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Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, is a Britishmarker music chart television programme, made by the BBC and originally broadcast weekly from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. It was traditionally shown every Thursday evening on BBC1, before being moved to Fridays in 1996, and then moved to Sundays on BBC Two in 2005. Each weekly programme consisted of performances from some of that week's best-selling popular music artists, with a rundown of that week's singles chart. Additionally, every year there was a special edition of the programme on Christmas Day featuring some of the best-selling singles of the year.

Although the weekly show was cancelled, the Christmas special has continued. It was also survived by TOTP2, which began in 1994 and featured vintage performances from the Top of the Pops archives.

In the 1990s, the show's format was sold to several foreign broadcasters in the form of a franchise package, and at one point various versions of the show were shown in nearly 100 countries.


The first show

The TOTP logo used in 1968.
Top of the Pops began on New Year's Day 1964 in Studio A on Dickenson Road in Rusholmemarker, Manchestermarker, which the BBC had bought from Mancunian Films in 1954. DJ Jimmy Savile presented the first show, which featured (in order) The Rolling Stones with "I Wanna Be Your Man", Dusty Springfield with "I Only Want to Be With You", the Dave Clark Five with "Glad All Over", The Hollies with "Stay", The Swinging Blue Jeans with "Hippy Hippy Shake" and The Beatles with "I Want to Hold Your Hand", that week's number one (throughout its history, the programme always finished with the best-selling single of the week). For the first three years Savile rotated with three other presenters: Alan Freeman, Pete Murray and David Jacobs. A Mancunian model, Samantha Juste, was the regular "disc girl".

"It's still number one"

The show was originally intended to have only a few programmes but ran for over 42 years, reaching landmark episodes of 1000 and 2000 in 1983 and 2002 respectively. During its heyday in the 1970s, it attracted 15 million viewers each week. Largely due to the varying levels of availability of chart acts throughout the 1970s and into the early 1980s, the show featured tightly choreographed dance troupes such as Ruby Flipper, Legs & Co. and Zoo. The original and most popular of these groups, Pan's People, were used when an act was unable to appear in person and no footage of them was available - a common occurrence in the era before promotional videos. By the mid-1980s the troupes were dropped and the audience took a more active role, often dancing in more prominent areas such as behind performing acts on the back of the stage, and on podiums. TOTP was traditionally shown on a Thursday night, but was moved to a Friday starting on 14 June 1996, originally at 7pm, but then shifted to 7.30pm, a change which placed the programme up against the hugely popular soap opera, Coronation Streetmarker, on ITV. This was when the major decline in audiences began as fans were forced to choose between TOTP and an episode of the soap.

The show saw many changes through the decades, in style, design, fashion and taste. It periodically had some aspect of its idents, format, or set design altered in some way, keeping the show looking modern despite its age.

The show was closely associated with the BBC radio station Radio 1, usually being presented by DJs from the station and between 1988 and 1991 the BBC1 programme was simulcast, audio-only, on Radio 1. During the last few years of airing the association was not as close as it once was, most notably in a radical shake-up in October 1991 when the Radio 1 DJs were replaced by a team of relative unknowns, such as Claudia Simon and Tony Dortie who had previously worked for Children's BBC, 17-year-old local radio DJ Mark Franklin, Steve Anderson, Adrian Rose and Elayne Smith, who was replaced by Femi Oke in 1992. The team would take turns presenting either in pairs or solo and would often introduce acts in an out-of-vision voiceover over the song's instrumental introduction and sometimes even conducted short informal interviews with the performers. Rules relating to performance were also altered meaning acts had to sing live. To incorporate the shift of dominance towards American artists, more use was made of out-of-studio performances, with acts in America able to transmit their song to the Top of the Pops audience 'via satellite'. These changes were widely unpopular and much of the team were axed within a year, leaving the show presented solely by Dortie and Franklin by 1993, on a week-by-week rotation. The arrival of Ric Blaxill as producer in February 1994 signalled a return to presentation from established Radio 1 DJs Simon Mayo, Mark Goodier, Nicky Campbell and Bruno Brookes.

Blaxill expanded the use of 'via satellite' performances, taking the acts out of studios and concert halls and setting them against landmark backdrops. As a consequence, Bon Jovi performed Always from Niagara Fallsmarker and Celine Dion beamed in Think Twice from Miami Beach. Blaxill also began experimenting with handing presenting duties to celebrities, commonly contemporaneous comedians and pop stars who were not in the charts at that time. In an attempt to keep the links between acts as fresh as the performances themselves, the so-called 'golden mic' was used by, amongst others, Kylie Minogue, Meat Loaf, Chris Eubank, Damon Albarn, Harry Hill, Jack Dee, Lulu and Jarvis Cocker. Radio 1 DJs still presented occasionally, notably Lisa I'Anson, Steve Lamacq, Jo Whiley and Chris Evans. In 1997, incoming producer Chris Cowey phased out the use of celebrities and established a rotating team (similar to the 1991 revamp, although much more warmly received) of former presenters of youth music magazine The O Zone Jayne Middlemiss and Jamie Theakston as well as Radio 1 DJs Jo Whiley and Zoe Ball. The team was later augmented by Kate Thornton and Gail Porter.

For most of its history the show had very strict rules about which singles could be featured. A song could not appear if it was going down the charts, nor could any track appear on consecutive weeks unless it was at number one. These rules were abandoned in 1997, possibly as a response to the changing nature of the Top 40 (in the late 1990s and early 2000s climbers in the charts were a rarity, with almost all singles peaking at their debut position).

When the programme's format changed in November 2003 it concentrated increasingly on the top 10. Later, during the BBC Two era, the top 20 was regarded as the main cut-off point, with the exception made for up and coming bands below the top 20. Singles from below the top 40 (within the top 75) were shown if the band were up and coming or had a strong selling album. If a single being performed was below the top 40, just the words "New Entry" were shown and not the chart position.

The logo was updated over the years; this is the logo used from 1998 to 2003.

All New Top of the Pops

On 28 November 2003, the show saw one of its most radical overhauls in what was widely reported as a make-or-break attempt to revitalise the long-running series. In a break with the previous format, the show played more up-and-coming tracks ahead of any chart success, and also featured interviews with artists. The launch show, which was live and an hour long, was notable for an audacious performance of Flip Reverse by Blazin' Squad, featuring hordes of hooded teenagers choreographed to dance around the outside of BBC TV Centre. The new show, hosted by MTV presenter Tim Kash launched to low ratings and scathing reviews [32705] [32706]. Kash continued to host the show for a year before being dropped by the BBC, later taking up a new contract at MTV. The show was then co-hosted by Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton every Friday night until 8 July 2005. The final Top of the Pops to be shown on BBC One was broadcast on Monday, 11 July 2005, which was edition number 2,166.

By November 2004, viewing figures had plummeted to below three million, prompting announcement by the BBC that the show was going to move, again, to Sunday evenings on BBC Two, thus losing the prime-time slot on BBC One that it had maintained for forty years. This move was widely reported as a final 'sidelining' of the show, and perhaps signalled its likely cancellation. At the time, it was insisted that this was so that the show would air immediately after the official announcement of the new top 40 chart on Radio 1, as it was thought that by the following Friday, the chart seemed out-of-date.

The first edition on BBC Two was broadcast on 17 July 2005 at 7pm with presenter Fearne Cotton. After the move to Sundays, Cotton continued to host with a different guest presenter each week, such as Rufus Hound or Richard Bacon. On a number of occasions however, Reggie Yates would step in, joined by female guest presenters such as Lulu and Anastacia. Viewing figures averaged around 1.5 million.

The Final Countdown

On 20 June 2006, the show was formally cancelled and it was announced that the last edition would be broadcast on 30 July 2006. Edith Bowman co-presented its hour-long swansong, along with Sir Jimmy Savile (who had presented the first show), Reggie Yates, Mike Read, Pat Sharp, Sarah Cawood, Dave Lee Travis, Rufus Hound, Tony Blackburn and Janice Long. The final day of recording was 26 July 2006 and featured archive footage and tributes, including The Rolling Stones - the very first band to appear on Top of the Pops - opening with "The Last Time", the Spice Girls, David Bowie, Wham!, Madonna, Beyoncé, Gnarls Barkley, Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Robbie Williams. The show closed with a final countdown, topped by Shakira, as her track "Hips Don't Lie" (featuring Wyclef Jean) had climbed back up to number one on the UK Singles Chart earlier in the day. The show ended with Sir Jimmy turning the lights off in the empty studio. Fearne Cotton, who was the current presenter was unavailable to co-host for the final edition due to her filming of ITV's Love Island in Fijimarker but kicked off the show with a quick introduction recorded on location, saying "It's still number one, it's Top Of The Pops". BARB reported the final show's viewing figures as 3.98 million.

After the end

The magazine and TOTP2 have survived despite the show's axing, and the Christmas editions also continue. However the TOTP website, which the BBC had originally promised would continue, is now no longer updated, although many of the old features of the site - interviews, music news, reviews - have remained, now in the form of the Radio 1-affiliated TOTP ChartBlog accessible via the remains of the old website.

In October 2008, the then British Culture Secretary Andy Burnham and Manchestermarker indie band The Ting Tings called for the show to return.On 29 October 2008 Simon Cowell stated in an interview that he would be willing to buy the rights to Top of the Pops from the BBC. The corporation responded that they had not been formally approached by Cowell, and that in any case the format was not "up for sale".

In November 2008 it was reported by The Times and other newspapers that the weekly programme was to be revived in 2009, but the BBC said there were no such plans.

In July 2009, Pet Shop Boys singer Neil Tennant criticised the BBC for ending the programme, stating that new acts were missing out on "that great moment of being crowned that week's Kings Of Pop".

Christmas specials

The 2006 Christmas edition was scheduled for its usual hour long Christmas Day slot on BBC One and presented by regular presenters Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates and Edith Bowman. The show style and format returned to normal (for a post 2002 Christmas edition) featuring almost all new performances on the most recent set design with the same on screen graphics and logos. No reference to the previous 'finale' was made. Cotton and Yates returned for the 2007 Christmas edition which again featured new studio material, however some performances were borrowed from other events and the show had been stripped of its more recent graphical design in favour of a nostalgic mix of old logos and generic captions.

No 2008 Christmas Special was originally planned, however the BBC announced on 20 November 2008 that the show would return on Christmas Day and New Year's Eve 2008, presented by Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates. Additionally, a series of six Top of the Pops 2 specials was broadcast on BBC Two.

The first of the two Christmas specials, broadcast on Christmas Day 2008, included performances from McFly Girls Aloud, Leona Lewis, Coldplay and Alexandra Burke plus a special medley of hits from the musical Mamma Mia! performed by the cast of the West End stage version. The New Year's Eve edition featured a mix of repeat performances from the Christmas Eve show as well as alternative hits from the Christmas Eve performers and additional performances from Gabriella Cilmi and Keane who did not feature in the first of the specials.

Comic Relief specials

The show was given a revival for Comic Relief 2007 in the form of Top Gear of the Pops. This one-off special was presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and filmed at the Top Gear aerodrome studio in Surreymarker on Sunday 11 March 2007.

On 13 March 2009 Top of The Pops was once again revived in its usual format for a special live Comic Relief edition, airing on BBC Two while the main telethon took a break for the BBC News at Ten on BBC One. As with the Christmas specials the show was presented by Radio 1 duo Fearne Cotton and Reggie Yates with special guest presenter Noel Fielding and appearances from Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Claudia Winkleman, Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall (dancing in the audience and later as a Flo Rida dancer with Claudia Winkleman and French and Saunders), and David Tennant.

Live performances - interspersed with Comic Relief appeal films - included acts such as Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, Take That, U2, James Morrison, and Flo Rida (that week's Number 1). Kicking off the show was a performance from Rob Brydon and Ruth Jones in their Gavin and Stacey guises, feat. Tom Jones and Robin Gibb with (Barry) Islands in the Stream, the unofficial Comic Relief single.

Performers and performances

In its extensive history, Top of the Pops has featured many artists, many of whom have appeared more than once on the show to promote many of their records.

Green Day hold the record for the longest Top of the Pops performance - "Jesus of Suburbia" broadcast on 6 November 2005, lasted 9 minutes and 10 seconds in contrast to the shortest performance by Super Furry Animals with "Do or Die", broadcast on 28 January 2000, clocking in at 95 seconds.

Status Quo have appeared the most times on the show, with 106 performances. The first of these was in 1968 and the last in 2005.


Top of the Pops has featured many young stars, many of these former hosts have gone on to further their career and become staple household names in television, such as Jimmy Savile, Tony Blackburn and Noel Edmonds.

Theme music

For much of the 1960s the show's theme music was an organ-based instrumental track, also called "Top of the Pops", by the Dave Davani Four.

A version of Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta Love" based on the C. C. S. release, but using session musicians, was used as the show's theme tune for most of the period from 1972 to 1981, and again from May 1998 to November 2003.

Between July 1977 and May 1980 the show had no regular theme music at all, instead using a song from the current charts to accompany the Top 30 run-down at the start of the programme. There was also no theme music at all between June 1997 and April 1998, instead the introduction of the first performance played out to the title sequence.

In July 1981, "Yellow Pearl" by Phil Lynott was commissioned as the new theme music. This was replaced in April 1986 with "The Wizard", a composition by Paul Hardcastle.

Between February 1995 and June 1997 the theme was a track called "Red Hot Pop" composed by Vince Clarke of Erasure.

The final theme used from November 2003 was a remixed version of that used between October 1991 and February 1995, composed by Tony Gibber.


Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966 — just after the show had been moved to London — and after discussions with the Musicians' Union, miming was banned. After a few weeks during which some bands' attempts to play as well as on their records were somewhat lacking, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted - as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. The TOTP Orchestra, led by Johnny Pearson augmented the tracks when necessary. This set-up continued until 1980, when a protracted Musicians' Union strike resulted in the dropping of the live orchestra altogether and the use of pre-recorded tracks only. This accounts for a number of acts who never appeared on the show due to their reluctance to perform in this way. Highlights have included Jimi Hendrix who, on hearing someone else's track being played by mistake (in the days of live broadcast), mumbled "I don't know the words to that one, man", Shane MacGowan of the Pogues' drunken performance of "Fairytale of New York", a performance of "Roll With It" by Oasis in which Noel and Liam Gallagher exchanged roles with Noel miming to Liam's singing track and Liam pretending to play guitar, and John Peel's appearance as the mandolin soloist for Rod Stewart on "Maggie May". Two other memorable incidents included performances by Marillion; an appearance for "Garden Party" saw Fish miming perfectly except for the line "I'm miming" (which was changed from the original "I'm fucking" for broadcast purposes), when he simply pointed at his closed lips. Two years later, Fish lost his voice prior to an appearance for "Lavender" and, despite only needing to mime, had the lyrics placed on large pieces of card and flipped them over in time with the recorded version.

For virtually the whole "Live Sound" period, the Sound Supervisor was the late Dickie Chamberlain, who skillfully reproduced the sound of the original discs with a fraction of the kit available in the recording studios.

The miming policy also led to the occasional technical hitch. A famous example of this is the performance of "Martha's Harbour" in 1988 by All About Eve where the televised audience could hear the song but the band could not. As the opening verse of the song beamed out of the nation's television sets, the unknowing lead singer Julianne Regan remained silent on a stool on stage while Tim Bricheno (the only other band member present) did not play his guitar. An unseen stagehand apparently prompted them that something was wrong in time to mime along to the second verse. The band were invited back the following week, and chose to sing live.

Another hitch was Simon Le Bon singing with Duran Duran. He was posing with his microphone which promptly flew off the stage and he was left to sing into a microphone stand...he just shrugged his shoulders and carried on.

Michael Stipe of R.E.M. had such difficulty miming "Orange Crush" on the show, he used a megaphone to cover his mouth throughout the performance.

In 1980, the then fledgling heavy metal superstars Iron Maiden became the first band to play live on the show since The Who in 1972, when they refused to mime to their single "Running Free".

For a few years from 1991 the show adopted a live vocal to pre-recorded backing track policy. Kurt Cobain on "Smells Like Teen Spirit" dropped his voice an octave and changed the opening line to "Load up on drugs, kill your friends"; the band also made it very clear that they were not playing their instruments. (Kurt later said during an interview that he wanted to sound more like Morrissey during the performance). It also exposed a number of poor live singers, and was dropped as a general rule. It was not helped by the fact that it coincided with a sudden upsurge of chart success for dance tracks which were heavily sample-based and whose sound could not easily be reproduced in a TV studio - sampled vocals from other tracks had to be sung live.

One example of an artist who was exposed as a poor live singer was Kelly Overett of the Italianmarker Eurodance act Cappella. During a 1994 performance on the show she sang "Move on Baby," but it was evident that her performance on the show would also lead to questions about whether she actually sang on the group's songs. Those questions would later be answered several months later when Overett was dropped by Cappella and having admitted that she never sang on any of their recordings.

t.A.T.u used playback for Yulia Volkova because of her vocal fold cyst in 2003 when performing "Not Gonna Get Us".

In its final few years miming had become less and less common, especially for bands, as studio technology became more reliable and artists were given the freedom to choose their performance style. Former Executive Producer, Andi Peters, stated that there was "no policy" on miming and said that it was entirely up to the performer if they wanted to sing live or mime.

Missing episodes

Due to the BBC's former policy of deleting old programmes, the vast majority of the episodes from the first ten years of the programme's history have been lost, including the only live appearance by The Beatles.

Of the first 500 episodes (1964-73) only about 20 complete recordings remain in the BBC archives. The earliest surviving footage dates from February 26, 1964 and consists of performances by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas and The Dave Clark Five. Some programmes exist only partially (largely performances that were either pre-recorded or re-used in later editions). There is also two examples of rehearsal footage, which are both from 1965, one which includes Alan Freeman introducing The Seekers, and another with Sandie Shaw rehearsing Long Live Love both believed to be for the end of year Christmas Special. There are also cases of shows that only exist in their raw, unedited form. The oldest complete episode in existence was originally transmitted on Boxing Day in 1967 (only four complete recordings from the 1960s survive, two of which have mute presenter links). The most recent that is not held is dated September 8, 1977. All editions after this date exist in full.

Some segments of TOTP which have been wiped by the BBC do survive in some form owing to having been included in other programmes, either by the BBC itself or by foreign broadcasters. Additionally a number of recordings are believed to exist in private collections.

The April 5, 1984 episode was never made, as BBC1 was off air the entire day due to industrial action. Additionally, the programme was forced off the air for several weeks by industrial action by the Musicians' Union in both 1974 and 1980.


Top of the Pops has a sister show called TOTP2 which uses archive footage from as early as the late 1960s. It began on 17 September 1994. The early series were narrated by Johnnie Walker, before Steve Wright took over as narrator. In summer 2004 BBC Two's controller, Roly Keating, announced that it was being "rested". Shortly after UKTV G2 began showing re-edited versions of earlier programmes with re-recorded dialogue. Finally after a two year break TOTP2 returned to the BBC Two schedules for a new series on Saturday 30 September 2006 in an evening timeslot It was still narrated by Steve Wright and featured a mixture of performances from the TOTP archive and newly-recorded performances. The first edition of this series featured new performances by Razorlight and Nelly Furtado recorded after the final episode of Top of the Pops.

Aired on BBC Radio 1 between the mid-1990s and late 2001 was Top Of The Pops: The Radio Show which went out every Sunday at 3pm just before the singles chart, and was presented by Jayne Middlemiss and Scott Mills. It later reappeared on the BBC World Service in May 2003 originally presented by Emma B, where it continues to be broadcast in a weekly hourly format now presented by Kim Robson, and produced by former BBC World Service producer Alan Rowett.

The defunct channel UK Play created two spin offs; TOTP+ Plus and TOTP @ Play (2000 - 2001) (until mid-2000, this show was called The Phone Zone and was a spin-off from BBC Two music series The O-Zone). BBC Choice featured a show called TOTP The New Chart (5 December 1999 - 26 March 2000) and on BBC Two TOTP+ (8 October 2000 to 26 August 2001) which featured the TOTP @ Play studio and presenters. This is not to be confused with the UK Play version of the same name. A more recent spin-off (now ended) was Top of the Pops Saturday and its successor Top of the Pops Reloaded. This was shown on Saturday mornings on BBC One and featured competitions, star interviews, video reviews and some Top of the Pops performances. This was aimed at a younger audience and was part of the CBBC Saturday morning line-up. This was to rival CD:UK at the same time on ITV.


A number of performers have sent up the format in various ways. Mainly this has been performers who disliked the mime format of the show, often as a more effective protest against this rather than just refusing to appear.
  • When Fairport Convention appeared to promote their 1969 hit "Si Tu Dois Partir", drummer Dave Mattacks wore a T-Shirt printed "MIMING".
  • In the 1970s The Stranglers performed their song "No More Heroes", with Hugh Cornwell deliberately miming terribly. Also, during the guitar solo Cornwell "played" the guitar with his teeth and drummer Jet Black sat in the opposite direction from the drum kit and drummed the air. They performed similar antics two years later when miming their hit "Duchess".
  • While performing their 1982 hit "Jackie Wilson Said" the band Dexys Midnight Runners were seen performing in front of a projection of the darts player Jocky Wilson instead of soul singer Jackie Wilson. Opinions differ as to whether this was deliberate or accidental.
  • When Oasis mimed to "Whatever" on Top of the Pops in 1994, one of the cello players from the symphony was replaced by rhythm guitarist Bonehead, who clearly had no idea how the instrument should be played. Towards the end of the song, he gave up the pretence and started using the bow to conduct. A woman plays his rhythm guitar. Also, Noel and Liam Gallagher swapped roles during their performance of "Roll With It" - with Noel miming the lead vocal and Liam playing the lead guitar solo - and Liam walked away from the microphone and chewed gum during a 2005 performance of "Lyla".
  • Faith No More lead singer Mike Patton also showed he was obviously miming a performance by sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth during close-up shots.
  • In Nirvana's only performance on Top of the Pops, frontman Kurt Cobain "played" his guitar with his fingers inches away from the frets (and occasionally clutched the microphone to make it obvious that he was not playing), drummer Dave Grohl danced around in his seat for most of the performance, and bassist Krist Novoselic waved his instrument around his head. Cobain also sang in a low, dramatic opera voice, later claiming he was trying to impersonate Morrissey.
  • Singer Les Gray of Mud went on stage to perform with a ventriloquist dummy during the performance of Lonely this Christmas and had the dummy lip-synch to the voice-over in the middle of the song.
  • EMF appeared on the show with one of the guitarists strumming along while wearing boxing gloves.
  • In Blur's performance of "Charmless Man" in 1995, Dave Rowntree decided to play with oversized drumsticks, while Graham Coxon, played a mini guitar.
  • In Green Day's first Top of the Pops appearance in 1994, the band played the song "Welcome to Paradise". Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong wore an otherwise plain white t-shirt with the phrase "Who am I fooling anyway?" handwritten on it, most likely a reference to his own miming during the performance. He could also be seen not playing his guitar during the instrumental bridge in the song.
  • The performance of "Maggie May" by Rod Stewart and The Faces featured John Peel miming on mandolin. Near the end of the song, Rod and the Faces begin to kick around a football. This is despite the fact that the music can be still heard playing the background.
  • The Eels performed "Novocaine for the Soul" playing on toy instruments, which they then trashed.
  • The Cure were known for their abhorrence for miming their songs whilst on TOTP and on several occasions made it obvious they were not playing their parts - using such stunts as playing guitar left-handed, miming very badly out of synch and dressing their instruments up in clothes.
  • During "Sing" by Travis, a pie fight broke out which aped the music video of the song. Even though the members of the band got involved, the music still played in the background.
  • Ambient group The Orb notably sat and played chess while an edited version of their 39:57 minute single "Blue Room" played in the background.

International versions


The TOTP format was sold to RTL in Germanymarker in the 1990s, and aired on Saturday afternoons. It was very successful for a long time, with a compilation album series and magazine. However, in 2006 it was announced that the German show would be ending. The Italian (broadcast on Rai Due and after on Italia 1) and French version of the show, ended by September 2006. Domestic versions of the show continue to run in The Netherlandsmarker until the end of December 2006. BBC Prime used to broadcast re-edited episodes of the BBC version, the weekend after it was transmitted in the UK.

United States

Top of the Pops had short-lived fame in the United Statesmarker. In 1987, the CBS television network decided to try an American version of the show. It was hosted by Nia Peeples and even showed performances from the BBC version of the programme. The show was presented on late Friday nights as part of CBS Late Night, and lasted almost a year.

In 2002, BBC America presented the BBC version of Top of the Pops as part of their weekend schedule. The network would get the episodes one week after they were transmitted in the UK. BBC America then tinkered with the show by cutting a few minutes out of each show and moving it to a weekday time slot.

On January 23, 2006, Lou Pearlman made a deal to bring Top of the Pops back to the airwaves in the United Statesmarker. It was expected to be similar to the 1987 version, but it would also utilize the Billboard magazine music charts, most notably the Hot 100 chart. It was supposed to be planned for a possible 2006 or 2007 launch, but with several lawsuits against Lou and his companies (which resulted in his conviction in 2008), as well as the cancellation of the UK version, it is unlikely it will go forward.

On August 19, 2006, VH1 aired the UK series' final episode.

The United States had its own similar series, American Bandstand, which aired nationally on ABC from 1957 to 1989. Similar series also included Soul Train (1970-2006, featuring R&B artists) and Solid Gold (1980-1988; like the early TOTP, it also used dance troupes).

New Zealand

The Top of the Pops brand has also been exported to New Zealandmarker which for many years had to rely on music-video only shows to demonstrate its Top 20 (as well as the occasional season of the UK version of TOTP) as the world's top acts found New Zealand just too far away from the major markets to visit regularly. This all changed when the New Zealand government suggested a voluntary New Zealand music quota on radio (basically a threat that if the stations did not impose a quota themselves then one would be imposed on them). This worked and suddenly the amount of indigenous music played on radio stations shot up, as did the number of New Zealand hits in the top 20. Therefore a new version of a show like Top of the Pops became feasible for the first time, and the show was commissioned by TVNZ. The show began in early 2004 with host Alex Behan. The hour-long show (as opposed to the 30 minute UK version) which is broadcast at 5pm on Saturdays on TV2 contains a mixture of songs recorded on a sound stage in the Auckland CBD, as well as performances from the international versions of the show. The New Zealand Top 20 singles and Top 10 albums are also featured. Alex stayed as host for two years before Bede Skinner took over.Despite a popular fan base in early 2006 TVNZ announced that Top of the Pops has been axed and ideas for new music shows are currently being considered.

Free-to-air music channel C4 then picked up the UK version of Top Of The Pops and aired it on Saturdays at 8pm with a repeat screening on Thursdays. However since the UK version has recently been axed itself, this arrangement has obviously now ended.

Africa, Asia and the Middle East

An edited version of the UK show was shown on BBC Prime, the weekend after UK transmission.

In addition, a licensed version was shown on the United Arab Emiratesmarker-based MBC 2 television channel. This version consisted of parts of the UK version, including the Top 10 charts, as well as live performances by Arabic pop singers.

Latin America

A complete version of the UK show was shown on People+Arts, two weeks after the UK transmission.

Compilation albums

A number of compilation albums using the Top of the Pops brand have been issued over the years. The first one to reach the charts was "BBC TV's The Best Of Top of the Pops" on the Super Beeb record label in 1975, which reached number 21.

Starting in 1968 and carrying on through the 1970s a rival series of "Top of the Pops" albums were produced, however these had no connection with the television series except for its name. They were a series of budget compilation cover albums of current chart hits recorded by anonymous session singers and musicians released on the Hallmark record label. They had initially reached the charts but were later disallowed due to a change in the criteria for entering the charts. These albums continued to be produced until the early 1980s, when the advent of compilation albums featuring the original versions of hits, such as the Now That's What I Call Music series, led to a steep decline in their popularity.

In the 1990s, the BBC "Top of the Pops" brand was again licensed for use in a tie-in compilation series. Starting in 1995 with Sony Music's Columbia Records label, these double disc collections moved to the special marketing arm of Polygram/Universal Music TV, before becoming a sister brand of the Now That's What I Call Music range in the EMI/Virgin/Universal joint venture.

Similarly to the roles of "Top of the Pops" on BBC One and BBC Two in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the compilation albums range featured current hits for the main series and classic hits (such as 70s Rock) for the "Top of the Pops 2" spin-offs.

The "Top of the Pops" brand has now been licensed by EMI who released a compilation series in 2007/08, with one CD for each year that "Top of the Pops" was running. The boxset for the entire series of 43 discs was released 7 July 2008. A podcast supporting the release of the boxset featuring interviews with Mark Goodier, Miles Leonard, Malcolm McClaren and David Hepworth is available.

Number One in the Compilation Charts

These albums in the series reached No. 1:

Top of the Pops magazine

Top of the Pops magazine has been running since February 1995, and filled the void in the BBC magazine portfolio where Number One magazine used to be. It began much in the mould of Q magazine, then changed its editorial policy to directly compete with popular teen celebrity magazines such as Smash Hits and Big, with free sticker giveaways replacing Brett Anderson covers.

An early feature on the Spice Girls coined the famous "Spice" nicknames for each member (Baby, Ginger, Posh, Scary and Sporty) that stayed with them throughout their career as a group and beyond.

The BBC have announced that the magazine will continue in publication despite the end of the television series.

In popular culture


  • The Scottish punk band The Rezillos lampooned the show as a vehicle for vapid commercialism and for paying little or no attention to talented, unknown bands, in their song "Top of the Pops." Ironically the band actually ended up performing the song on the programme (twice) when it entered the charts.

  • "C-30 C-60 C-90 GO!", originally by Bow Wow Wow and covered by Seattle, WA band Pretty Girls Make Graves
  • A song entitled "Top of the Pops" appeared on the Kinks album, Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
  • Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats (1978) includes a character Judy, unable to watch the programme because her parents are having a fight. (The lyrics indicate that this took place on a Saturday night, but the programme was not broadcast on a Saturday.)
  • Top Of The Pops by indie band 28 If
  • "Me Plus One" by Anne Lilia Berge Strand or more commonly Annie. This songs charts the rise and fall of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and her obsession with fame. "The fun won't start 'till she's living it up, feeling good on Top Of The Pops". The track was written by British producer Richard X after Halliwell locked herself in his car in an attempt to persuade Richard to let her record a track called 'Some Girls', a hit later given to former S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens.
  • The song "Formed a Band" by Art Brut includes in its lyrics, "We’re gonna write a song as universal as happy Birthday, that makes sure everybody knows that everything is going to be OK, we’re going to take that song and we’re going to play it 8 weeks in a row on Top of the Pops." Since the programme's cancellation, the band has changed the lyric when performing live to "we're going to make it the theme tune to the new Top of the Pops.". In their song "Bad Weekend," the band also sings, "sometimes it's hard to stop when your heart is set on Top of the Pops, Top of the Pops." Art Brut LyricsIn addition to this, Art Brut & Friends recorded a song titled "Top of the Pops", lyrics being the name of their band followed by TOTP e.g. Art Brut! Top of the Pops! Vectro! Top of the Pops!
  • Akira the Don's single, 'Living in the Future'
  • Bug Powder Dust by Bomb the Bass contains the lyrics "Top of the pops like the Lulu's show".
  • The Smithereens recorded a song entitled "Top of the Pops" on their album Blow Up.
  • Billy Bragg's "Waiting For The Great Leap Forward" boasts the lyric, "It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll; from Top of the Pops to drawing the dole" (this is in turn a pun on a different lyric from Mott the Hoople's "All The Way From Memphis").
  • Also, Bragg's "Moving The Goalposts" contains the line, "I dreamt of you as I walked to the shops, you were dancing with the wallies on Top of the Pops".
  • Carter USM's song "Glam Rock Cops" has the lyric "I've been fitted up for size for Top Of The Pops / In a uniform supplied by the glam rock cops". Unlike most other examples here it was actually performed on Top of the Pops.
  • B. A. Robertson's "Knocked It Off" mentions Top of the Pops; similarly, this was actually performed on the show, and peaked at number 8.
  • Generation X's "Promises Promises" includes in the lyrics "Soon you'll get your gear from Marks and Sparks / Punk'll take over Top of the Pops"
  • Terence Trent D'Arby in the song "Penelope Please" from his album "Symphony Or Damn": "You will still be home in time / To watch the 'Pops featuring Chrissie Hynde"
  • The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (who later became The KLF) sampled nearly three minutes of Top of the Pops on their album 1987.
  • Mott the Hoople's song "Saturday Gigs" has the lyric "Take the mick outta Top of the Pops / we play better than they do"
  • Jay-Z's song "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" from the Black Album has the lyric "Came from the bottom the bottom, to the top of the pops/Nigga London, Japan and I'm straight off the block"


  • The opening scene for the Spice Girls' movie Spice World shows the group recording a performance of their song "Too Much" for Top Of The Pops.


  • 1964 The Beatles only performed live once in front of the TOTP audience, but on at least one other occasion they recorded a special spot in a BBC studio for the programme. They mimed to their 1964 release "I Feel Fine" in studio 2, Riverside Studiosmarker -- the studio normally used for Jackanory and Play School.
  • In 1970 the session singer Tony Burrows appeared on the programme as the lead singer of three different acts. Also, footballer Steve Archibald appeared twice on the same show in 1982.
  • 1968 When John Peel first presented the programme in 1968 he forgot the name of Amen Corner who were appearing that week. Possibly because of this, his next appearance as presenter wasn't until Christmas 1981.
  • The first unsigned band to play Top Of The Pops was Scottish twee pop group Bis in 1994. The band signed to the small indie label Wiija shortly after.
  • 1982 Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar debuted bodypopping and the first ever moonwalk on British television as he danced to the band's hit "A Night To Remember" on TOTP, on 24 June 1982.
  • 1994 The most complaints the show received for a single episode was in 1994 when Manic Street Preachers performed their song "Faster" in a manner that was seen as intimidating and featured lead singer James Dean Bradfield wearing a balaclava such as would be worn by an IRA terrorist. Prior to this the performance that was rumoured to have drawn most complaints was Robert Wyatt performing his hit "I'm A Believer" in as animated a fashion as his wheelchair would allow.
  • Super Furry Animals once got the whole audience to sit down during a live performance of theirs.
  • The now defunct UK rock band Symposium, staged a stage invasion for their performance of "Fairweather Friend". This also seen singer Ross Cummins crowdsurf.
  • When Elvis Costello performed "Radio Radio" on the show, he changed the lyrics to criticise Tony Blackburn, who was the presenter that week.
  • In May 2006, following a special Red Hot Chili Peppers concert recorded in the car park of BBC Television Centremarker, Hammersmith and Fulham Council (which governs the area the centre is located) informed the BBC that in order to legally conform to an Act of Parliament which came into force in 2004 they needed to have a special licence to continue to admit members of the public to any future performances. Prior to the matter being resolved the BBC requested the assistance of their own staff members to fill-in as audience members for this and other music shows.
  • Feeder's performance of "Lost and Found" in May 2006 saw their touring guitarist Dean Tidey play bass guitar. Since the music was an instrumental of the commercially released studio version and Dean does not record with the band, he mimed to bass parts not recorded by him, but by their bass player Taka Hirose. Taka was unable to attend due to the birth of his third child.
  • The Wildhearts are the only band to have played a B-side on the show, as opposed to the A-side in the charts. During other performances, the band also submitted false lyrics to the producers resulting in "shit" passing through unnoticed and uncensored and once performed in green welding goggles.
  • Since the last episode featured no live acts in the studio, the honour of being the last act to actually perform on a weekly episode of TOTP goes to Snow Patrol with "Chasing Cars" in the penultimate edition.
  • The last act ever featured visually on a weekly Top of the Pops was Girls Aloud, as part of the closing sequence of bands performing on the show throughout the years. They were shown performing "Love Machine".


In 2004 there was a DVD Released Called Top of the Pops 40th Anniversary 1964-2004 DVD. It features one song for each year to celebrate its 40th Anniversary.

See also


  1. Show's over for Top of the Pops, The Guardian, 20 June 2006.
  2. Top of the Pops FAQ, TOTP website, accessed 7 November 2006.
  3. Top of the Pops back at Christmas, BBC News, 20 November 2008
  4. " Top of the Pops". The Official Charts Company. Retrieved on 27 February 2009.
  5. Band snubs Top of the Pops after fat remark Guardian Unlimited, 10 August 2005. Accessed 14 May 2006
  6. "Top of the Pops" leaves BBC One BBC News 29 November 2004. Accessed 14 May 2006
  7. TOTP: The Final Countdown (Rec:2006-07-26 Tx:2006-07-30) BBC Programme Catalogue
  8. BARB
  9. "The Tings Tings: 'Bring back Top of the Pops'", NME, 17 October 2008
  10. Cowell wants to take TOTP to ITV, BBC News, 30 October 2008
  11. BBC rules out TOTP return, Music Week, 17 November 2008
  12. "Tennant slams BBC for ending TOTP", BBC News, 18 July 2009
  13. Top Of The Pops Christmas Special BBC Press Office. Accessed 29 November 2007
  14. Unique Beatles recording lost, BBC News, 7 July 2000
  15. Lost glam rock tapes found, BBC News, 11 September 2002
  16. BBC - h2g2 - Dexy's Midnight Runners - the Band
  17. YouTube - Oasis - Whatever TOTP
  18. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
  19. YouTube - Broadcast Yourself
  20. Dutch broadcaster BNN's press release on the end of the Dutch version of TOTP (in Dutch)
  21. BBC staff asked to form audiences. BBC News 11 May 2006. Accessed 14 May 2006

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