diamond geezer

 Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Top 10 reasons why Top of the Pops used to be better
(following the news that TotP is to be relegated to Sunday teatime on BBC2 early next year)

[10] The pop chart used to be released on a Tuesday lunchtime. If you missed it on the radio there was no internet or Ceefax to help you to catch up, there was just the chart rundown on Top of the Pops two days later. So everybody watched, just to see who was Number One, what they looked like and whether they could mime or not. Today's records (and videos and pop charts) are over-exposed.
[9] The whole family used to be able to watch TotP. Your dad could enjoy Pan's People, your mum could ask you what that terrible racket was, your gran could wait for Barry Manilow to appear and you could thrill to the live performance of some top secret new band that only you and a million other teenagers knew about. Nowadays your dad watches for Fearne Cotton, your mum watches for Ronan Keating, your gran is watching ITV and you're out having a life.
[8] Andi Peters should still be watching the show, not producing it.
[7] TotP went downhill as soon as they stopped letting Radio 1 DJs present the show. These DJs may generally have been idiots but at least they had screen presence. Compare Jimmy Saville, DLT and JohnPeel&KidJensen to whoever the anonymous grinners are who compere the show these days. No contest.
[6] TotP's true home is on Thursday night, not Friday night. When Top of the Pops was on a Thursday night, the following morning every school playground in the country would be buzzing with chatter about who'd been on, what they'd sung and what they were wearing. Once TotP shifted to a Friday night there was nobody left to share your opinions with the following morning, and the 'must see' televisual event of the week died.
[5] No programme, however successful, can compete against Coronation Street. Once TotP was moved to the deathslot opposite Vera Duckworth then its days at the top were numbered. Next year's move to Sunday teatime will instead pitch Top of the Pops against Last of the Summer Wine and Songs of Praise. Still doomed then.
[4] TotP is a show about singles. Alas, the single is dead (or at least fatally wounded) and nobody has ever successfully produced a show called Top of the Albums (imagine the Cullum/Twain/Anastacia hell of it all).
[3] TotP used to only play records that were climbing the chart (or at least not falling). If you fell, you weren't on. If you hadn't released your record yet, you weren't on. It was a simple but brutal format, and if that meant watching the Smurfs followed by the Boomtown Rats followed by James Galway then so be it. This worked because the British public picked the playlist, not the producer. Nowadays the producer picks the playlist weeks in advance, and quite frankly we don't care who he picks any more.
[2] The most important part of TotP should be the music, not all the peripheral fluff that's grown to smother the show over the last decade. We don't care if Britney is on tour in Las Vegas, or what Geri Halliwell's favourite colour is. We can get enough of that crap on Saturday mornings thankyou. We just want the music.
[1] Pop music is no longer the shared consciousness of the nation. 30 years ago everybody knew who David Essex was and could sing along to his Number One hit Gonna Make You A Star. No so today's bland chart-toppers. Our record industry has fractured to the point where audiences prefer to watch one of 50 separate digital video channels rather than one all-encompassing half hour show. Pops used to be short for Popular, and nothing is any more.

The official history, presenters and opening titles.
How TotP used to be
40-year critical review
My review of TotP's 2000th show, and last year's revamp
Pan's People

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