Top Of The Pops

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A fortieth anniversary look at Britain's longest running pop show

Top Of The Pops

As 1964 began so did the longest running pop music show in Britain.  January 1st 1964 saw the very first edition of Top Of The Pops.  The BBC had been looking for a way to enter the more popularist markets in the wake of the ever growing ITV networks, and the popular music industry was the key to drawing in the youthful viewers.  Rather than reflect a trend or fad, which would pass and therefore affect the longevity of the show.  Top Of The Pops was borne along on the simple premise of being chart based.  Songs rising up the chart were played each week, but the only song allowed to feature in consecutive weeks was the number one single.

 The show was broadcast from a converted church in Dickinson Road, Manchester and if acts couldn’t make it into the studio various methods were developed to cover their absence.  If pre-filmed sequences (pre-cursors to the pop video) couldn’t be arranged then shots of the studio audience dancing to the track would have to suffice.  Often there would be a photograph of the artist or group displayed on a screen in the studio.  The photographs were the work of Harry Goodwin, whose photos also graced the chart run down every week.  Occasionally a famous face could be spotted in amongst the bopping teenagers.  Towards the end of 1964 to counteract often lethargic efforts from the invited members of the public, the show got its first dance troupe, The GoJos. Later they would be replaced by the more famous Pan’s People.

 The very first show was introduced by Jimmy Saville and featured performances by The Rolling Stones, Dusty Springfield, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies and The Swinging Blue Jeans, along with filmed segments by Cliff Richard, Freddie and The Dreamers and The Beatles (who were number one that week with I Want To Hold Your Hand.)

 The original line up of hosts for the show was Jimmy Saville, David Jacobs, Pete Murray, and Alan Freeman, ably assisted by the disc-spinning model Samantha Juste (who later went on to marry Monkee Micky Dolenz.)

 The show was rapidly a hit with teen record buyers and crossed the ever-expanding generation gap to become a family favourite too.  Thus its original thirteen week run was extended and the rest is history.  The show has undergone many facelifts over the last forty years but it still remains true to its chart base and reflects the taste of the record buying public rather than following whatever fashion dictates the current trend is going to be.

 Anne-Marie Trace

Page Last Updated Sunday, February 13, 2005 at 12:34:00