Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, was a Music phenomenon when I was growing up. You watched it religiously, every Thursday evening at 7pm.
It was broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. and had always been shown on Thursday evening on BBC One, before being moved to Fridays in 1996, and then moved to Sundays on BBC Two in 2005.
Each weekly programme had performances from some of that week's best-selling music artists, with a rundown of that week's singles chart.
The way the programme worked in my generation is you had a studio audience who stood behind the presenter, who - to raucous screams and cheers - announced who you had just seen, and what countdown was of the top 40 singles that week. The studio audience always seemed slightly mental to me, they cheered and made so much noise – they seemed so constantly excited! What did the TV executives do to them to make them so excited?!
I bet you don’t know this – but in 1990s, the show's format was sold to several foreign broadcasters, and at one point various versions of the show were shown in nearly 100 countries! And right now… a local version of TOTP is still regularly running in Italy!
The show was originally intended to have only a few programmes but ran for over 42 years, reaching an amazing landmark 2000 episodes 2002 (Shortly before it was axed!) 42 years though! Imagine Jools Holland running that long!
In the 1970’s it had 15 million regular viewers every week. It was phenomenal EVERY act appeared on it. The Beatles, David Bowie, even the Sex pistols. All the acts that you would never find on TV screens now, performed on that show. It was seminal and a massive issue! It was where you got your pop music references, you would discuss it at school the next day. How strange Gary Glitter looked, or what Slade were wearing!
It’s still very much in the Nation’s consciousness – in 2007 Comic Relief revived it for a pastiche Top Gear of the Pops. Or on 13 March 2009 Top of The Pops there was a special live Comic Relief edition, airing on BBC Two while the main telethon took a break for the BBC News at Ten on BBC One.