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29 October 2014
top of the pops 2 top of the pops 2

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TOTP Online

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John Peel
Name: John Peel
Distinguishing Features:
Beard, sedate demeanour, ironic perspective.

Have you got a favourite TOTP performance?
"Frankie Goes to Hollywood's 'Relax'."

What did you make of the controversy surrounding that particular song?
"Well I was always told - the only reason Mike Read made his little speech about it was because he had a lot of time on his hands leading up to a news bulletin, which was like half past something and he had 20 seconds to go, and he didn’t have enough time to do what we usually did and get his guitar out and sing 'Rubber Ball'. So he thought 'I’ve got to say something' and he launched into his damning. I don’t know if this is true or not and I don’t really care."

Was there genuine interest from the show's producers in the songs?
"Not really, because the records virtually picked themselves. X number of records that had gone up in the charts and there would only be 8 or something like that. Those would be the ones. Obviously there was some kind of room for movement, but we weren’t involved in making any of those decisions. We just turned up and I quite liked that. You would meet people who you would assume were complete knobheads who actually turned out to be quite nice. Sometimes it worked the other way as well!"

Is it fun to present?

In a nerve-wracking sort of way - yes!"

You and David Jensen took a different approach to presenting TOTP, didn't you?
Well I think basically neither of us really gave a toss about it in a sense. We didn’t see it as an important career move. I certainly didn’t - he probably did! So we rather took the mickey out of it. I used to enjoy doing it in a way, but only if I did it with him. We’d phone up and order costumes such as 17th century French court outfits and nobody would ever say - "What do you want to do that for?" They never questioned anything we did, which we found delightful. So it was always very funny, we always had an excellent time doing the programme."

Have you ever been starstruck?


Have you ever embarrassed yourself on the show?
"Its an inevitable part of the process."

Has anyone in the audience ever said anything funny to you?
"No. But it’s worth pointing out that our hilarious ad-libs had been rehearsed twice in the course of the afternoon. So by the time you actually trotted it out, they became a bit glib and everyone has heard them before and of course all of the kids that were on the programme were desperate to be seen on TV so they really didn’t want us in the way. Me in particular - I was an obstruction to them - "Get out of the way fat boy, we want our mums and dads to see us on the screen."

What's the worst performance you've ever seen on the show?
"Something involving Pan's People or Legs & Co."

Who would you ban?

"No one."

What's your dream TOTP line up?

"Name any eight people or bands with no chance of ever being on there."

Any advice for someone who wants to be a presenter?
"Take tranquilisers."

  Simply Red  
  "That's a bit supermarket, isn't it. I'm not making that many bottles. "  
  Robin Gibb  
  "There's been great moments both as a songwriter and as a performer."  
  Paul Roberts - The Stranglers  
  "We certainly weren't going to call ourselves The Bay City Rollers."  
  Lisa Stansfield  
  "I just thought, how many times do I have to sing this song?"  
  Soft Cell  
  "I think it's the only time that a banjo's been played in the Ministry of Sound."  
  "Agnetha said she liked it. If I met them I would curtsey."  
  "We really surprised lots of people by simply hanging in there."  
  Kim Wilde  
  "I used to be really jealous of Claire Grogan...I thought she was gorgeous."  
  "Failure was not an option, we were materialistic and greed was good."  
  Human League  
  "We did a US tour with Culture Club and Howard Jones...solely for the cash."  
  Altered Images  
  "Women were treated as a bit of a novelty in the music business in 1981."  
  Belle Stars  
  "The pop music lark just seems like a lifetime away now."  
  Steve Strange  
  "Look, you’re playing me like a bitchy queen and I’m not like that."  
  Five Star  
  "We all grew up wanting to be famous and we lived our dream..."  
  Phillip from Ruby Flipper  
  "At my age, I'd find it difficult to get my legs where they used to go..."  
  Glen Campbell  
  "I got to work with literally everyone in the business; Nat King Cole, Sinatra..."  
  David Gray  
  "Lots of tension in the camp. We're battling Gareth Gates for the No.1 spot"  
  Robert Palmer  
  "There's this homegenised force feeding of what is hip."  
  "I think George manipulated our relationship for publicity"  
  Tom Jones  
  "I'm pulling all my old jewellery out now and comparing my rings with Wyclef"  
  Ruth From Pan's People  
  "I could show you dozens of times I forgot the moves..."  
  Badly Drawn Boy  
  "Everybody has to do what everybody else does in order to have a hit single"  
  John Otway  
  "I think the music business is probably not happy with what we've done..."  
  Jimmy Cliff  
  "I look at someone like Ms Dynamite, I come away with a positive feeling."  
  Human League  
  "We wouldn't trust anyone that didn't wear eyeliner."  
  Status Quo  
  "I probably went about four or five years with a pair of stage jeans"  
  Gary Numan  
  "There are so many things in my past that you could make fun of."  
  McAlmont and Butler  
  "We were big enough to get over any-thing that may have been exchanged."  
  Primal Scream  
  "The producer at the time told us we'd never work again."  
  "I prefer miming, I prefer if we weren’t playing live."  

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