The BBC's pop showcase has been running five weeks short of 40 years, and many would say it's now looking distinctly middle-aged. It's easy to blame the bland state of the singles charts at the moment, but TOTP's not been a talking point in the nation's playgrounds and offices ever since it was moved from Thursdays to Fridays. So, can Andi Peters rescue the show from the broom cupboard, or is this a quick fix of Botox before permanent wrinkliness sets in? Let's see...
The new theme tune turned out to be a revamp of the old nineties intro, complete with pulsating orange skyscrapers. Enter new host Tim Kash grinning like a well-tanned shark, all teeth and Hoxton fin. As for the new logo I wasn't quite sure if it was meant to be a time tunnel or an electric hob, but it sat there annoyingly in the corner of the screen for the whole hour anyway. Mis-teeq kicked off the new show, showcasing not just their latest single (no 13, new entry) but a couple of other tunes in a three minute hit medley. Any switched-on kids will have switched off immediately Elton John started crooning his 1971 ballad Your Song 'live' from Atlanta, followed by the even more middle-of-the-road Will Young. Even Kylie was pretty average (even if her skirt was well above).
All New TOTP features less music and more 'features'. We suffered a mini documentary following The Darkness around Baltimore, a thinly disguised promo for their disturbingly camp Christmas single. The much-vaunted 'interactive element' turned out to be a premium rate phone/text vote (25p a minute), not that it's possible to judge your favourite video from a 7-second clip. Kelly Osbourne got a minute to plug her new single, and Posh Spice got two minutes to save her career. Craig David introduced a Holiday-type segment from South Africa, and before long I was screaming for someone to actually sing something. The new show seems to be more about promoting artists, rather than their music - more who to go out and buy rather than what.
In an apparent tribute to Busby Berkeley, a massive possé of lads in red hoodies jigged around the fountain outside BBC TV Centre. Blazin Squad emerged from the throng and performed a record that's been going down the charts for the last two weeks, while the nodding red gnome army bobbed around to either side. And then Westlife smouldered on stage (well, I'd have liked to see them smouldering) to perform their anodyne cover of a Barry Manilow classic, somehow perched at number one this week. A flare-clad trapeze artist dangled from the ceiling, like a leftover member of Pan's People from the 70s, just to make sure Dad was still awake.
So, not must-see TV, but maybe a temporary shot in the arm for a floundering show all the same. I wonder how the format will survive its future half-hour time slot though, and I'm not impressed enough by next week's line up to care enough to find out. I remember when they couldn't tell you who was on next week, because that depended on who you went out and bought on Saturday. Alas, TOTP is no longer about singles, and I'm no longer engaged.