Saturday Deluxe / 21 October 2017

SDE on Top of the Pops in 1984

Much excitement on Thursday night, because here in the UK BBC Four showed the episode of Top Of The Pops where I just happened to be in the audience (with my sister).

It was originally broadcast on 4 October 1984 and featured ‘live’ in the studio Culture Club (The War Song), The Stranglers (Skin Deep), Bronski Beat (Why), Adam Ant (Apollo 9) and John Waite (Missing You). They showed plenty of videos too, including new entry Paul McCartney (No More Lonely Nights), Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder (Electric Dreams) and that week’s number one Stevie Wonder (I Just Called To Say I Love You)

The story is that my dad knew Graham Wilkinson the sound guy on the show (can’t remember why) and he arranged for us to visit BBC TV Centre and go up into the ‘control room’ from where the show was made. It was a surreal experience (I remember seeing Ronnie Corbett in the reception area). Anyway, while we were in this control room (which was high up above the studio) someone suggested that we might like to go down onto the studio floor for the filming of the show. Er, yes please!! So that’s why 14-year old me and my 12-year old sister got to watch some 1980’s pop at close quarters. The show was filmed on 3 October and broadcast the next day – that is the last time I saw it.

It was a great thrill of course, although this small physical connection with the best ever year in pop music – 1984 – means much more to me now. I didn’t know at the time that this era would be looked back upon so fondly. Songs like Careless Whisper, Relax, Purple Rain would go on to be considered some of the best pop songs, ever. Talking of which, the only slight niggle of regret is that unlucky timing meant there was no Wham! or Frankie Goes To Hollywood in the studio. No matter, for a brief moment I was in the eye of the storm, I was there.

I do remember the evening remarkably clearly. We were given shooting scripts at the end which had all the lyrics to each song and indicated where the cameras would switch. I used to think they just made it up as they went along.

If you want to watch the whole show, the full 40 minute edition (not the 30 minute edit they showed on Thursday) is on BBC iPlayer (it probably won’t work outside the UK). No full-face close-ups unfortunately, but check out the photographic evidence below (click to enlarge).

Future SDE editor Paul Sinclair with Culture Club!

Future SDE editor Paul Sinclair with The Stranglers!

Size does matter

I made a small, probably long overdue, change to SDE yesterday – I increased the size of the standard ‘paragraph’ font significantly. That’s the text you’re reading right now! Let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger and I do want this blog to be easy to read. I actually had an eye test the other day (I need reading glasses!) so that’s what made me think of it, although I’d been meaning to do it for a while. For those interested, the font is now 16pt with 150% line-spacing. I’m really happy with it and already can’t believe it used to be smaller. Let me know what you think!

SDE helps fans around the world discover physical music and discuss releases. To keep the site free, SDE participates in various affiliate programs, including Amazon and earns from qualifying purchases.


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Tino Stabile

Thank you Paul
Most considerate. Yes, it does make it a difference. That reminds me I need to get that checked.
Keep up the great work.
With all these reissues coming out this month… I feel many of us will have no budget for the holidays.

Take care,



Andrew F

How fabulous to be part of what was a great month in British music. It’s a lovely memory and how amazing to be able to retain the episode in a better quality than originally broadcast.

Our nostalgia for the music that made us happy as we were growing up is clear on this site. Plenty of great reasons why attending that week was a special experience.

My TV hard drive has some great episodes of TOTP stored. It’s clear that I really loved 1982 and 1983, as those years have garnered the most saved TOTP broadcasts.

Loved that you shared this with us, Paul.

Chris Squires

One thing I notice, whilst we all have our favourite years, is that no-one is arguing for anything post-1985 or pre-1977.

That is quite the narrow corridor and as much as anything defines our age demographic. I, sadly can’t think of one act I am into today that I wasn’t already into by mid 1985.


Chris – so are you saying that you don’t like any new acts that have emerged since 1985?

Chris Squires

I am not sure, Simon. Like most here I do have my fingernails on the blackboard acts but the rest are divided into “obsessed” – will buy anything and everything. “Love” – will more than likely get it particularly if the price is keen, “like” – will possibly get some things and certainly will think hard about it if there is a deal alert and finally…”Ok, if it’s free” acts..

Actually I am having to think quite hard to come up with something that is post 1985. I can only think of one or two true “love” acts that are unique since 1985 and that would be Julia Fordham and Tori Amos. George Michael and The Lilac Time don’t count as I was into them in previous guises. Certainly nothing in the Obsessed category. “Like” would entail Deacon Blue, Del Amitri, Hothouse Flowers, The Act, Jackie Quinn and The Divine Comedy. But not much else.

I agree it’s sad that pretty much everything had been set up by then, everybody had started or finished their career by 1985 and only a few artists managed to creep in under the radar after that mainly due to having kids. I thought Busted and McFly were quite OK when my girls were really into them a decade+ ago and Bastille are quite good, but again that was my daughters before they discovered “urban” whatever and Stormzy et. al.

I feel like the sad uncle at the 1980s engagement party who got trapped in the 60s with his quiff, brothel creepers and blue jacket. Oh no, I haven’t moved on since Wham! split.

Then the acts that I have discovered in the last few years have been the likes of Leonard Cohen, Kraftwerk, Sparks, Joni Mitchell all seriously pre-date the deadline.

If I couldn’t ever listen to music written after 1985 there would only be a handful of albums I would truly miss and be devastated by. Tubular Bells II, Joshua Tree, Aerial + 50 Words, Porcelain, Little Earthquakes, Big Thing, Secrets of the Beehive and everything by the Lilac Time. I am not sure if I should feel happy or sad right now…..my world just shrank.

Chris Squires

Might I add in my defence that I married a wonderful woman who dislikes music and the noise. The extent of her “likes” are Dwight Yoakam and Randy Travis. Long car journeys were accompanied by talking books, classic FM and, at a push, the latest by Mary Chapin-Carpenter.
I can’t complain at the compromise. I can buy whatever I like as long as I don’t pollute the house with it. I was able to spend about £13,000 on a system including a Rega RP10 without argument. This has probably limited my exposure to more current music. When time is limited I would usually fall back to my favourites rather than explore.

How many of us here have to strike some musical compromise for a peaceful existence. A divorce would be far more expensive than my Box Set addiction.


Just remembered a 4th brush-with-fame – sometime around the mid-to-late 80’s, I saw Jon English https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jon_English at a local fireworks event. To be honest, I didn’t really know who he was at the time (his real ‘big’ fame was in the 70’s) and he was there with his family as members of the public, rather than ‘special celebrity guest’. I only gathered he was famous because my mother whispered to me, “Ooh look, it’s Jon English! He lives around here and your brother goes to high school with one of his daughters.”


Being Australian (and born in 1978), I missed TOTP (although we got it for about a year or so in 2001/02) but I can completely understand the nostalgia and fondness for such shows.

We had ‘Countdown’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Countdown_(Australian_TV_series) (not to be confused with the UK game show). I absolutely love it, although I must admit I missed it first time around (started before I was born and finished when I was only 9). Every January it gets repeated all Saturday night and is currently getting a Sunday evening ‘highlights’ package.

A couple of it’s most memorable moments:
* Iggy Pop interview (and performance) from 1979: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMtH58M3HXA
* AC/DC in drag and smoking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jmoz-cRCXQE (not the best quality, sorry)

That’s why live (well, mostly mimed) music shows are much better than just video shows. There’s always the edge of unpredictability instead of just seeing the same clip over and over.

I love the historical nature of these shows – capturing a moment in time reflecting fashion, music, dancing, etc. And performances you couldn’t get away with now. For me it’s not about seeing the ‘big’ stars/hits, it’s about seeing those obscure songs/performances that would otherwise be lost. The forgotten ‘one-hit-wonders’, the ‘no-hit-wonders’ and the independents/undergrounds who maybe only ever released one record. Countdown played the ‘hits’ but it also promoted unsigned and non-chart acts.

As for my ‘brush-with-fame’ moments, I only have 3:
*1) waaaaay back in about 1984/5/6 (can’t quite remember), my name was mentioned on a children’s TV show when I sent in some creative piece of tat. Usually kids send in drawings and such, but for some reason I just sent in some unused wallpaper!
*2) around the same time, I was in a café (although they were still called ‘coffee shops’ back then, lol) when I saw a presenter from a different children’s TV show at another table. I was (and still am) terribly shy so instead of just approaching him for an autograph, I kept turning around and staring at him ‘Children Of The Corn’-style for 20 minutes, lol. But when he was leaving, my mother kindly stopped him and asked him for me.
*3) a few months ago, I managed to score an aftershow/backstage pass at a Blondie/Cyndi Lauper concert, but when I went to use it (as soon as the show finished!) I was told they were gone and nothing was happening. :(

Regarding the bigger font – I never even noticed the change! My eyesight must be REALLY bad! lol.

Thanks for a great site, Paul S! It’s stories/posts like yours above that make SDE so much more personal than other music blogs. I love it.


I think we can see your face in the final zoom-out when the credits are rolling. It must be odd seeing a 33-year old moving image of yourself (ie 33 years ago)


Recorded it, watched it, deleted it. I shall have to go back to iPlayer to see you bopping about, Paul. I love the BBC4 TOTP re-runs.

Mark Franklin

I presented this show for a few years in the early 90s. For the first few weeks, I was in awe also – as a kid essentially, thrown into this world, it was mind blowing!


Wikipedia confirms your first show had 8.93 million viewers Mark! No pressure…. !

Paul Waddington

Go on then Mark. Tell us which bands were the nicest and which were absolute nightmares.

It is a fab thing to be able to say on a message board like this, by the way! There can’t be many music fans who weren’t avid TOTP viewers at some stage. I watched it between 78 and 82, but then other commitments like footy training took me away for a few years before picking back up in 85 for a few years before deciding I’d grown out of it, so I am enjoying watching the shows I missed on BBC4. Such a shame that they can’t just edit out the presenters when Savile and Travis were on.

I remember how annoyed I was that Stephen Duffy’s appearance, singing The Icing On The Cake, was when I was on holiday and not when I was sitting with my finger on the pause button ready to record it. I ended up sat in the TV room in Butlin’s Pwllheli watching it. I didn’t see it again until Chris Squires of this parish provided me with copies of Duffy’s TV appearances.

The other ‘missing TOTP’ moment I remember was some years earlier. Me and my younger sister used to write down the names of the songs that were on so we could sing them later, so that week she was charged with the task in my absence. so a couple of days later we got the book out and started singing away, usually just repeating the choruses over and over before moving on to the next song, but then one of the stumped me, as it looked like she’d written the name of the singer down instead of the song.

When I asked her what song Tommy Moore sang, she insisted that was the name of the song, not the singer, so I asked her to sing the bit she remembers. It went like this, “Tommy Moore, Tommy Moore, did he have a big car, Tommy Moore, Tommy Moore, did you get very far…” I still think of John Travolta as Tommy Moore to this day.

Chris Squires

Wow, that was a long time ago Paul. I was lucky enough not to be at Butlins and had my finger poised over the Video2000 machine (ITT VR580) …now THAT was great technology right there. 4 hours of Duffy / Lilac time material took a very long time to put together….

I had a Top of the Pops memory with my sister too from 1976. I used to pretend I knew all the songs and would sing along to each and every one of them, but with a “satellite time delay” of about 2 seconds. I particularly remember one Barry White song where she completely lost it with her oh so annoying little brother. Job done!


Cool story Paul! Being as old / young as you that era around 1984 is also very special to me.

Some nice chap has at least uploaded the Stranglers snippet to Youtube.


Excellent ! Thanks for sharing this, Paul. :)


I know you are a child of the 80’s Paul but it’s a bit of a stretch calling 1984 the best year ever in pop. Cool story though!


I have been lurking here for a long while, but since my favorite topic has suddenly turned up, I guess Id better share my contribution.

Sharing those beautiful memories from Top of the Pops in 1984 makes me want to really go back in time…… because, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that 1984 was indeed the best year for music.

Actually, I would dare to say that 1984 was the absolute highpoint after a couple of truly amazing years, quality wise….and that of course, started with 1981.
1983 would be close second, IMHO.

Taking a closer look at 1984, particularly outside of the mainstream / commercial pop releases, that year highlights some of the most amazing rare / obscure synth-pop / new wave releases and thats is one of the reasons why is it so dear to my heart.

Here are some I would like to share with you…..

Firstly, how about the most amazing – underrated band ever – Fiat Lux (Secrets / Photography), followed by…..

A Certain Ratio (Life`s A Scream), Academy (Paint Me Blue – b-side), Action Transfers (The Light), April Showers (Abandon Ship), Blue In Heaven (Across My Heart), Blue Section Two (Strange Fascination), Bourgie Bourgie (Breaking Point), Box Of Toys (Precious Is The Pearl) – my personal favorite, Broken Silence (Nightstalking), Bugger West (Dont Say It), Camera Obscura (Strange Faces), Care (Whatever Possessed You), Casual Affairs (An Emotional Man), Chakk (Out Of The Flesh), Collage (Mit Den Puppen Tanzen), Colour Code (Dance With The Times), Colourbox (The Moon Is Blue), Comateens (Resist Her), Cook Da Books (Caress Me Like A Flower), Crown Of Thorns (World Radio), DIA (Passion Play), Cutting Edge (Country Boy), Dalis Car (The Judgement Is The Mirror), Danse Society (Heaven Is Waiting), Dear Enemy (Computer One), Dekka Danse (Soul Separation), Disco Volante (No Motion), Engine Room (Wild Times), English Evenings (Touch), Europeans (Listen), Experimental Products (Glowing In The Dark), Fashion (Dreaming), Fatal Charm (Summer Spies), Felt (Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow), Frank Chickens (We Are Ninja), Fad Gadget (One Mans Meat), Freur (Devil & Darkness), Friends Again (South Of Love), General Public (Tenderness), Gina X (Drive My Car), H20 (Leonard), Hambi & Dance (25 Tears A Day), Helen Terry (Stuttering), Hohokam (King), Hoorah Boys Hoorah (Is This What You Promised Me), I Start Counting (Letters To A Friend), Idle Eyes (Tokyo Rose), Illustrated Man (Head Over Heels), Images In Vogue (Rescue Me), Industry (State Of the Nation), Invisible Zoo (NightTime), Iron Curtain (Tarantula Scream), Jacqui Brookes (Trains and Boats and Planes), Jullan (Because Of Love), Jump the Nile (Like The Cruel Sea), Karl Biscuit (Loneliness), Kudos (How Can This Be Love), Language (Goodbye Indian Summer), Laws Of Motion (Living In Real Time), Leitmotiv (In Camera), Manteau (Promises), Martha & Muffins (Cooling The Medium), Martin Dupont (Just Because), Messengers (Frontiers), Microdisney (Dolly), Modern English (Hands Across The Sea), Monitor (Mensch Aus Glass), My Mine (Zorro), National Pastime (Idle Threats – b-side), Native Tongue (History), Neon (Dark Age), Nightmoves (Transdance), Nyam Nyam (Fate-Hate), Paparazzi (Dont Stay All Night), Parking Meters (Cross My Heart), Passion Puppets (Beyond The Pale), Paul Haig (The Only Truth), Paul Quinn (Pale Blue Eyes), Person To Person (High Time), Pete Shelley (Never Again), Pookah Makes Three (Take It Back), Positive Noise (Distant Fires), Private Lives (Living In A World Turned Upside Down), Pulse Beat (Can It Be So Long), Radio Movie (Do What You Want), Reward (Strangers This Time), Rive Gauche (Friends Are Friends), Scary Thieves (Tell Me Girl), Secession (Touch), Secret Hearts (Moment Of Madness), Seven (Stranger Than Fiction), Shriekback (Hand On My Heart), Sideway Look (Knowing You From Today), Silent Running (Sticks And Stones), Six Sed Red (Shake It Right), Soma Holiday (Shake Your Molecules), Soul On Ice (Widescreen), SPK (Machine Age Voodoo), Swans Way (When The Wild Calls), The Adventures (Send My Heart), Armoury Show (Castles In Spain), Bluebells (Cath), Comsat Angels (Day One), Farmers Boys (Phew Wow), The Group (American), The Hostages (Going Up In The World), The June Brides (In the Rain), Lotus Eaters (Set Me Apart), March Violets (Walk Into The Sun), The Mood (I Dont Need Your Love Now), Neurons (Midnight Meetings), Noise Of Art (Sex War Religion), Pale Fountains (Thank You), The Pool (Where Did We Go Wrong), Quick (International Thing), The Rescue (Messages), Skeletal Family (She Cries Alone), The Vels (Private World), Wolfgang Press (Ecstasy), Zingari (One More Chance), This Island Earth (See That Glow) Thomas Leer (International), Tik Tok (Screen Me Im Yours), Torch Song (Tattered Dress), Troy Tate (Thomas), Turquoise Days (Grey Skies), Two Of China (Telk Mee), Valerie and the Week Of Wonders (Real Surprise), Virgin Dance (Desire), Vision (Lucifers Friend), Weimar Gesang (Held Inside), West India Company (Ave Maria), White China (Real World), White Door (Flame In My Heart), Wide Boy Awake (Billy Hyena), Wire Train (Ill Do You), Zee (Confusion), Zu Zu Sharks (After The Ships Gone Down – b-side)

All these amazing singles came out in 1984.
Need I say more ? :)

Also, a question of all of the true fans of the year….
Is there actually something we could call “the sound of 1984” ?



Chris Squires

Wow, you certainly had a very different 1984 than me, Twist of shadows.
Having read your list I can honestly say I have only heard one piece of music on it (Dali’s Car – due to my Japan obsession) and have *heard* (in the loosest sense) of about 5 other acts, but never their music. Helen Terry, A Certain Ratio and Comsat Angels for instance.

So we both think 1984 is the best but for me it was FGTH, Wham!, Paul Young, Duran Duran, TinTin, King, Nik Kershaw, Howard Jones, Spandau Ballet, David Sylvian, Alison Moyet – what one might term “The Usual Suspects”. I was working in WHSmith’s Music Department in Birmingham but plainly never got past the headliners going from your list.

It was odd going to Birmingham Nightclubs in 1984 (as a 17 year old – you could do it then) that the music was still by these chart acts plus stuff like Animal Magnet, welcome to the Monkey House. They were playing Tainted Love, Kiss Me, Quiet Life, True, Wake Me up Before you go go, Two Tribes. I remember being in a club in West Bromwich where they played Look Mama by Howard Jones. This, or it’s equivalent, wouldn’t happen in a million years now. Do they play Ed Sheeran or Adele in Clubs? Or is it all Stormzy etc?

The “Sound of 1984” rests on the shoulders of Wham! and FGTH for me.


Hey, Chris……I only discovered these rare / obscure 1984 sounds during the last couple of years by going through different blogs, forum (New Wave Outpost) with such material and youtube, of course. This would never happen if there wasnt an online community and I am eternally grateful that there is……

My personal charts for 1984 also feature all the artists that you mentioned, especially David Sylvian, FGTH and Wham!

I simply wanted to point out that there is sooo much more amazing stuff out there under the surface of 1984 that I was previously aware of (and I am sure many others as well….)


Well, subjectively the best year is the year you turned 14, 15 or 16 it seems.

But to introduce a level of objectivity to it I think it is probably a year in which the best music being made was storming the charts (and not underground).

1966/67 are very hard to beat but I would say it is 1979. The year all the punk and new wave groups starting charting on mass and having number 1 singles, people like Blondie, Police, Jam, Costello and then at the lower end of the charts bands like Joy Division, the Bunnymen, Teardrops etc. Plus you had the birth of rap music with Rapper’s Delight, the whole 2TONE thing with the Specials and Madness. It was also the year the most singles were ever sold in the UK, 86 million, so the pop charts were really on fire with so much amazing music.


I won some tickets to the first year that the BPI awards allowed the public in.

Many highlights that night but I remember Fergal Sharkey standing on my foot.
Sadly, I can’t remember which one these days. I have washed both of them since. ;-)

martin farnworth

I’ll go for 1982 as the best year for pop- narrowly edging 1981. The year of Lexicon Of Love, Sulk and New Gold Dream as major standouts. Ambitious and futurist pop albums clearly of the time yet also stand the test of time. Difficult to believe they would be anywhere near as successful today. That’s not forgetting You And Me Both, The Golden Age Of Wireless or English Settlement from that year also.

Typeface is definitely the right decision although to be honest i hadn’t noticed it was small beforehand.

Larry Davis

All cool, but isn’t ‘Upstairs At Eric’s” 1982 and “You And Me Both” 1983?? I was in 9th grade in 1982 and yes twas a swell year…

martin farnworth

i stand corrected! :)


I started work in the HMV Shop, Wolverhampton on October 4th 1984 and this particular edition on TOTP holds many great memories for me. I remember meeting my good friend Martin Wedge that day for the first time as he was frantically slapping £1.99 price stickers on Wham’s Freedom 12″ , the record was a hot seller and no time was wasted getting it out on the racks for the eager record buying public!


Fantastic read Paul about your experience and also great reading other people’s memories. I agree 84 (and 85 for me) was a fantastic year for music and for me personally as a 13 year old I was blown away with the 12 inch culture that was beginning to really take hold by this point. I still have all my vinyl 12 inches from this period, Depeche Mode, Frankie, Howard Jones, Tears For Fears, Nik Kershaw, Wham! Bronski Beat, Nile Rodgers remix of the Reflex is a perfect example from this year. And let’s not forget this year Prince took the world by storm – When Doves Cry was sublime.

Chris Squires

I met both Billy Connolly (The morning after Burn’s night 1994) and Michael Palin (1990) in separate lifts whilst working in Glasgow and Manchester.

Palin was filming GBH and I asked him “Are you who you think I am?”. He just laughed and I felt like a right tit.

Connolly was filming “The World Tour of Scotland” and he filmed himself getting out of that very lift that very night to walk to the Glasgow gig that features on the TV series, so I missed being in that shot by about 10 hours! Breakfast instead of Dinner, darn it.

Oh and the back of me head is in shot for about two seconds at the Tubular Bells II launch concert at Edinburgh Castle. You realize you have lived a small life when stuff like this stands out :-)

Peter van noort

Happy with the text Paul, as my arms are indeed getting shorter upon my age…

Enrico G.

I took a can right on my nose at an Ultravox gig in Bologna, Italy, in 1985.
Does it count?

Daniel Wylie

I was on TOTPs in 2001 with my band Cosmic Rough Riders. A lifetime ambition achieved. There were four stages all named after a Beatle. We were on the John Lennon stage. We were the only act in the studio that night to play live. Everyone else was miming. Our thanks for playing live and giving the engineers something to do, was a promise of many reruns on TOTPs 2.

Daniel Wylie

Yeah, I believe it was in a new location. I remember it as being a terrifying experience performing live on TV. A lot of the shows were were on around the world were miming but live shows had an edge and a danger that you might mess up, which is scary.


Daniel, think I saw you guys supporting The Jayhawks at the Old Fruitmarket in Glasgow on their Smile tour. Does sound right? Would have been about 2000.

Daniel Wylie

Yes…that was a great night. I love The Jayhawks and they played “Trouble” for me at the soundcheck and didn’t play it in their show that night despite playing for around 2 hours.

Paul Waddington

Daniel, my wife and myself still consider the CRR concert we saw at ULU as the best show we’ve seen, despite the ULU being one of the worst venues in London, and we have seen a lot of bands. In fact, you probably owe me a bit of commission for the amount of people I have recommended Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine to! Easily amongst my favourite albums, alongside the Beatles and Dylan albums that influenced you. Anybody reading this who hasn’t heard that album should stop reading and get yourself over to Spotify or Apple Music immediately.

Anyway, a year or so after the ULU show we saw the band, without you, at the Borderline. They were okay, but my wife, rather worst for wear at the time, went the wrong way coming out of the ladies and found herself stood outside the dressing room. Being a straightforward Scot, she decided to take the opportunity to go in and tell the band where they were going wrong and that they needed to do whatever it took to get you back in the band. Fortunately, a moment of clarity hit her when she was turning the door handle and she beat a hasty retreat!

Daniel Wylie

I remember that gig. I think Arnold and The Electric Soft Parade supported us. We all ended up back at the Columbia Hotel for refreshments. Well done to your Mrs for giving it to them straight. :) If you like ETMS, you should check out my latest album “Scenery For Dreamers” as reviewers are saying it’s my best since ETMS. Apologies for the self plugging.

David M

I will go with 79, I was 17. Some of the number ones, Blondie, Police, Gary Numan (Cars),Ian Dury, Cliff’s greatest song, Buggies, Boomtown Rats, Gloria Gaynor etc. Also post punk stuff, Two Tone, Talking Heads, PIL, Joy Division, Clash tc etc hitting the lower reaches and the album charts.

David M

And The Jam!

Steve Rickard

YES, YES, YES !!!! But you also had Art Garfunkle, Village People and Lena Martel at number 1….

David M

Every year has bad number ones. This year had mostly superb ones.


You *finally* got to see that episode of TOTP – ha ha, amazing! (Also, last month that I was told I had to get reading glasses – haven’t yet got into the habit of remembering to wear them though, so appreciate the site’s font ’embiggening’…)


the misplaced ‘that’ is evidence I don’t have my glasses on…


Love the new font!! Take it from a guy who recently started using reading glasses and can never find them!

Paul English

@Kevin S
Now 4 opens with the Special Dance Edit of No More Lonely Nights. It was on the B-side of the second 12″ version. Macca’s management would only license that version of the track to the Now compilers.

Paul English

There is Paul – can’t seem to find that video now. Somebody else mentioned it to me a few weeks ago.


My knees are in visible on a Bruce Hornsby DVD, but they didn’t swing the camera higher to show any more.
(Completely unrelated to music, but I was called a stupid idiot on national Australian tv in 87.)


I’ve watched all of the 1984 repeats on iplayer and will watch the latest soon. I’ll look out for you. I was only 7/8 in 1984 and lived in Australia. I remember hearing some of these songs at the time but I was too young to really appreciate them artistically. 1984 was a good year but then so was 83 and 85. The 80s goes a bit bland followed by weird after then.

Steve Hurley

Great to read about your TOTP encounter Paul & also everyone else’s stories. Must be something in the air – i’m also 50 & succumbed to the curse of the reading glasses this year!

Keith Ainsworth

I was in the audience for the British premiere of Depeche Mode’s 101 film at the Dominion theatre in London (the band were in a box) and was interviewed by the BBC for DefII on the way out. I was also in the audience to see Pet Shop Boys perform Rent for Sunday Night at the London Palladium. I met some people in the queue (you could queue to fill empty last minute seats so there were no empty ones on the telly) who told me how to apply for TOTP tickets. Sadly I never got around to applying to TOTP.


I once walked passed Paul Young in a record store in Glasgow, I think he was doing a gig that night. Man he was huge, seemed about 8 foot tall and was wearing a big 4th Doctor type hat and scarf!!


Noooooo !
1983 is THE best year: Relax, Moonlight Shadow, Owner of a Lonely Heart, Say Say Say, Rock it, I’m Still Standing, Come back and Stay, Every Breath you Take, All Night long (all night), Total Eclipse of the Heart, Africa (Toto), Too Shy, Cruel Summer, 99 Luftballons, Original Sin, Shout, China Girl, Uptown Girl,..
Should I go on? :)

Le Baron, born in 1974.

Nigel M

A couple of claim to fame appearances that I can put in the mix. I’m in the live video for MJ’s Another Part Of Me, filmed at Roundhay Park in Leeds. I’m also in the live film for the the INXS concert “Summer XS” called “Live Baby Live.” I can also be spotted at the Duran Duran concert at the Eden Project from a couple of years ago. Finally, I am proud to be a winner of “Bits & Pieces” at the Radio 1 Roadshow in Newquay. Simon Bates and Steve Wright were the DJs. Sad but true! Couldn’t agree more about 1984. An amazing year for music. I remember hearing the 12″ of War by FGTH played by Radio 1 when Two Tribes hit number 1 for the 7th week. I was a spotty 14 year old getting drunk whilst camping with mates, with a small Sanyo radio blasted at the Top 40, sitting around a campfire. Happy days!


I think people who haven’t been there might be surprised at the diminutive size of the TOTP studio. It was tiny! The whole place was painted matt black, as might be clear from the telly. But the studio was only about the size of a tennis court (although squarish) although my memory for dimension is not what it was.

Although there weren’t any recorded that day, I went there as part of my induction week tour of different departments when I worked for the BBC. That same week I was in the ‘Parkinson’ show audience when the musical guest was (purely by chance, as we inductees had no say when we were invited/required to attend) Queen! (post-Freddie, pre-Adam Lambert)

Larry Davis

Very cool Paul…love the hat and handjive. Haha…I never experienced much pop stuff in my teen years, even tho I am only 3 years older than you…i do agree that 1984/1985 were possibly the best ever years in pop music…being a senior in high school and then starting college only adds to that… And the first few Now records from the UK were amazing 2 record sets…I only started going to gigs in like 1985/1986…but I DID go to high school WITH Mariah Carey tho…and I have met many bands at instores, like Jesus Jones in 1992 and Pulp in the late 90s…met and hung with the Ramones numerous times as well…many pics I have and need to scan and upload…and I like this font..I do wear bifocals now…just turned 50 yikes but am told I don’t look a day over 35…prob from never being a smoker and good DNA…

Larry Davis

I did see Jeff Buckley in 1995 at NYC Tower Records… He performed and signed…amazing and he was really spaced out when I met him…sucked when he drowned 2 years later…that shocked me…same when I saw and met Amy Winehouse in 2007 cuz she was so charming and cool and beautiful… Sigh

Joe Mac Pherson

Nico, asking me to step inside the Whiskey A Go Go, out of the June heat in L.A., in 1979, and chat with her before her sound check. The conversation between us was almost 45 minutes, and she signed Chelsea Girl and Desert Shore for me.
Marianne Faithfull, who gave me a hug, a kiss, and some of her personal advice: “Darling, men can come and men can go, but a great Champagne will NEVER let you down.”
All 3 original members of Heaven 17, discussing their music, people they really respected- The Associates, Ultravox, Tina Turner, among others. And what it was like to work with Sandie Shaw in the studio. And their collaborations with Billy MacKenzie of The Associates.
The Church, at their 1st U.S. concert at a tiny club in Malibu, California, in the Autumn of 1984. The audience was small, I hung out with the band and they signed all of my Australian import vinyl releases, And I learned a lot about their take on music!
Meeting Emerson, Lake & Palmer, discussing their music, their history, and they were 3 charming men.
Meeting Miss Diana Ross, who was pleased to discover, the very 1st record I ever bought was Back In My Arms Again, by The Supremes. It was 1965, my 11th birthday, and that record started everything else to follow. In 1994, she graciously signed 2 LP covers and a CD cover for me.
Meeting Martha Reeves, and Betty Kelley, one of The Vandellas.
Julian Cope, handing me his mic at the Roxy on Sunset Strip, to announce to the sold out audience where they they actually buy Droolian and Skellington on import, UK CD.
Meeting Gary Numan, which is how I learned that Ultravox and Kraftwerk were bands he looked up to, as a boy before he began recording.
Meeting every one of the wonderful ladies of Motown’s girl group, The Velvelettes, and getting to talk about their time with Motown Records in the 1960’s.
Ian McCulloch, telling me exactly what he thought of Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes. Whew!!
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, who discussed their music with me, and why they revere the Silent Film star, Louise Brooks, so much.
Glasvegas, who put me on their guest list for a concert at The Echo in Echo Park, in L.A., and when I saw them again, 2 days later at The Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, Jonna Lofgren handed me 1 of her well thrashed drumsticks after the concert. You know I have their music signed, too!
Jim McCarty of The Yardbirds, very kind, a real gentleman, signing the beautiful black and white reverse cover photo of The Yardbirds 1967 album, Little Games.
Meeting Colin Blunstone, Rod Argent and Paul Atkins of The Zombies, at the Key Club on Sunset Boulevard, on the strip, in 2005. They graciously signed their 1965 debut album, also Odessey & Oracle as well as their deluxe multi disc box set, Zombies Heaven, featuring everything they ever recorded in the studio. Sadly, Paul Atkinson passed away only a few months after that, from cancer. In 2015, I’d meet Hugh Grundy and Chris White, who also signed all 3 of those releases. Now I have all 5 members of the original Zombies, signed on 3 releases.
Meeting The Horrors, who permitted me to stay behind at the concert at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach, California, and I discussed their music with them And aircraft! And they not only signed the music I brought along, they also did creative artwork, too.
Getting kissed, and again! And hugged by the fabulous Ronnie Spector, at The Roxy, and she signed all of my vinyl and CDs I brought along.
Annie Lennox, who was beyond gracious, and also told me something so eloquent, so beautiful and absolutely unexpected, I’ve never forgotten her words. I was so emotional when I met her, I started to cry. This grand lady gave me words I will hold to my heart.
Midge Ure, at the Roxy on Sunset Bloulevard in West Hollywood, where I finally got to find out why the U.S. track listing on side 1 of Vienna was reversed, from what the rest of the world was buying.
Peter, Bjorn and John, who were astonished to see that I owned a very rare, limited edition, Swedish LP edition of Writer’s Block, where the entire night skyline is done as golden skyscrapers. They don’t even own a copy!
And this isn’t even half of the extraordinary people in music I’ve met. And I have their personally signed music, now professionally framed, on the walls.
The Beat Goes On…
Paul, NOW you realize, your website is truly vital to me!


Regretfully my appearance (again with my sis) on ToTP was wiped years ago .. shame but it was in Nov 71 .. thankfully the DJ was Ed Stewpot Stuart .. who’s still ok to watch .. phew .. glad your episode’s survived .. but hey I could re watch Cilla (“Something tells me ..”) and John Kongos “Tokoloshi Man” .. er on second thoughts maybe not ..

And as ToTP was recorded on a Wednesday – before transmission I was able to spread the word around school about tomorrow’s show .,. so got the hero status for a short while ..

Glad something’s survived .. cheers


Also remember going along to an in store signing by Pete best, I thought the place would be rammed so got there early, no one was there. 5 mins before he was due to arrive I was still the only one there. I was too embarrassed to stay so just left and walked passed him as he was walking in. Poor old Pete.


When you see these reruns of totp you can class them into two categories…original presenters or Steve Wright voiceover, if its the latter then you know why the presenter has been removed. Useless trivia i know but not well known.

Chris Squires

Anorak alert – I had this conversation with “the editor” about 6 weeks ago, which is why it is fresh in the mind.

Steve Wright does the voice-overs for what is known as TotP2 or Top of the Pops 2, which was originally shown on BBC2 from 2006 onwards. They tend to be specials based either around a specific event, such as Christmas, a particular band… there is a Wham! special for instance or finally a specific Genre such as Country on Top of the Pops which will be full of stuff like Shania Twain.

The classic re-runs on BBC4 started in 2011 and were supposed to be played in real time but with a 35 year delay, so they started with 1976 and moved through. Unfortunately as recent events have become clearer they started to skip episodes that featured Jimmy Savile. Then they added Dave Lee Travis (DLT) to the list. As far as I know the only artist that is on the banned list is Gary Glitter. There was a furore a couple of years ago to get Cliff Richard’s archive dumped as well, but sensibly that never gained any real traction. They did show an appearance of Jonathan King though as he was one-off presenter in 1980 not a performer and the BBC was heavily criticised for it. I recall he was demonstrating how to use a Rubik’s Cube. The BBC4 re-runs are shown in two variants the 40 minute uncut and the 30 minute edit which was how it was originally broadcast. It is well known that they always shot more acts than were needed for the 30 minute show and a couple of acts were always cut. This might be if there performance was sub-standard or something went wrong or ultimately just bad luck that your appearance got canned. Many times it was because the acts played up and the producers just plain got pissed off with them. Since the re-runs started 6 years ago they have now moved on 8 years which shows how many shows have been “avoided”. It should still be 1982. They have not edited any shows (other than showing the original 30-minute edited versions). I was kinda hoping that they would edit out the links if it was a Savile week, but no, they just drop the whole show and move on to the next show where the presenter isn’t on the dreaded “list”.

I know all this because I have every BBC4 show trapped on my Tivo and have been recording them religiously. Annoyingly the first two live performances by Mike Oldfield (Guilty – 3rd May 1979) and Sally Oldfield (Mirrors 7th December 1978) were *both* made with Jimmy Savile as the presenter and were not shown during the re-runs. Fortunately I have copies of their only re-showing on UK Gold in the mid-1990s.

This is such a shame, however understandable…BUT great studio performances by the likes of The Undertones, The Police, The Buzzcocks, Gerard Kenny, Rachel Sweet, Dollar, Racey and The Goodies (terrific) are all gone now. I hope they do keep them and don’t get tempted to wipe them. And this is only two random shows goodness knows what is missing from the 100 or so un-shown editions.

It should calm down now as Savile was rarely used after this point and doesn’t appear again until 1988. DLT, fortunately, was not a frequent presenter so that shouldn’t affect things too much. The ONLY presenter not to give permission for their shows to be shown was the late Mike Smith who died a couple of years back (2014). I only found this out recently as I wasn’t aware that permission would even need to be signed away. Since he died this decision has not been revoked and his episodes will still be missing (if you don’t know who Mike Smith is and you saw the Kate Bush “Running up that Hill” Documentary on the BBC he is the first person to speak about Wuthering Heights).

Anorak over and out.

Steve Rickard

Jonathan King presented Entertainment USA on BBC2 at the time, and sometimes would be included on TOTP with the American chart rundown,. These segments are now edited out of the reruns, even the late night edition.

Chris Squires

Ah yes, I remember now. It was the first time I had heard of Hall & Oates, through Entertainment USA, I think it was about the time of Private Eyes and Jonathan King said they would be “the biggest band in the world within a year” and he was, more or less, right.

Dodgy though he was, he was still responsible for developing a lot of great music, if not his own. Genesis and 10cc spring to mind.
AND he bought the gorgeous Jenny Powell to our screens. That was more than enough to rock any teenage boy’s world.

David Smith

They also skip Mike Smith’s TOTP because for some reason he decided not to sign the licence extension, and since his passing the BBC have honoured his request. If you are watching old TOTP I can recommend following TOTPfacts along on twitter


Wow……I didnt realize at all until I read this that there are actually 40-min uncut Top Of The Pops episodes out there and you guys in the UK can watch them on your IPlayer. Unfortunately, I cannot.

If there is someone who would like to share these in some kind of a trade, I would gladly offer almost anything in return (musically, that is…..:)

I am really very interested in the 1984 (of course), 1982, 1983 & 1985 uncut 40-minute episodes, especially the ones skipped in the BBC4 repeats (regarding Jimmy Saville, DLT and Mike Smith).


I was in the audience when Abba were on the Late Late Breakfast Show in 1982 – shown regularly on one of the BBC Abba tribute shows – so there I am, clear as day, on the BBC virtually every Christmas …and on the DVD with The Visitors Deluxe edition too !!….took long enough though, as when it was shown live the ending was cut !…..
(Held open the door for Agnetha too and got their autograph, but that’s another story..)


I didn’t really notice Edmonds much !….

Nick Lees

My one moment: in 1965 my Uncle Bill, who worked as a “man in a brown overall“ at the ATV Studios in Aston got me tickets to Thank Your Lucky Stars Summer Spin. I was incredibly excited as a 13 year old – even when, because I might be caught on camera, my parents made me wear my school uniform :(

Still, I saw the UK TV premier of Sonny & Cher (swoon) and The Small Faces (much screaming, and demanding Steve remove his shirt), as well as Joe Brown and Heinz.

John Lim

Squinting days are over.


Paul, although you’re right, none of us are getting any younger, and although I’m sure you’re blog is read mostly by 40+ people who, experienced these releases the first time around.
I’m 30 years old and have been reading your blog for 3 years. I love 80s/90s/00s music, and I love box sets.


I was born a month after this seminal TOTP featuring the young Sinclair and SDE is in my top five online daily visits.


I saw Adam ant and Marco pirroni do an acoustic in store performance at tower records Glasgow in 1995 around the time wonderful came out. Couple of memories of that show, before the show started a dad walked across the “stage” carrying his wee boy and knocked marco’s VERY expensive looking guitar of its stand and they couldn’t get it back in tune. The guitar guy looked well pee’d off and had to replace it with much cheaper looking one. Second memory is I caught chickenpox the day after the gig, then found out much later from a future friend that he has also been at the gig and he also caught chickenpox the day later. Must have been someone there who was sick and just didn’t want to miss the show! I always wonder if anyone else caught the great Ant plague of tower records Glasgow 1995!!

Chris Lancaster

Great story, Paul! Slightly better than my musical claim to fame; I’m quite clearly visible in one shot of the very front of the audience on the Genesis Wembley 1987 DVD. I was 16 at the time.

Of course there’s also the fact that my aunt went out with Freddie Mercury for a couple of months just before Queen was famous. Oh, and there’s my friend who in his childhood years lived next door to John & Cynthia Lennon, and used to go round there to play — quite often, and in perfect ignorance as he was too small to know it was a big thing, seeing other Beatles there. He even remembers the band playing an impromptu set in the back garden at a Bonfire Night party.

But none of that happened to me. The closest I got to fame was that shot of me in the audience at the Genesis show. Oh well.


My mum once played in a band on the same bill as the Animals and got drunk with Eric Burdon after the gig. Could’ve been at at a really cool sounding place she used to tell me about called the Ricky Tick in Windsor where some exceedingly famous bands played.


Hi Paul,
I really like the new font seize (beeing 48 I just have mine first pair of reading glasses). But the comments section still is in small print. Any change of upscaling that as well? Then, from a point of vanity, I can read your site again without glasses.


Great, thanks


Thank you thank you thank you Paul.
Much appreciated.
I wear spectacles too…


It is repeated tonight (Sunday morning) at midnight.


+1, 84 never bettered for pop music. And thinking about this subject more, just look at that roster of acts and songs that Paul experienced and think about the ones that did not even make it onto that episode! You can clearly see (and hear) what a massive decline in pop / singles quality there has been since.

Having said that, can I just give a shout out (plug) for the new album from top notch Canadian band ‘Stars’. Their new album There Is No Love in Fluorescent Light is an absolute belting piece of A+ pop – all tracks are very strong. If you love pop music please do your ears a favour and listen to it (or even buy it!). Comfortably the best new album I have heard this year, but sadly none of the tracks will ever get a performance on TOTP (or whatever the Beebs new music show is called).

70s Guy

I was 23 and MTV had replaced the radio in the house.
Most certainly appreciate the font change.

Kevin S

I was just 13 but I was two months away from a very significant event – my sister and I both received a Saisho TV/radio/cassette player for Christmas 1984. Suddenly I could start my own music collection, which started with Now 4 and then my first ever purchase – Hits 1.

Almost every song from Paul’s TotP was on one of those albums. I annoyed my wife (no surprise) by announcing which album every song was on – including reliving my disappointment that the Now 4 version of No More Lonely Nights (which I did and still do adore) was the much less appealing dance version.

I still think that Now 4 is one of the best Nows.


Yes it was

Incidentally Now 4 on CD which was the first one, is now rare and the asking price on eBay is over 400 quid!!

Larry Davis

Actually no it is not…I was doing some research for details in my iTunes library…as I uploaded the “Pure McCartney” 4CD set to it and I had “Wingspan” on it…i removed the duplicate tracks off the iPod but like 17 tracks remained and I looked up where they were from to type it all in each entry. One was the Live In Glasgow version of “Coming Up”, as opposed to the studio ” McCartney II” version on “Pure McCartney”… Anyhoo the last track on “Wingspan” was the “Playout” version of “No More Lonely Nights” so I looked that up on Wikipedia, and it said the “Playout” version was on the 1st pressing of the 1984 12″ and was later replaced with the Arthur Baker remix on a later pressing…it didn’t say the “Playout” version WAS remixed by Arthur Baker or WAS the remix you were talking about…not sure if you or Wikipedia, who is correct here… Just my input…

Kevin S

I’ll have to dig out my tape. It had a lovely insert, from what I recall!

All I know is that I was so looking forward to hearing the original that I can never enjoy the alternative version!

Kevin S

I thought the picture of the specs was your nod to Ronnie Corbett :)

For a short sighted 50 something the new font and spacings are great.

Chris Squires

It was the best pop year by far. The chart battles were immense. The key to it all to me were Frankie and Wham! Yes others played their parts but these were the big boys of the year by a distance. “Frankie Say” and “Choose Life”. I don’t even need to say what these were, anyone around in that year will just know.

Now I need bi-focals just to read the T-shirt font, let alone this website!