Top of the Pops

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Television

Top of the Pops
UK Version details
Genre Music chart
Created by Johnnie Stewart
Presented by Jimmy Savile, Alan Freeman, Pete Murray, David Jacobs, John Peel, David Jensen, Tony Blackburn, Pat Sharp, Richard Skinner, Dave Lee Travis, Janice Long, Gail Porter, Jamie Theakston, Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates
Country of origin Flag of United Kingdom United Kingdom
No. of episodes 2205 (to 25 December 2006)
Executive producer(s) Mark Cooper (2005-2006)
Andi Peters (2003-2005)
Chris Cowey (1997-2003)
Ric Blaxill (1994-1997)
Running time 30-45 minutes
Original channel BBC Television Service
Jan 1964 - Apr 1964
Apr 1964 - Jul 2005
Jul 2005 - Jul 2006
Original run (Weekly run) 1 January 1964 – 30 July 2006
Official website
IMDb profile summary

Top of the Pops, also known as TOTP, is a long-running British music chart television programme, made and broadcast by the BBC. It was originally shown each week, mostly on BBC One, from 1 January 1964 to 30 July 2006. Each weekly programme consisted of performances from some of that week's best-selling popular music artists.

Although the show was officially cancelled, it continues to run as an annual Christmas special. It is also survived by a spin-off series known as TOTP2 (or Top of the Pops 2) which started in 1994 and continues to this day.

Top of the Pops has also been made available to television broadcasters in many different countries in the form of a franchise package. However, after some success, the majority of these have now also been cancelled.


The first show

Top of the Pops began on New Year's Day 1964 in a studio (converted from a former church) on Dickenson Road in Longsight, Manchester, which the BBC had bought from Mancunian Films in 1954. DJ Jimmy Savile presented the first show, which featured (in order) The Rolling Stones with "I Wanna Be Your Man", Dusty Springfield with "I Only Want to be With You", the Dave Clark Five with "Glad All Over", The Hollies with "Stay", The Swinging Blue Jeans with "The Hippy Hippy Shake" and The Beatles with "I Want to Hold Your Hand", that week's number one. For the first three years Savile rotated with three other presenters: Alan Freeman, Pete Murray and David Jacobs. A Mancunian model, Samantha Juste, was the regular "disc girl". Some histories do not make it clear that The Beatles were only featured in what the BBC describes as a "promotional video".

"It's still number one"

The show was originally intended to have only a few programmes but ran for over 42 years, reaching landmark episodes of 1000 and 2000 in 1983 and 2002 respectively. During its heyday in the 1970s, it attracted 15 million viewers each week. It was traditionally shown on a Thursday night, but was moved to a Friday in 1996, a change which caused some controversy as this placed the programme up against the hugely popular soap opera, Coronation Street, on ITV. This was when the major decline in audiences began as fans were forced to choose between TOTP and missing an episode of their favourite soap. The move was made due to the Atlanta 1996 olympics TV coverage, and it was said the time slot would change back after the event.

The show saw many changes through the decades: in style, design, fashion and taste. It periodically (usually every three years) had some aspect of its idents, format, or set design altered in some way, keeping the show looking modern despite its age.

The show was closely associated with the BBC radio station Radio 1, usually being presented by DJs from the station (although from October 1991 to January 1994 no Radio 1 DJs presented the show). During the last few years of airing the association was not as close as it once was. In its heyday during the glam rock era of the early 1970s, the show featured the tightly choreographed dance troupe Pan's People (later succeeded by Ruby Flipper, Legs & Co. and Zoo), something which has been widely imitated on similar shows ever since. Pan's People were used when an act was unable to appear in person and no footage of them was available - a common occurrence in the era before promotional videos.

In the mid-1990s, BBC Radio 1 producer Ric Blaxill was brought in to revamp the show. In one of the more radical relaunches in the programme's history, Blaxill handed presenting duties to a different celebrity each week. Presenters during this period included Kylie Minogue, Chris Evans, Chris Eubank, Damon Albarn and Jarvis Cocker - with an attempt to create an iconic 'golden mic' that was used by the various presenters. The set was revamped to include thousands of holes, through which beams of light would illuminate the artists. This period also coincided with the Britpop era.

For most of its history the show had very strict rules about which singles could be featured. A song could not appear if it was going down the charts, nor could any track appear on consecutive weeks unless it was at number one. These rules were abandoned in 1997, possibly as a response to the changing nature of the Top 40 (in the late 1990s and early 2000s climbers in the charts were a rarity, with almost all singles peaking at their debut position).

When the programme's format changed in November 2003 it concentrated increasingly on the top 10. Later, during the BBC2 era, the top 20 was regarded as the main cut-off point, with the exception made for up and coming bands below the top 20. Singles from below the top 40 (within the top 75) were shown if the band were up and coming or had a strong selling album. If a single being performed was below the top 40, just the words "New Entry" were shown and not the chart position.

All New Top of the Pops

On 28 November 2003, the show saw one of its most radical overhauls in what was widely reported as a make-or-break attempt to revitalise the long-running series. In a break with the previous format, the show played more up-and-coming tracks ahead of any chart success, and also featured interviews with artists. The launch show, which was live and an hour long, was notable for an audacious performance of Flip/Reverse by Blazin' Squad, featuring hordes of hooded teenagers choreographed to dance around the outside of BBC TV Centre. The new show was hosted by MTV presenter Tim Kash until his contract expired in August 2004 and was not renewed. The show was co-hosted by Reggie Yates and Fearne Cotton every Friday night until 11 July 2005.

By November 2004, viewing figures had plummeted to below three million, prompting announcement by the BBC that the show was going to move, again, to Sunday evenings on BBC Two, thus losing the prime-time slot on BBC One that it had maintained for forty years. This move was widely reported as a final 'sidelining' of the show, and perhaps signalled its likely cancellation. At the time, it was insisted that this was so that the show would air immediately after the official announcement of the new top 40 chart on Radio 1, as it was thought that by the following Friday, the chart seemed out-of-date.

The first edition on BBC Two was broadcast on 17 July 2005 at 7pm with presenter Fearne Cotton. After the move to Sundays, Cotton continued to host with a different guest presenter each week, such as Rufus Hound or Richard Bacon. Viewing figures averaged around 1.5 million.

The Final Countdown

On 20 June 2006, the show was formally cancelled and it was announced that the last edition would be broadcast on 30 July 2006. Edith Bowman co-presented its hour-long swansong, along with Sir Jimmy Savile (who had presented the first show), Reggie Yates, Mike Read, Pat Sharp, Sarah Cawood, Dave Lee Travis, Rufus Hound, Tony Blackburn and Janice Long. The show was recorded on 26 July 2006 and featured archive footage and tributes, including The Rolling Stones - the very first band to appear on Top of the Pops - opening with The Last Time, the Spice Girls, David Bowie, Wham!, Madonna, Beyoncé, Gnarls Barkley, Kylie Minogue, Sophie Ellis Bextor and Robbie Williams. The show closed with a final countdown, topped by Shakira, as her track Hips Don't Lie (featuring Wyclef Jean) had climbed back up to number one on the UK Singles Chart earlier in the day. The show ended with Sir Jimmy turning the lights off in the empty studio. Fearne Cotton, who was the current presenter was unavailable to co-host for the final edition due to her filming of ITV1's Love Island in Fiji but kicked off the show with a quick introduction recorded on location, saying "It's still number one, it's Top Of The Pops". BARB reported the final show's viewing figures as 3.98 million.

After the end

The magazine, international versions, the Christmas specials and TOTP2 are to continue despite the axing. Some staff also suggested that the show will return after a hiatus of a few years, according to the documentary 'Top of the Pops: The True Story' shown on BBC2 after the final show had aired. However the TOTP website, which the BBC had originally promised would continue, is now no longer updated, although many of the old features of the site - interviews, music news, reviews - have remained, now in the form of the Radio 1-affiliated TOTP ChartBlog accessible via the remains of the old website.

The 2006 Christmas edition was scheduled for its usual hour long Christmas day slot on BBC One and presented by regular presenters Fearne Cotton, Reggie Yates and Edith Bowman. The show style and format returned to normal (for a post 2002 Christmas edition) featuring almost all new performances on the most recent set design with the same on screen graphics and logos. No reference to the previous 'finale' was made.

The show was also given another special reprive for Comic Relief 2007 in the form of " Top Gear of the Pops". This one-off special was presented by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May and filmed at the Top Gear aerodrome studio in Surrey on Sunday 11 March 2007.

Theme music

A version of Led Zeppelin's " Whole Lotta Love" by C. C. S. was used as the show's theme tune for most of the 1970s, and also in a remixed version between 1998 and 2003, although ironically the band never performed on the show. Between 1978 and 1980 the show had no regular theme music at all, instead using a song from the current charts to accompany the Top 30 run-down at the start of the programme - but "Whole Lotta Love" was re-introduced as the theme (albeit briefly) in 1980. There was also no theme music at all between Summer 1997 and Spring 1998, instead the introduction of the first performance played out to the title sequence.

In 1981, the album track , "Yellow Pearl" by Phil Lynott was commissioned as the new theme music. This was replaced in 1986 with "The Wizard", a composition by Paul Hardcastle. Two different variations of The Wizard were heard on the show - the latter was commercially released as a single.

Between 1995 and 1998 the theme was a track called Red Hot Pop composed by Vince Clarke of Erasure.

The final theme was a remixed version of that used between 1991 and 1995, composed by Tony Gibber.

  • CCS - Whole Lotta Love excerpt —
    • An excerpt from the C. C. S. version of Whole Lotta Love


Initially acts performing on the show mimed to the commercially released record, but in July 1966, after discussions with the Musicians' Union miming was banned. After a few weeks during which some bands' attempts to play as well as on their records were somewhat lacking, a compromise was reached whereby a specially recorded backing track was permitted - as long as all the musicians on the track were present in the studio. Vocals were still performed "live". and the TOTP Orchestra, led by Johnny Pearson augmented the tracks when necessary. This set-up continued until 1980, when a protracted Musicians' Union strike resulted in the dropping of the live orchestra altogether and the use of pre-recorded tracks This accounts for a number of acts who never appeared on the show due to their reluctance to perform in this way. Highlights have included Jimi Hendrix who, on hearing someone else's track being played by mistake (in the days of live broadcast), mumbled "I don't know the words to that one, Man", Shane Macgowan of the Pogues' drunken performance of " Fairytale of New York", a legendary performance of ' Roll With It' by Oasis in which Noel and Liam Gallagher exchanged roles with Noel miming to Liam's singing track and Liam pretending to play guitar (which he was hopeless at) and John Peel's appearance as the mandolin soloist for Rod Stewart on " Maggie May". One memorable incident was the performance of Garden Party where Fish of Marillion mimed perfectly aside from the line "I'm miming" (which was changed from the original "I'm fucking" for broadcast purposes), when he simply pointed at his closed lips.

For virtually the whole "Live Sound" period, the Sound Supervisor was the late Dickie Chamberlain, who so skillfully reproduced the sound of the original discs with a fraction of the kit available in the recording studios. One of the acts on that first 1966 programme was David and Jonathan ( Roger Cook and Roger Greenaway) Their recording manager, George Martin attended rehearsals to oversee the sound balance. He left, satisfied, after about ten minutes.

The later miming policy also led to the occasional technical hitch. A famous example of this is the performance of " Martha's Harbour" in 1988 by All About Eve where the televised audience could hear the song but the band could not. As the opening verse of the song beamed out of the nation's television sets, the unknowing lead singer Julianne Regan remained silent on a stool on stage while Tim Bricheno (the only other band member present) did not play his guitar. An unseen stagehand apparently prompted them that something was wrong in time to mime along to the second verse. When invited back the following week the band insisted on playing the song live.

For a few years from 1991 the show adopted a live vocal to pre-recorded backing track policy. Kurt Cobain on " Smells Like Teen Spirit" dropped his voice an octave and changed the opening line to "Load up on drugs, kill your friends"; the band also made it very clear that they were not playing their instruments. (Kurt later said during an interview that he wanted to sound more like Morrissey during the performance) — it also exposed a number of poor live singers, and was dropped as a general rule.

In its final few years miming had become less and less common, especially for bands, as studio technology became more reliable and artists were given the freedom to choose their performance style. Former Executive Producer, Andi Peters, stated that there was "no policy" on miming and said that it was entirely up to the performer if they wanted to sing live or mime.

Missing episodes

Because of the BBC's former policy of deleting old programmes (see Wiping), the vast majority of the episodes from the first ten years of the programme's history have been lost, including the only live appearance by The Beatles.

Of the first 500 episodes (1964-73) only about 20 complete recordings remain in the BBC archives. The earliest surviving footage dates from February 26, 1964 and consists of performances by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas and The Dave Clark Five. Some programmes exist only partially (largely performances that were either pre-recorded or re-used in later editions). There are also cases of shows that only exist in their raw, unedited form. Many are also silent on the presenter links (these versions were made so that performances could be re-used in future episodes). The oldest complete episode in existence was originally transmitted on Boxing Day in 1967 (only four complete recordings from the 1960s survive- two of which with mute presenter links). The most recent that is not held is dated September 8, 1977. All editions after this date exist in full.

The April 5, 1984 episode was never made, as BBC1 was off air the entire day due to industrial action. Additionally, the programme was forced off the air for several weeks by industrial action by the Musicians' Union in both 1974 and 1980.


Top of the Pops has a sister show called TOTP2 which uses archive footage from as early as the late 1960s. It began on 17 September 1994 and has only been shown on BBC Two. In summer 2004 BBC Two's controller, Roly Keating, announced that it was being "rested". Shortly after UKTV G2 began showing re-edited versions of earlier programmes with re-recorded dialogue. Finally after a two year break TOTP2 returned to the BBC Two schedules for a new series on Saturday 30 September 2006 in an evening timeslot It was still narrated by Steve Wright and featured a mixture of performances from the TOTP archive and newly-recorded performances. The first edition of this series featured new performances by Razorlight and Nelly Furtado recorded after the final episode of Top of the Pops.

Aired on BBC Radio 1 between the mid- 1990s and late 2001 was Top Of The Pops: The Radio Show which went out every Sunday at 3pm just before the singles chart, and was presented by Jayne Middlemiss and Scott Mills. It later reappeared on the BBC World Service in May 2003.

The defunct channel UK Play created two spin offs; TOTP+ Plus and TOTP @ Play (2000 - 2001) (until mid-2000, this show was called The Phone Zone and was a spin-off from BBC Two music series The O-Zone). BBC Choice featured a show called TOTP The New Chart ( 5 December 1999 - 26 March 2000) and on BBC Two TOTP+ ( 8 October 2000 to 26 August 2001) which featured the TOTP @ Play studio and presenters. This is not to be confused with the UK Play version of the same name. A more recent spin-off (now ended) was Top of the Pops Saturday and its successor Top of the Pops Reloaded. This was shown on Saturday mornings on BBC One and featured competitions, star interviews, video reviews and some Top of the Pops performances. This was aimed at a younger audience and was part of the CBBC Saturday morning line-up.


A number of performers have sent up the format in various ways. Mainly this has been performers who disliked the mime format of the show, often as a more effective protest against this rather than just refusing to appear.

  • While performing their 1982 hit " Jackie Wilson Said" the band Dexys Midnight Runners were seen performing in front of a projection of the darts player Jocky Wilson. Opinions differ as to whether this was deliberate or accidental.
  • When Oasis performed " Whatever" for Top of the Pops in 1994 they mimed and one of the cello players from the symphony was replaced by rhythm guitarist Bonehead, who clearly had no idea how the instrument is supposed to be played. Towards the end of the song, he gave up the pretense and started using the bow to conduct. A woman plays his rhythm guitar.
  • For the 1984 Christmas Day edition all of the performers from Band Aid had been booked to appear apart from Bono. The performance of " Do They Know It's Christmas?" witnessed the unlikely scene of Paul Weller lip-synching to Bono's vocals. Similarly, in 1985, when the Eurythmics were at number one with "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)", Annie Lennox was seen miming the song's harmonica solo even though it is recognisably the work of Stevie Wonder.
  • In 1995 Oasis performed " Roll With It" on the show. As a mockery to the format, brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher switched roles, which led to Noel (pictured) miming the lead vocal and Liam playing the lead guitar solo. The rest of the band found it hilarious and the song ended with the band overcome with laughter.
  • Oasis again made a mockery of the show in a 2005 performance of " Lyla", as Liam Gallagher made no secret of the fact that he was miming his lyrics by walking away from the microphone and chewing gum when he was supposed to be singing.
  • Also in 2005, rock band Feeder were performing their #11 hit " Shatter" with frontman Grant Nicholas singing a live vocal. Drummer Mark Richardson made it obvious he wasn't playing live by banging the fake cymbals on his drumkit so hard, a banging noise could be heard from them. These sort of cymbals are supposed to be designed so no sound occurs.
  • Feeder's follow-up performance of " Lost and Found" in May 2006 saw their touring guitarist Dean Tidey play bass guitar. Since the music was an instrumental of the commercially released studio version and Dean does not record with the band, he mimed to bass parts not recorded by him, but by their bass player Taka Hirose. Taka was unable to attend due to the birth of his third child.
  • Faith No More lead singer Mike Patton also showed he was obviously miming a performance by sticking his tongue out of the side of his mouth during close-up shots.
  • In Nirvana's only performance on Top of the Pops, frontman Kurt Cobain "played" his guitar with his fingers inches away from the frets, drummer Dave Grohl danced around in his seat for most of the performance, and bassist Krist Novoselic waved his instrument around his head. Cobain also sang in a low, dramatic opera voice.
  • Singer Les Gray of Mud went on stage to perform with a ventriloquist dummy during the performance of Lonely this Christmas and had the dummy lip-synch to the voice-over in the middle of the song.
  • EMF appeared on the show with one of the guitarists strumming along while wearing boxing gloves.
  • In Blur's performance of " Charmless Man" in 1995, Dave Rowntree decided to play with oversized drumsticks, while Graham Coxon, played a mini guitar.
  • In Green Day's first Top of the Pops appearance in 1994, the band played the song " Welcome to Paradise". Frontman Billie Joe Armstrong wore an otherwise plain white t-shirt with the phrase "Who am I fooling anyway?" handwritten on it, most likely a reference to his own miming during the performance. He could also be seen not playing his guitar during the instrumental bridge in the song.
  • The performance of " Maggie May" by Rod Stewart and The Faces featured John Peel miming on mandolin. Near the end of the song, Rod and the Faces begin to kick around a football. This is despite the fact that the music can be still heard playing the background.
  • The Eels performed " Novocaine for the Soul" playing on toy instruments, which they then trashed.
  • In 1989, The Cure performed "Lullaby" on TOTP. The studio director ordered that there were to be no close-up shots of Robert Smith as his appearance - he was heavily made up - might scare young children. The Cure were known for their abhorrence for miming their songs whilst on TOTP and on several occasions made it obvious they weren't playing their parts - using such stunts as playing guitar left-handed, miming very badly out of synch and dressing their instruments up in clothes.

Local versions


The TOTP format was sold to RTL in Germany in the 1990s, and aired on Saturday afternoons. It was very successful for a long time, with a compilation album series and magazine. However, in 2006 it was announced that the German show would be ending. The Italian and French version of the show ended by September 2006. Domestic versions of the show continue to run in The Netherlands until the end of December 2006. BBC Prime used to broadcast re-edited episodes of the BBC version, the weekend after it was transmitted in the UK.

United States

Top of the Pops had short-lived fame in the United States. In 1987, the CBS television network decided to try an American version of the show. It was hosted by Nia Peeples and even showed performances from the BBC version of the programme. The show was presented on late Friday nights and lasted almost a year.

In 2002, BBC America presented the BBC version of Top of the Pops as part of their weekend schedule. The network would get the episodes one week after they were transmitted in the UK. BBC America then tinkered with the show by cutting a few minutes out of each show and moving it to a weekday time slot.

On January 23, 2006, svengali Lou Pearlman made a deal to bring "Top of the Pops" back to the airwaves in the United States. It is expected to be similar to the 1987 version, but it will also utilize the Billboard magazine music charts, most notably the Hot 100 chart. It was supposed to be planned for a possible 2006 or 2007 launch, but with several lawsuits against Lou and his companies, as well as the cancellation of the UK version its unlikely it will go forward.

On August 19, 2006, VH1 aired the UK series' final episode.

The United States had its own similar series, American Bandstand, which aired nationally on ABC from 1957 to 1989.

New Zealand

The Top of the Pops brand has also been exported to New Zealand which for many years had to rely on music-video only shows to demonstrate its Top 20 (as well as the occasional season of the UK version of TOTP) as the world's top acts found New Zealand just too far away from the major markets to visit regularly. This all changed when the New Zealand government suggested a voluntary New Zealand music quota on radio (basically a threat that if the stations did not impose a quota themselves then one would be imposed on them). This worked and suddenly the amount of indigenous music played on radio stations shot up, as did the number of New Zealand hits in the top 20. Therefore a new version of a show like Top of the Pops became feasible for the first time, and the show was commissioned by TVNZ. The show began in early 2004 with host Alex Behan. The hour-long show (as opposed to the 30 minute UK version) which is broadcast at 5pm on Saturdays on TV 2 (New Zealand) contains a mixture of songs recorded in the Auckland TVNZ studios as well as performances from the international versions of the show. The New Zealand Top 20 singles and Top 10 albums are also featured. Alex stayed as host for two years before Bede Skinner took over. Despite a popular fan base in early 2006 TVNZ announced that Top of the Pops has been axed and ideas for new music shows are currently being considered.

Free-to-air music channel C4 then picked up the UK version of Top Of The Pops and aired it on Saturday's at 8pm with a repeat screening on Thursdays. However since the UK version has recently been axed itself, this arrangement has obviously now ended.

Africa, Asia and the Middle East

An edited version of the UK show can be seen on BBC Prime, the weekend after UK transmission.

Latin America

A complete version of the UK show can be seen on People+Arts, two weeks after the UK transmission.

Compilation albums

A number of compilation albums using the Top of the Pops brand have been issued over the years. The first one to reach the charts was "BBC TV's The Best Of Top of the Pops" on the Super Beeb record label in 1975, which reached number 21.

Starting in 1968 and carrying on through the 1970s a rival series of "Top of the Pops" albums were produced, however these had no connection with the television series except for its name. They were a series of budget compilation cover albums of current chart hits recorded by anonymous session singers and musicians released on the Hallmark record label. They had initially reached the charts but were later disallowed due to a change in the criteria for entering the charts. These albums continued to be produced until the early 1980s, when the advent of compilation albums featuring the original versions of hits, such as the Now That's What I Call Music series, led to a steep decline in their popularity.

In the 1990s, the BBC "Top of the Pops" brand was again licensed for use in a tie-in compilation series. Starting in 1995 with Sony Music's Columbia Records label, these double disc collections moved to the special marketing arm of Polygram/ Universal Music TV, before becoming a sister brand of the Now That's What I Call Music range in the EMI/ Virgin/Universal joint venture.

Similarly to the roles of "Top of the Pops" on BBC 1 and BBC 2 in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the compilation albums range featured current hits for the main series and classic hits (such as 70s Rock) for the "Top of the Pops 2" spin-offs.

Number One in the Compilation Charts

These albums in the series reached No. 1:

  • Top of the Pops 1 ( Columbia Records - 1995)
  • Top of the Pops '99 - Volume 2 ( Universal Music TV -1999)
  • Top of the Pops 2000 - Volume Two ( BBC Music/ Universal Music TV -2000)

Top of the Pops magazine

Top of the Pops magazine has been running since February 1995, and filled the void in the BBC magazine portfolio where Number One magazine used to be. It began much in the mould of Q magazine, then changed its editorial policy to directly compete with popular teen celebrity magazines such as Smash Hits and Big, with free sticker giveaways replacing Brett Anderson covers.

An early feature on the Spice Girls coined the famous "Spice" nicknames for each member (Baby, Ginger, Posh, Scary and Sporty) that stayed with them throughout their career as a group and beyond.

The BBC have announced that the magazine will continue in publication despite the end of the television series.

Songs which mention Top of the Pops

  • The Scottish punk band The Rezillos lampooned the show as a vehicle for vapid commercialism and for paying little or no attention to talented, unknown bands, in their song "Top of the Pops." Ironically the band actually ended up performing the song on the programme (twice) when it entered the charts.
  • The Rezillos - Top Of The Pops excerpt —
    • An excerpt from The Rezillos' Top Of The Pops
  • "C-30 C-60 C-90 GO!", originally by Bow Wow Wow and covered by Seattle, WA band Pretty Girls Make Graves
  • A song entitled "Top of the Pops" appeared on the Kinks album, Lola versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One
  • Rat Trap by The Boomtown Rats
  • Top Of The Pops by indie band 28 If (named after the car on the cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road album).
  • "Me Plus One" by Anne Lilia Berge Strand or more commonly Annie. This songs charts the rise and fall of former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell and her obsession with fame. "The fun won't start 'till she's living it up, feeling good on Top Of The Pops". The track was written by British producer Richard X after Halliwell locked herself in his car in an attempt to persuade Richard to let her record a track called 'Some Girls', a hit later given to former S Club 7 singer Rachel Stevens.
  • The song "Formed a Band" by Art Brut includes in its lyrics, "We’re gonna write a song as universal as happy Birthday, that makes sure everybody knows that everything is going to be OK, we’re going to take that song and we’re going to play it 8 weeks in a row on Top of the Pops." Since the programme's cancellation, the band has changed the lyric when performing live to "we're going to make it the theme tune to the new Top of the Pops.". In their song "Bad Weekend," the band also sings, "sometimes it's hard to stop when your heart is set on Top of the Pops, Top of the Pops." Art Brut LyricsIn addition to this, Art Brut & Friends recorded a song titled "Top of the Pops", lyrics being the name of their band followed by TOTP e.g Art Brut! Top of the Pops! The Long Blondes! Top of the Pops!
  • Akira the Don's single, 'Living in the Future'
  • Bug Powder Dust by Bomb the Bass contains the lyrics "Top of the pops like the Lulu's show".
  • The Smithereens recorded a song entitled "Top of the Pops" on their album Blow Up.
  • Billy Bragg's "Waiting For The Great Leap Forward" boasts the lyric, "It's a mighty long way down rock 'n roll; from Top of the Pops to drawing the dole" (this is in turn a pun on a different lyric from Mott the Hoople's "All The Way From Memphis").
  • Also, Bragg's "Moving The Goalposts" contains the line, "I dreamt of you as I walked to the shops, you were dancing with the wallies on Top of the Pops".
  • Carter USM's song "Glam Rock Cops" has the lyric "I've been fitted up for size for Top Of The Pops / In a uniform supplied by the glam rock cops". Unlike most other examples here it was actually performed on Top of the Pops.
  • B.A. Robertson's "Knocked It Off" mentions Top of the Pops; similarly, this was actually performed on the show, and peaked at number 8.
  • Generation X's "Promises Promises" includes in the lyrics "Soon you'll get your gear from Marks and Sparks / Punk'll take over Top of the Pops"
  • Terence Trent D'Arby in the song "Penelope Please" from his album "Symphony Or Damn": "You will still be home in time / To watch the 'Pops featuring Chrissie Hynde"
  • The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (who later became The KLF) sampled nearly three minutes of Top of the Pops on their album 1987.
  • Mott the Hoople's song "Saturday Gigs" has the lyric "Take the mick outta Top of the Pops / we play better than they do"
  • Jay-Z's song "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" from the Black Album has the lyric "Came from the bottom the bottom, to the top of the pops/Nigga London, Japan and I'm straight off the block"


  • The longest ever performance was of Green Day's Jesus of Suburbia broadcast on 6 November 2005, it lasted 9 minutes and 10 seconds. The shortest performance was Super Furry Animals with Do or Die clocking in at 95 seconds.
  • Cliff Richard has performed the most on Top Of The Pops, recording approximately 75 performances, only 42 of which still exist.
  • The Beatles only performed live once in front of the TOTP audience, but on at least one other occasion they recorded a a special spot in a BBC Studio for the programme. They mimed to their 1964 release I Feel Fine in studio 2, Riverside Studios - the studio normally used for Jackanory and Play School.
  • The most complaints the show received for a single episode was in 1994 when Manic Street Preachers performed their song "Faster" in a manner that was seen as intimidating and featured lead singer James Dean Bradfield wearing a balaclava such as would be worn by an IRA terrorist. Prior to this the performance that was rumoured to have drawn most complaints was Robert Wyatt performing his hit "I'm A Believer" in as animated a fashion as his wheelchair would allow.
  • Jeffrey Daniel of Shalamar debuted bodypopping and the first ever moonwalk on British television as he danced to the band's hit "A Night To Remember" on TOTP, on 24 June 1982.
  • In 1970 the session singer Tony Burrows appeared on the programme as the lead singer of three different acts. Also, footballer Steve Archibald appeared twice on the same show in 1982.
  • The first unsigned band to play Top Of The Pops was Scottish twee pop group Bis.
  • In 1980, the then fledgling heavy metal superstars Iron Maiden became the first band to play live on the show since The Who in 1972, when they refused to mime to their single "Running Free".
  • Super Furry Animals once got the whole audience to sit down during a live performance of theirs.
  • The now defunct UK rock band Symposium, staged a stage invasion for their performance of "Fairweather Friend". This also seen singer Ross Cummins crowdsurf.
  • When Elvis Costello performed "Radio Radio" on the show, he changed the lyrics to criticise Tony Blackburn, who was the presenter that week.
  • When John Peel first presented the programme in 1968 he forgot the name of Amen Corner who were appearing that week. Possibly because of this, his next appearance as presenter wasn't until Christmas 1981.
  • Although three of the four original presenters are still alive, seven presenters of the show have died — Stuart Henry, Kenny Everett, occasional presenter Caron Keating, John Peel, Tommy Vance, original presenter Alan Freeman and guest presenter Gary Olsen. In addition, the creator of the show, Johnnie Stewart, died on April 29, 2005.
  • John Peel was once given 15 seconds to interview Debbie Harry about her new single. Annoyed by this ridiculous time constraint, he deliberately asked an overlong question so that she would not have time to answer. This was done with the full co-operation of Harry who, apparently, was amused by it.
  • John Peel once rather naughtily (for a prime time BBC show) also introduced Big Country as "the band who put the tree into Big Country".
  • In May 2006, following a special Red Hot Chili Peppers concert recorded in the car park of BBC Television Centre, Hammersmith and Fulham Council (which governs the area the centre is located) informed the BBC that in order to legally conform to an Act of Parliament which came into force in 2004 they needed to have a special licence to continue to admit members of the public to any future performances. Prior to the matter being resolved the BBC requested the assistance of their own staff members to fill-in as audience members for this and other music shows.
  • German singer Nena shocked viewers by appearing on the show with hairy armpits while performing her hit 99 Red Balloons. To this day, most radio DJ's make reference to her performance after playing the song.
  • The Wildhearts are the only band to have played a B-side on the show, as opposed to the A-side in the charts. During other performances, the band also submitted false lyrics to the producers resulting in "shit" passing through unnoticed and uncensored and once performed in green welding goggles.
  • The opening scene for the Spice Girls' movie Spiceworld shows the group recording a performance of their song "Too Much" for Top Of The Pops.
  • The last edition on Sunday 30 July 2006 was going to be live but Jimmy Savile could not do the programme on that date because he is Honourary Chieftain of the Lochaber Highland Games which took place on Saturday 29 July.
  • Since the last episode featured no live acts in the studio, the honour of being the last act to actually perform on a weekly episode of TOTP goes to Snow Patrol with "Chasing Cars" in the penultimate edition.
  • The last act ever featured visually on a weekly Top of the Pops was Girls Aloud, as part of the closing sequence of bands performing on the show throughout the years. They were shown performing " Love Machine".


In 2004 there was a DVD Released Called Top of the Pops 40th Anniversary 1964-2004 DVD. It features one song for each year to celibrate its 40th Anniversary.

List of performers

List of performances on Top Of The Pops

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