Monday, 31 December 2012

31st December

1964: Hard to imagine there'd be much call for doing a regular TOTP on 31st December days after the big round-up Christmas show. Pop is ever evolving, I appreciate, but you'd imagine in the days long before 24 hour shopping that with the industry having done its business well by the time the Christmas chart rolls round and with a new year's worth of promotion ahead, when the top 40 goes to sleep all its friends go to sleep. Yet there's been three, of which this is the first and the Moody Blues the surviving fragment.

1970: Technically this day's rundown should have included 1969's Pop Goes The Sixties, but as a co-production and not under the TOTP banner per se despite Johnnie Stewart production and Savile co-hosting it misses out on a "have you seen how long we've spent on this day already?" technicality. Instead to the following year's regular show, without any sort of host it says here, and Elton John in a jacket that's neither one thing (tasteful) nor the other (OTT).

1987: One can only assume the show had a retro radio microphone lying around unused, you can't imagine Krush requesting one. The visuals are pretty much in sync with the soundtrack, despite the lipsync at 0:52. "I'm glad they're on the New Year's Eve show" says Peter Powell of Morris Minor & The Majors. Why? Because it gets fewer viewers?

1988: If you've ever seen archive clips of any of its major components you may have seen footage of Jimmy Savile introducing the first Top Of The Pops. Except it isn't, that show was so long ago wiped that nobody involved can/could agree on who the first act on was, and what you're seeing is a recreation from TOTP's 25th anniversary special. Basically everybody malleable they could think of with a TOTP or Radio 1 connection appears in some form along with a band guest list which shows the state of pop nostalgia at the end of 1988: The Swinging Blue Jeans, the Tremeloes, very definitely not the original lineup of Mud, Lulu (Shout, which she seemed to do on every magazine show on a regular basis at the time), Engelbert, David Essex, the Four Tops, Cliff in massive glasses, Shaky and, inevitably, Status Quo, who are first shown pictures of them when they looked slightly different. Bar a couple of glitches, one of which loses a chat with Mike Love, the whole thing is on that link, packed out with clips from across the years plus cameos from Moira Stewart, Errol Brown, Les McKeown, Petula Clark, two Gibbs, half of Queen, Tom Jones in the street and, this being 1988, Eddie Edwards. Johnnie Stewart gets dragged to the front at the end, though obviously he doesn't get a word in edgeways.

2008: Having never done so before TOTP decided to become a New Year's Eve regular as well as a Christmas fixture, but abandoned that idea after two years. Chiefly showcasing clips from the year's other BBC output - festivals, award ceremonies, special events, so forth - it also existed as a depository for extra songs by those who appeared six days earlier, such as Coldplay - what do you suppose Chris is telling his bandmates at the start? They've already started the song - and Duffy, who was so popular at the time she had to hire doubles to throw people off the scent. Meanwhile Reggie tries to impress Fearne into liking Gabriella Cilmi, the rest of us making do with admiring how shiny her trousers are.

2009: Again here, with return visits for Robbie Williams and his catwalk, JLS and Sugababes while also finding room for Calvin Harris unable to decide whether to sing or operate a synth when clearly he should be doing both and - after 366 days and far, far too many links and compilation man-hours this isn't the ending to On This TOTP Day I'd hoped for but beggars can't be choosers, thanks for reading and all that - Joe McElderry.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

30th December

1982: Having thrown everyone at the problem on Christmas Day it turns out the number of DJs actually required for an end of year special can be pared down to four. The full show here, part one proving Martin Fry couldn't find a bow tie for himself and surely putting non-Eurovision winners in the year in review show is a little after the Lord Mayor's show. It does at least raise the TOTP standard, literally. Pat Sharp appears to introduce the Fun Boy Three and Bananarama through gritted teeth, Lynval and Neville fighting with balloons, the girls all sporting those hats they'd wear on and off for years to come. Who's Terry waving at at the end, or has he just badly misjudged the end of the song? Part two kicks off with Jonathan King's US chart rundown from Chinatown - the glamour! - before Jimmy, who likes a silly wig, leads us into the Belle Stars. Part three features Leee John of Imagination's greatest outfit, full superhero-cum-wrestler with cape to match the latter. Lots of spinning involved too. Don't know what's happened to the Zoo routine, it doesn't seem to be online otherwise which is a shame as anything involving lots of torches deserves a proper look, but that does mean room for everyone pelting sitting duck Hugh Cornwell with balloons. Come part four it's electric pianos at dawn for Shakatak before Jimmy, who seems to be replicating his first link, sees us out via Pigbag and their trombonist's badly timed indisposition.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

29th December

1983: With the possible outlier exception of Peebles you knew where the line was drawn in 1983, Christmas Day's four followed by an overcrowded gantry comprising Gary Davies, Adrian John, Peter Powell, Richard Skinner and Tommy Vance, lined up like the world's least saleable boy band. JoBoxers do their thing amid a carpet of balloons and what sounds like steady bursting resultant, but there's still plenty left to rain down upon the Thompson Twins, Alannah playing air castanets, Joe on one finger keyboard stabs. We've seen how keen Robert Smith was on accurate miming and for The Cure's elevation to pop's big time he's inventing entirely new chord shapes, all good practice for when he changed his top and popped across the studio to guest with then employees Siouxsie & The Banshees, Siouxsie herself shrinkwrapped for the occasion. "Heard of Men Without Hats? These are women with hats!" Thanks, Adrian. It's a wonder how your name isn't more gloried. Only half of The Belle Stars are titfered even after that. Spandau Ballet spent their earnings on smart suits, "one of the big names to emerge in '84" - surely he's already emerged? - Howard Jones on special tinsel-wrapped mental chains. The Style Council may not benefit from Steve White's cyclical bongos work necessarily but it gives Mick Talbot the chance to show off his MIDI banjo. Just the one huge hit of the year still to go, Culture Club hiring as harmonica and brilliantly awkward dancing a man dressed as a NYC cop, maybe a portent of things to come.

Friday, 28 December 2012

28th December

1972: This is a remarkable special in so many ways, especially with Tony Blackburn thinking he's Robin Hood or something. He's only in keeping with Lieutenant Pigeon, the English civil war's pub piano mental asylum wing. They're playing it live, as demonstrated by the penny whistle solo bum note at the end. Quite the emotional swing to go from there to a tastefully lit Roberta Flack. Maybe she's using the same piano. After exposing some latent drag factor in the sound department Slade, a year before their more timely effort, and The Hat must have just been minted if there were enough mirrors left over for Dave Hill's suit. Pan's People gather among us after that and Tony has a present for them. Unfortunately it's a present they've already seen, when Cherry came into the room where auditions for a new member were being held, but they seem delighted anyway, a whole lot more delighted then they look (and, it transpired, were) with the big dresses they were given to dance to Nilsson in. Another special guest follows, Rolf Harris, namedropping Johnnie Stewart and illustrating what Chuck Berry's hit plainly doesn't mean. Michael and Jackson 5 appeared on TOTP twice more when he'd grown up a bit but whenever the BBC pull out a clip of Jacko in his youth it's always this one, presumably to point at his youthfulness. The kids for their part seem far more excited by pin-ups of the year T-Rex, Marc at one stage nearly knocking himself over trying to knock the kids out.

1989: Review Of The 80s officially, with Mike Read and that devil may care party starter Paul Gambaccini. Mostly clips but a handful of new performances, chiefly Shakin' Stevens breaking out his best teddy boy drapes, a misty David Essex and Phil Collins, pensive, paint pot present.

Thursday, 27 December 2012

27th December

1966: Alan Freeman and Simon Dee helm the secondary show in, as previously mentioned, the last year the show skipped the big day. Studio guests are Chris Farlowe, the Small Faces, Georgie Fame and the Go-Jos doing their thing to Good Vibrations.

1971: The stills somewhat give the surprises away; of those not previously featured here (yes, they repeated the Tams, no, they still didn't notice) the one for the annals is the quintessential T-Rex, Bolan in glittery teardrop makeup, pink trousers and flying V, Elton taking a moment out - Tumbleweed Connection had just been a hit - to mime rather more than the one glissando of piano that is actually on the recording (played by Rick Wakeman, for what it's worth), dancers and Mickey Finn all around. Slade stomp, something Dave could have found difficult in that floor-length coat. Self-defeatingly there's loads in Ashton Gardner & Dyke, but requiring some set sprucing they've got a hat and attached balloon. It's not the same one but a very similar design on the man Tony tracks down and spuriously deflates before The New Seekers. Never mind his headgear, he completely misjudges the moment he appears on camera and needs to start applauding.

1973: A special entitled Ten Years Of Pop Music, a very precise measurement and one suspiciously allied to the show's near enough tin anniversary. Various archive clips and returning stars, from which we can pluck a really quite disturbing intro to Pan's People doing Norman Greenbaum and Wizzard. Ah, so that's where DLT got the look from. Not Roy, far too much pink for that, the saxophonist.

1974: "Hairy monster"? The size of Noel's bow tie is remarkable, as opposed to that of the drummer in The Rubettes. There's a distinct lack of caps going on and rather too many choreographed movements for comfort, the most complex of which is self-defeatingly first. Even when the mike is in its stand Alvin Stardust insists on holding it to his mouth like that. The pianist looks like he got lost on the way to The Sweet. If ever you see a clip of George McCrae on the BBC now it's always the video clip even though they've got a perfectly good Xmas TOTP they could be using. I say 'perfectly good' but, y'know, orchestra. Still, he's in good voice especially given how much he'd just feasted upon. There's some light comedy before Stephanie de Sykes, introduced by DLT with his usual discreet charm and backed by the Tank Top Society Of Great Britain's vocalist wing. Then there's some expected extra reflectiveness from Gary Glitter, plus at least one moment where he may well be being attacked by bees, before Noel in extreme closeup introduces Carl Douglas and a full demonstration, of both kung-fu moves and the problem with leaving funk to an in-house orchestra. Finally, after DLT brings a running gag you hadn't noticed to a climax, the moment you all came here for - Mud, the roadies, the dance. And as there's just some time to fill, enter for the encore everyone else in the building, the obligatory cake in Les Gray's face coming from a member of the Glitter Band. Meanwhile DLT has a tree while the Rubettes' Tony Thorpe has liberated a cardboard tube from somewhere and is merrily pretend-telescoping away at the back. And now you've watched the clips, here's the whole thing, so you get to see DLT miming to Whole Lotta Love.

1979: After the excesses of the big day seemingly only one band could be bothered to come in afresh for show two, and even then Squeeze indulge in some instrument swapping. Jools has a way with a power chord, I rather feel. Otherwise it's all Legs & Co's turn, firstly doing some gantry work to Gloria Gaynor while Patti gets to show off her special Christmas present and then a remarkable Village People routine where they seemingly pretend this is the actual band, Gill's miming not all that convincing and, most glaringly, the actual YMCA bit of the dance left out. I know, Patti. I know. One other thing: Mike Read, of course, went on to ban Relax. I don't necessarily want to make a connection between that and the very end of the introductory link, but...

1984: The show couldn't get away with everyone introducing everyone else again so the then hot property Lenny Henry acted as linkman in his usual considered style, most of them clearly recorded some time after all the performances. Horrible edit into Spandau Ballet and Steve Norman's smoking jacket isn't much better. Midge Ure never looked good with a ponytail, not even in the sort of locale where Ultravox perform among a cascade of balloons. Keyboard player's pleased to see us. Delbert Wilkins introduces Slade, so you know there's going to be scarves and Dave Hill in a silly hat, but never before on this scale, either in distribution of the former or the Cat In The Hat knockoff. Splendid piece of improvisation from Neil - well, from Nigel Planer, but you know what I mean - as he begins a festive reworking of Hole In My Shoe by singing Tomorrow's psych classic My White Bicycle, which he'd actually covered for a Christmas single. It peaked at 97. Then there's Shakin’ Stevens and Bronski Beat, the latter amid some symbolic set designs - see around 1:50 for what I mean - before a frankly overdue Theophilus P Wildebeeste brings on Bananarama, and only Trevor McDoughnut could possibly introduced a full bib'n'tuckered Black Lace. See, you wondered when they'd turn up after their Band Aid shamelessness. A carol singer motif was possibly inevitable but The Flying Pickets' Brian Hibbard is far too active for standard C of E. Preacher, perhaps. That all means it just falls to Joe Fagin and perennial playout Ray Parker Jr to see out the year.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

26th December

1966: Whether it be the lack of a show on the 25th or whatever to blame, Jimmy and Pete need only buy crackers for Manfred Mann and the Small Faces, everything else pre-taped by some crowd dancing to the surely difficult to mass dance to Strangers In The Night.

1967: Lengthy, this, but there's a reason for that. This is the oldest surviving full show, and it only took them a week short of four years to decide this stuff was worth keeping as historical artefact. It's in rushes form too, which explains why part one starts so disjointedly with Jimmy, Alan and Pete doing what can only be described as pratting about. The show itself starts with some awry talking head commentary from the Bee Gees before Julie Felix sings their praises and a song that Murray calls "a song that's going to be a standard". It says here Maurice is the overdressed one with the Scottish folk singer prediction but that doesn't seem right; that's definitely Robin complaining about John Lennon's lyrics while looking exactly like him before that. Spencer Davis (looking like Eric Idle), Julie Felix, Dave Clark and Paul Jones chat about "four wild boys" the Monkees. Horrible lighting flare on Jimmy at the start of part two as he gets the crowd going, and we hope the bloke shouting something extra at the end is the same person who overexuberantly cheers at the start of every act as it means we only have one person to hate. The Rolling Stones (repeat) and Long John Baldry follow. Part three features the percussion frenzy of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich and "top pop girl" Lulu, Pete expecting her to remember exactly when and where they first met. Part four dances on the apparent grave of flower power with Felix, Davis, Savile being his usual helpful self, Peter Noone, Cilla Black knowingly grabbing the wrong end of the stick, Val Doonican for some reason, Alan Price and Manfred Mann, followed by Scott McKenzie accompanied by footage of San Francisco 'happening' participants. That's followed by the only remaining routine by the show's original dance troupe the Gojos, Jo Cook's choreography style not particularly different to Flick Colby's but that didn't stop them being gazumped by Pan's People six months down the line. Jimmy offers a useless message and an overblown intro at the commencement of part five into Cliff Richard, then Murray goes on about "standards" again and Procul Harum battle an optical effect. Part six is just the famous All You Need Is Love footage; part seven opens with Jimmy playing blues piano and progresses to Engelbert Humperdinck. You can decide whether that's an improvement. There's just time for some weird unexplained film sequences, Johnnie Stewart's logo and some heavy duty crowd frugging.

1968: Alan Freeman and Stuart Henry are your somewhat underwhelming hosts - well, it's between eras - for Mary Hopkin, Joe Cocker, the Bee Gees, the Equals and Pan's People interpreting The Good, The Bad And The Ugly. Appropriate costumes? Surely.

1969: Alan joined by Tony Blackburn this time alongside Tommy Roe, Herman's Hermits, Desmond Dekker, Lou Christie, Rolf Harris, Dave Clark Five and Pan's People via Amen Corner.

1970: A bit more luck than Christmas Day for Jimmy and Tony in terms of company, with Mungo Jerry, the Kinks, Christie, Jimmy Ruffin, Dana, Hotlegs and Pan's People dancing to Spirit In The Sky.

1976: Nothing says Boxing Day like a game of Ludo and a large pink cone. Brotherhood Of Man under a great big Union flag, Billy Ocean actually dressed as conservatively as he had all year which is saying something given his linen suit and pink tank top, a clearly not just pretending to drink alcohol responsibly Sailor featuring a mass balloon drop which appears to entirely land on the drummer, The Real Thing featuring that classic silver dungarees off one shoulder/neckerchief/glittery hat combination and Showaddywaddy playing with both perspective and colour scheme. Legs & Co get into their chiffon and headdresses for The Four Seasons and are almost entirely shot from below. It is at least more energetic than their earlier routine to Wings, which is frankly just walking.

1977: You'd think they'd have done more but this was Boxing Day TOTP's last stand, the secondary nature meaning a little bit of mopping up of bands who didn't come across to promote their big hits, so Boney M in their finery with what sounds like Bobby Farrell having to do his own vocals to mixed results, well before DLT comes mugging in. Heatwave's singers got first choice of the outfits, main vocalist Johnnie Wilder Jr being quite cavalier with his mike at times. Legs & Co must have been delighted when asked to essay Donna Summer's I Feel Love for a fourth time, and shaking their shoulders and tails in off-the-shoulder gowns still isn't getting anywhere nearer its essence. Despite this not having been a hit in 1977 Showaddywaddy showed up, just because. We should be grateful Dave Bartram didn't get any mistletoe out, really.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

25th December

Right, here we go. The iconic status of the TOTP Christmas Day show is assured - only 1964 (Christmas Eve) and 1966 (Boxing Day) have been missed out since the show started, including right past its end. In fact, as the Queen took 1969 off it's the big day's longest running unbroken fixture. The one thing this blog has tried to do throughout is not just post everything available but put things into context and only include links which have some layer of interest, but for the festive shows we can put that aside and just link to everything performed afresh in the studio on the biggest shows, or at least what can be found. So take a deep breath, strap in and stand by, this post's going to be a long one...

1965: The programme itself may not but couple of rehearsal clips survive. You probably could have guessed this wasn't broadcast material from the Sandie Shaw footage, where Sandie seems to have dropped her coat behind her - still barefoot, though, always keep up that image - and is what could best be described as distracted throughout, perhaps by that bloke sitting on the lip of the stage. Presumably the director is expecting people where those shots of empty bits of the studio go. That bloke's still sitting there for The Seekers, who aren't just going through the motions, and he's been joined by a friend. The rest of the programme, headed by a Savile/Freeman/Murray/Jacobs anschluss, featured Georgie Fame, Unit 4 Plus 2, the Kinks, the Seekers, the Hollies and Jackie Trent.

1967: Savile, Freeman and Murray, a combination we'll also, literally, see tomorrow, introduce Tom Jones, Petula Clark, Sandie Shaw, Jimi Hendrix (!), the Tremeloes, Anita Harris and the Who, with the Beatles, Beach Boys and Sinatra pere and frere on tape.

1968: Savile and Murray alone, a show that in audio starts like this and continues with Des O'Connor, Scaffold, Georgie Fame, Manfred Mann, the Beach Boys and the Go-Jos dancing to Esther & Abi Ofarim.

1969: Having been regular Savile stand-in for the 60s this was Pete Murray's last show of 98. Think how much of his screen time was binned over the years. A ridiculously floppy hat literally overshadows Marmalade; the Rolling Stones appear despite Mick's cape getting shredded in the wash. Also showing: Scaffold, Clodagh Rodgers, Blue Mink, Peter Sarstedt, Thunderclap Newman and Pan's People dancing to Creedence Clearwater Revival.

1970: Tony joins Jimmy at the big table and everyone scarpers off leaving them a set of repeats and videos, with Mr Bloe, Pickettywitch and Marmalade the only people who show up anew in the studio, plus Pan's People doing Tears Of A Clown.

1971: Jimmy solo with Dave Edmunds, the Supremes, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Clive Dunn (surely that act can't have been developed much from the performance that survives?), Middle Of The Road, T-Rex and Pan's People doing CCS. No, not that CCS track.

1972: The last lost 25th show, Jimmy with Ed Stewart this time, featuring Elton John, Slade, The Move, T-Rex, Rod Stewart, Lynsey de Paul, Pan's People dancing to Hot Butter's Popcorn - and how much I'd like to see how that went - and, just right for a Christmas family audience, closing with the audience dancing to Hawkwind's Silver Machine.

1973: Surely one of the great lineups, redolent of its era and as confused as that sounds. Fair way to kick off, though, Slade, with a Noddy hat replicator at the front - lots of hats around, actually - and Dave as some sort of kaleidoscopic peacock. Suzi Quatro's Can The Can followed before the Simon Park Orchestra not so much raised as completely altered the tone. "The year of glam rock" was marked by Sweet, Steve Priest in German helmet and full-on expressions to camera, and then, in quite a different way, Gilbert O'Sullivan. Yes, it's that Pan's People routine, with the dog that buggers off during the first line. Well, the ladies do what they can, grant them that, especially given Flick said the dogs stank the place out. Gary Glitter gets us back to performance, followed by the "highly meritorious" 10cc. A brief respite from glam from Peters & Lee only puts off the overdressed inevitable, Wizzard going the full hog complete with unconvincing jivers. How long must it have taken Roy to get ready for this one? Finally, seeing out the big day as it should be, Slade and a stage invasion that's far too early and far too populated, not allowing the camera to get anywhere near until after one of Wizzard has put the standard pie in Noddy's chops - presumably that's what the little cheer at 1:52 is for. Someone kisses Noddy at the end despite having seen the state of him.

1974: Welcome to Jimmy and Tony's fireside lodgings! Admittedly it seems to be just a massive fireplace but everyone has to start somewhere. When you think of Mud on Christmas TOTP you think of Les Gray operating a ventriloquist's dummy for the spoken word part but that didn't occur to him until it was nearly too late, the first show of 1975, so he just has to awkwardly mime it at the piano. What a disturbing pose that is at the start as Jimmy introduces the over-purpleized Sweet Sensation. Trying to find as eyecatching an angle as the previous years Pan's People, dancing to The New Seekers, come dressed as... conflicted trapeze mice? What is that? Lyn Paul's having to watch all that as well. Then it's time to not understand the rock media with David Essex in his adapted dressing gown and with the Rubettes - who weren't even on until the second show - and Tony confirming he may not be much more than a pretty face. As civil war bubblegum popsters Paper Lace are followed by... well, some dubious racial stereotyping - it was the age - but then all the silver strips they could find for The Three Degrees, Essex's Joke Time and Ken Boothe, who's wisely not getting involved, you wonder where the weight is. Ah, ABBA, there you go, Bjorn borrowing a guitar from the Rubettes and the orchestra adding a Wall Of Sound feel. Agnetha's is a traditional peasant smock. Possibly. Charles Aznavour hides among the trees, Pan's People return in their best upper class dinner dance outfits for Barry White and, for the second year in a row, Slade's hardy perennial, managing to get an audience involved where there is no audience, sees us out.

1975: Ah, the golden age of comedy. After some Noel and Tony crosstalk come Pilot and Johnny Nash before Noel puts on his best RP to introduce Don Estelle and Windsor Davies. A trip to Pan's People's winter residence finds us in another special effort for the festive season, a very careful circling around to Art Garfunkel. With, unlike the first review show two days earlier, no audience Ralph McTell seems very lonely out there - even for Tammy Wynette they rustled up some trees - but at least the set doesn't seem as cold as it does for The Tymes, despite the best efforts of their suit colours. The Stepford Bay City Rollers are followed by a second time round for Mud, Les not bothered about the dummy this time round, instead showing us his creepiest smile right at the end. Guys & Dolls next, and then someone find a picture frame filter for Telly Savalas. What are the crew laughing at before Pan's People literally dressed in ribbins for the Stylistics? Amid the fish-eye lens frenzy 10cc's Kevin Godley's choice of jumper asks its own questions before David Essex sees us off into The Queen's speech's loving embrace.

1976: DLT acting like that in the first link doesn't give us the viewer much hope of commitment for the rest of the show. Slik's keyboard player's matey grin is that of the passing fancy and not, say, the studied ambition of ABBA, first represented by Legs & Co - a priapic DLT with a knife in his hand? Run! - in big white furry hats and not much else, then later in actuality. With all that going on down below Tina Charles and her huge scarf is put safely out of the way in the gantry by some scaffolding. The Wurzels take second place to some frenzied balloon batting about that at one point knocks Pete Budd's live microphone away from him. The same doesn't happen to Cliff Richard or Demis Roussos - oh, the joke, THE INTRO JOKE - looking straight at us as it comes to a close in a prolonged statesmanlike stance. Which just leaves us with Legs & Co's second outing to Hank Mizell, doing an Indian reservation wardance around a not unexpectedly perplexed Tony Blackburn before some Victorian theatre animal costumes flood into a tiny space.

1977: Along with Deniece Williams (who you can see a bit of at the start of this first clip), Hot Chocolate and Baccara, Showaddywaddy were the only people willing to come in and play on this most auspicious of shows this year so they got the whole festive buffet to themselves. At least Legs & Co remained reliable, donning first doublet and hose for Emerson Lake & Palmer and then underdressed silver reindeer with Ruby Flipper's Floyd as a very keen Santa for Stevie Wonder, onto which someone has chosen to dub sleigh bells. There's a reason why Stevie decided not to include any on the original mix, you know.

1978: The last Noel - literally, Edmonds left the rota to concentrate on telly after this - and in strained circumstances. This was due to be the second of the Christmas shows for the year, the first on the remarkably early date of the 21st hosted by Powell and Travis, but a strike over the use of casual staff which started that day blanked that programme out among others and meant an artfully downsized single review show. That would also explain the inconsistent nature of this line-up in hits of the year terms, if not all the prop gags. (That'd be Noel.) For all Darts' qualities, reduced by one here as this was just after Den Hegarty had left, are they really opening the Christmas show standard? In its own way Boney M are a bit more like it - Bobby in silver bodysuit, false beard and feathery cape! - later returning dressed for the Roman baths. In its own way is Legs & Co's John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John's Sharks and Jets on a budget routine is more like "it" too. Yes, of course Floyd's there. The girls later return to be put on podiums for The Commodores. Brotherhood Of Man's satin jackets are just the further step towards cabaret and the men do look very uncomfortable with even the simplest moves. No such exuberance for Brian & Michael, who look like they've been stuck in the corner of a stairwell to make room for all of Showaddywaddy.

1979: Having dressed to the nines when they actually were number one, Ian Dury & the Blockheads went the other way come the other end of 1979 and showed up in navvy gear. Not very festively Janet Kay only gets bare trees for her set, but that's more than Gary Numan gets for decoration. Not much time for frivolity in such dystopia. Anita Ward gets Legs & Co, playing the old skin-coloured bodystocking trick, ringing their... bits of cloth? Whatever. Some fine post-modernism with Buggles filmed through the viewfinder of another camera, while the backing singers have their own fun. BA Robertson seems to have found a Santa-themed boxing robe while Rosie and Pauline Legs as drum majorettes relegate his actual band to a point far across the studio. This year's double set comes from Blondie, Debbie in her deckchair dress and the band kicking up glitter and dust for Dreaming. The concept arrangement theory returns through "number one in Thailand" M and co's woolly hats, logo T-shirts and Robin Scott and friend overlooking the scene before Scott pulls out a walkie-talkie purely for effect. No such affectations for Elvis Costello or Lena Martell. Squeeze's hit gets downsized, seeming surprised in the background at the end. Dr Hook provide the "Christmas cuddle spot" - thanks, Kid - before Numan returns in Tubeway Army mode and gets to use the gantry as his own. Clearly some of Legs & Co thought appearing with Racey beneath them. Understandable. Cliff Richard in multiple and with a decoration on his jacket plays us off.

1980: I don't know why the Nolans performance at the start here is excised, it doesn't seem to be elsewhere online and the less we dwell on the link out of it the better. That all leads on to Dexys Midnight Runners, who've already progressed a 'look' since this was number one. Everyone gathered around one mike at the start is very much an act from a bygone age, as are drummers who dressed like that. Liquid Gold keep on keepin' on, in a gold outfit too. Marti Webb by contrast stands stock still, Johnny Logan doesn't even go to standing up extremes, Sheena Easton standing and adding just a stripy outfit and some tentative knee bending, more convincing than Leo Sayer in that game show host jacket and marionette dancing. Speaking of which, sort of, Legs & Co have another stormer to Lipps Inc in the toy room. Logic says Flick must have worked extra hard at these Christmas Day routines as they'd have more time to record and refine. It may also explain why, having so much time to think things through, they're often so opaque.

1981: A full show and a full hosting complement as most of Radio 1's talent got a go, starting with Jimmy nearly smacking a bloke who really fancies himself square in the face. You'd think Part one wouldn't really recovers from that, but never underestimate Teardrop Explodes' efforts. Well, Julian was always bound to turn up in a dress eventually. Even less likely, Midge Ure as a biker. Was it a themed party and the BBC forgot to tell us? Part two gets arms aloft for Kim Wilde before the grand return of John Peel, who on his only previous hosting job in 1968 had forgotten the...oh, let him tell you. Still gets the Human League's name wrongly pluralised. For their own part the girls demonstrate those moves that got them noticed while three keyboard players attempt to quietly upstage each other. Godley and Creme kick part three off by sitting down. Like us all the pomaded bloke next to Adrian Juste is wondering what he's doing there of all people - his only other appearance was in 1982's Radio 1 fifteenth birthday celebration. What he's doing is introducing an electric Kirsty Maccoll. Just time for Simon Bates to chat to Adam Ant before part four. Poor Andy Peebles only gets Modern Romance to surround him as he introduces Dave 'the other one' Stewart and Colin Blunstone, followed by a Zoo quorum's energetic Jacksons routine. Adrian Juste has brought the Moody Blues. What a curious splitting of guests this seems. Linx, whose drummer would seem to be "a character", take up performance cudgels; into part five we go with The Beat, Spandau Ballet and their jiving horn section. The next part seems to have been muted on that account so elsewhere we go for a strident Toyah and Peel putting the hex on Altered Images. In between, something quite remarkable. No, not David Van Day taking mock umbrage where he's probably taking actual umbrage, the Zoo routine to Laurie Anderson. Just to run that past you again; Flick Colby choreographed a routine to the plainly undanceable O Superman. Yes, there's someone dressed as a judge. The rest is wild speculation. Back on the full upload at part seven with Depeche Mode, OMD with Andy McCluskey in a big overcoat and, for absolutely unaccountable reasons, a closing full studio singalong to an off-key cover of All You Need Is Love. Ours is not to question why.

1982: The first image here is DLT covered in streamers and Peel wearing a 'SHEENA'S BARMY ARMY' jumper. Ah, TOTP 1982, a land of contrasts. As last year it's a Radio 1 DJs lockout, the action starting with Spandau Ballet, Martin sporting a haircut unlikely to go without comment these days, such as "bunch of six for a paahnd!" Then someone attempts to flatten Peter Powell with a tree. They've stuck Shakin’ Stevens in the lighting gantry but he and his friends seem to be having fun up there. We saw Bucks Fizz the other day with Cheryl Baker dressed as a GM strawberry; this time she's turned up in an adaptation of the same and looks by some distance the most regularly shod of the group. Mike Nolan as Carmen Miranda may haunt your dreams. There's some subtle instrument swapping and some image-conscious all-white uniforms for Duran Duran. Obviously Dexys Midnight Runners have uniforms too, if slightly less well kept. Captain Sensible, ever reliant on his parrot on a stick, makes up for his comparative lack of set - one octopus? - with some studio gallivanting. He'll have to clear off from up there soon enough, Soft Cell need to set up, Marc using the stairs to pose on rather than descend properly. Dionne Warwick live via satellite from New York seems like a big development, especially as it'd be the best part of a decade before they were able to do such a thing on a regular basis. Boy George's headdress seems to have slipped back, but it all goes towards making Culture Club a greater visual impact than, say, Haircut 100. Those streamers have been piling up all show and Musical Youth virtually have a carpet of their own. Cliff Richard adds the religious element, throw in Zoo dancing to Kraftwerk, Charlene and the Steve Miller Band - the dancer concept was history by the following Christmas - and that's a good fine show there.

1983: Some DJs must have demanded some Christmas time off as this year was reduced to Simon, Janice dressed as D'Artagan, Andy and Mike. The opening spot belonged to Freeez - redubbed clip, sorry - ahead of ab very elbowy Shakin’ Stevens. Bowl-shaped headgear never really took off even when Eurythmics were at their height; similary purple straightjackets despite Adam Ant's endorsement. Bucks Fizz's reversioning of Cabaret wasn't as successful as hoped, maybe because Jay Aston insisted on singing like Lene Lovich. "Heaven 17 have had a great year apart from working with Tina Turner" Long claims in a horribly backhanded compliment. UB40 pop by, The Flying Pickets make yet another mildly disturbing appearance and a big KC & The Sunshine Band singalong takes us to the end.

1984: This is the year when Michael Hurll got fed up with however many DJs could be thrown at the task and got the bands to introduce each other in turn - if you're not that interested in the music someone's uploaded just the links (plus, spoiler alert, those for the Boxing Day special) So we kick off with Frankie Goes To Hollywood's seventh performance of Two Tribes - jodphurs, Russian hat, they're just not trying in comparison to some of those earlier set-ups - after which Holly says hello, some people say hello back and he throws to Howard Jones, who has a band but is still willing to let his sequencers do the work while he bellows live and off-key in a very mid-80s suit. Big coats, they were another signifier of highfalutin pop of the time, as Andy Taylor of Duran Duran demonstrates. Simon's out of breath by the end as he introduces Nik Kershaw, who hasn't brought a band or a backing tape without vocals but has brought an occasionally touched guitar. Picking up an entirely different mike he links to Culture Club, George with one of his special and heavily accessorised foreign hats on again. See, not even he could resist acting as DJ for the moment, if in a slightly catty fashion, ahead of Thompson Twins. Alannah takes the honours to introduce Jim Diamond, whose own link (not here but in the specific video) leaves a little to be desired in logic terms, before Le Bon gets to shift events into Paul Young. The Fabulously Wealthy Tarts were presumably far too busy that day. A very pointed link back to Duran Duran, wouldn't you say? It's fascinating to see who'd been asked to double up - Duran obviously, but also Thompson Twins, who don't appear to have been afforded the extra time with their instruments. Frankie Goes To Hollywood, however, get three opportunities to match their famous three-from-three chart number ones start, The Power Of Love in a robe, then the unbanned just before the occasion Relax. And then everyone gets together for a mimed run-through of Band Aid. Nearly everyone involved was on the show anyway or waiting for the second special to be filmed but... well, "nearly". George Michael is replaced by Sting who's clearly not concentrating, and at 1:22 that pretty conclusively isn't Bono. Black Lace and Slade get in at the end; someone who pointedly doesn't, looking at the way his parts were filmed, was Boy George. No wonder Bob looks bashful.

1985: Well, they weren't going to try that sort of thing again if they could help it so back to the roundel of radio regulars for this year, and this was the first year the performances were interspersed with video clips of the year's hitmakers who couldn't make it. King start and Paul's really going for it, and then so is Dixie Peach by the looks of it before Colonel Abrams and then a surprisingly frightwigged Alison Moyet and a surprisingly unfestooned Pete Burns and Dead Or Alive. The tinsel on the bass headstock? Nice touch. Even "one of the all-time hits from this year" Baltimora just seems to have mooched onstage in his street clothes. Billy Ocean and Feargal Sharkey add the necessary class, the latter introduced by some Janice Long sauce. Despite fierce security someone let Jonathan King in to introduce Paul Young, who'd traded his reliable backing singers for a poor man's Temptations. Say goodnight, everyone!

1986: Worth keeping this intro clip because a) it's preceded by continuity for the Queen's speech, b) you get to see the silly Christmas BBC1 animation for that year and c) I quite like the Christmas graphic you briefly see at the end of the titles. Too much detail for too little screen time. The introduced Billy Ocean seems to have fallen offline but not so Doctor & The Medics, the good Doctor having taken makeup advice from Roy Wood. Boris Gardiner's white suit sharpness is somewhat compromised here by being preceded by the video for The Chicken Song, but no matter. Are Simply Red a great communal singalong band as Bates seems to think? Pet Shop Boys make the first tentative steps towards dressing up. Janice dedicates Chris De Burgh's performance to his daughter - a future Miss World, remember - which seems a bit forward given the song's thrust. Now, one shouldn't have to give away how far in advance the show was recorded, but in the last section the Housemartins are presented (on video) as the likely Christmas number one only for an emergency edit featuring a rushed Bates voiceover to have to reveal Jackie Wilson beat them to it. I know Janice then confirms it but I imagine that's the crew at the end as there only appear to be about twelve people in that shot making the noise of a full crowd.

1987: A bittersweet intro as Andy Gibb reappeared in public for the first time in a while after a period of illness for various reasons and only three months before his death to introduce The Bee Gees. Mike Smith may get excited over Rick Astley but it's Pet Shop Boys who are working the oracle for this special, appearing twice and captioning themselves throughout. The Snowman drops in on Johnny Hates Jazz and on T’Pau and thanks to bad tethering that's meant rather too literally for the latter, the drummer having to keep pushing him back - see 2:13 for the best shot of him doing so. Imagine the insurance claim if it had completely come down and demolished the kit.

1988: And again Pet Shop Boys make a double stopover, even starting with one of the same songs, during which the cameraman threatens to give away Chris' trade secrets. The second is notable for the people in the background who seem to be wearing bits of cardboard on their heads. Speaking of which it's pork pie hats all round for Aswad, apart from the keyboard player who looks like he's wearing some sort of leather cap. Having started by prioritising eating over accurate miming Fairground Attraction's Eddi Reader feeds the not quite five thousand. Late 80s dance modernity is represented by the absent S-Express, Yazz and, in their own way, The Timelords, adding to the Glitter beat with actual Glitter, even if the director is so interested in a visual effect he misses his actual appearance onstage. The link between contemporary and retro continues with The Hollies and Wet Wet Wet's Beatles cover being preceded by a chat with Robin Gibb. Conflicted days, little more so than when ending with Bros doing Silent Night.

1989: That's one disturbing snowman at the back of the stage. Along with Mike & The Mechanics and Lisa Stansfield, Erasure kick off, Marc Almond & Gene Pitney make for an odd couple, Jason Donovan adds some very sporadic and pointless rhythm guitar, Bros reveal what ills befell shell suit graphic design back then, London Boys take their jackets and caps off mid-song for no good reason, The Beautiful South have a whole host of those big-beaked snowmen, Sonia is irrepressibly bouncy in front of a drawing someone's spent far too much time on given its screen time and Black Box's 'singer' has donned some very red and furry gloves. Those would never fit in at any rave.

1990: This is where actually finding clips hits a bit of a lull, caught between 80s nostalgia and non-degraded VHS tapes. Alongside Kim Appleby, Beats International, the Beautiful South, Bombalurina (one dreads to imagine), Adamski and Londonbeat, John Leslie for some reason introduces Kylie Minogue performing in front of some sort of crossover Buddha/stormtrooper/Santa and Status Quo appear because that's what they do on big TOTP party occasions.

1991: Seal, Nomad, Chesney Hawkes, OMD, Kenny Thomas, Erasure, Right Said Fred, Oceanic and The Scorpions, but chiefly for our purposes James and a record "Del Boy, Rodney and all the Trotters love", whatever the hell that means, 2 Unlimited with lots of people, maybe one of whom seems to be one of the actual duo.

1992: A special message from Richard Fairbrass later, the kids go mad for Wet Wet Wet, Marti keeping up the unofficial tradition of a Scottish act's singer wearing some form of tartan on the festive show. Santa hats for Jimmy Nail's band and a massive sprig of holly in his jacket pocket, which could be uncomfortable. This was the first time they'd really pressed the satellite option for foreign acts, meaning Shanice, Charles & Eddie and Boyz II Men could get on the show, but with Right Said Fred, KWS and Undercover (and the blameless Tasmin Archer) on the big family Christmas show it didn't feel like a great year.

1993: And the something that had to happen turned out to be Take That. Screams from nought to 100 in a millisecond, Robbie stepping aside from the dancing and a huge stained glass window at the back. A quick change of set, clothes and pretty much everything sees Gary Barlow dressed as a pageboy and Robbie already stealing the attention in one of Jay Kay's leftover hats despite the close competition of Howard in a huge coat with Joseph-like lining. Did the audience really not guess with that big framed doorway-shaped gap at the back that Lulu would be on her way out soon enough? Keeping with the theme of fancy dress dancing, Roman centurions Highland fling behind 2 Unlimited, next to a snowman that looks uncannily realistic. Nearly kilts all round for The Bluebells, here depicted in a typical London street scene. Well, fog-like dry ice and a lamp. Tony Dortie promises a brand new dance routine from Ace Of Base but one of the singers appears to have lost faith in it before the first verse has started. Also appearing: West End featuring Sybil, Snow, Gabrielle, Bitty McLean and M-People.

1994: Ah, the year of Doop. Having pretend singers at the front and costumes dancers at the back and having both sets do different routines seems a bit ill thought out. As the start of the Blaxill era Take That were your celebrity presenters, and the dynamic between the two key members is perfectly demonstrated before a satellite-bound Mariah Carey. Stiltskin's success enabled Ray Wilson to buy a big ermine cloak that people inevitably begin pulling at whenever he gets to the front of the stage. Surprising that Wet Wet Wet and their kajillion years at number one is thrown away mid-show but impressive work nonetheless to get that many candles positioned and lit in time and still have a couple of candelabras left over for All-4-One, which get shoved to the back to make room for Eternal's personal mini-orchestra. Whigfield, like Toni Di Bart looked down upon by the angels, still isn't acknowledging those behind her. D:Ream, Let Loose and Pato Banton also pop by before Howard shows off and, possibly under duress, our hosts announce East 17 as Christmas number one, the first time it had ever been properly announced for the first time during the show. Lucky someone else didn't come with a late run to the top, isn't it?

1995: One hesitates to say "the unlikely presentational pairing of Jack Dee and Bjork" because that's precisely what they'd want us to say but there you go, and no, they never do quite gel. This selection from its early stages features an unnecessarily gothic-set N-Trance and a wet-look Gary Barlow with the quartet Take That. Annie Lennox's theatrical inclinations are given free reign and then brought back down to earth by the unexplained and image-ruining Minnie Mouse ears. Not so much fuel burners as actual live fires with what seems little in the way of preventative measures back Boyzone. That's what happens if you mess around with loads of candles on your set. Britpop is represented by Pulp and Blur, with a huge singalong and Damon messing about come the realisation he's about to namecheck Prozac on a big Christmas family show. Songs that were really popular during Britpop, like the Outhere Brothers and Robson & Jerome (twice!), aren't online at all. I smell a rat. Simply Red aren't either but there is a special message from Michael Jackson, seemingly recorded while he was being held hostage.

1996: Rather than, say, Lee Hurst and Jarvis Cocker the following year's show went back to people they could almost trust, namely a shouty turn by the year's big event the Spice Girls. And look, here's the whole thing, complete with baffling intro and the bit where Geri calls Michael Jackson sexy. New studio performances, in order: Babylon Zoo in no doubt metaphorical two-tone outfits right down to the keyboard player's mask (OK, so which band was he supposed to be in?), 3T with preceding joke about the bushy eyebrows they don't have, Robert Miles on an unconvincing even by the usual standards white baby grand, Mark Morrison (yeah, jibes about "profound lyrics" from the Spice Girls there), Gina G, the Fugees twice via satellite but not forgetting about the candles decree, the Girls introduced by Robbie three times, vice versa once and fish out of water Babybird. "He is gorgeous, isn't he" says Mel B of Stephen Jones. Think she might have misinterpreted the song.

1997: Having toyed with chronological order after two decades of 'whatever we can fit in' the production settled on a chart of the year format. Not in chart order, obviously. That might have been considered sensible. This, though, does coincide with the part at which pop stars started to make less of a show of themselves and where the show design itself seems to have become much less Christmassy - you'll look hard for onstage trees and tinsel, not just now but for years to come. You may see these write-ups becoming a little shorter from now on, and not just because of tiredness. Although it is a little to do with a lack of available clips for the next decade or so. New performances therefore came from Eternal - what's the whistling at 1:10 for? - Hanson, Gala, who hasn't become any better at both singing live and dancing without knackering herself out, Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli for the grandparents and the swayers, Natalie Imbruglia, Shola Ama with ill-fitting dancers, All Saints specialising in the audience giving them rounds of applause at very odd times and Spice Girls, plus Ultra Nate, Texas and a Sash! Megamix.

1998: A way to make things seem more festive really isn't to put novelty Christmas hits on the show. It's a wrap-up of the year, not another place for Denise van Outen and Johnny Vaughan's Especially For You or Jane McDonald's Cruise Into Christmas to be plugged. Otherwise the roster features the Spice Girls, Boyzone on a revolving stage, Celine Dion, The Tamperer, Robbie Williams, B*Witched, Mousse T and Leann Rimes.

1999: As I say, the problem with this era of Christmas Pops is they could be any shows, full of repeats and on standard default sets so they can be reused abroad or on future weeks. To start at the end of the programme, after the knocked-off message Britney Spears could have been filmed in February for all we know, and probably was. The Christmas TOTP is for celebration, not repeat and international resale value. What else? That the characterless likes of Alice Deejay and ATB had big hits doesn't augur well - even Eiffel 65 beyond summer hit novelty are just a bald bloke and a synth. The Offspring via satellite gets something going, but that thing is an Offspring crowd, which is not the same as a Westlife crowd. Ricky Martin, Martine McCutcheon, Robbie Williams, Steps, TLC, S Club 7, Lou Bega and Boyzone complete the picture.

2000: Something telling about that lack of festivity in among this year's links. No, not the special message from Bob The Builder or the weird bit after Craig David where they appear to be suggesting the whole audience is trying to get at the camera, the bit in which Sara Cox mentions the show (more the franchise, surely) will be seen in 88 countries. So that's why they won't make the programme for the one it's aimed at. From that lineup we can find S Club 7 with a celebratory confetti fall that briefly confuses half of them vis a vis the dance routine, Spiller, Sonique, Fragma, Ronan Keating, Kylie Minogue's Santa Baby and All Saints.

2001: Theakston, Cox, S Club 7, Wheatus inciting the politest stage invasion in television history, and this is by TOTP standards, Atomic Kitten, Shaggy twice, Westlife, Geri Halliwell, Afroman, Hear'Say, So Solid Crew, Kylie and, for some reason which defeats me, Jocelyn Brown singing Happy Xmas (War Is Over).

2002: Atomic Kitten (wonder if the black stripes on white at the back for a Blondie cover were deliberate?), Ronan Keating, Girls Aloud as part of a supersized Airfix kit, Holly Valance miles behind on the choreography but ahead on the dancer shoulder-stroking, Will Young literally among evergreen trees - no decorations on them, obviously - Pink, Gareth Gates, Darius, Liberty X and Enrique Iglesias.

2003: Well, this is Christmassy, though clearly the programme had expected The Idols' cover of Happy Xmas (War Is Over) to be bigger. The first festive season of the Kash era meant a return to Girls Aloud's Underground, Michelle McManus ending in far too much white light, Junior Senior, Gareth Gates, Jamelia, Rachel Stevens, Will Young, Black Eyed Peas and Christmas chart topper Michael Andrews and Gary Jules to bring the mood down.

2004: Kylie Minogue's Minogue Medley didn't even include any songs from 2004, so that's the show's USP wrecked already. Actually representing the year were Anastacia, McFly, Michelle McManus again, Franz Ferdinand, Shapeshifters, 3 Of A Kind and Robbie Williams.

2005: Well, at least Pussycat Dolls remained more covered up than normal knowing families were watching this one together. But look! A tree next to Westlife! An actual Christmas tree! Obviously there's nothing anywhere near Robbie Williams of a festive bent, but one step at a time. Also featured: Charlotte Church, Kaiser Chiefs, James Blunt, McFly, Sean Paul, Tony Christie, Shayne Ward and, as you may have spotted, Shane Richie as host during the time when the BBC imagined he could do anything.

2006: With the proper TOTP cancelled this was the first Christmas show as a heritage industry, kept alive as lunchtime filler for the kids as much as for name recognition. With that in mind the festive angle starts being played up again, rather too much if you're McFly and you're covering Rockin' Robin under a massive snowstorm in front of practically rows' worth of Santa hats. Girls Aloud get a turn under the confetti cannon too. I suppose Lily Allen's outfit could look like a Mrs Santa if you squint, certainly more in keeping than the worryingly brown number sported by Emma Bunton. Corinne Bailey-Rae and Leona Lewis keep up the soul side, The Ordinary Boys keep that time in the sunshine alive, while soft rock is well catered for - Orson, The Feeling, The Automatic, represented here by some cameraphone footage shot from side of stage, which isn't quite what anyone finding it would really primarily want to see, and an entirely percussive Sandi Thom. Well, as far as the title goes.

2007: With Edith Bowman quietly disposed of in a skip it's Fearne and Reggie all the way, perhaps until the end of time itself. Now being a special occasion as it is, as well as some trees and stuff and the multiple logos reflecting the show's storied histories the ratio of uplodaed performances is better too. The singalongs are improving too if Kaiser Chiefs are any yardstick. Does Kate Nash think at any stage she's a little underdressed without a Santa hat? The Pigeon Detectives' Matt Bowman understands, but if that audience wants a clap and chant along they just have to wait for The Proclaimers. Katie Melua covers Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, but in the middle of the show which doesn't seem in keeping. Elsewhere there's Just Jack, Robyn, The Hoosiers and a Girls Aloud performance without a theme or some backing blokes that suddenly become dancers, which feels wrong.

2008: Thanks, Gary. Take That came back with a vengeance and a forest of trees, most of which remained unadorned. It's not the season for them. The other stage was a carnival of light with Duffy, who seems to have formed her own girl group trio while waiting around. Then it Sam Sparro and his big shades followed by the foil freeze-packed Girls Aloud followed by Kaiser Chiefs looking almost exactly the same as the previous year followed by Pussycat Dolls who since their last appearance really had become Nicole And Her PCDs followed by... oh, just Dizzee Rascal. Still, never mind, it's Peter Kay as the already justly forgotten Geraldine, which already apparently doesn't require any explanation to the likely baffled. Then as if to counteract Leona Lewis throws everything at Run, including the dramatic entrance of a choir, which doesn't make for much fun especially with McFly then in enhanced seriousness followed by Adele. So the call goes out to some two decades-plus old songs via the cast of Mamma Mia, the film version of which had been the big hit of the year. The audience here are the rub. In one of the earlier links you'll have seen Fearne talk about a singalong option on the red button and you can't help feeling they were booking bands and songs around that from now on rather than getting the hits sorted. The reflected audience in Coldplay's kettle drum is a nice shot. Now, notice that Reggie doesn't actually introduce Alexandra Burke as the Christmas number one, just says that the big hit is next. Ah, late editing.

2009: Bet Reggie doesn't need those glasses. Alexandra Burke does at least get a proper namecheck the following year, which is something. Dizzee Rascal's hypeman is wearing a T-shirt with Dizzee's face on it, which isn't going to help his self-esteem stay down. The Saturdays in their two-tone dresses get the first indoor snowstorm of the year, the second in a highly singular performance by of all bands Muse. Nothing says conspiratorial paranoia like a drummer in a Santa suit, cheap shades and dancers. (So unlikely does it seem that just to keep us on our toes they recorded a second version for the new year special) Beating even Matt Bellamy to the dressing up box are the snowman, elf and... fairy? La Roux, anyway. Two misery guts having a good time - You'd have imagined on that scale Florence & The Machine might have joined in, but no luck - and conversely Sugababes covering Santa Baby is almost entirely humourless. This is the fun the majority don't get to have every week of the year any more, see. JLS are getting everyone to put their hands up alright. This year's Mamma Mia is the Michael Jackson tribute - where once there might have been film clips, now there was street dancing, these being the days of such. Kasabian and Shakira in bling overload lead up to Robbie Williams, who as usual drags someone up. The snowstorm he seems less sure about.

2010: Subtlety, see, Cee-Lo Green's whole band are in red with white trimmings... er, except Cee-Lo himself, though I can't imagine he'd be too flattered by white trousers. Ellie Goulding makes it two out of two for ceiling drops, which Jason Derulo can't keep up but he does have to supply his own laser light show. Olly Murs restores the balance, though little of it seems to be landing on the stage. Eliza Doolittle got the wrong end of the stick and dressed her band for the Henley regatta while she visually schlepped off to the beach, Cee-Lo emerging after a quick change of gear. Neither presenter seems to notice his contribution. He's big enough. And more confetti. Fulfilling the band member in Santa coat and beard quotient are Scouting For Girls... and yes, more snow. None for Tinie Tempah, which seems an oversight no matter how urban he is. If Plan B doesn't mind it, or Santa hats then there's no reason why he can't. Confetti is back with a vengeance for JLS. Look at it all underneath Coldplay, there's literally no more to give which is why they've had to string up some decorations in lieu. Seriously, the audience must have been finding bits of paper for days after filming.

2011: And continuing the theme there's a ceiling drop a minute into Example's show opener. Talk about getting it out of the way early. Oddly Professor Green's performance isn't online so we pick up at Will Young and dancers doing a weird hair thing, Olly Murs with extra Rizzle Kicks, Ed Sheeran with extra... nobody but with the long awaited return of the ironic Christmas jumper wearing, The Wanted with a snowstorm that misses them and covers the front row and, oh lord, this isn't Saturday morning kids' TV any more, Jessie J, you don't need to do a sensitive acoustic version of your hit. Noah & The Whale couldn't seem any more out of place. More glitter for Pixie Lott, followed in that clip by the Vaccines for... well, no reason. The album wasn't a top seller, the single didn't breach the top 30. They were on, frankly, to shore up Fearne's credentials. Not only does the snow never stop for Rizzle Kicks but they seem to have taken the whole concept to heart, from outfits to appropriate lyric changes, and some running on the spot dancing to close. It's more fun than Little Mix, in fairness.

Monday, 24 December 2012

24th December

1964: The inaugural (and, obviously, wiped) Christmas Pops, corralling Savile, Freeman, Murray and Jacobs into a three-line whip featuring studio performances by the Kinks, the Searchers, Manfred Mann, the Honeycombs, the Four Pennies, Billy J Kramer and the Dakotas, Herman's Hermits, the Animals and Sandie Shaw, plus a handful of repeats and the GoJos, the first TOTP troupe who'd debuted just over a month earlier, doing their thing to the Dave Clark Five. This isn't from Top Of The Pops, it's from Christmas Night With The Stars, but it is their offering as the Barron Knights fill in for everyone else.

1981: Seems a bit silly to do a regular show on Christmas Eve, live at that, but that's what this was, albeit one that started with Wizzard, Roy Wood dressed more for first footing, though given those around include a Mexican and a panda he seems quite conservative for once. Budget cuts meant he had to lose the French horn player and multitask. By the way, BBC, there's really, really no need for explosions of sparks to this of all songs. Someone turns the lights out too early on Jensen but nobody seems to notice, keen as they are to applaud the spoken intro of Bucks Fizz. Cheryl seems to have been required to be buckled into her outfit. Clare Grogan of Altered Images' hair bow must have seriously annoyed her before long flopping over her eyes like that, but again we must ask why TOTP always put dancers with the band when Grogan did the work of many of them. Here they're particularly egregious, trying to pass themselves off as underused band members by standing in front of the drumkit. Get your own space! The bloke next to Jensen seems to really go for Dollar, of whom it can be assumed Therese spent rather more time picking out her clothes for the occasion than David. Christmas number one belonged to The Human League and the girls celebrated with slinky new dresses. Phil celebrated by buying some hair lacquer.

Sunday, 23 December 2012

23rd December

1975: And here come the Christmas shows! The earliest of the lot in calendar terms required the biggest logo you've ever seen and no apparent audience for the links, as well as an apparent in-studio theme of laughing. No, we really shouldn't know what was on that pad, but maybe it's the same thing Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel's guitarist sees during his solo. It seems to be a feature of the night, Billy Connolly barely getting a line in before corpsing. The scarves are out in force for Mud, who for their part indulge in the sort of base visual comedy that can only come from a drummer freed from his kit. Reputedly the band hadn't seen how their guest singer - Ellie Hope, later of Liquid Gold - would come dressed, which is why at least one member is having to stifle their own giggles. No such losses of composure for Pan's People, who get two outings, firstly Typically Tropical - and call me cynical, but I don't really think either that they're really cold at the start or Cherry is doing a very good job of miming cold - and then much less opportunity for grinning with some very serious air traffic control work to David Bowie.

1976: See Noel nodding along to Thin Lizzy in the background, studiously avoiding acknowledgement of Phil Lynott's pink neckerchief, and then claiming to have had a "shocking argument" with them. That sort of thing usually ends in fisticuffs where prime Lizzy are involved, he should have been more careful. As should Barry Biggs, in his case not choosing to make your TOTP debut in an oversize pink ruffled suit. It gives the wrong impression, see. It's too late for that where John Christie is concerned, but Noel's spectacularly wrong prediction before he starts doesn't help. "I'm prepared to lumber this guy" indeed. There's already something of the Gilbert O'Sullivan-meets-Richard Stilgoe about his presence before the chorus of Auld Lang Syne strikes up and the entire audience react accordingly. After that we need a careful bringing back down to earth, not Legs & Co enacting Charlie Chaplin poses in the name of Stevie Wonder.

1982: White jackets, a handy visual signifier of the club band chancer, The Maisonettes maybe aware they're not the visual selling point. Incantation appear to be playing on the gantry scaffolding rather than an actual stage, coming over here with their fancy pan pipe ways. The audience appear to be mixed above their playback. It's possible the stages were just out of commission for a bit, Shakin’ Stevens taking to the heavens before realising the inclement conditions up there aren't going to improve. Finally we see what was taking the time, setting up the network of bulbs behind Imagination. Leee John's outfit looks like it's made out of tinsel, so he's thinking of the season. Most programmes would have a big finish; this one has Keith Harris and Orville. Despite all the Santa hats they repeated this in January.

1993: You'd think Saint Etienne's Sarah Cracknell would exchange her omnipresent feather boa for some tinsel for their festive hit, but if it were it wouldn't look half as amusing when it gets wrapped round a stumbling Tim Burgess' shoulders. Note, please, the TOTP2 caption and its outright confidence in stating it's not true they was born on Christmas Day. Except, Bob Stanley was.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

22nd December

1977: Newly sprung from 10cc, Godley & Creme go their own way by... well, by Jimmy getting their name wrong, and then by atmospheric stock footage and Kevin playing it up for all he's worth at the end. Some frenzied guitar playing from Gordon Giltrap matched by an overelaborate backdrop. No such worries for Legs & Co, whose interpretation of Donna Summer doubled as the official international launch of Tetris.

1983: No expense spared here - an addendum to the titles just for Christmas, what seems like twice as many punters as usual and Rhythm Pals in place, the party started by the biggest Christmas party band of them all, Slade. Yes, Slade were only on the show the previous week, in fact My Oh My was the Christmas number two, but in the spirit of both the season and waste not want not they put this back out as well. Some heavy intrusion by dancers behind Noddy there. At nearly the other end of the memorable Christmas hit scale, Dennis Waterman and George Cole with live lapel mikes, as demonstrated when someone doesn't turn Cole's up in time. Ad libbing, half forgotten lines and, reputedly, Cole and Peel having a falling-out in the green room afterwards follow. This week's number one is on the back of everyone's jacket, The Flying Pickets, Red Stripe and his freakishly immoveable face arm in arm and forming a counterpoint to the Squeeze T-shirted Brian Hibbard. Chorus line swaying was only ever a matter of time.

1988: It's Tyson McVey's TV debut - not that anyone knew who she'd (yes, she) be yet, because her mother Neneh Cherry was six months pregnant with her. Due to a combination of massive medallion, high waisted skirt and camera angles you can't always tell but it's not as if she's willingly hiding it much unless you count the substantial distraction of manic fancy dressed dancers, whose presence is surely a story in itself. It's not entirely clear whether The Four Tops were supposed to be choreographed but it takes a good half of the song to break into any sort of conjoined hot stepping. Chap to Nicky Campbell's left looks very keen anyway. Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan indulge in some symbolism of the cheapest stripe, starting right across the stage from each other and offering coy crosses and glances so their eventual meeting in the middle can be met by a big old cheer like they didn't know it was coming. Then the audience just wolf whistle for the rest of the song. They're not going to do much else, you know.

1994: Alright, Gary, give it a rest. Zig & Zag were great on their day but nobody seems to recall it as such because of... well, because of conceits like this. In contrast to that expansive show from a focal central point, The Human League formed a bus queue of electro.

2000: Imagine going to the dancer casting for Kylie Minogue's performance here, you'd be promised lots of screen time but not in quite the way you'd hoped. When they do get going there's a move based entirely on how short she is, which might give a lesser star a complex. Surely nobody there really believed Robbie Williams was injured? He's not even wearing a cast. By the end there's one of those very orderly stage invasions TOTP specialised in, in the midst of which you just hear Robbie shout something really quite dubious.

Friday, 21 December 2012

21st December

1995: Don't let today's post take up too much of your day with its ceaseless bounty, will you? Ronan Keating and Stephen Gately battle a wall of noise all around. From those links let's pick out Dog Eat Dog because a) according to Ronan "nobody's ever seen (them) before" so that's quite some courageous booking and b) they appear to have invented nu-metal about five years too early.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

20th December

1973: You know how much I like a good rundown, and this is a good rundown fronted by an unlikely, if not quite right sounding, character. Does Kiki Dee's head look all wrong in correlation to her body to you? The provided photo of the New Seekers was clearly smaller than the art director had expected. Cancel all leave, The Faces are in town, though with all musicians in place and all miming marks hit it's comparatively restrained. Ian McLagan couldn't have put his polystyrene branded cup down backstage somewhere? Their competition for rock hardness comes from abroad, Golden Earring featuring some extravagant post-Moon drumming and a partly open jumpsuit for the guitarist, because this is hard rock and that's what you did back then. Funny, isn't it, Roy Wood has no facepaint or extraordinary props or costumes and yet still looks alien. That's what extravagantly combed hair will do for an appearance. Ever wondered what Clifford T Ward looked like? Here he is, part 70s Neil Young, part 60s Van Morrison and sporting what look like extraordinary sideburns. Speaking of singers with luxurious hair it feels like it's been around forever but Slade's Merry Xmas Everybody was new then and encouraging their die-hards to wave dolls and magazines about.

1979: Quick trivia quiz: when did the Sex Pistols individually make it to the TOTP studio? Sid obviously never did, Glen Matlock came in January 1978 with the Rich Kids, John that October with PiL, and more than a year later Steve and Paul teamed up with three of Thin Lizzy as The Greedies. Cold drinks may have been taken. Two drumkits. Swish. Richard Jobson of The Skids' usual front crawl dancing style isn't improved much by his cargo pants. Odd crowd for The Regents, and not just for the preponderance of paper crowns, stunned into immobility by the backing singers who seem to remember they're supposed to be choreographed halfway through. Mike Oldfield's version of the Blue Peter theme demanded a Legs & Co sailor's hornpipe; what it gets a mutated version involving lots of bouncing about. Still, no paying for museums or stately homes for any of them for a while. Perfectly still tableau at the end there, you!

1984: Quite a few last shows before Christmas archived in full for whatever reason. Part one sees Simon emphasise Wizzard are back "from three years ago", not mentioning it first existed and appeared eight years previously to that. Pared down to Roy Wood and a half-hearted xylophonist by now, their children's choir are more geared up and keen than ever. No, Janice, that's not how the Frog Chorus go. Part two and one of Bronski Beat has wrapped up warm and brought unconvincing woodwind as well, followed by a right curio, The Council Collective, the Style Council bringing in Dee C Lee, Junior and Jimmy Ruffin among others to raise money for striking miners and for the family of murdered miner's driver David Wilkie. Unhelpfully, the audience are applauding loudly on the off-beat throughout. Also, it features Paul Weller rapping. Part three stars the Thompson Twins' streamlined double bass, part four Band Aid and some arm in arm dancing to Ray Parker Jr.

2002: You've never seen an audience go as wild as they do for The Cheeky Girls, and the fear is it's not ironic. From cheeky to, erm, naughty, and after first flirting with her guitarist, presumably as she wasn't told which side of the stage to go to, Holly Valance turns it on with... well, who? You think they're going to start dancing at some stage, but they don't - they make small talk on a sofa in the shadows of Valance's spotlight, then she goes and sits between them for a bit, then they stand up and walk round the back of the sofa. Were they competition winners?