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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 01:54 GMT 02:54 UK
Top Of The Pops: Still number one
Top of The Pops
The show was first broadcast in 1964
As Top of the Pops celebrates its 2,000th edition on Friday, BBC News Online charts the history of the music show that has left an indelible mark on the young memories of so many.

Top of the Pops (TOTP) launched itself as a hip and happening music show giving the tuned in generation the music of the moment.

Originally commissioned for just six episodes of live music in 1964, the show has just gone on and on - witnessing some of the weird and wonderful moments from pop's history.

It is a rite of passage to cringe with embarrassment as your mum and dad mutter: "That's not music it's just noise."

The first show, in its original Wednesday night slot, opened with DJ Jimmy Savile introducing the Rolling Stones, whose single I Wanna Be Your Man was sitting at number 13 in the charts.
Jimmy Savile on TOTP
Jimmy Savile presented the first ever edition

Some of the biggest names in the music business have appeared on the show playing their number one hits, such as Madonna, Michael Jackson and Kylie Minogue.

Although TOTP has undergone numerous face-lifts in its 37-year history it has always featured the famous chart rundown, culminating in the number one single of the week.

The big difference between then and now is that if an artist cannot appear on the show to showcase their latest release, the producers have the option of playing their video - usually an expensive, glossy affair.

But it was so different in the early days, before MTV made videos an essential for every act.

To fill the gaps, they came up with the bright idea of using a troupe of dancing girls to act out an elaborate routine to the hit single.

Although the Go-Jos were the first group of dancers, it was Pan's People, masterminded by Flick Colby, who captured the imaginations of girls who wanted to be like them and boys and men who were just "appreciating the music".

Pan's People, who made their debut on the show in 1968 dancing to Tommy James And The Shondells' hit Mony Mony, stayed with the show for a decade.
Legs And Co
Legs and Co replaced dance troupe Pans' People

They were briefly replaced by Ruby Flipper before morphing into Legs & Co and despite a more politically-correct group called Zoo, featuring men and women, the rise in music videos saw the iconic dancing groups shimmer off the stage for the last time in the early 1980s.

The presenters have always been a major part of the show, and at first four DJs were used - Savile, Alan Freeman, Pete Murray and David Jacobs - to front the weekly live broadcasts from Manchester.

In 1967 the show moved to London's Lime Grove studios and gained some recruits from the newly formed BBC Radio 1, including Stuart Henry, Kenny Everett, Simon Dee and Emperor Roscoe.


The station's DJs continued to front the show through the 70s and 80s, but the 90s revamp paved the way for a string of celebrity hosts, with Kylie Minogue and the Spice Girls among those who got to present as well as perform.

TOTP's current format, launched on 1 May 1998, featured a new version of its most famous theme tune, Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love (Phil Lynott's Yellow Pearl and Paul Hardcastle's The Wizard have been used in the past).

The brand has extended to TOTP2, screened twice weekly on BBC Two.
Chris Cowey
Chris Cowey: "It's the holy grail of music TV"

The show, narrated by Steve Wright, features archive clips of classic TOTP performances and allows those who grew up with Top Of The Pops to relive some of their favourite moments.

Under current producer Chris Cowey, the format remains familiar, and still attracts some of the biggest names in pop - Britney Spears and Jennifer Lopez are just two of the superstar singers who have popped up in the past year.

"When I was asked if I wanted to do TOTP, it took me maybe ten seconds to say yes," Cowey said.

"It's the holy grail of music television."


See also:

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