1981: Welcome to the TOTP canon Mark King's dextrous thumb and Level 42, who rather sneakily have redubbed the studio recording over the footage and presented it as the track's official video. Swines. Still, at least we can still admire the synth player's own branded top and the general Le Coq Sportif air of their attire. Matchbox were proper rockabilly teds, no stylistic bandwagon jumpers, that's why they've taken up matching uniforms like, oh, Showaddywaddy would have had. Nobody's spun a double bass for years. Roger Taylor set out on his own as a kind of own brand John Foxx with quasi-reggae licks and Sting's hair. Legs & Co can't just wear small bikinis for a routine any more, there has to be something extra, so Barry Manilow's Bermuda Triangle, being named after an area of water, has four of them splashing about in the sort of pool you're usually expected to disinfect in before returning to the changing room. The studio cleaners can't have been happy.
1987: The famous studio evening dress-clad squad performance of Back Home was on this day in 1970 but it doesn't seem to be online. What is available is an even more notorious marriage of music and football, Glenn & Chris with a song that at no point acknowledges that it's being sung by two famous footballers. No metaphors, no distant crowd cheers, nothing. Someone attempted to sell Hoddle and Waddle as actual pop stars without reference to their proper jobs. The result is two men realising just after starting that this might have been a bad job all along, their having little aptitude to be here as frontmen. (Not that that stopped them recording a follow-up, mind you. Or Waddle from later teaming up with Basile Boli, a team-mate from his days playing in Marseille) One can only imagine what pros like Kim Wilde & Junior in their matching shirts and very un-Wilde-like dance moves would have made of it, let alone the Smiths.
1992: Carter USM got their retaliation in first, organising a party stage invasion. You can do that when there's only two of you, but perhaps a few too many balloons.
2004: Celebrated wastrel and celebrated wastrel's mate who didn't turn up when his own song got on TOTP? That'll be Wolfman featuring Pete Doherty, who to fill the gaps has brought both a good book and a useless extra singer. A proper international star like JC Chasez can afford to bring the world's weediest drum tattoo and a girl who does nothing but prance. Either have them on throughout or not at all, I say.
2006: Pet Shop Boys are one of the few bands guaranteed a pass for pretty much everything they do on the show because being so aware of their surroundings they know the purpose of TOTP. For their comment on the Bush/Blair relationship, something Fearne couldn't do more to gloss over, they intended to have dancers wear masks of the two, but as it fell during a local elections campaign they had to draft in masks of Clinton, Putin, Cameron and Menzies Campbell. Where would you ever get a novelty Menzies Campbell facemask from?