1973: Show number 499, and one with surely ill-timed but nevertheless great resonance for the programme's history as the classic circular TOTP logo makes its debut. A double denimed all round Status Quo kick off the show, as they were wont to do on later big TOTP occasions, but first a look at the title sequence, all gypsy glamour girl closeups and high rolling in a land of fruit machines, before a crash zoom to Noel's face brings us all back down to earth. Elvis never went anywhere without his personal Pierrot clown in those days. Noel's intro to The Strawbs is particularly unworkable even by his standards. Half of Manfred Mann's Earth Band are placed facing each other and it still works as television. Speaking of which... When is the ideal time to release a record about Dracula and assorted ghouls? That's right, September. Monster Mash actually fell out of the top 20 in Halloween week, which says a lot for how much weight timely releases actually have. All this is to explain why Bobby 'Boris' Pickett & The Crypt Kickers were on the show so early, and to introduce surely one of the most famous/notorious Pan's People routines there ever was. A guide to recognising your saints: Babs as bubblegum-favouring alien in her car paint silver bodywarmer, Dee Dee as a Hollywood mummy, Louise as the Ginger Rogers of vampirism with overdubbed tap, former ballet prodigy Cherry in a very cheap bat suit, Ruth, short straw in hand, as a magnificently blase King Kong. "Absolutely amazing" Noel accurately summarises. None of which was set to topple the Simon Park Orchestra, the speed of its ascent seemingly surprising Noel more than its very presence. I don't know whether Park is having to use the in-house orchestra but you'd imagine so, orangey brown being a very 1970s BBC in-house colour. See the percussionist working his set hours.
1979: "Heyyy, it's Frantique!" is about as concise and accurate an intro as you're going to get. The trio work through the many ways of wearing yellow but none seem entirely comfortable with either being on TV or the fact they seem to be singing faster than the ponderous orchestra dare go. Jimmy, wearing the natural clothing of reggae that is the sombrero, introduces Errol Dunkley, most of whose band are showing off a range of headwear but none with Dunkley's Alvin Stardust-like command of the microphone. And then Jimmy dons the full poncho and begins dancing to the Skids - look at the design of the trousers too. Watch Stuart Adamson gamely attempt to suppress the giggles, and this a man who's already seen his frontman turn up in his Star Trek pyjamas and Princess Di hair. That's not actually one of the Stray Cats on drums, it's future Blitz Kid and Visage backroom Rusty Egan, and if you look quickly after his mini-solo around 2:30 watch him remove one of the extraneous sound-resistant drumskins. The Dooleys seem to have decided to dress as everything they could get hold of in the fancy dress shop, from nightclub singer to soldier to, erm, I think the drummer's come as Keith Chegwin. After all that softening up, no wonder John Du Cann scares this audience into stillness.
1984: Sade's sophisticated Martini image was perfectly functioned from the get-go, but nobody told her she'd left her driving gloves on.
1990: Anthea's up for it tonight, isn't she? All those people behind Monie Love and her oversized AFC Bournemouth shirt are presumably there for a reason, they might be dancers but they don't seem to be committing themselves fully to such a role. The Wedding Present's David Gedge is enjoying the freedom not having a mike at all is giving him. Rather too much, maybe, as the false ending threatens to become a plain ending. That's not actually how you play twin-necked guitar, by the way. Meanwhile, Status Quo play the classics with a haleness that suggests they think people still like them instead of just being instructed to clap.
1996: What to do with a song that sounds vaguely exotic? Why, break out some orientally dressed dancers, of course. Dina Carroll must have inwardly despaired. Strange they bother hiring a drummer but nothing for the backing vocals or other instruments. Who looks least convincing in The Power Station?
2002: David Bowie had become a more regular Pops visitor (though this was recorded in New York) in recent years. We can all see that cheat sheet stand though, David. Busted were even then somewhat less exalted company, but already you can tell Charlie doesn't want to be seen in the same way as the other two.