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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 July 2006, 08:29 GMT 09:29 UK
Fans say goodbye to Top of the Pops

By Mark Savage
BBC News entertainment reporter

Dave Lee Travis
Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis was one of the presenters
As the audience queued to get into the final recording of Top of the Pops there was something of a buzz in the air.

Several people were dressed as their favourite pop stars, and Axl Rose rubbed shoulders with Nana Mouskouri for possibly the first and last time.

As the crowd entered the studio, decorated with logos from the past 42 years of the BBC pop programme, the excitement only grew.

The question of the evening: Which bands would be appearing?

The tickets promised "surprise guests" and excited fans speculated they might see Robbie Williams, McFly or even The Rolling Stones - closing the show in the same way they had opened it 42 years earlier.

In the end, they were to be disappointed.

The last ever Top of the Pops will be constructed from archive performances, and on Wednesday the producers were merely recording the links between those clips.

I haven't had so much fun since 1947!
Tony Blackburn
However, the crowd seemed to take it in their stride, screaming for the cameras and singing along to a video of Sonny and Cher performing I Got You Babe.

There was also excitement at seeing an array of presenters from the programme's history.

Trading insults

Sir Jimmy Savile, Janice Long, Dave Lee Travis and Tony Blackburn were back on the Top of the Pops stage alongside more recent presenters such as Sarah Cawood and Reggie Yates.

The guest presenters helped to keep the audience in high spirits, exchanging banter with the crowd and trading insults with one another.

TOTP fans dressed as Guns 'n' Roses
Fans dressed up as their favourite pop stars for the recording
At times it felt like a Radio 1 roadshow, as Sir Jimmy asked all the single women in the room to raise their hands.

"I haven't had so much fun since 1947," exclaimed Tony Blackburn later in the recording.

Others were less enthusiastic. "My hair was black when we started this," remarked the greying Dave Lee Travis.

However, there was an air of nostalgia in the studio as classic moments from Top of the Pops history were played out on big screens.

"It was sort of a trip down memory lane," said Paul Cooksley, 34, who was in the audience for the 44th and final time.

"Watching some of the clips they were showing, I spotted some of the shows I'd been to in the past."

Shiny disco balls

Many of the elements that made Top of the Pops an institution in the 1970s were brought back for the programme's finale.

The whole atmosphere at the end was quite sad
Paul Cooksley
Top of the Pops fan
A gigantic glitter ball hung from the ceiling, dry ice flooded the stage, and Pan's People made a fleeting appearance.

The audience, as ever, pushed and shoved for a spot beside the presenters in the hope of being seen back home on television.

Those with deeley boppers, crazy wigs and short skirts got manoeuvred to the front by the show's ever-attentive floor managers.

HAVE YOUR SAY
It's a shame that it has gone
John, Melbourne

After a marathon two-and-a-half hours, fireworks exploded and balloons dropped from the ceiling as the presenters read their final link.

"Perhaps we should say 'see you next week'," joked Mike Read.

Sir Jimmy Savile and Paul Deacon
Paul Deacon, 44, came dressed as Sir Jimmy Savile
But, as the studio lights went out, the carnival atmosphere gave way to a more sombre mood.

The hosts huddled together to wonder whether the show would ever come back, while the production team took photographs of each other on the set for the last time.

"In 20 years time we can say 'I was there'," said one audience member as they left the studio to the strains of Queen's We Are The Champions.

"The whole atmosphere at the end was quite sad, because everyone realised that that was it," Mr Cooksley said.

"It was obviously the end of an era and it was just really, really sad to have that brought to a close."




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