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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 10:51 GMT 11:51 UK
Still Top of the Pops?
Top of the Pops has returned to BBC Television Centre, its "spiritual home", after 10 years away.

The programme began 37 years ago in a converted church in Manchester with Jimmy Savile introducing The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and Dusty Springfield to viewers.

During the 1970's the programme would attract 10 million viewers. Hairy Radio 1 DJs would introduce bands, while dance troupes Legs and Co and Pan's People kept teenage boys across the country entranced.

Subsequent decades have also produced their fair share of memorable moments including a young Madonna performing Like a Virgin in a pink wig in the 1980s and 75 people buckling the stage during Fat Les's performance in the 1990s.

What are your favourite memories of the show? Would you love to see Jimmy Savile dust off his flares and re-create the programme's heyday? Or has the modern-day version hit the right note?


This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

As an Englishman in the US, there is no better memory than sitting in front of the telly on a Thursday night and watching TOTP - good times.
Andrew Ambrose, U.S.A.

I still think TOTP is great - but please don't try another live broadcast. It was awful...
J, Newcastle, UK


The programme has to keep moving forward

Tony, UK
The programme has to keep moving forward. The only thing I think is lacking is the old ruling that records dropping down the chart should be excluded, and that - excepting the no. 1 - no record should be featured on two consecutive weeks. Obviously this will cause a few problems with our "here today gone tomorrow" chart, though maybe more than one new release single could be featured in each show to keep the show ahead of the game.

As an oldie I remember the charts being desperately slow moving - though I miss seeing great records build over a few weeks. The Pulp single featured in this week's show is one of those records that should have grown into a huge hit but sadly it's all about winning the short sprint in one week - a great loss for former chart watchers. Maybe that's where some of the excitement of TOTP is lost nearly 38 years on.
Tony, UK

We used to watch TOTP when we were in boarding school and we would all race out of the dining room and across to our boarding houses to get to the best seat. I watched it for a long time. Really enjoyed it too.
V.J. Grubb-Charles, Canada


We much preferred Ready Steady Go

Mike Skidmore, England
When it first started TOTP was considered to be naf and a bit of a joke by my contemporaries. We much preferred Ready Steady Go.
Mike Skidmore, England

I watched the 1-hour show out of curiosity and the hope that it would have some sudden integrity. The opening shots of the presenters pretending that they didn't know they were on camera summed up the whole show: a tenth rate illusionist performance. Everything about TOTP is a sham, from the acts to the miming to the presenters. Never mind all the arguments about the quality of the music, just improve the plausibility of the overall presentation and stop insulting our intelligence. Cher was dire...
Phil White, UK

How can James Bagge complain about there being too many guitar rock/pop acts. Most weeks you're lucky to see any instruments at all! Slick dance routines are over-used to make awful sounds look good. I wonder if TOTP will survive the digital revolution in a couple of years - like Antony I'd like to see an "alternative" modern show. Come on, BBC, you give decent coverage to the festival scene, how about it?
Jenni, Bristol, England


I think TOTP is great now

James Bagge, England
I think TOTP is great now. Great dance routines, great songs (although a bit too much guitar pop rock) and a fun programme to watch. A lot of the people who have made comments so far should go back to their knitting and Radio 3.
James Bagge, England

What we need is an alternative/indie rock version, as that's where the interesting music is coming from, not the preset factory-made rubbish you get in the charts...
Antony, UK


The early 1980's was a good period on TOTP

Rick, Manchester
The presenters should be there to say 'that was... and this is...' and nothing more. Get rid of Jamie Theakston and Zoe Ball! TOTP doesn't need boring, jokey interviews or self-seeking 'star' presenters. The early 1980's was a good period on TOTP (especially when producer Michael Hurll was on holiday) and The Tube gave it some serious competition. I particularly remember Hazell Dean singing 'Whatever I Do, Wherever I Go", with a great light show and dance routine. TOTP has always worked best with the 'bubble-gum' tracks whether glam rock, disco, Hi-NRG, or Euro-pop. But, 37 years later and Cher STILL can't mime convincingly!
Rick, Manchester

I sometimes get to watch TOTP and am still impressed by its presentation, though I sometimes doubt the quality of the content. Tastes differ but they also did when the programme started. I also like TOTP2 and my 21 year old son now knows how come his parents know the words - embarrassing - as so many of the new releases are based on old hits.
Hazel, UK

TOTP has always been rubbish and there is no reason why it should improve. Useless songs for useless people. Rubbish for rubbish. It has to be the most mindless trash on the box. No fun, no talent, just pure drivel. I wish it would just stop and be replaced by a music show rather than persist as an outlet for corporate fluff. Bilge.
Paul McGranaghan, Northern Ireland

Whilst back home the other week I saw TOTP and thought "this is really nasty and the music is rubbish - it was much better when I was young". I then instantly cringed as I couldn't believe what I'd just said - I remember the massive arguments with my parents over the same thing about 15 years ago! Although I do still think that The Smiths were 10,000 times better than Steps, no?
Andy, Spain


It's a British institution

Olivier Weber, England
I grew up in Brussels. I'll never forget when we first got BBC TV there in the 80's. Darts, snooker and TOTP! It's a British institution and I used to rely on it to find out what was charting in the UK, where the charts were and still are far more exciting than anywhere else. I never much liked the switch to "live" performing though. Most chart stuff sounds horrible live.
Olivier Weber, England

Watched TOTP from 1981-84 - great show! Culture Club, Cyndi Lauper et al. Glad to see it's coming back.
Bruce, USA

Top of the Pops in the sixties was the highlight of my week with Jimmy Saville and Pans People! Nothing could top it these days, for the sixties were magical and I feel honoured to have been part of the era of The Beatles, The Stones, Cilla Black and Dusty Springfield. Wish we could see Jimmy's return in Australia .
Marion Thorpe, Australia


The whooping and screaming of the audience doesn't help

Nick Midgley, UK
Let's face it, no programme has the ability to kill a song stone dead the way TOTP can. It makes every record sound as if it's been recorded in a public toilet - and the whooping and screaming of the audience doesn't help either!!!
Nick Midgley, UK

I used to love TOTP when you could have it on the radio as well as on TV - why don't they bring that back again?
Sara, UK

It was one show I always looked for when I returned home, catch up on the "trends", see new artist. My memories are of the Beatles, Cliff, Adam Faith, Neil Diamond, mini skits and velvet suits!
Alexandra, UK/USA


A bunch of beautiful girls in skimpy outfits could redeem the worst songs

Sandy Smith, Britain
Bring back the dancing girls! A bunch of beautiful girls in skimpy outfits could redeem the worst songs. Legs and Co forever.
Sandy Smith, Britain

Fondest memories of TOTP?..early Bowie and early punk was brill but for some reason one of the performances that springs to mind was Sabrina bouncing about doing "Boys, Boys, Boys". Classy performance from a classy bird or what eh? Yup..things have really dumbed down since those heady days!
Alan Dean, Scotland

TOTP is still doing what it's always done- playing the songs that are 'popular'. The problem is that the music industry at present has pushed so much manufactured trash and made it appear 'popular' that it's those acts that dominate the show. It's still the best music show around, but it needs to make sure it is still relevant to viewers, because shows like CD:UK are hot on its heals. Thankfully, groups like U2, REM, Travis, Stereophonics can make TOTP worth watching. But their needs to be a showcase for acts that aren't big enough to make TOTP or CD:UK, yet are unlikely to be featured by Jools Holland.
Jeff, UK


'Oh, it was much better in my day' has been the comment ever since the first singles were released in the fifties

M.D.Warren
'The charts are rubbish these days, no talent there most of the time.' No, that's not me saying that about today's TOTP. It's my dad commenting on TOTP when we watched it in the seventies. Now those same 'rubbish' songs are revered as classics. The truth is that as we get older we start to dislike 'modern' pop music. 'Oh, it was much better in my day' has been the comment ever since the first singles were released in the fifties.
M.D.Warren

I really miss TOTP now I live in the states but I will always remember being at boarding school and watching it with all my friends on Thursday night. We all cried during Wham's last ever appearance. I hope if it changes its not too drastic or I won't recognize it when I go home!
Emma, USA

Memories . . My dad would never let us watch it, insisting that it was rubbish. Until Blondie went to No1 with 'Sunday Girl' then we got to watch the last 10 minutes.
Dave, Scotland


Spotty youths gawking at the camera from behind the DJ's shoulders.

Graham Follett, UK
I grew up with TOTP and what always sticks in my mind is the incongruity of things like Rolf Harris' Two Little Boys, or that old bloke who used to sing 'By a Babbling Brook' coming on and singing a vaguely classical tune with pseudo modern words. They just didn't fit, yet the producers kept including them. How on earth can you dance to 'Two Little Boys'? I don't know, but the audience managed it because the producers told them to. The other awful thing was and probably still is, spotty youths gawking at the camera from behind the DJ's shoulders. My kids tell me that must rank as one of the un-coolest things to happen on TV.
Graham Follett, UK

I think they will be making a mistake revamping Top of the Pops. People love the formula as it is and has been since it started. Any attempts to change the programme in the past have been unsuccessful. If it aint broke don't fix it
Mel, Ireland

They should venture outside the studio once in a while. I would like to see them at the summer festivals and concerts.
Giles, UK

TOTP has had more revamps than Madonna's image..is it not about time the BBC tried a new idea?
Steven Davies, Scotland


Top of the Pops has never tried to be anything it's not.

Stuart Hill, England
I think it's healthy that Top of the Pops is still going today and the fact that it survived it's "difficult" period during the early nineties when everyone in the media was giving it the last rites. To argue that the music nowadays is so poor misses the point - Top of the Pops has never been about credibility and has never tried to be anything it's not, hence the show still exists. For all those that bemoan the state of music on the show and how the heyday was the seventies, then I suggest you listen to yourself and realise that you sound just like your parents did - remember you are not the target audience anymore!!
Stuart Hill, England

Since the quality of chart music has declined so drastically in the last few years, I'd be more inclined to stick to programmes like 'Later with Jools Holland' (a worthy successor to The Old Grey Whistle Test) - real bands, real instruments, the way it should be.............
Adrian Warren, UK

You have all turned into your parents!! TOTP is always going to be bad when you get older - so remove those rose tinted spectacles. As for real bands/real music and live singing, does anyone remember Nivana having to sing live and Kurt Cobain deliberately singing flat?
Paul, UK

Wow, fabulous....what a show..hope Kylie wears the dress that she wears in her video.
Mondo, UK


'My God is that a boy or a girl?'

Richard Medlycott, UK
It doesn't have the reverence it had 20 or 30 years simply because there are more pop orientated shows. It's not really the show's fault but the Music Industry has beome so business-like, and no-one wants to be individual or different to the rest. All the bands want to look and sound the same. Hence these inane boy and girl bands.Gone are the days when your mother walked in and said 'My God is that a boy or a girl?' - like my mother said when she first saw Boy George with Culture Club on the Xmas 82 edition of TOTP.
Richard Medlycott, UK

I think that I am getting old and grumpy because I have tried on several occasions to sit and watch the current Top of the Pops and find it very boring. My memories of the programme go back to the sixties and seventies when, in my opinion, music was more listenable. Maybe it's my age. I still remember my parents having the same opinion about the type of music that I listened to when I was young. I must say though that I like the Top of the Pops 2 Programme.
Phil T, Oman


I believed I was going to be one of Pans People when I grew up

Elaine, UK
Loved it! As a kid, about 7 I would stand in the corner and put on a "Pans People" show to the family. I always believed I was going to be one of Pans People when I grew up. A few People that stick in my mind on TOTP are Gary Glitter, Alvin Stardust, Cliff Richard, Susie Quatro. Am I showing my age or what?
Elaine, UK

Oh happy days back in the seventies. We led double lives, listening to "serious" bands like Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple - except for half an hour every week when we indulged in the guilty secret of actually enjoying glam rock. Then TOTP was over and it was back on with the denims and off for some serious air guitar and a good headbang.

Today my wife won't let me watch it because I just slag off all the acts.

Now TOTP2, that's a whole different ballgame...
Steve Harrison, UK


Whatever happens, please do not bring back Jimmy Savile.

Phil Jeremy, England
My favourite moments were during the glam rock time, and especially bands like Slade and Alice Cooper. However I doubt that the glory days will ever come back since the singles charts nowadays have become so bland and dominated by often mediocre manufactured boy and girl bands. The sales of singles now is much less than in TOTP's heyday. But please, whatever happens, please do not bring back Jimmy Savile..
Phil Jeremy, England

I liked it when Dexy's Midnight Runners performed 'Jackie Wilson says', and Top of the Pops put up a big picture of Jocky Wilson in the background. For me, that shows the commitment TOTP has to music!
Jon, UK


No miming please

Allister M, UK
Having watched this since it started all those years ago it is still as fresh as ever. But I have the same moan as always - NO miming please artists - you really do look stupid and it is always obvious.
Allister M, UK

It's not the programme that needs attention, but the blatantly corrupt "chart", where this week's Number 1 will be next week's Number 100, having had its requisite exposure. Yet, the records remain so ineffably inane, lacking any musical or lyrical distinction.
Edward, UK

TOTP has always been a well-made show. Downers are mimed acts, and the paucity of most of the "music". If they insisted on live acts musical standards might improve. Oh yes, and bring back Pan's People!
P, UK


If we had decent music to listen to, then maybe this programme would still be relevant

Tracey Dare, UK
If we weren't bombarded with pathetic girl/boy bands all the time, and had decent music to listen to, then maybe this programme would still be relevant. There is such RUBBISH on the charts - what's the point?
Tracey Dare, UK

The program has been stale and lifeless for years. The so-called artists who stand up their and mime are a joke. The music (if you can call it that) is stillborn and the songs mean nothing to anyone and will never be remembered. These days, you can literally be for one week cool, trendy and all the rage and be number one in the charts and then be forgotten about the next. That's how shallow the music biz is today, but the BBC has to take most of the blame because it is they who constantly play this rubbish on the TV and radio, giving little or no attention to the good bands, who subsequently fail to have hit records and that's very sad for the music business. But I loved the 70s shows, regardless of how silly it really was, but I grew up on a diet of Glam Rock, Prog Rock and Punk Rock and TOTP was the show never to miss.
Mick, UK

I never watch it, it's only on for half an hour, and they cut songs in half because of this. I don't think there's any personality in the show because they have different presenters every week.
David Harris, Brighton, UK

The show is great. If people have complaints about the music on there, they should blame the record buying public. It annoys me when people just assume artists are miming because it's pop. Kylie never mimes.
Anonymous

The best bit ? ... The credits.
Martin, England

I watch TOTP as and when I can. I no longer make it a preference to watch anymore as I feel the presenters are there as a platform for their own show. My favourite time for totp, when I never missed a show, was in the mid eighties when you had real presenters presenting and real bands on the show
Elizabeth Griffiths, United Kingdom


BBC One's long-running music show Top of the Pops started in a converted church in 1964 and has often defined an era
History of the Pops

 VOTE RESULTS
Who was the best Top of the Pops presenter?

Jimmy Savile
 40.55% 

Dave Lee Travis
 15.35% 

Jayne Middlemiss
 7.09% 

Jamie Theakston
 12.99% 

John Peel
 24.02% 

254 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

19 Sep 01 | Entertainment
First TOTP awards launched
23 Mar 01 | Entertainment
The story of the single
06 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'Banned' Frankie tops chart
06 Oct 00 | Entertainment
The Top of The Pops top 40
14 Apr 00 | Entertainment
Top 40 gets 4m sponsor
14 Apr 00 | UK
Charting a rocky course
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