wogan appeared twice on the show, waving flowers around like Morrissey would do five years' later.


In the autumn the producer thought getting Hilda Baker and Arthur Mullard to do their Grease routine was a good idea. Or perhaps it was an "up yours" to RSO and Paramount for not producing the real stars for their show. Throughout the whole Saturday Night Fever and Grease era only Yvonne Elliman ever appeared on the show in person, despite John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John attending the London premier, they didn't even drop in to say hello.


Radio 1's Mike Read joins in November after his duties of hosting Yorkshire TV's Pop Quest are over.


It was also a sad inevitability that we were also witnessing the closing days of two major British record companies, Pye and Decca. Kept alive in the latter days by The Smurfs and songs about Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs there seemed to be an unwillingness on behalf of their respective owners to save them.


Once again there is no audience in attendance for the Christmas Day show, but this time it's due to a strike by the Association of Broadcasting Staff. Although the strike is called off just before Christmas it doesn't give the production team enough time to arrange a new studio show, so Noel Edmonds presents a clip show from a fake production office.


1979

The team hosting the show this year are Powell, Travis, Jensen, Read, Savile and Blackburn, while Andy Peebles, Paul Burnett and Simon Bates are given a show each.


The prototype computer graphics become a little more adventurous this year, but still don't smother the shows’ look, however an appearance by Electro dance act Telex on the 800th show gives the graphics department an excuse to show what they can do. Anyone who saw the Kenny Everett shows from about this time would be familiar with the results. The 800th show also sees another return for the Whole Lotta Love theme.


A fifteenth anniversary article in the UK music retailers magazine Music Week outlines what happens in the TOTP office. "Every Friday record company promotion people arrive at BBC Television Centre at While City to see the producer of the following Thursday's show. These are not your average pluggers trying the hard sell. An atmosphere has been carefully nurtured by executive producer, Robin Nash, in which the record companies know exactly where they stand and relations are very happy. The criteria for a TOTP appearance are well known and so the promotional visit consists mainly of acquainting the production staff with artist information and availability, plus future product. The conversation is full of 'ifs' and 'buts'". The chart is phoned through to the production office on Tuesday morning, but that week's producer must have some inkling as to what was likely to happen, so a vague line-up for that Thursday's show would have already existed and a song assigned to the dance troupe, Legs & Co, however, a confirmatory phone call would be made to choreographer Flick Colby, or at worst, Plan B would be put into action. In the first couple of months of 1979 three songs they had been given to perform to had to be scrapped as the single then went down the chart. But not only were the production team sorting out this week's show, but artists who had upcoming releases had been invited in to the studio to record clips for upcoming shows, also sometimes getting it wrong. For example, Devo had been invited in to perform their cover of The Rolling Stones' Satisfaction a few  months before, but since the track didn't reach the top thirty it was never broadcast. Many clips recorded for the show were not broadcast at the time, some finally given an airing on its archive cousin TOTP2 in the 1990s and 2000s. Any British act appearing on the show was then told to go away and re-record their track if they weren't playing live, fulfilling a deal the BBC had made with the Musicians Union regarding lip synching to a record. An MU representative had to be in attendance but famously had the wool pulled over their ears on many occasions as the proper track was substituted instead of any re-recording. During the Legs and Co number each week Flick Colby would direct the cameras herself. Many of the pre-recorded clips would be done before lunch, with a run through beginning 4.30 pm. After an early evening break the show would then be recorded from 7.30 pm onwards. The show would be edited on Thursday morning for transmission that evening.


The show still features a number of records that are outside of the top thirty, many of which are also the result of aggressive promotional tactics like coloured vinyl and picture discs. Record pluggers were ruthless and did anything to get their act on the show. On one occasion in summer 1980 Judd Lander from Epic Records and indie plugger Olly Smallman camped overnight in producer Phil Bishiop's office, winning themselves a photo op' for music trade magazine Music Week. David Essex's manager Derek Bowman told Music Week that an appearance could add another 20,000 sales to a single. However, the show still sticks to their self-made rule that no records outside the top thirty will have a promo clip shown.


A swarm of punk-lite filled the charts and the show over the year with bands like The Starjets, The Headboys, The Jags, John Du Cann, The Planets among others all taking turns to have their one low-placed chart entry before moving on. Thankfully, the Two-Tone movement actually made the show worth watching as was the newly confident UK-bred reggae scene, with Lover's Rock and the more traditional sounds staking their chart claim. But Richard Jobson's Northern Soul dancing to The Skids' hits would easily be the most entertaining thing all year. On the 8th November three Two-Tone acts The Specials, The Selecter and Madness appeared on the same show.


The Pops Orchestra and singers still have problems backing live singers, especially disco/dance acts. An appearance by The Jacksons leads to complaints by their father about the lacklustre orchestral backing. The shows' backing singers The Ladybirds are re-named the Maggie Stredder Singers, but with either name their time is running out.


Bizarre requests to censor lyrics sees the Pops management in disagreement with Squeeze, Chas & Dave and The Gang of Four who decide the show wasn't worth compromising for and walk off.


Autumn 1979 sees one edition reach an audience of nineteen million due to the ITV strike, while November brings a one-off show with a Peter Powell voice-over due to the BBC's own industrial problems.


The studio audience still seem restless and unhappy with boredom only broken up by looking at the monitors in order to see themselves. It was obvious that the canned applause between the songs was undeserved. It could only get better.



TOP OF THE POPS


The 1970s