1974: Another packed week, kicking off with Mud's formation start and choreographed routines, none of which impress the bloke right at the front in the lumberjack shirt who takes every opportunity to turn round and look straight down the camera. Whatever the drummer is trying in the first chorus, it doesn't work. Noel then tells a joke which gets one laugh, before power balladry Slade shows who won the glam-off this time. Still "247 music makers in the finest tradition", luckily, as Noel mentions before Mungo Jerry, Ray Dorset more monkey than man, has his collar up and his dander on. And to think, none of the above get the audience as excited as some men in suits. The Wombles. The bridge lends itself to some Mud-style antics, but it's not as easy in those costumes. And after all that a notorious Pan's People routine (Louise's last) to the Chi-Lites. Those tumbling locks, that plunging neckline, that winning smile... and once Noel's link finishes it's ugly duckling-to-swan dungarees to baby doll dresses all round. Cracker of a move at 1:20. One can only wonder what Bill Haley & The Comets made of it all on one of Rock Around The Clock's many reissues. "Twenty years day old - doesn't sound a day over fifty" Noel comments. Is that meant to be approving? From the past to the future, and days after their Eurovision victory Abba give us a reprise, launching, oh, all sorts. "The Magic Roundabout starring Diana Dors"? Is that a joke of its time? Note the clumsy edit straight after it finishes.
1985: You can't properly hear Peel's intro but his claim the show is in 3D seems to be unfounded. What's definitely there is Tears For Fears in leisurewear. Lemon jumper, Curt? Nice. The big group of people all in white at the back of the stage seems to be a curious coincidence. Later on in TOTP77 we'll see the remarkable debut of The Rah Band with a song that's very different to this one, though "Jeremy who's watching us in hospital" likes them like this, with its art nouveau phone receiver and glitter wigs, meant to indicate the space age future but actually looking like two years out of date already. Look, there's even a robotic dancer. What was that Peel and Long said about the future?
1991: Anthea makes sure to say hello to Radio 1 FM listeners during that station's experiment in simulcasting before launching us into The Wonder Stuff, Miles Hunt in his tartan finery somehow ending up off the front of the stage. Dannii Minogue's entire pop career felt like an extended riff on the idea of trying too hard, as with the spray-on trousers and minimalist halterneck for what is basically last ditch SAW. The dancer miming to the rap barely knows where he is.
1997: Watching these programmes, you really get a feel for what floor managers do to a show. The party atmosphere of the 80s was fun and arguably necessary but in the 90s and 00s you start to see seeping in a level of sometimes artificial seeming audience excitement well beyond that. Look at Supergrass here for instance, not only is everyone jumping about in a way you only normally see in a mobile phone advert but there's people screaming. There's people cheering the guitar solo.