1986: Feargal Sharkey - a nice bunch o'lads. What is Steve Wright doing at the start? Sharkey in his indoor shades seems to be full of the joys of a new year, witnessing his overambitious air punch at 0:26, but fate grounds him once more in the shape of a runaway microphone. See the comedy walk of the trumpeter towards the end too as Sharkey goes off to jump off the back of the set to no-one's immediate notice. No such exuberance for the Pet Shop Boys, in their second week at number one. This look - Neil in market jacket and tie, Chris in 'BOY' cap - would be their public image for a good decade afterwards.
1992: The whole episode is online, though with Mark Franklin and Claudia Simon hosting it's hardly prime era. Paying particular attention here to part one, featuring our first look at Bjork as a Sugarcube. The tremendously casual style of the keyboard player is at inevitable odds with Einar Örn Benediktsson and his Bez-esque pointy elbow striding dance. Following them, very much unlike two peas in a pod, Isotonik, who don't balance anyone's body fluids but do have a man dressed as a tomato and several young women who'll catch their death. Isotonik, whom one presumes to me the man stage left, was one Chris Paul, whose website claims he DJed the Queen Mother's 90th birthday party two years earlier. Part two gives us the opportunity to see the bicycle-shorted Simon looking caught in the headlights but also Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine taking the title of Rubbish too literally, both in set dressing and vocal mix terms. They wouldn't let you do that now, and perhaps quite rightly. Blue Pearl in part three seem to be coincidentally taking up the theme with drummers pretending to be bashing rusting barrels. 'Luxury', think the following Senseless Things, who only have a big action painting to show for themselves.
1998: Easy to forget in the face of the comeback TV show and attendant publicity that Steps were meant to be a one-shot deal to cash in on the shortlived popularity of linedancing, and it's only after 5, 6, 7, 8 spent four months in the top 40 (without ever getting beyond number 14) that any longevity was seen in the project and they were handed over to Pete Waterman. None of which explains another debuting pop act on the same show, the infamous (and much rumoured to be an industry insider bet) Vanilla. If only we could have seen Piero Umiliani at that moment.