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24 September 2014

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The History of TOTP

Part 1 - Early Days
When the BBC launched Top of the Pops on 1 January, 1964, absolutely no one could have believed it would become an authentic pop institution. Originally transmitted from a converted church in Manchester, Top of the Pops was commissioned for six shows. There have been over 1800 editions of the Pops since then.

The reason for its success is simple. Top of the Pops always remains true to its original format. After 34 years, the show still provides - via the Top 40 chart - a weekly snapshot of what's truly popular in pop music, always ending with the number one record. "It's a great idea for a programme, a brilliant format," says Chris Cowey, who has produced the show since the summer of 1997.

The influence of the Pops has been so huge over the years, that performing on the show is now almost a 'rite of passage' for aspiring young artists. "I always used to consider myself a failure until I appeared on Top of the Pops," says Jarvis Cocker of Pulp. There have even been two songs - by The Kinks and The Rezillos - named after the show, which was also name-checked in The Boomtown Rats' 1978 number one hit, 'Rat Trap'.

The very first Top of the Pops, broadcast on a Wednesday evening at 6.36 pm, was introduced by DJ Jimmy Savile. The opening band was The Rolling Stones, who had just made number 13 in the chart with 'I Wanna Be Your Man'. They were followed by Dusty Springfield with 'I Only Want to be With You'; 'Glad All Over' by the Dave Clark Five; The Hollies with 'Stay' and The Swinging Blue Jeans performing 'The Hippy Hippy Shake'.The show was completed by filmed pieces with Cliff Richard & The Shadows and Freddie & The Dreamers, together with The Beatles, who played the week's number one, 'I Want to Hold Your Hand'.


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