BBC Home
Explore the BBC
BBC News
Launch consoleBBC NEWS CHANNEL
Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 August 2005, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
New TOTP loses half its audience
TOTP hosts Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton
Cotton (r) co-hosts with alternating presenters like Reggie Yates (l)
Long-running music show Top of the Pops has seen a huge decline in viewing figures since transferring to BBC Two.

An average of 2.4m viewers watched the last four editions of the programme in its previous Friday slot on BBC One.

Since moving to a Sunday night slot on its sister channel on 17 July, the show has been watched by an average of 1.1m.

"We always knew Top of the Pops would undergo a period of adjustment," said a BBC spokeswoman. "For us, this is not a problem but a sound transfer."

Launched on New Year's Day in 1964, Top of the Pops attracted 15m viewers in its 1970s heyday

In recent years, however, it has seen a marked decline in viewing figures.

A controversial move from Thursday to Friday in 1996 failed to reverse the slump, as did a high-profile relaunch in 2003.

But the BBC's spokeswoman said ratings always fluctuated in the summer months and that the switch "was not just about viewing figures".

'New era'

Last Sunday's edition of Top of the Pops was trounced by both BBC One, where Antiques Roadshow attracted 4.5m viewers, and ITV1, where 6.8m watched Emmerdale.

With 1.4m watching Carry On Up the Khyber on Channel 4, the show's only victory was over Five's broadcast of The Love Bug - seen by just 700,000 viewers.

The new Top of the Pops combines the show's traditional elements, including live performances and a singles chart rundown, with the archive footage featured on its spin-off show, TOTP2.

Fearne Cotton presents the programme alongside a changing line-up of guest hosts.

Last month BBC Two controller Roly Keating said the new slot marked "an exciting new era for the show".

Are you watching Top of the Pops on Sunday nights? If so, how do you think the show is performing? Is it as good as it ever was, or a shadow of its former self?

Your comments:

I never thought I would like the new change of TOTP to Sundays on BBC2 but in the two weeks since it changed I have watched it both times and have enjoyed the combination of current charts and a look back at TOTP2. Fridays are a bit empty now but Sunday early evening is good as a wind-down from the weekend.
Jenny Sawford, Bedford, Bedfordshire

It clashes with Emmerdale which is always a bit tricky - I tape it if I remember but Emmerdale takes priority. I'm not sure people like Jeremy Clarkson are suitable presenters. It was better on a Friday - a good thing to have on in the background after a working week.
Dolly Parton, Basildon, UK

I think TOTP has gone downhill as cable TV has got bigger. Personally, I don't think TOTP has kept up with the new music scene very well and keeps playing the same old same old pop music which not everyone wants now. Try introducing more rock, indie & punk music, even R & B, bands, that is what the 'youth of today' is listening to
Becky, York

Once again the BBC seems to treat popular music as though it should be left in a cupboard and not talked about. There is no other music show on BBC television that spotlights up and coming bands (Bar the wonderful Jools Holland) and the latest music releases and yet TOTP is hidden away on BBC2 on a Sunday. Why? I didn't think the BBC was driven by ratings. I thought it was driven by public service. The public wanted it put back in its traditional Thursday evening slot and yet, once again, our views are ignored.
Carolyn, Leeds, UK

I don't like the new format at all. Fearne Cotton is excitable and like a child in a sweet shop. I used to watch the UK Top 40 on CBBC which got cancelled because TOTP moved to Sundays in it's time slot. At least that show did a proper full countdown and wasn't sycophantic like TOTP is now.
Maria Angel, Bicester, England

I've always been a fan of Top Of The Pops since I was a kiddie back in the late 70s. I always try to watch it if I can. I think the new Sunday shows are pretty good too, although they should have kept the show at its original Thursday Night at 7:30 slot. Moving the show to Fridays at 7:30 opposite Coronation Street over on ITV was a bad move.
Marc T, Barcelona, Spain

In its 1970s heyday, TOTP was the only show to watch. With the advent of numerous music television channels and internet downloads, the 'TV on demand' concept is now taking hold. Why should modern young people be dictated when to watch something?. I feel it's only a matter of time before the show is eventually axed. I could go on to mention the quality of music in the charts today, but I'm sure that's a different debate.
Laurence Jones, Albrighton, Shropshire

The new show is way, way better than the old one. It's got more interesting presenters and a far better range of music. But no doubt it'll be axed soon and replaced by yet another (yawn) 'reality' show...
Anne, Leighton Buzzard

I think that the drastic decline in viewing figures for TOTP is really not the fault of the show itself or the BBC in general. The REAL culprit is the extremely sad state of the record industry at the moment. The age of processed, talentless teen bands has never been more highlighted. Don't agree? Just look at how many "cover" versions are in the charts these days? That says a SERIOUS lack of songwriting talent to me! The record industry seems to be trying to halt the flow a bit by signing more actual bands (i.e. bands who write/perform all their own music) - but is it too little too late? The main point here is that unfortunately, TOTP is only as good as the music which is available to be shown at the time and at the moment, that music is simply terrible!
Matt, Birmingham

Unfortunately, it's not clear what the goals of the new TOTP actually are. And who is it trying to appeal to? Nice idea to show it just as the new chart appears, but then just to skim over it is a criminal under-use of the thing. The mid-weeks should give the producers a better clue about planning, so why not be a bit more adventurous with the acts?. Then there's the problem that for all the stuff it's trying to fit in, it's simply too short. At the very least bump it up to forty-five minutes, preferably an hour and then make an EVENT of it. The current length doesn't give it a chance to be a current show or a chance to show enough older footage to really make it worthwhile. It tries to hedge its bets and it's not working. It's not all bad though: the guest presenters were good (Clarkson was v. funny, subverting things). A launch in summer is always a problem and some of those missing viewers may come back, but they have to have a reason to, don't they?
Darren Stephens, Whitby,UK

Bring back TOTP2! I can't be pestered watching all this manufactured rubbish, just for an occasional glimpse of some decent (older) stuff.. You only need to sell a small number of copies of a single to get #1, these days. That wouldn't have got you a chart place, in the Eighties..
Paul Rak, Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

TOTP used to be good but with the show being moved to BBC no-one ever knows who's on the show or whether it would be any good watching it. With other channels such as MTV and the box adding pressure on the BBC has lost its touch in the music scene
Barry Robertson, Ayrshire

I always used to watch TOTP on a Thursday and Friday, it would always make me think of the start of the weekend, and give that relaxed feel! I am so disappointed in the new show, it just seems the most random mix of old TOTP2 VT and waste of time interviews with the latest and greatest movie 'stars'. I'm just glad that Top Gear is on afterwards to improve my dismal mood.
Ben Cornford, Worthing, West Sussex

While the BBC continues to put TOTP up against a soap on ITV, viewing figures will always be low...
Paul, Bucks

I suggest the BBC could revive TOTP by doing what they did to Dr Who. Axe it and then bring it back 16 years later.
Ben, Chichester, England

TOTP used to be the only music programme available to watch and therefore the audience was drawn in its millions. It has simply got far too much competition these days and has therefore lost its individuality, and with this its audience.
Alison, Liverpool

Surely the problem is not with the format of the show, but rather the fact that TOTP nowadays has to compete against a plethora of dedicated music channels. People, if they so desire, can have non stop pop music TV 24 hours a day. The days of teenagers desperately seeking out their one half hour of music a week are long gone. Rather than continually flogging this dead horse the BBC should consider spending the money on producing more TV aimed at types of music other than chart hits.
Stuart Hay, Dunbar, Scotland

I hope the figures do increase in the coming months, as it is the only 'pop' music show at peak time on TV. (Don't even try to say that X-Factor/Stars in their Eyes are music shows). All other music shows seem to be shown in the middle of the night! When Top of the Pops used to be on Thursday nights, it was a required topic of conversation at school/work on the following morning, but when moved to Friday it was forgotten about by the Monday morning back at school/work, and so in my opinion, started the decline. Sunday evening is a good time slot, but please separate the old from the new with 2 separate programmes (TOTP & TOTP2), as my kids don't want to see stuff from "before we were even born"
Richard Button, Faversham, Kent

TOTP is a national treasure but it's not the show's format that's the problem, it's today's rubbish music that the show has a remit to showcase. With the exception of musicians like Coldplay there is too much hip hop and rap in my opinion, total nonsense which causes me to switch off! The music scene has to change and appeal more to a wider public then TOTP will become more relevant and enjoyable again.
Andy, Bucks

Why are they wasting time showing old video clips from twenty years ago that everyone has seen umpteen times over the years ? It's supposed to be (or was) a chance to see everything - like it or not, warts and all, that's selling well this week. That was always TOTP's singular appeal. I've been watching it for 30 years, but now, why bother ?
Angstrom Thule, UK

I'm sure it isn't deliberate, but Top of the Pops has been systematically devalued over the past few years. Scheduling it against one of the most popular programmes in the UK and wondering where the audience has gone, was a real no-brainer. The latest move to merge it with TOTP2 and move it to Sunday was madness. Surely, the demographic of the typical TOTP viewer is a teenager? Are they really interested in seeing clips of Adam and the Ants, Bucks Fizz or The Who, presented by a disinterested Jeremy Clarkson? I don't think so. Give the audience what they want - current Top 40 hits - and not footage of records that their parents bought. But, don't forget the older audience either, TOTP2 was a great nostalgia trip for many. There is also a missed opportunity to reveal the #1 single simultaneously with Radio 1. As it is, viewers probably know the #1 before the end of TOTP as the chart is widely available on the web and text. It's time for the BBC to have a good solid rethink of their pop music programming on the box. The Top 40 is still relevant to viewers and, until the day that radio stations stop playing current hits (whatever their format), it always will be. Go back to the old (pre-Andi Peters) format, put it on BBC1 in an accessible slot and viewers will return.
Spencer, Penzance, UK

The problem doesn't lie with lies with the fact that most of the music currently in the charts is utter garbage.
Lee West, Skelton in Cleveland

I haven't watched TOTP since the 80's when there was something worth watching. Music today is manufactured rubbish - no wonder the programme is going down the drain.
Maxine James, UK

It has lost its buzz....the charts are no longer exciting because they are basically manufactured by record companies, too much rubbish i.e. so-called urban music, on the show, and especially boring "live" acts consisting of yet again a number of backing dancers gyrating around.....give some new bands a slot, have the live acts be real musicians playing instruments, dance music is best supported by a promo video than a bunch of dancers, and do the chart countdown.....
Mike, London, UK

TOTP is getting younger and younger. The format is trying too hard to be fresh, young and fast moving and that isn't what I want. I like the look of it from the 70's and early 80's (before my time) when the whole show was a party and there were people over 15 in the audience. Sunday is a rubbish time to have TOTP on. If you want to know the chart you listen to the radio and TOTP on a THURSDAY reminded you of all the best tunes to check on the next week. Sunday evenings are traditionally the one time of the week when the adults have control of the remote. No wonder the Antiques Roadshow and one of the more average Carry On films. PUT IT ON THURSDAYS AGAIN!
Angela, Welwyn Garden City, Herts

Top of the Pops is dying a death and should be taken off the air. It cannot compete with the 24 hour music channels that are now available to viewers, and the show just looks dated in 2005.
Janice Spence, London

TOTP used to be something to stop and watch but for years it has missed the point, featuring artists that only a handful of people want to see and hear. Moving it to BBC2 was a terrible move, and unfortunately it also needs better presenters - not that the current pair aren't good, but they only appeal to the same small niche of watchers.
Nick F, London, UK

TOTP is now trying to be all things to all men, I can't imagine that many 13 year olds want to sit down and watch their dad join in to a Madness track from 1985! Concentrate on new music, do away with the ghastly Fearne Cotton and move it to a week day slot that's not opposite ITV's top soaps! Now where's my Best of Madness LP?
Al, Maldon, Essex

peter, The Hague

Being middle aged I stopped watching TOTP many years ago when all that was shown was rap and poor remakes of old songs. I did watch the first Sunday programme and I actually enjoyed it. The programme is a good mix of live acts, like Texas and Madness, along with classic clips and a guest present gives the programme the fun factor. Well done TOTP.
Paul, Doncaster, UK

I watch the new TOTP when I remember it is on the new Sunday slot and have nothing better to do, however I think the quality of the show has declined since its relaunch in 2003. The show used to offer back to back studio performances, now there is only a few performances with the rest being interviews and showbiz 'news' along with old footage which I am often not interested in. The show is meant to be about music, so why waste half of it on mindless chat and interviews?
Jen, Guildford, surrey

The problem with the new TOTP is that it doesn't know what it wants to be. At the moment it's trying to please everyone, a bit of old music followed by the latest hit single from a band most viewers over the age of 25 won't have heard of. TOTP 2 is a great concept, but trying to integrate it within the existing 30 minute format is not working and will ultimately alienate both sets of viewers.
Matt, Redditch, UK

About time the show was scrapped!
Ian King, Hook, Hants

I find these official BBC stances hilarious. Unless they're hungry for a challenge, how can loosing half your audience be a 'sound transfer' and 'exciting new era'? I think Jeremy Clarkson was spot on with his honesty about just how bad some of the acts were! I think that the BBC, unfortunately, is becoming a victim of advancing technology (the Internet) and a quite laughable singles chart.
Ross, UK

How much longer will his continue? The Beeb has been flogging this dead horse for ages and it's time to put it out of its misery. TOTP is an utterly hopeless programme; Even the name is ridiculous. You may as well call it "Fab & Groovy" and be done with it. This is 2005 for pity's sake. We've seen countless moronic presenters come and go in efforts to beef the show up and it's doing worse now than ever. Fearne Cotton has the apparent personality of a rock, and there is little or no spark between her and the guest presenters. If the BBC are going to do a weekly music show, then I think it's time for something fresh and new. Dump the name, dump the awful miming performances and maybe start covering some real gigs instead. Live music in this country has scarcely been better and yet TOTP still has a phoney audience (those who have been to see TOTP know what I mean) in a studio being instructed when to cheer etc. It's quite bizarre! You only need look at MTV/VH1 etc. and then compare them to TOTP to see how out of step it is.
Matthew, Epping, UK.

It's too cheesy now, that's the reason i don't watch it. Its influence has waned too because of music channels - people can see music on TV anytime they want now in many cases, especially with Freeview music channels. Maybe you could have more performances with an interactive option allowing you to choose what you want to watch? I don't want to see Crazy Frog, but would love to see, say, Kaiser Chiefs instead, and this would allow me to see what I want and not have to sit through the cheesy stuff.
Adam Hart, Southend, England

TOTP is no more than a half hour advert for record companies to peddle their manufactured rubbish. The show should change its playlist policy and try breaking more real artists who can knock out a good tune.
Martin C, London UK

I am watching TOTP for the first time in quite a while, partly because of its far better time slot. It's good to see the album chart rundown, but I think the show could feature the top 40 singles and top 20 albums. Singles entering lower down disappear so quickly because no one even knows they are out. The archive section gives an added reason for us 30- somethings to watch and reminisce. Everyone should stop knocking it and enjoy it before someone decides to take it off altogether.
Jeff, Castleford

The powers that be seem to be trying to do a 'Dr Who' to TOTP. Transferring to Friday against Coronation Street was a disaster if they were trying to increase viewing figures, and transferring to BBC 2 on a Sunday is just ridiculous!! Combining with TOTP2 but hardly increasing airtime .....It just does not seem to have any structure now. Trying to cram in more but with no additional time! Is someone getting paid to make these decisions????!! Let's hope that in the not too distant future a 'Russell T Davies' comes along to do to TOTP what has been done for Dr Who!!
Mark Mitchell, Bangor, North Wales

Footage from the first edition of Top of the Pops

TOTP announces Sunday move date
03 Jul 05 |  TV and Radio
How TOTP lost its top spot
29 Nov 04 |  TV and Radio
Two million more watch BBC's Pops
29 Nov 03 |  TV and Radio
BBC's revamped Pops is launched
28 Nov 03 |  TV and Radio


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific