1979: Starting as we mean to go on, Dame Edna Everage's Disco Matilda. If Arthur Mullard and Hylda Baker are the Beatles of novelty songs going horribly awry when exposed to the live Pops vocal, this is the Velvet Underground. One can only imagine what The Ruts watching from backstage made of it. See those mighty CGI-likelike flames that appear halfway through. Making this show go right off the curiosity scale, Patrck Hernandez, his cane and his tie made out of one of those cellophane fish that curls up. Someone in the audience obligingly waves some celery at 1:51. Sniff 'N' The Tears are far more linear, but for Steve Wright's fulsome praise at the start of this clip and that girl (you can see it's a girl right at the end) getting even closer to the front. Additionally, despite what Andy Gill said on Punk Britannia, it was supposedly this show Gang Of Four pulled out of after refusing to change the lyrics to At Home He's A Tourist - Sultans Of Swing, which is what Gill claimed replaced them, was a hit three months earlier and was never performed in the studio anyway.
1984: "The big G", as one of the identically suited presenters has it, Gary Glitter and a non-in-house dance troupe that, perhaps to make a point, are much older than most. Elsewhere it was a night for the smarts. Elvis Costello, older and wiser but still in the habit of staring down the camera, especially those that creep up behind him, for one. For another Lloyd Cole & The Commotions, WHO DO NOT NEED PEOPLE DANCING AROUND THE STAGE. The Associates fail to do anything with costumes and guitars for once, which might be why this proved to be their last TOTP appearance.
1996: Longpigs, who weren't from Germany, and Crispin Hunt's dug out his best skirt for the occasion. Richard Hawley on guitar there. Let Loose were really quite earnest for a boy band, especially covering Bread, and like TOTP of old the live strings are miles away. And who recalls Black Grape's Euro 96 single? Like most latter Black Grape recordings, it's a mess, reputedly not actually featuring Shaun for much of its vocal but Keith Allen impersonating a privately indisposed Ryder. And yes, that's Joe Strummer there, his only ever TOTP appearance, possibly regretting the whole Clash boycott further as the seconds tick by.
2002: Sophie Ellis-Bextor puts "always the bridesmaid, never the bride" on its head. That really isn't much of a reveal, whistling audience.