Thursday, January 22, 2009

Top of the Pops (1964 – 2006)

Top of the Pops was made by the BBC and broadcast for the first time on 1st January 1964. Initially there were plans only for a short run but the program proved so popular it ran for 42 years and was closed in 2006. The format featured a dance floor come discotheque type set with a host DJ and regular ‘disc girl’ (Samantha Juste) to spin the discs.

The show featured top 20 singles and showcased the bestselling artists for that week. It was made in BBCs Studio A in Manchester and the first show was presented by Jimmy Savile other early presenters included Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman, Pete Murray and David Jacobs.

Each week there were a couple of new releases played followed by a selection from the top 20 bestselling singles with final countdown to the Number One. At first playlists included only songs which had risen in the charts and the same single could not appear on consecutive weeks unless it was at number one. This changed in the mid-nineties as the organisers attempted to appeal to the musical tastes of the time. TOTPs reached peak figures in the 70s and attracted an average of 15 million viewers each week. The program went out on a Thursday night (the day the pop singles charts were published), until 1996 when it moved to a Friday night show. Prior to the introduction of music videos, Pan’s People were a troupe of leggie lovelies who filled in when an act was unavailable to appear in person.

Whilst there were many changes to the set and presenters over the four decades TOTPs stated more or less in its original form for most of its run. In the 1990s, the show's format was sold to several foreign broadcasters in the form of a franchise package, and at one point various versions of the show were shown in nearly 100 countries. The last show went out at the end of July, 2006. At first all performers mimed to the commercially released record, but in 1966 miming was banned. Although some acts bravely tried to recreate their recorded works after a few disasters permission was given to use a backing tracts provided all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. Johnnie Pearson’s Top of the Pops Orchestra augmented the tracks when necessary. Some well known acts refused to appear on the show because of the live component and eventually in the early 80s pre-recorded backing tracts were accepted.

The original theme music was ‘Top of the Pops’ by Dave Davani Four, this was later replaced by CCS’ Whole lotta love.

There were three other theme songs; Phil Lynott’s Yellow Pearl (1981 -1986); Paul Hardcastle’s The Wizzard; and Red Hot Pop by Vince Clarke.

Worth a listen
The Baron Knights
Call up the groups (1964)

Whole lotta love

Vince Clarke
Red Hot Pop

Dave Davani Four
Top of the Pops (1964)

The Dubliners
Seven Drunken Nights (1967)

England World Cup Squad
Back home (1970)

Flying Lizards
Money (1979)

Paul Hardcastle
The Wizzard (1986)

Kursaal Flyers
Little does she know (1976)

Leapy Lee
Little Arrows (1968)

Phil Lynott
Yellow Pearl (1980)

The New Vaudeville Band
Winchester Cathedral (1966)

Sam the Sham and the Pharoes
Wooly Bully (1965)

Terry (1964)

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