Image for Top of the Pops: The Story of 1976Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 50 minutes

The nation grew up with Top of the Pops and it was always a talking point, but 35 years ago a particular kind of Top of the Pops programme and tone held sway. This documentary explores Top of the Pops in 1976 - as a barometer of the state of pop and light entertainment TV.

It celebrates the power of the programme and observes British society of the mid 70s, British TV and the British pop scene. In 1976, glam was over and nothing had replaced it - the charts belonged to Showaddywaddy, Brotherhood of Man and the Wurzels, all to be found on Top of the Pops hosted by the Radio 1 DJs. If you wanted rock you looked to the Old Grey Whistle Test, while outside the charts a new scene was rumbling.

Contributors include Tony Blackburn, David 'Diddy' Hamilton, Paul Morley, Toyah Willcox, Showaddywaddy, Brotherhood of Man, the Wurzels and Dave Haslam.

Last on

Mon 13 Aug 2012 01:25 BBC Four

Music Played

50 items
  • Photo: 'Diddy' David Hamilton, Top of the Pops presenter

    Photo: 'Diddy' David Hamilton, Top of the Pops presenter

    "In 1976 I had a daily show on Radio 1, I was doing the afternoon slot and I was also working as an in-vision announcer for Thames Television. I actually joined Radio 1 in 1973 and had always wanted to host Top of the Pops, it was a great ambition of mine because it was the big TV show of the day. But I was under contract to Thames and I wasn’t able to do it. However in 1976 the BBC offered me Top of the Pops and I left Thames and I started doing Top of the Pops in January 1976. The biggest surprise I had was how small the set was. When I’d seen the show at home it seemed, because of clever direction, a lot bigger but there were in fact about 100 teenagers who were herded from one set to another. I must say I was very nervous before my first show, but very thrilled to be on the roster of DJs who were doing the great Top of the Pops."

    Wikipedia: David Hamilton
  • Photo: Tony Blackburn, Top of the Pops presenter

    Photo: Tony Blackburn, Top of the Pops presenter

    "The power of Top of the Pops combined with Radio 1 was enormous! You went on Top of the Pops and the whole country knew you. We were built up as Popstars - you became a household name overnight and there were very few channels in those days so Top of the Pops had the monopoly. Top of the Pops could make or break records. I will always be grateful to it."

    Wikipedia: Tony Blackburn
  • Photo: Paul Morley, NME Journalist 1976

    Photo: Paul Morley, NME Journalist 1976

    "In the mid-70s when some of us were reaching a certain age we were frustrated with Top of the Pops. By the time I was watching Top of the Pops in 1976 I was listening to John Peel and building up grievances about what wasn’t getting on the Old Grey Whistle Test or Top of the Pops. I saw the Sex Pistols in 1976 and it seemed like they’d come from Mars, but you wasn’t getting this on Top of the Pops. Up to that point when you watched music on TV it was run by London - Top of the Pops was based in London, but now there was a sense that it could be done in a completely different way."

  • Photo: Toyah Wilcox, actress attending Drama School in 1976

    Photo: Toyah Wilcox, actress attending Drama School in 1976

    "1976 was an extraordinary year for me – I joined a drama school and it was the beginning of whom and what I became – it was probably one of the best years of my life. I remember 1976 as being slightly unsettled – you could tell everything was about to change, I was only 17 and for me it was a year of awakening. It was exciting, there was changes afield... my age group were about to take the world into their own hands and it was purely through fashion. There was this feeling that something was gonna happen we didn't know what, but we weren't gonna put up with it. I turned away from Top of the Pops in 76 because I didn't want to listen to middle of the road disco – despised it with a passion and I think the show lost a generation in 1976 who eventually came back when edgier music topped the charts."

    Wikipedia: Toyah Willcox
  • Photo: Dave Bartram, lead singer of Showaddywaddy 1976

    Photo: Dave Bartram, lead singer of Showaddywaddy 1976

    "I remember everyone at college watching Top of the Pops and I turned to a friend and said, 'i'm gonna be on that show – soon'!"

    BBC Music: Showaddywaddy
  • Photo: Martin Lee, Brotherhood of Man

    Photo: Martin Lee, Brotherhood of Man

    "1976 was the year of our lives - the ultimate, it completely changed our lives… Top of the Pops played an enormous part, it put us on the map and in 1976 it kicked us off into orbit."

    BBC Music: Brotherhood of Man
  • Photo: The Wurzells

    Photo: The Wurzells

    "In 1976 we were the boys who played the village hall and then we had a number 1 hit and were on Top of the Pops." - Pete Budd, The Wurzells.

    BBC Music: The Wurzels

Credits

Producer
Dione Newton

Broadcasts

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