1970: Is Jeff Christie wearing stilts under there? It's a remarkable garment to be wearing, making his colleagues' hat wear seem like they're not trying. Look at the groovy young things dance, especially the one at 1:16 who resembles a lost Dimbleby.
1981: It's Fireworks Night, so in contravention of health and safety laws someone threatens to set Peter Powell alight. Well overdue, I say. The number of dancers who come between Modern Romance and the camera, or just instead of them, might give a clue that something is afoot, likewise the show parade-size flags at the back. In fact as Peter hinted with his talk of new eras we've entered the era of Zoo, the twenty strong troupe who replaced Legs & Co to act as cheerleaders as much as specialist dancers, debuting at the latter to ELO in a way that's hugely inappropriate for showing off their strengths. Everyone seems to be doing something different, the wandering camera can't linger on any one piece of choreography for too long and the lighting means they don't really get on telly properly anyway, not allowing us to relate to them in the way of their various smaller scale predecessors. There's a little playlet at 0:50 but it lasts fourteen seconds and we never see those people again, let alone let their tale unfold, and alongside everyone else it means nothing. It's a mess. Maybe if they'd been given something properly danceable, though...
1987: Big emoting from T’Pau, though that piano needs tuning urgently. On the flip side, very little emoting whatsoever from Eric B & Rakim, maybe annoyed at finding they'd be miming to the Coldcut remix they supposedly disliked - having for the most part been one man desultorily messing with a pair of decks and two others standing around watching, Rakim just wanders off before the end - or just not realising where they were. Eric B told an interviewer in 2009 that on arriving at the airport the day after it went out "all these older people – they’re sixty, seventy years old – ‘Hey! I seen you on Top of The Pops last night!’ We’re looking at them like, ‘What? ‘Top of the..?’ We’re from the United States, we’re stupid, we don’t know nothing about Top of the Pops. We figure it’s a regular video show that they put rappers on from all over. We didn’t know it was a real television show that people watch and everybody performs on... It never dawned on us Top of the Pops was a big show." What the audience's excuse is for their absolute lack of movement, conversely, I don't know.
1992: Guest hosts aside it's not often you get one artist introducing another, but when a Terence Higgins Trust fundraiser EP of Right Said Fred covers charted, for whatever reason TOTP invited two of the participants' singers, Sarah Cracknell (Bob Stanley: "in hindsight, it’s a very good thing that our first ever Top Of The Pops wasn’t Pete miming to a crazed version of I’m Too Sexy") and Flowered Up's Liam Maher (label boss Martin Kelly: "they had to keep re-recording it; I think it took ten attempts. He was so smacked off his bonce he couldn’t even manage to get the band’s name right"), whose own band never properly appeared on the show, to introduce the third, The Rockingbirds. Because they might as well they have a couple of dancers along too, one of whom gives the camera an inadvertent whack at 1:13. More earthy delights came from INXS and their dot matrix printed backdrop.