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Top Of The Pops Is Back On The BBC!

April 1, 2011

You’re reading the words of a very happy Pie today, because Top of The Pops returns to the BBC. Yes, indeedy. Five years after the show was axed, the corporation has dusted down the archives of this iconic British show and will air them in the original time slot of Thursday 7.30pm on BBC4, from April 7. Although it started in 1964, the BBC famously lost or taped over many editions until 1976. This is the year we’ll be watching when the re-run starts.

Top of The Pops logo (1970s)

© BBC

There are many clips on YouTube you can watch to your heart’s content and there’s TOTP2, which is a compilation clip show, featuring pop up captions giving little known facts about the stars of pop. However, the ability to watch whole shows from start to finish has not been possible – until now.

My nostalgic eyes have been welling-up at key moments of TOTP history. Here are some of the ones I remember:

Seeing Glam Rock groups for the first time. They were so exciting and I didn’t think they were odd looking at all. The Sweet! Roy Wood and Wizard! T-Rex! Roxy Music! All of them fantastic. Let’s just draw a veil over Gary Glitter, shall we?

Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. I think it may have been the first pop video. It was simple, but powerful, and it was my introduction to the force of nature that was Freddie Mercury.

The first time I saw Yazoo. I had heard the song Only You on the radio and thought the singer was male. Imagine my shock when this deep voiced ‘man’ turned out to be a woman. A large woman at that. All women on TV as I remembered were as thin as sticks. She broke the mould that day, and challenged my perception.

The first time I saw Culture Club. Do You Really Want To Hurt Me? What a great song. Like my previous experience with Yazoo, I expected someone with the name of Boy George to be, well, a boy. What we saw was… err… we weren’t sure. He sung like a man, but looked like a girl – sort of. I didn’t care what he was, though. I loved the look and bought the album soon after, which turned out to be an absolute belter.

The Heaven 17 Temptation video. I had liked Heaven 17 from the first time I heard, and then bought (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang. I saw the video for Temptation and was blown away. The singer, Carol Kenyon was dynamite. She was very glamorous in a strapless fishtail dress. She was Diana Ross, with balls.

Jeffrey Daniel from Shalamar, dancing to A Night To Remember. This was beyond ridiculous. There I was, having my tea watching TOTP, waiting for Shalamar to perform A Night To Remember, expecting them to do what groups normally do. What I saw instead was Jeffrey Daniel flying solo, whose hair had gone from big ‘fro to poker straight, body popping and moonwalking. My eyes were glued and nothing went into my mouth for the full 3 minutes that Daniel was on. I had never seen anything like it.

And, here’s my favourite TOTP moment – ever.

Sparks’ first appearance. This appearance and their most incredible song This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us, drew me in like a moth to a flame. They were seriously out there. This skinny front man who had more hair on his head than body weight was jittering around the stage, and the man at the keyboard who looked like Hitler, just STARED at you. It was the scariest and most exhilarating performance to watch as a child. Simply brilliant.

I will say just one more thing about TOTP: the variety of artists you could see on one show was extraordinary, and some of it would seem totally random. From ABBA to Acker Bilk; Jethro Tull to The Nolan Sisters; Splodgenessabounds to Iron Maiden. It was all there for us to enjoy. Can we say music shows now have that level of diversity? I think not.

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3 comments

  1. What a great listing of performances. I’ve only seen that Culture Club clip 14,278 times. Boy George talks about that night in his autobiography, how it was one of the greatest thrills of his life.

    Let me also recommend Sparks’ TOTP performance of “Get In the Swing.” The keyboard player “smiles” in that one a few times. It’s a don’t-miss.


    • I’ll see if I can find that Sparks song on YouTube. I like Get in the Swing as well. In fact I like Sparks full stop.

      You like Boy George quite a bit, then! He’s had a hell of a life, hasn’t he? There was a BBC drama last year called Worried About The Boy detailing his rise to fame and his downward spiral. It also featured his love affairs with Kirk Brandon from Theatre of Hate/Spear of Destiny and Jon Moss. The young man who played Boy George, did it very well, I thought. I don’t know how you could get hold of it. Maybe it’s on DVD somewhere.


      • I was able to see it — a very kind young English man posted the entire show on Facebook and will friend anyone who wants to watch it. Great movie. I understand that George consulted with them on the outfits.

        He’s really pulled his life together. He got clean and sober 3 years ago and is recording again.

        Now you know who your number one go-to girl is for Boy George trivia.



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