The BBC had been considering a response to Associated Rediffusion's successful and
Producer Stewart had previous experience in pop and light entertainment for BBC Television working on pop shows Juke Box Jury, Twist! and The Trad Fad, so was the most likely to get a show of this nature commissioned. The show format was devised by Savile and The Good Old Days producer Barney Colehan and a pilot was commissioned for late 1963, but it was Stewart who had come up with the title 'Top of the Pops', however, the name had been previously used back in 1956 for a BBC Light Programme radio series. The title Teen and Twenty Record Club had briefly been considered, but since it was associated with a Radio Luxembourg show a new name had to be produced.
The pilot was recorded at the location that would become the home of the show for
the first two years, a converted Wesleyan church in Dickenson Road, Rusholme, Manchester,
formerly the home of Mancunian Films. The format devised would concentrate on hit
singles, rather than anyone that happened to be available, but it was the Head of
Light Entertainment Bill Cotton Jnr who suggested that it should concentrate on the
top twenty. This format would make the show more of a crowd-
Since the show is based on what the public is buying then a chart, from the many available, has to be chosen. They decided to use the Disc & Music Echo chart for the first few years, although this is never mentioned on screen.
Talking to The Stage in December 1963, a few weeks' ahead of the first show Stan
Parkinson, assistant to producer Johnnie Stewart stated that the records would be
chosen from records going up the top twenty/thirty as well as the top three. Also
the ban on miming would be relaxed "to let viewers hear the discs as recorded within
the setting of a television production". While talking to Radio Times ahead of the
very first show Stewart claimed "It's like doing the pools, I have to anticipate
who's going up, who's falling back. My bush telegraph brings me the new chart at
Several rules would be implemented over time -
Much has been made of Jimmy Savile and Johnnie Stewart having to guess the what the chart would look like a few weeks' ahead, but choices made in early December included Heinz and Brian Poole & The Tremeloes, neither of which were in the top ten on the week of transmission.
The debut couldn't have come at a better time for the BBC. Pop music shows had started making their presence felt in the Television Audience Measurement top ten ratings. Thank Your Lucky Stars had been in the top ten twice in summer 1963, while It's The Beatles, their appearance on Juke Box Jury and the band's appearance on the Royal Command Performance also took pop music into millions of homes the month before the The Pops' first show. However, it has to be noted that Top Of The Pops itself never once reached the top ten ratings in the sixties.
Ready, Steady, Go! was the trend-