1973: You wouldn't think the BBC would be stupid enough to wipe the 500th TOTP, but never underestimate 1970s archiving policies. Despite a four-way hosting face-off between Jimmy, Tony, Noel and Kenny Everett there's nothing especially special about it bar CCS playing the theme live and the return of The Who. The last minute is a blast, featuring full mike swinging, windmilling, a scissor kick and to close some Townshend/Moon patented auto-destruction and the former giving the full hand signals, apparently due to the former's annoyance at the Musician's Union stance as their members were supposed to be on strike. Eventually some audience members are moved enough to throw their wigs at the stage.
1974: Yes, one year later. Plenty going on this week, a lot of shows from this era having the aura of anything-goes nutsiness about them only exacerbated by Jimmy hosting. The director likes Pilot's drummer, and the fish eye lens is taken to new heights when projected onto a spare lightbulb. Once Jimmy has got rid of his scarf there's some glittery ass-shaking in Minnie Mouse ears for some reason from Pan's People to The Tymes before some classic Savile unpleasant gurning leads into David Essex, for whom they've built a little stage to call his own. As always Jimmy then finds a DJ to handle a link for him, this into The Wombles taking their partners by the paw to complete audience bafflement. Roxy Music's celebrated rococo fashion sense seems to have been forgotten about for a while, Andy Mackay's glasses pre-empting Trevor Horn a decade and a half later. Bryan Ferry in jeans! Mark it down, and compare it to the bottle green suits with yellow bow ties of The Drifters. The nurse of the year gets a good cuddle and shake before Andy Fairweather-Low's Reggae Tune makes Paul Nicholas sound irie, especially if the orchestra had much to do with it. It then becomes evident that Jimmy has been wearing a full length hospital gown for the entire show. It's really best not to ponder. Carl Douglas is number one and has room for a live thematic demonstration. The backing singers seem to be learning their routine on the hoof.
1979: After splashing out on purple loon pants XTC couldn't quite afford a full drumkit, just a gong half-inched from ELP. While exhibiting the full available range of headgear, Matumbi liked nothing better than to attack each other with snakes during their solos. The titfers left over were lent to Squeeze, Glenn providing some of the less convincing synth miming in Pops history. The Jags' Nick Watkinson seems to be wearing a BBC World Service T-shirt, presumably in case he got lost outside the studio and needed guiding into safe corporation hands. The guitar solo seems to have been partly filmed from the gallery. Kate Bush was a decent and keen modern dancer, of course, so Legs & Co had a level to aspire to. Instead they got into their lingerie and hoped for the best, which of course when presented in their lingerie was no real target at all.
1984: "Here's an Englishman now!" Oh, Richard, you know how to sell a song. The audience have no clue what to do for John Waite so just kind of wave their arms in their own time, direction and rhythm and then some clap half-heartedly. Meanwhile Culture Club have some cogent thoughts on armed conflict, with George having taken the precaution of fleeing to join the Foreign Legion. Jon Moss, keeping his telling distance, joins the dancers at the back instead. Somehow he looks the most composed of all of them. Competition winners? Passers-by not due to attend the recording at all? What's gone on there?
1990: Shellsuits and flat tops date MC Tunes vs 808 State almost exactly. One of the latter can't even bring himself to sway about behind a keyboard, instead choosing to stare intently at a monitor and play the keyboard. But not that sort of keyboard.
2002: Oasis dismiss covers as "sinister... how can you sing someone else's lyrics?" Then they do a cover.