Top Of The Pops, 14 June 1979 – “When the time was ready, we had to sell the telly.”

Mike Read
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You will have seen several of tonight’s songs on last week’s BBC Four showing of TOTP – that’s because the 7 June episode never happened and any recollection you may have of such an episode is a left-wing sponsored drug-induced hallucination. Instead here’s nice, wholesome, family-friendly Mike “Hello chums!” Read who, despite being an active UKIP supporter and the man who famously refused to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Relax, hasn’t been accused of anything actually illegal and so is deemed worthy of your time. The weird thing that happened didn’t happen with the top 30 captions last week was also clearly some kind of coded message to perverts, as this week we’re back with the comforting full-frame images while the old-fashioned values of Sister Sledge’s We Are Family confirm that everything is right with the world. Continue reading

Top of the Pops, 7 June 1979 – What kind of man could I be if I can’t talk about what I see?

New top 30 captions!
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Batten down the hatches, the next episode of Top of the Pops is one we’re supposed to be pretending never happened. BBC Four have jumped from the 31st of May straight to the 14th of June with no explanation, filling Twitter’s #TOTP hashtag with “LOL Yewtree” and “Wasn’t this on last week?” tweets. I don’t intend to get into discussions about whether or not the BBC should be writing Jimmy Savile out of history, or even why he was still regularly hosting TOTP in 1979 when he seemed hopelessly out of his depth alongside young guns like Kid Jensen, but it seems terribly unfair for all these acts to have their performances stricken from the record simply because it was Janglebeast’s turn to present the show. Thankfully most of the forbidden episodes were repeated on UK Gold in the 1990s, so copies do turn up if you know where to look. The full episode is online here and there’s an edited version with all traces of Savile removed at the top of this page. The top 30 countup is accompanied by Tubeway Army, like Savile has any idea what that even means, and it’s interesting to note that the layout of the top 30 captions has changed, even if the photos haven’t. Continue reading

Top Of The Pops, 31 May 1979 – There’s a word that I don’t understand.

Paul Burnett
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Watch on iPlayer – while stocks last!

This week’s host is Paul Burnett. Who? That’s right. One of the less well remembered Radio 1 DJs of the time, he did the lunchtime show for five years in the late ’70s and early ’80s, so if you were around then you would have been listening to him announcing the brand new top 40 on a Tuesday; you might also remember his Fun At One slot in which he played a comedy record every day at 1pm. If you’ve been following the TOTP repeats since they started in 2011 you’ll also have seen him as one half of Laurie Lingo & The Dipsticks performing their hit Convoy GB, although as the other member was Dave Lee Travis you probably won’t see that again (and if you find the Hairy Cornflake objectionable these days for whatever reason, for God’s sake don’t click that link). Burnett seems to host TOTP roughly once a year, always provoking a flurry of “Who the hell is this?” tweets, so now you know who he is, but this seems to be his last appearance as host so it doesn’t really matter. The top 30 countdown (or countup if you want to be really pedantic about it) is accompanied by Anita Ward’s Ring My Bell, which is on its way up to number 1 so no doubt we’ll hear plenty more of it in the weeks to come. Continue reading

Top Of The Pops, 24 May 1979 – Dressed to kill… and guess who’s dying?

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Having grown up as a music fan in the ’70s/’80s/’90s (at least to the extent that I can be said to have “grown up”), the weekly edition of Top Of The Pops was always a major event in my life, even up to the point where the BBC finally killed it off in 2006. Then in 2011 BBC Four brought it back and started showing archive episodes from 35 years previously. To everyone’s surprise, given the subsequent revelations about various erstwhile hosts, the repeat run is still going – we’re now in 1979 and riding the crest of New Wave. 7:30 on a Thursday evening is once again an immovable fixture in my weekly calendar, even more so now that Twitter is around and we can all rip it to shreds poke affectionate fun at it in real time as the chaos fun unfolds. Now that I’m doing a proper blog thing, I thought it would be fun to document each week’s dreck show and some of the comments it drew on Twitter. Continue reading