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BBC says fond farewell to the world's longest running weekly music show, Top of the Pops

Top of the Pops, the world's longest running weekly music show, will end its run on 30 July 2006, Jana Bennett, BBC Director of Television, announced today.


The decision to bring the show to an end after 42 years has not been taken lightly and over the past few years every effort has been made to maintain the quality and distinctiveness of the show.


However the BBC's Creative Future Music Strategy has concluded that in a rapidly changing musical landscape Top of the Pops no longer occupies the central role it once did.


Over recent years the show has faced ever increasing competition from multi-media and niche musical outlets which enable viewers to consume music of their choice any time night or day in a way that Top of the Pops simply cannot deliver in its current weekly format.


At the same time, the breadth and diversity of music programming across the BBC's television portfolio has dramatically increased, reflecting the increasingly diverse landscape of audiences' taste in music.


New forthcoming programmes include:


a new series of contemporary music sessions on BBC ONE;


a new series on the history of rock called The Seven Ages of Rock for BBC TWO;


extended coverage of the Reading/Leeds Festival on BBC THREE;


and a long-running series that goes back to the roots of soul music called Soul Britainnia on BBC FOUR.


There will also be a renewed commitment to established brands such as Later. with Jools Holland on BBC TWO and the BBC FOUR Sessions.


Jana Bennett said: "We're very proud of a show which has survived 42 years in the UK and gone on to become a worldwide brand but the time has come to bring the show to its natural conclusion.


"Although we bid a fond farewell to Top of the Pops we remain as passionate as ever about reflecting the vitality of contemporary music across all our channels."


Roly Keating, Controller, BBC TWO added: "I've really enjoyed the last year that Top of the Pops has transmitted on BBC TWO and the team did a stirling job in revitalising the format for our audience, but we all recognise that the time has come to move on."


Mark Cooper, BBC Head of Entertainment Group, said: "It's not easy bidding farewell to such a treasured, favoured friend.


"Although the time has come to say goodbye to the show, we're absolutely committed to creating music television on the BBC and we'll value working with the music industry in shaping our coverage."


The end of the weekly show does not mark the total disappearance of the Top of the Pops brand from British television screens.


It will continue to feature in programmes such as TOTP2 - BBC TWO's archive show based on the Top of the Pops back-catalogue - which will sometimes incorporate new performance as well as one-off specials.


Top of the Pops Top 20 Countdown Facts & Figures




Top of the Pops first transmitted live from a converted church in Dickinson Road, Manchester at 6.35pm on BBC ONE, New Year's Day 1964. It was presented by Jimmy Savile who opened the show with the immortal line: "It's Number One, it's Top of the Pops".


The Rolling Stones were the first band to perform singing I Wanna Be Your Man and the full line also included Dusty Springfield, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, The Swinging Blue Jeans, Cliff Richard & The Shadows and Freddie & The Dreamers.


The first Number One on Top of the Pops was The Beatles with I Wanna Hold Your Hand.




There have been a total of 10 different theme tunes, the latest being Tony Gibber's Get Out Of That (& this) 2003 remix.




There have been 13 different Top of the Pops logos and opening sequences over the show's 42 year history.




The record for the most number of appearances on Top of the Pops is held by Cliff Richard - almost 160 times.




More than 150 people have presented the show from Sir Jimmy Savile to Robbie Williams.




In October 1982 Dexy's Midnight Runners appeared on Top of the Pops to perform Jackie Wilson Said - their tribute to the soul legend. Appearing on the screen behind them, however, was a giant picture of Jocky Wilson, the darts player, a deliberate joke as requested by the band.




Status Quo have made 87 appearances on Top of the Pops and have performed over the five decades of the show's history in the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties, Nineties and the 2000s.


Their first performance was on 8 February 1968 singing Pictures of Matchstick Men and they last appeared on 18 September 2005 performing The Party Ain't Over Yet.




The great miming disaster of 1988 occurred during All About Eve's live performance of Martha's Harbour. A crew member tripped over the power switch in the studio leaving the singer, Julianne Regan, without her cue for the backing track.


Her song was being broadcast live to the nation while Julianne sat on a stool in a pool of dry ice wondering what on earth was going on.




In 2001 Travis decided to bring chaos to Top of the Pops and re-enact their video for their single Sing by starting a custard pie fight on the show.




In 1967 Jimi Hendrix was seen attempting to mime Purple Haze while an Alan Price record was being inadvertently played as the backing track.




During the 500th edition of Top of the Pops in October 1973, Cliff Richard's performance was interrupted when the stage was showered by wigs. The culprits were The Who's roadies who had become bored and raided the props department.




Before the dawn of the video age, dance troupes were employed to entertain the audience on the occasions when a band were unable to appear on the show themselves.


The first was a group of three girls called The Go-Jo's who were replaced by dance sirens Pan's People in 1968.


In 1976 Ruby Flipper took over that mantle only to be replaced later that year by Legs & Co who remained until 1981 when the reign of lovely long legged ladies was brought to an end by the debut of a troupe of 20 interchangeable male and female dancers named Zoo.




On 24 July 1975, the former Prime Minister Edward Heath arrived unannounced at the Top of the Pops studio to hear Bing Crosby perform That's What Life Is All About.




The respected folk-rock group Steeleye Span once doubled as Wombles to perform Superwomble because Mike Batt (Womble-in-chief) was short of musicians for the show.




In 1991 Nirvana performed Smells Like Teen Spirit live with lead singer Kurt Cobain singing the entire song an octave lower than normal and without the famous screams in the chorus due to problems with his voice.


The performance ended with what was officially the first spontaneous stage invasion. There have been four other since during appearances by Backstreet Boys, Symposium, Oasis and Limp Bizkit.




Madonna left a gap of nearly 11 years between performing Like A Virgin on 13 December 1984 and You'll See on 2 November 1995.




The record for having the most people on stage at Top of the Pops was held by Sting, who performed Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot with a nine-piece band and 43 gospel singers.


This was broken by Fat Les singing Jerusalem to celebrate England's Euro 2000 effort, they managed to squeeze more than 70 people on stage.




On 24 January 2003, Flaming Lips made their Top of the Pops debut singing Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots but unbeknown to the audience they were harbouring a very special guest guitarist who performed cunningly disguised head to toe in a dolphin costume.


At the end of the song the mystery guest pulled off his dolphin head to be revealed as Justin Timberlake.




Top of the Pops is a global brand which has transmitted in more than 120 countries.




The final episode of Top of the Pops on 30 July will be number 2,204.


Further information about Top of the Pops can be found at and







Category: TV Entertainment; BBC TWO
Date: 20.06.2006
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