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The Top of The Tops Unofficial Celebration

By on 7 January 2014 | comments 3

TWENTY years ago, the BBC was celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of one of its most ‘iconic’ shows.

Ten years ago, the BBC was celebrating its 40th anniversary.

There was a problem, however. During the first decade of the show – which also unfortunately happened to be its heyday – most of the episodes were erased on the grounds that videotape was expensive, and television was considered an ephemeral medium. Posterity was not a consideration.

In the past decade, some missing footage has been retrieved from private collectors, which boded well for the big 50th anniversary. Or so you might think.

In fact, the BBC has removed footage from the clips that are available, and decided not to celebrate the anniversary at all.

The reason, guys and gals, is simple: the programme in question was Top of the Pops, and the TV studio in which it was filmed served as an HQ for the nefarious activities of Jimmy Savile and his pop pals. Hence Jim’s introductions and performances from certain artistes are now strictly verboten.

TOTP1

 

None of which will stop Anorak from picking some top pop moments from the show’s golden years – erring on the side of the hidden gems –in this unofficial celebration…

Northern star

TOTP was conceived as the BBC’s answer to ITV’s groovy music show, Ready Steady Go!

But instead of locating it in swinging London and recruiting stylish dancers from the capital’s coolest clubs, they opted to broadcast from a converted church in Manchester.

 

TOTP2

 

The first edition included performances from Dusty Springfield, The Rolling Stones, The Hollies and The Beatles. Savile opened the show with the immortal line: “It’s number one, it’s Top of the Pops!”

 

TOTP3

 

Before long it became a national institution. Even Doctor Who was a fan…

 

 

Prescience

Time has cast a new light on this early ditty by Merseybeat stalwarts Billy J Kramer & The Dakotas…

‘Little children, you better not tell on me
I’m tellin’ you little children, you better not tell what you see
And if you’re good I’ll give you candy and a quarter
If you’re quiet like you oughta be and keep a secret with me’

 

 

 

Soccer stars

Look carefully and you will see a youthful George Best shaking a leg in the Manchester audience as the Rolling Stones perform The Last Time

 

The Kinks’ classic Autumn Almanac talks of football on a Saturday, and its chorus was adapted as a Highbury chant. Here Ray Davies – a lifelong supporter – wears his rosette with pride…

 

However, football’s proper debut – and first chart-topper – came in 1970, courtesy of the England World Cup Squad.

 

Arsenal’s Peter Marinello made a brief guest appearance in the early 1970s, awarding records to the best dancers in the audience…

 

…But for the most part the beautiful game was represented by club and national squads performing with varying levels of success. Highlights included Chas & Dave’s Tottenham cup final tunes, the first of which came, of course, when the year ended in a ‘one’…

 

 

Smash hits

Neither clever nor grown-up. The Who destroy their equipment in ’73…

 

 

Camping it up and gender-bending

Hard to imagine it now, but David Bowie’s Starman performance sent jaws dropping and shoes smashing through television screens back in 1972…

‘Is it a bird?’ No, it’s good old Boy George, who was clasped to the nation’s bosom in 1982 – once it had got over the initial shock…

 

 

Dancing Queens

First came The GOJOs…

TOTP4

Then Pan’s People, seen here on the streets of West Ham…

Dance - Pan's People - Shop Opening - West Ham, London

…and here doing one of their bizarrely literal routines in 1976, as Beatles reissues monopolised the chart…

… followed by Ruby Flipper (including two blokes – boo)…

…who were swiftly disbanded and replaced with a new SEXtet – Legs & Co, whose name was chosen through a competition for TOTP and Blue Peter viewers. The winner is pictured here with the troupe…

LEGS & CO : 1976

…and the girls are enjoyed here by an enthusiastic Jimmy…

Instant outrage

When John Lennon opted to perform his underrated Instant Karma! live in the studio, the Great British Public was still not ready for Yoko Ono, who sat knitting with a sanitary towel on her head…

Let’s rock!

Two largely forgotten gems.

The brilliant Move…

And from down under, The Saints…

New Faces

A debut for a young lad who would himself acquire some new faces over the years…

Promos

Promotional videos or ‘Promos’ were a staple, pioneered by the Beatles, who were unable to appear live on the show.

These specially made films would often become synonymous with the records, as with Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and David Bowie’s Life On Mars?

Better by far were the idiosyncratic unofficial offerings, like this irrelevant and downright peculiar accompaniment to Bowie’s Knock on Wood

Stardust

Saving the best till last…

John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John clogged up the programme for much of 1976 with hits from the film Grease, and the same movie clips were shown week after week on TOTP. So it was great to finally see the musical’s showpiece You’re The One That I Want performed live in the studio. And they looked even better in the flesh…

  • IAN SPEIGHT

    I Think you’ll find with a bit of something called “Research”
    That in fact it was 1978 Olivia Newton John & John Travolta
    Greased up the Charts …

    • Yampster

      You will find that facts are invenerial to Anorka

  • mahatmacoatmabag

    the BBC should do what Stalin and recently Kim Jung-un did & edit out the ”Non Persons” from archive footage