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It's Thursday night, 1976. It's Top Of The Pops.
MUSIC: "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
As soon as 7.30 on Thursday night came around, people tuned in.
You make sure you'd had your supper by then,
you made sure your homework was done by then.
The music of 1976 appealed to all ages.
HE IMITATES JIMMY SAVILE
-We were middle of the road, weren't we?
-No, we were brotherhood of man.
-Just in case you got confused.
Top Of The Pops was very much a variety show, and it was run on variety rules.
It was a really good party atmosphere.
It all started to slightly parody itself.
That real world was definitely knocking
on Top Of The Pops' door by '76, but not getting in.
In 1976, the British public basked in 35-degree heat.
# Here comes the sun... #
There were holidays by the beach, hosepipe bans and ice cream.
Life seemed too good.
But in all this summer madness, the cracks were beginning to show.
James Callaghan's government struggled with social tension
and rising unemployment.
The nation's youth were frustrated,
and there was racial unrest on the streets.
But you could always switch on the telly to escape.
Billy Cotton was the king of variety in the '50s, and by 1976,
Bill Cotton Jr was in charge of light entertainment at the BBC.
Bill's programming reflected his variety upbringing,
and prime-time television catered for all the family.
Nice to see you, to see you nice!
I grew up in the TV age, when the whole family watched telly together.
And you only had, I think, two channels in the '60s,
and then three in the '70s.
No, it's for me. That's better. Right.
Light entertainment, which was kind of all that the mainstream
really provided, seemed really escapist.
Hello there, and a very warm welcome to this week's edition of Top Of The Pops.
# We got reggae, we got reggae, We got reggae, we got reggae! #
And by 1976, even Top Of The Pops, the nation's favourite music show,
looked more like a light entertainment show
for all the family than a teenage chart show.
Everybody in the family could enjoy Top Of The Pops,
one week or another,
because there was always something on there for them.
But how did Top Of The Pops and the charts turn into a variety show,
when back in 1964, it had seemed to be all about the music?
Yes, it's number one, it's Top Of The Pops.
Back in 64, a gentleman called Johnnie Stewart was producing
trad and twist programmes for the BBC, very faddy.
He persuaded the head of the BBC at that time that the nation
needed another show as an alternative to Ready Steady Go!
In other words, to reflect the hits of the day.
Top groups, top records, top everything.
MUSIC: "Let's Spend The Night Together" by The Rolling Stones
In the '60s, Top Of The Pops was swinging.
It was THE show where you could see
the biggest music stars and coolest fashions.
# Don't you worry 'bout what's on your mind, oh my
# I'm in no hurry, I can take my time, oh my... #
It was an institution,
and every kid in the country wanted to watch Top Of The Pops.
In the early '70s, the music was spectacularly,
utterly, effing wonderful.
# Get it on, bang a gong, get it on
# Get it on, bang a gong, get it on... #
I came to be a teenager in 1970, which was nice timing,
and Top Of The Pops was absolutely important,
in terms of bringing to you glimpses of other adventures.
# Don't want to learn about etiquette from glossy magazines
# Why should I try to talk correct like they do in other scenes? #
It was what everyone talked about at school the next day.
You sometimes talked about it with your parents.
When Bowie first appeared on Top Of The Pops,
performing Star Man, in a complete body suit,
it was, "Oh, my God, he's dressed like a girl."
# There's a star man waiting in the sky
# He'd like to come and meet us
# But he thinks he'd blow our minds... #
We'd never seen androgyny. We'd never seen a hint of homosexuality.
You probably have those conversations with children to Mum and Dad,
"Oh, he looks a right pranny",
and, "What are they on about?"
And that used to be a topical thing.
From one bopper sensation to another, this is T Rex and Metal Guru.
# Waaa-aaaah-yeah... #
The next day it was... Just everybody was on it, this incredible moment,
and some of the things, you know, dictated who you'd become. Your taste.
# Is it you?
# Metal guru, is it you?
# Sitting there in your armour plate chair, oh yeah
# Metal Guru, is it true...? #
There would be real fights, you know. David Bowie or T Rex went on.
A lot of your friends deemed that to be teeny bop music. You know, it's singles music.
# Could it be?
# You're gonna bring my baby to me... #
We couldn't really understand boys like Marc Bolan or David Bowie.
They were too complicated when I was 13.
Glam was also a little bit too old for me.
At that point I wanted a simple idea of a boy.
It seems that every now and again, in the pop world, along comes
either a group or a singles singer, and gets the full force of the pop mania.
The teeny bop craze had ruled the charts in the early '70s.
Young girls could scream after their pop idols, from The Osmonds...
# Crazy horses
# Crazy horses... #
..to our very own Rollers.
-Bring on the Rollers!
I remember wanting to belong to a gang of girls,
and music seemed to be the way into this,
and the music that everyone was listening to was the Bay City Rollers.
# Bye bye, baby, baby goodbye... #
So when all the girls ran into the toilets at school to listen
to the announcement of the charts, and the Bay City Rollers were number one, and everyone screamed.
# Now if I were free...
It seemed very simple, this code. You had a tartan scarf,
you learnt the dance steps, you screamed if anyone mentioned them
or their music was on the radio, and you put their posters up on your wall,
and I thought, "I've cracked it. I can be a girl now".
# Bye bye, baby, baby goodbye
# Bye, baby, baby bye bye... #
Top Of The Pops helped establish the teeny bop sensations,
and in the mid-'70s, the show was an influential player in the British record industry.
Good morning, Top Of The Pops.
The thing about Top Of The Pops was that it was a barometer of the singles chart.
Back then, the chart was carved in stone. It was unshiftable.
So it was an incredibly prestigious show.
On the Monday morning, 8am in the morning, the record pluggers
from all the different record companies
met in Top Of The Pops' office,
and that was the first time they knew whether any of their acts were going to be on television.
# Blinded by the light... #
I can remember, at the BBC, trundling down to the Tube,
"Yes, we're on, we're on". You know, the complete joy.
If you were just a new entry, you were praying that another artist
was on tour and couldn't come in.
If their acts weren't going to be on television,
the first thing they did was to ring the factories to stop the record being produced,
cos it was such a powerful programme.
To be a producer on Top Of The Pops was...
I mean, they had enormous power.
They could make or break records, really.
I always hesitate to be an arbiter of British taste.
I think that we do a very successful job reflecting
what the British public is buying in the show.
It was Robin Nash who once said, "Top Of The Pops
"is the only programme in the world where the producer has nothing to do with the talent". In other words,
it was governed by forces outside his control.
The singles market in the '70s was big business, and the only access to your favourite tune
was buying the seven-inch for 70p.
There were more million-selling singles in the '70s
than in any other decade. The singles chart was enormously important.
Over 50 million singles were sold in 1976, and there was a massive divide
between the singles audience and album buyers.
The album charts of the day, Steely Dan, Rainbow, Chicago, people like that,
that was a different demographic, more longevity.
There was huge discrepancy in the '70s between album music and single music.
There was no mix at all.
Here's one that went up 14 places in this week's chart, Sailor and A Glass Of Bubbly.
# I got the money, I got the place
# You got the figure, you got the face
# Let's get together, the two of us over a glass of champagne... #
Bands like Sailor, who had come out of pretty much nowhere,
they had two or three hits. I mean, in '76, the went on Top Of The Pops
and pretty soon it was massive.
# The two of us over a glass of champagne... #
Of course, with a lot of one-off singles in '76, bands didn't have long careers,
but had a good minute or two in the spotlight.
We take you over to the Trocadero with Showaddywaddy!
Every act that released a single dreamed of being on Top Of The Pops.
It meant you'd arrived.
The show, at that time, was a priority. It was the top of the list
for any record label. If you want to sing your sales, it would be Top Of The Pops.
It had so much power. You knew if you were on Top Of The Pops that your record was going to go top ten.
If Top Of The Pops put the hits on TV, the nation's favourite radio station played them to the masses.
JINGLE: # Radio 1, good morning. #
In the '60s, 1967 onwards, Radio 1 was the number one station.
Radio 1 blasts the airwaves from two electronic cubbyholes,
produced as about as cheaply as radio can be.
It's a bright, brash upstart of a channel.
It really did rule the pop kingdom, you know, Radio 1, and still does. Sells records.
Executive producer Doreen Davies chairs the weekly playlist meeting at Broadcasting House.
-That'll go up, then, go up.
-I think it will go up.
The playlist is a selection of 40 records judged suitable for maximum exposure on the air.
The decision at the end of the day is a crucial one for the artists and the record companies.
On Radio 1, we had audiences of every generation.
I have a card from Lynn Cooper, Mrs Lynn Cooper,
who lives at 19 Norfolk Crescent, Nuneaton, and she has written in for her sister,
who I know is getting married tomorrow. We're going to go down right now to Lewes in Sussex
and say hello to Penny Greenwood. Hello, Penny. Are you there?
-How are you? I can't hear you very well.
-You'll have to talk up just a little bit.
That's much better. Lovely.
You couldn't think that my breakfast show on Radio 1, I'd come off the air
and the first audience figures we got were for 20 million.
So 20 million people were hearing that record, and of course, you know,
Top Of The Pops was getting millions of viewers as well.
People forget how big the Radio 1 DJs were. Not in size, but in popularity.
Radio 1 DJs had been big since the late 1960s, when Radio 1 started.
Phenomenally powerful. You hung on their every word.
Stand by, take six.
JINGLE: # The Golden Hour
# Tony Blackburn remembers... #
-Best of luck, studio.
-# 1960! #
There's another from Freddy Carter. Thank you, Noel, for the last few hours.
Always turn off after me name check.
There were 12 DJs, and every one of them was a household name.
Jimmy Savile, DLT, Johnnie Walker, Alan Freeman, Tony Blackburn, and so it went on.
Hello, good evening. Welcome once again to Top Of The Pops!
Hello, good evening, and welcome to Top Of The Pops!
I'll be on breakfast tomorrow. Do hope you're going to join me.
They were the great faces of the nation in a way because they had two things on their side.
They were constantly there cos they were on Radio 1,
and then they had Top Of The Pops, which put them in front of millions every week.
It was an obvious idea. I mean, you know, BBC programme, BBC radio,
BBC television, it was an obvious link-up.
The DJs, they were not stand-offish. They were very much part of the Top Of The Pops furniture.
I thought tonight's proceeding would be held in camera,
but in fact, we're just mucking in on tonight's Top Of The Pops.
Setting the standard for the DJs was the original Top Of The Pops presenter.
And a welcome to this week's top DJ, Jimmy Savile!
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
Hello, ladies and gentlemen. How about that?
Welcome to Top Of The Pops.
He was a genuine music lover, and he was into pushing new music,
and he was a DJ pioneer.
Oh-oh-oh! Goodness gracious.
At number 18, would you believe, ladies and gentlemen,
Gladys Knight and the Pips.
Ho-ho, Midnight Train To Georgia, thank you very much indeed.
Jimmy has always been old in my eyes, because of the look.
You know, the white hair and everything.
But you didn't view him as old, you weren't watching someone
that you thought should be doing something else.
They were the bee's knees.
But by 1976, Jimmy had competition.
On any radio station, certainly in the early days,
and probably today as well, the number one presenter would be the breakfast show presenter,
because it's the most important show of the day.
-# Start your day with Noel Edmonds...
-# No-el, No-el, good morning. #
He was so fashionable, he was so on the mark as a DJ,
as a broadcaster.
Did you always want to be a DJ,
or did you start off wanting to be something else?
Oh, come on, I'm not that old.
These people were validators, in a way.
They were saying, "This is number one, this is Top Of The Pops."
You believe them, they're not going through the motions.
No Radio 1, no Tony Blackburn, mind you I'm sure he'd be sick of that.
I wasn't aware of too much competition between the DJs,
because we were all doing quite nicely.
I did, at one time, wear a T-shirt saying, "I hate David Hamilton."
Do you like the T-shirt?
I think this is a style that is going to catch on
for this coming Christmas, don't you?
In actual fact, this is the new look for '77.
I thought, "This is the most wonderful publicity I could possibly get."
David Hamilton and I were always great friends,
and we always had a go at one other in a nice way.
Censored, it's censored!
I heard that you're one of the worst players in the world.
You couldn't even tackle a rice pudding!
DJs had a field day in those days.
I wish I was a presenter, then, I tell you,
I'd be laughing.
They were zany, almost sub-Bruce Forsyth variety characters as such, they had schtick.
we were, in a strange sort of way, as big as the artists
-we were presenting, and we were built up as pop stars.
They'd be on Radio 1, they'd be on Top Of The Pops, they'd go on tour,
they'd open supermarkets and they'd get paid huge amounts of money.
I totted it up once and I opened 1,000 supermarkets
around the country, and when they didn't do so well
and they closed down, I offered to go back and close them down.
I remember going to Scotland and opening a menswear shop.
They dropped me at the wrong side of the street,
and the police rushed over and showed me through the crowd.
As I went through, they ripped my jacket to pieces.
It was a menswear shop, and when I came out
I was wearing a better jacket than the one I went in with!
It was an easy transition for the Radio 1 DJs
when it came to also hosting the BBC's primetime
Saturday night light entertainment shows.
# Sunshine Saturday... #
Yes, once again it's Seaside Special,
the show that goes coast to coast with the very best people
in the pop music field, the variety field,
we've got some fabulous stars for you.
The Radio 1 DJs not only did Top Of The Pops,
but some of us did Seaside Special as well.
Seaside Special went out on Saturday night in the big peak slot,
now occupied by Strictly Come Dancing.
Ladies and gentlemen, I would like you now to meet a real superstar
and somebody who I have personally admired for many, many years.
Ahem. Good evening.
The Top Of The Pops presenters had become the perfect hosts for family viewing.
Programmes like Seaside Special, I think,
must have had a very similar audience to Top Of The Pops.
Certainly in hindsight, you are aware of how not even
a cousin of light entertainment programmes, but a close relation,
a brother, a sister, a son, they were part of that tradition.
# Saturday night, we're gonna have some fun... #
It's a good British night from us on Top Of The Pops,
it's the number one,
it's the fabulous film of Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody,
marvellous, so do have a super year, God bless,
see you next week.
# Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
# Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality... #
The omnipresent Radio 1 DJs played a big part in creating the hits,
but what did that mean for music in 1976?
The year started with a radical moment of innovation.
Queen, with Bohemian Rhapsody, changed the whole face
of television, as such, with respect to Top Of The Pops.
People liked the video more than the song, I suppose,
but that did herald the storyboard and what was to come with MTV.
# Galileo, figaro, magnifico... #
But 1976 was far from from innovative in the charts,
with its cast of regulars hogging the limelight.
In '76, I guess, one of the big changes in music would be Cliff Richard with Devil woman.
I mean, Cliff, woo!
# She's just a devil woman With evil on her mind
# Beware the devil woman She's going to get you... #
The Peter Pan of pop showed us a racier side.
Cliff and Devil Woman. I mean, that...
Firstly, it's a really well-written song by an established performer.
It was just a bit of a shock
that here you had this very Christian man performing it.
It was a song that he never really liked,
because, you know, Cliff is whiter than the driven snow, isn't he?
It wasn't really quite his image.
Even by then, '76, Cliff seemed to have been around for a couple of centuries,
so whatever people feel about Cliff now, they felt then.
# She's gonna get you! #
-Oh, thank you very much indeed.
You've heard that before. How many hits is that now in the charts?
-I think we've made 64 entries.
-When I'm 64? Do you like that?
Nice to see that you're nearly famous, too.
Here is the record that is number one in the chart, yet again, for Abba. This is Fernando.
But the year belonged to a band that were our Swedish fantasy.
Abba, who I absolutely love, and they, visually,
are just made for Top Of The Pops.
# There was something in the air that night
# The stars were bright, Fernando... #
Everybody in the world wanted them on their show.
You'd get Benny or Bjorn saying to me, "What are we doing, then?
"Which shows are we doing?" I said, "Top Of The Pops,"
because, at the time, Top Of The Pops was the show to do.
# If I had to do the same again I would, my friend, Fernando... #
Abba represented a sort of softness. It represented sweetness.
They represented nothing about the country you lived in,
nothing about the location you lived in, nothing about your life
as a young person in Britain in the mid-'70s.
They were a kind of a fantasy.
# I've been cheated by you since I don't know when... #
Abba, to me, were the biggest group to come along,
certainly in the '70s, and disco was coming along as well,
-and I loved the disco music.
-ABBA charted three times,
but I don't remember Abba as having the respect then as they do today.
# Yes, I've been broken-hearted
# Blue since the day we parted
# Why, why, did I ever let you go?
# Mamma Mia, even if I say
# Bye-bye Leave me now or never... #
They looked, for me, the final splutterings of glam,
cos they still wore glitter, still dressed up in that sense.
So for me, that five years that had taken me from 13 to 18 -
a third of my life - it seemed, "Why are they still doing that?"
"Why are they still wearing the platform shoes? That's the Middle Ages now."
Now, we shall certainly be hearing a good deal more of this winning song,
and in April, of course, it'll be competing against the best of the rest in Europe.
But at the moment it's goodnight from the Royal Albert Hall in London,
and once again that winning song by the Brotherhood Of Man,
and it's called Save Your Kisses For Me.
# Though it hurts to go away
# It's impossible to stay
# But there's one thing I must say before I go
# I love you
-# I love you
-You know... #
From one Eurovision success to another,
the biggest-selling single of the year belonged to our very own version of ABBA.
Top Of The Pops put us definitely and firmly on the map.
Week after week.
# But you keep me hanging on... #
It was the public that put the record there.
When we arrived to do Eurovision, we were number one in the charts.
# Won't you save them up for me?
# Your...kisses for me
# Save all your kisses for me
# Bye-bye, baby, bye-bye... #
Years on, I mean, they still wait for the dance.
It's just phenomenal.
# Honey, don't cry... #
Because we were a middle-of-the-road band,
I think they didn't expect us to hold it for so long,
and I still think today that we could have done another week or two there.
I think they're there for life.
# Hang on, baby, hang on...#
But I think they'd had enough of us and they went, "Goodbye. That's enough."
# ..only three... #
Compared to other years, it probably wasn't the vintage champagne of pop.
Some people might see the music of 1976 as being bland. I don't,
I think the music of 1976 was great fun.
# Disco, disco duck
Got to have me a woman!
# Disco, disco duck
Oh, get down, mama!
# Try your luck
# Don't be a cluck
# Disco, disco duck... #
Top Of The Pops did play what the people put in the charts,
and if it WAS incredibly mediocre and middle-of-the-road,
Top Of The Pops couldn't change that.
JJ Barrie, and No Charge.
TO COUNTRY BACKGROUND Well, his mom looked at him standing there expectantly,
and I could see the memories flashing through her mind.
And so she picked up the pen,
and turning the paper over...
this is what she wrote.
# For the nine months I carried you
"For the nine months I carried you..."
-# Growing inside me
-"..growing inside me..."
-# No charge
Nobody new and exciting had seemed to come along to replace the glam scene.
And I guess the record industry was delighted with that -
they could put a lot of music into the charts that they were in control of.
It wasn't coming from somewhere else and surprising them.
# Baby Soon you're gonna le-e-eave me
# When you go don't say goodby-y-y-ye
# Keep on, keep on walking... #
As powerful as it was, as large as its audience was,
it wasn't manipulative to the point
where it was going to invent its own chart for the sake of what went on the show.
They had to go with Demis Roussos - who was extraordinarily popular.
# Ever and ever, forever and ever
# You'll be my dream
# My rainbow's end
# And the song I sing... #
When you think about it today, and what music is today,
you are looking at pure variety light entertainment back then.
-The one and only...The Wurzels.
Even Somerset cider drinkers braced the charts this year.
# I drove my tractor through your haystack last night
# Ooh-arr, ooh-arr
The recording engineer at the time was a guy called Tony Clark.
He used to record bands like Sky and John Williams,
and he said - the first day we were recording, he said,
"We've got a hit here."
# Cos I've got a brand-new combine harvester
# And I'll give you the key
# Come on, now, let's get together
# In perfect harmony... #
It was Radio 1 that started playing the record, I think,
and that's how it all ended up with Top Of The Pops.
If you could put some a phrase on it,
it was "melodic, singalong fun".
She made I laugh... Ha-ha!
# I'll stick by you
# I'll give you all that you need
# Ooh-arr, ooh-arr... #
We were the boys that played the village halls and did this and that
but we'd never actually been on a national television show.
And then we found something that we could do.
We could write songs that become a part of ourselves.
Which makes us no different to all the bands that are around today.
Now then, ladies and gentlemen... Applause there for The Wurzels.
Now, what we're going to do, a bit more magic now.
After three, I'm going to make these Wurzels disappear,
and I'm going to bring that young lady back from Birmingham.
One, two, three!
They were displaced by You To Me Are Everything by The Real Thing.
It was like a life-saver -
because at last you didn't have to sit through The Wurzels.
# Oh, you to me are everything
# The sweetest song that I can sing
# Oh, baby
# Oh, baby
# To you I guess I'm just a clown
# Who picks you up each time you're down
# Oh, baby
# Oh, baby... #
The Bay City Rollers! Thank you very much.
The teeny bop craze that had ruled the charts
was on the wane, as their young fans grew up.
Take it down!
My interest in The Bay City Rollers passed very quickly
because I was changing very quickly.
I was going from being 12, 13, to 14
which was a very different thing,
and I was very quickly deeply embarrassed
about EVER having liked The Bay City Rollers.
Their posters were ripped from my walls. Anything...
Their singles were thrown out, tartan scarves probably burnt,
and then they were gone for me.
And, as the hot summer of '76 drew to a close,
The Bay City Rollers' single was to be their last big hit.
Taking their place was a new band on the block
who were fast becoming everyone's favourite teddy boys.
INTRO: "Under The Moon Of Love"
DAVE BARTRAM: When Under The Moon Of Love came along later in the year,
it became a bit like a breath of fresh air.
# Let's go for a little walk
# Under the moon of love... #
Eight blokes sort of stepping out doing their thing,
with a hint of aggression...
-# I want to tell you
-I want to tell you
-# That I love you
-That I love you
# And I want you to be my girl... #
Everybody seemed to love the band.
We even sort of... got things in the music press
that were giving us credit for what we were doing!
And there were other magazines that didn't like the band
because we were essentially I suppose
what at the time was called a teeny bop band.
# I'm gonna talk sweet talk And whisper things in your ear... #
I can remember singing to audience members, and...
It's something that we always did
in our stage show anyway, so I was quite comfortable doing that.
# Come on, little darling, take my hand
# Let's go for a little walk... #
But if teeny bop wasn't your thing, there was always a hidden treasure.
I think what you often want from a great pop song -
and you often wanted to be on Top Of The Pops -
is an edge of surrealism - something surreal, something other.
# Plays the game
# You don't have to... #
And often that manifested itself by something, you know,
really, really wonderful going on this really naff programme.
Someone like Alex Harvey would pop up...
# Are you going to the party?
# Going to the Boston Tea Party
# Going to the party
# Going to the Boston Tea Party... #
There were some rather irresistible pop records
that you couldn't resist because they were peculiar.
# Girls, girls, girls Girls, girls, girls
# Well, they made 'em up in Hollywood
# Put them into the movies... #
In their novelty, in their attempt to get play on the radio
and to be...you know, to sound right and to be catchy enough,
they were oddly exotic.
# I've got a one solitary
# Lonesome single bed... #
Sometimes something would take you by surprise.
Even if you were - like I was - a profound snob about music.
And if the producer didn't pick your band,
there was always the dancing girls.
Here are the fruity...Pan's People!
# You sexy sugar plum... #
Legs & Co and Pan's People, they came on and did these very sensual and erotic routines,
and nobody else was doing it on TV at the time,
and so they were quite unique.
Their dance routines were... quite sexy for the time,
and dances like that you couldn't see anywhere else
on any other variety programmes.
It was purely on Top Of The Pops.
There were very few women on top of the Pops, and Pan's People
were moulded into whatever was needed...
which wasn't a very helpful role model for a young girl!
Pan's People, who are deep in the heart of the jungle.
What they did was, I think,
purely part of the entertainment variety genre,
where they were dancing girls,
who were probably considered more important
for shapely legs than for actually being dancers.
So there was this kind of Benny Hill postcard innocence
about watching Legs & Co.
Here...are Legs & Co!
There was almost sort of a laddishness, I think.
DLT - "Not 'alf." You know?
I know where I'm going later -
straight down to Pan's Persons' little carriageway,
through those white blocks. Woargh!
And Dad's going, "Ooh, yeah."
MUSIC: "Oh, What A Night" by The Four Seasons
I remember my father and my brother watching Top Of The Pops
because it was either Pan's People or Legs & Co.
And they weren't interested in what they were dancing to,
they weren't interested in what the movements were.
All they interested in was how little they were wearing
and what provocative moves they did.
Rather shamefully, we expected and accepted
that women would be there often for decorative purposes.
They were there to keep the male viewers there.
I don't think I ever watched it for Legs & Co!
Nobody really took offence.
Today I think you'd probably be called sexist,
but in those days, you know, it was...just banter.
Very interesting, how times have changed.
But it wasn't only the professional dancers
that got the chance to strut their stuff on Top Of The Pops.
-We wanted to dance, didn't we? ..You wanted to dance.
We're going to dance.
Lots and lots of people wanted to be on Top Of The Pops, dancing there,
so they came in off the streets and they were encouraged to dress up,
and think the rest of the country probably saw the fashions that were happening in London.
One of the first shows to have an audience participation in there.
We're going to pick out the best dancer in this one,
because we're going to see the kids dancing here in the studio.
The audience were always in shot, and that was always the public
looking up to the pop star. So you sort of felt part of it.
-# You make me feel like dancing... #
You knew you'd made it, if you were in there and you were on camera.
# You make me feel like dancing... #
When I was young I thought it would be quite romantic to be in the audience.
In fact, it would have been enough to just be there watching the stars.
-# I feel like dancing
# Dance the night away... #
If you were in the audience, you got pushed around by the floor managers.
If a camera was coming your way, they didn't bother about you, that just barged into you.
But...the kids had a good time and it was just great fun.
For me there was too much of this dancing - looking over the shoulder to see if you were on camera.
If you were in the audience and doing the show, it was a really good party atmosphere.
But by now, the Top Of The Pops party didn't seem to be for its younger viewers,
and it was trying to cater for all the family.
# It's so nice, nice, nice
# To have you home, home again... #
The '70s, and my generation, were already
almost a backwash to what had gone on in the '60s. I couldn't love the music.
# It's so nice, nice, nice to have you home... #
It was having a mid-life crisis, and the presenters were of another era and the music had got badly lost.
# ..never ever gonna go away
# Any more #
You had to introduce what was in the charts that particular week.
I didn't have any quarrel with it. One or two things were a little bit square for me, but
if a record appealed to the mums and dads, or maybe the grandparents liked them - you know, so be it.
# It's so nice, nice, nice
# To have you home, home again
# And you're looking exactly just the way you used to look before... #
It was almost like being inside a very closed society -
you took what you had, and you believed it was all there was.
It was only later, when I got a tiny bit older and more adventurous,
that I kind of realised there was a whole world out there
that Top Of The Pops wasn't reaching.
MUSIC: Theme from "The Old Grey Whistle Test"
There was a much more serious approach to music on The Old Grey Whistle Test, BBC2's
anti-Top Of The Pops music show -
with no audience, no dancing...
and a presenter that (whispered.)
Hello, again. This is Bob Harris opening up another Whistle Test.
# Gonna make her roar
# Gonna make her fly... #
What was given to us
music lovers was The Old Grey Whistle Test, as a kind of counterpart.
HIGH-PITCHED: # Ahh, ahh, ahh, ahh
# Ahh, ahh, ahh... Ahh! #
When you got The Old Grey Whistle Test, it was really
exploring album tracks and people who were, in inverted commas, taking their music seriously, man.
There weren't people being forced to look as if they were dancing and enjoying themselves,
and there were presenters who really took the music seriously,
rather than stood there trying to sound fizzy and excited.
A good-looking programme tonight, too. Sessions from John Martyn and Little Feat,
an interview later on with Robert Plant, some vintage film of Ike and Tina Turner,
a track from the new Jefferson Starship album, and music from the Bachman-Turner Overdrive.
But The Old Grey Whistle Test was a little too laid-back and worthy for a younger audience by 1976.
# There was a woman in Georgia didn't feel just right
# She had the fever all day and chills at night... #
I was a 14-year-old kind of caught between two worlds, really.
You'd have Brotherhood Of Man on Top Of The Pops, and some kind of
West Coast American long-haired group on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
And neither of them really seemed, to me,
to be relevant or to relate to me or my world.
# He's a doctor of soul
# He's got his very own thing, yeah... #
-Those that liked that music, thought that what they liked
was deeply serious, proper music.
So they were protective of that and threatened by what was about to happen too.
The nation's youth were becoming disenchanted with the BBC's musical offerings.
Time now to go up the M1 motorway to the Scratchwood service area -
we are going to find Laurie Lingo, the Plastic Chickens, the Dipsticks, everything - and Convoy GB!
# It's a lonely life truck driving But it's better than a bike... #
It all started to slightly parody itself.
The format was very well established,
everyone knew what was coming next...
# ..the saga of the M1 motorway
# Of the biggest bloomin' convoy outside the USA... #
-The dancers got sillier, the songs got sillier.
The presenters - who were really too old to be presenting it -
got sillier too,
and it didn't make any of us feel young, or excited, or happy or free.
It was just as if everything had got badly stuck and no-one knew what to do.
Er...listen, Plastic Chicken -
d'you want to stick it in behind that suicide jockey?
-What's a suicide jockey?
-"As it happens, 'ow's about - urrgh!"
It just seemed to be laughable. It was becoming laughable.
We're all wearing white suits tonight, because we're doubling as ice cream salesmen.
Hello and welcome - tonight's programme's dedicated
to everyone who wanted me to get the sack.
It made it shallow and superficial and silly and glitzy.
It had become much more obviously a family entertainment show.
FUNKY DISCO MUSIC
We were clearly not being given everything that was out there,
and certain people were making these decisions on our behalf.
Even if we didn't articulate it this way, that was a political thing,
an ideological thing - and we needed to fight it.
# Boredom, boredo-o-om... #
The predominant mood of the young people of '76
wasn't necessarily anger, but was actually boredom.
LAVINIA GREENLAW: There didn't seem to be anything for us -
I spent a lot of time in bus shelters wondering what to do and where to go.
I hadn't yet found the music that mattered, I hadn't yet found the friends who would matter.
I didn't know who to be, and it felt like the country didn't know what to be either.
Light entertainment didn't seem to relate really or
care really about what young people wanted.
The generation that was coming of an age in the late '70s
was a generation that was beginning to have to deal with
rising unemployment. Interest rates were high...
There was a very horrific kind of institutional
and street racism that you were aware of
in Britain - and of course you had the Notting Hill riots in 1976.
MUSIC: "White Riot" by The Clash
And there seemed to be a very big gulf between that real life, and the life that was portrayed by
light entertainment on the BBC including Top Of The Pops.
BBC's never gone this mad. Demis - come over here, darlin'!
It's time to say goodnight,
and we are going to leave you with the number one sound which has been there for 94 years.
Demis - cop a load of our lovely British plonk, Chateau BBC 1914...
That real world was definitely knocking on Top Of The Pops' door by '76...but not getting in.
The cult is called "punk", the music "punk rock".
Basic rock music - raw, outrageous and crude.
# I am an Antichrist
# I am an anarchist... #
Completely discombobulated the mainstream entertainment world
and the recording industry, because there were impulses and
desires that were coming from a completely different place.
It wasn't just about enjoyment, about being pleased, it wasn't just decoration.
Malcolm McLaren, you discovered and managed the group.
What about the accusation that you're more into chaos than anything else?
Well, that's an accusation by people
who really don't understand what kids want. Kids want excitement,
they want things that are going to transform
what is basically a very boring life for them right now.
And music - young rock music -
is the only thing they have that they thought that they controlled.
And if you look in the charts, they don't have anything to do with it.
# Anarchy for the UK... #
My earliest memories of punk are the kind of intrusions it made on that Top Of The Pops world.
They were not playing along with the idea of being a band, and being a band in a television interview.
# Wanna be...
# Anarchy! #
You'd hear a word like "anarchy", and clearly this wasn't Showaddywaddy.
Something else was going on.
At the time I thought that punk bands were anti-Establishment,
you know, peeing all over the audience, that kind of thing...
So I did actually come out once saying that I didn't think much of it.
Punk rock just didn't do it for me.
I found it... And I know a lot of people still love it -
I found it tuneless, mindless.
Everything about it. I found the artists not particularly appealing.
What about the word "punk"? It means worthless, nasty.
Johnny Rotten, are you happy with this word?
No, the press gave us it.
It's their problem, not ours.
We never called ourselves "punk".
Punk set itself up against Top Of The Pops, you know, because... it did seem part of the enemy.
It did seem part of that mainstream world which punk was trying to wake up.
Which bands do you think are really old hat now?
Are you against the Stones and The Who, sounds like that?
Yes, of course, because they're established.
They just do not mean anything to anyone.
Unfortunately, they didn't sell enough records
to get into the charts - and as Top Of The Pops
relied upon the charts
because of these rigid rules that had been going since 1964,
and nobody dared to change them for upsetting anybody.
The idea that basically record companies, the record industry,
in cahoots with the BBC, Radio 1 and Top Of The Pops,
were basically dictating choice...
It's kind of no wonder really that
out of that era came a whole load of new kinds of music.
It's no wonder really that the young people -
bless them, as they always do - said "Let's make our own culture."
It was never the sense that we wanted to smash Top Of The Pops to pieces -
in that sense we were oddly compliant. We were quite happy for Top Of The Pops to keep going,
but we wanted Siouxsie and the Banshees and The Damned
to go on Top Of The Pops to give it the kick...
# ..just for you
# Here's a love song, just for you
# Here's a love song
# And it makes me glad to say
# It's been a lovely day and it's OK... #
Slowly, from '77 to '78, '79, 1980,
you had fabulous people appearing on Top Of The Pops.
When they did, it was an amazing moment.
# Hong Kong garden
# Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh... #
I think Top Of The Pops lost a generation in 1976,
who eventually came back when edgier music started to top the charts.
I think there was a complete reinvigoration of Top Of The Pops...
and it seemed like their natural home, which now seems very strange!
# Slanted eyes meet a new sunrise... #
That's why Top Of The Pops sometimes has to go through these peculiar periods - or did then -
because then there's this wonderful antidote, this wonderful way, it swings back another way.
# La, la, la, la-la la-la-la
# Oh-oh, oh-oh-oh-oh
# Hong Kong garden...
Hi there. All having a lovely Christmas?
For the next three-quarters of an hour
we're looking at the really big records of this year.
It's welcome to the Christmas Top Of The Pops!
MUSIC: "Whole Lotta Love" by Led Zeppelin
But, in Christmas 1976, nothing had changed.
1977 may have been around the corner,
but as far as Top Of The Pops and its presenters were concerned
it was business as usual.
-Let me introduce you to another very young group.
The number one record from a number one guy, don't know if you know him.
Johnny Mathis, and When A Child Is Born, right this second.
# All across the land dawns a brand-new morn
# This comes to pass
# When a child is born
# A silent wish
# Sails the seven seas
# The winds of change
# Whisper in the trees
# And the walls of doubt
# Crumble, tossed and torn
# This comes to pass when a child is born. #
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The nation grew up with Top of the Pops and it was always a talking point, but 35 years ago a particular kind of Top of the Pops programme and tone held sway. This documentary explores Top of the Pops in 1976 - as a barometer of the state of pop and light entertainment TV.
It celebrates the power of the programme and observes British society of the mid 70s, British TV and the British pop scene. In 1976, glam was over and nothing had replaced it - the charts belonged to Showaddywaddy, Brotherhood of Man and the Wurzels, all to be found on Top of the Pops hosted by the Radio 1 DJs. If you wanted rock you looked to the Old Grey Whistle Test, while outside the charts a new scene was rumbling.
Contributors include Tony Blackburn, David 'Diddy' Hamilton, Paul Morley, Toyah Willcox, Showaddywaddy, Brotherhood of Man, the Wurzels and Dave Haslam.