Top Of The Pops – 1964 – 2006

Perhaps television’s best known music program, was a regular fixture on our screens for forty two years, cocking up a mammoth 2213 episodes.

Top of the Pops was created by BBC producer Johnnie Stewart, inspired by the popular Teen and Twenty Disc Club which aired on Radio Luxembourg.  first aired in 1964 from a disused church hall in Manchester known as the BBC’s  Studio A on Dickenson Road, Manchester.

It was once claimed by it’s first presnter Presenter Jimmy Savile that the BBC were lukewarm about the program’s prospects, stating that: “The BBC had a studio in Manchester [on Dickenson Road] which was a disused church and, anything they didn’t want to do in London, they slung up into this old church.”

Originally the show was intended to run for only a few weeks, but it lasted until 2006, even today it pops it’s head up at Christmas.

During the show’s heyday in the 1970’s it attracted regular audiences of up to 15 million each week.  The 1970’s was also the decade of the ninety percent tax for the wealthy, meaning that many big selling artists of the time moved abroad for tax reasons and were not always available to fill a slot on Top Of The Pops.

The solution was to have a dance troop performing tightly choreographed routines to songs, when the act was unable to appear . The original troupe, The Go-Jos, were succeeded in 1968 by arguably the most popular of these groups, Pan’s People who performed until 1976, another troupe, this time mixed sex, Ruby Flipper briefly succeeded them before the BBC reverted back to an all female troupe Legs and Co, they would perform until 1981.  Zoo were the final dance troupe used on Top Of The Pops they danced from 1981 until 1983.

Traditionally the show went out at 7.30pm Thursdays, but in later years it was moved around a liitle ending up in the “death slot” against ITV’s Coronation Street (it had been called the death slot as few programs scheduled up against Coronation Street attracted higher ratings).

After many format changes, schedule and presenter changes the show was cancelled making it’s final regular appearance on 30th July 2006.


Despite many changes the basic premise of the show remained the same for 42 years.  End with the number one record, which was the only record which could be repeated from the previous week. The show would include the highest new entry and the highest climber on the charts, but no song going down in the charts could be included.  As the chart run down was increased to the top forty, the number one record would be played at the point the countdown arrived at number one and another record would be used to end the show.



Too many to list but here’s a selection of old faces

Alan Freeman
Pete Murray
Tony Blackburn
Noel Edmunds
David Hamilton
David ‘Kid’ Jenson
Steve Wright
John Peel

Nearly all top Radio 1 DJ’s presented at some time or snother


Channel: BBC1
Created By:  Johnnie Stewart
Originally Transmitted: 1st January 1964 – 30th July 2006

Back On TV !

Watch Top Of The Pops as it should be watched, BBC4 Thursday nights at 7.30pm.

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