Page last updated at 23:01 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 00:01 UK

Tennant slams BBC for ending TOTP

By Colin Paterson
Entertainment reporter, BBC News, Latitude Festival

The Pet Shop Boys
The Pet Shop Boys performed many times on Top Of The Pops

Pet Shop Boys' Neil Tennant has criticised the BBC for no longer broadcasting the iconic music programme Top Of The Pops.

The musician, who headlined Latitude Festival on Friday, said that new acts were missing out on that "great moment" of being crowned top of the charts.

"I think it's a shame. I think it was defeatist to get rid of it," he said.

The BBC said the show ended in 2006 because multimedia access meant it no longer played a central role in music.

TOTP was broadcast for 42 years before the BBC announced in 2006 that it was being axed. The show was first broadcast in 1964, from a converted church in Manchester.

"I don't see why Top Of The Pops isn't on," Tennant said.

[That is] why we like the BBC, because they do things that should be done but don't always make complete commercial sense
Neil Tennant

"I think it must be really strange to be a new artist. Like if JLS are number one on Sunday, they won't have that great moment of being crowned that week's Kings Of Pop."

He added he thought as part of the BBC's public broadcasting, the corporation should be keeping its "astonishing archive" of musical footage up-to-date.

"[That is] why we like the BBC, because they do things that should be done but don't always make complete commercial sense."

'Cynicism crept in'

The star, who has had hits with West End Girls and Always On My Mind, said a former BBC employee who now works for ITV had told him why the show had to go.

"He explained to me at great length that the public aren't interested in music unless its heavily editorialised - by which he means X Factor.

"If you look back over the presentation of Top Of The Pops in the 90s, cynicism crept into the way it was presented.

Sir Jimmy Savile
Sir Jimmy Savile was the first TOTP presenter

"In the past, everything - the rubbish and the good stuff - was presented with enthusiasm. And I think its up to the public to make the taste decisions - not the DJs presenting."

Tennant is not the first artist to call for the show to return. Last year The Tings Tings revealed how they longed to play on the long-running show.

Former culture minister Andy Burnham has also expressed an interest in bringing it back.

In the past he said the programme was a good vehicle to champion new music.

Tennant also slammed people who download music illegally online.

"It would be great if 30% of us could get a car for free, but it's not going to happen," he said.

"And I don't see why people should think they can."

'No TOTP plans'

He went on to describe an article he read on the internet, which suggested music should be free like water.

"I thought 'have you seen the water rates in London?'

"If you wanted to pay £700 pounds a year for music, I think we'd all be really happy.

"I think we should have a licence somewhere between the water rates and the BBC TV licence and then you could have it for nothing and it could be farmed out on a download pro rata basis."

Responding to Tennant's comments on Top Of The Pops, a BBC spokesman said there were no plans to bring back a weekly programme.

"Top Of The Pops was decommissioned in 2006 as it became clear that the ever increasing competition from multimedia and niche musical outlets meant it no longer occupied the central role it once did," he said.

However, he added that the BBC still made occasional "specials" and offered popular music on television through programmes like Later...with Jools Holland and Sound on BBC Switch as well as recorded video performances from radio networks.

The full interview with Pet Shop Boys can be heard on Radio 5 Live on Sunday 19 July at 1000 BST

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