Any particular memories of the bands?
Jimmy: Yes. One time, to get into Television Centre - such was the excitement at the time amongst the teenagers, that the Rolling Stones came in bins in the back of a truck, a refuse truck. When the Bay City Rollers came in, it was the only time that all five entrances of Television Centre were besieged. Nobody could get in, nobody could get out. I mean people from all these great shows, all these current affairs shows - they couldn’t get out for screaming dervishes at every single gate, and from that time the BBC put out a dictat that no group of any size would ever record at Television Centre again - they would record elsewhere and use the film, but they wouldn’t televise the group - that was after the Bay City Rollers thing.
Tell us about your catchphrases from TOTP.
Like so many people who have phrases, I didn’t realise they were phrases. It was the public who took the phrase up and made it into a phrase, and there was nobody more surprised than me to realise that something I’d said had actually registered that far with the public. So I never actually created any phrases at all. They were thrust upon me. When you get things like "How’s about that then", it never occurred to me that it would enter the national lexicon almost, or "Oioioioi". That was just a link, if I were putting a record on: "now then over here - oioioi - we’ve got -oioioi - oh it’s this side." So people go "oioioi". The famous American film star James Cagney never said "You dirty rat". Michael Caine has been reputed not to have said "Not a lot of people know that" but we get stuck with it and there’s nothing wrong with it - its good fun
Was TOTP part of the 'Swinging Sixties'?
TOTP epitomised what was going on for younger people at the time. It was simple insofar as most things were safe: sex was safe, a girl walking home late at night was safe. Booze hadn’t raised its head to the extent that it has today. Drugs were practically non-existent. It was such a time of freedom and emancipation for young people. Everything was wonderful and you could say that everything was safe and TOTP mirrored that. I made a big fuss of the audience, I made sure the audience got just as much camera coverage as the groups did, because I considered the audience, if anything, more important than the groups. You could see from their abandon that it was a perfectly natural demonstration of trouble-free joy.
Did TOTP benefit from coming to swinging London?
Jimmy: I don’t think TOTP gained anything by coming down to London from its base in Manchester. Nobody is important in London, nobody is rich, because London eats everybody! When it was in Manchester it was a recognisable entity, people worshipped TOTP. If they’d left it where it was, it would have still had that marvellous fresh flavour. You can’t take something into London and have that same freshness.
As it went through the 70’s TOTP was criticised for sexism - what is your view?
Jimmy: In the 70s, 80s and 90s there came something called Political Correctness. Now Political Correctness, apart from being a load of crap, is something that gives lesser people a tub to thump, people who are nothing. They would come and say you are doing this and that. Why didn’t they ask Pan’s People if they minded dancing in provocative gear? They enjoyed it. Queen Cleopatra wore gear like that - I mean, do me a favour! Political correctness has ruined more people, jobs, and atmospheres than anything else in today’s society.
Did you have any particular memories of being in the BBC bar?
Jimmy: Never went there once in my life. In twenty years I never went in the BBC bar. I didn’t drink. I didn’t want to go and stand about like a stork on one leg going "yack yack yack", because I tell you something, if you took anybody from the BBC bar in those days now and said "can you remember anything you actually said or heard in the BBC bar?" they couldn’t remember. What a waste of time
You introduced Abba - tell us about that.
Jimmy: Abba - a terrific group. One of the first really mega groups in the world, so much so that when they went on a gig anywhere in the world they could dictate what currency they got paid in. If they did a job in Germany and they wanted to be paid in American dollars - they got paid in American dollars. Nobody ever did that before, they were just "wow". They were on their way to being big, they were four great people, they spoke perfect English and they were so pleased to be part of TOTP that it showed in their performance, they enjoyed doing what they did. They were lovely people.
What did you think of the Punk era?
Jimmy: The punk era was one of those where older people threw up their hands and went shock horror - look at this - good heavens! But in actual fact a lot of the punk bands didn’t know how they were supposed to act. We had one band and they were pussycats. All the way through the day, all the way through the performance. When it finished, one of the lads had got a paper cup with half a cup of tea left. He suddenly realised, and remembered that he was meant to be a punk, and he threw the cup of tea and everybody went "ooh"! He said sorry, because even punk people forget what it was like to be a punk. It was only an act.
Did the punk bands behave themselves?
Jimmy: Everybody behaved on TOTP. If they misbehaved, they ran the chance of not having their next record played. That was professional death so everybody behaved.