Watched by Chris Arnsby
21 Jan 1982
David "Kid" Jensen: "Hi there. David Jensen here welcoming you to another Top of the Pops. Mike Read can't be with us, but we do have an excellent line-up and records for you to listen to, and watch as well. And we're going to kick of with Gillan. Restless."
What's wrong with Mike Read? Is he ill? Why -after his no show here- does he only present three episodes of Top of the Pops in 1982? Has he fallen out with Michael Hurll? Or, could the BBC be worried about overexposure? In addition to Top of the Pops Mike Read also has the Monday to Friday Radio 1 Breakfast Show, and on BBC1 Pop Quiz and, later in the year, Swap Shop's replacement the weekly Saturday Superstore; oh and in March a one off called The Battle Of The Bands which he co-hosts with rock goddess Rula Lenska. Is it possible that someone at the BBC wanted to minimise his hosting of Top of the Pops to stop him becoming the BBC's face of pop music.
Gillan: Restless . Top of the Pops has a new set element. The programme logo has been rendered in neon. It looks expensive. Thunderflashes abound when Gillan starts to play and the stage is showered in sparks like the bridge of the starship Enterprise when it's attached by Romulans. This song has no connection to Rebel Rebel by David Bowie but every time Gillan sings "Jimmy Jimmy," I expect the next line to be "you've torn your dress."
Jon & Vangelis: I'll Find My Way Home. A repeat from the 07/01/1982 edition.
Phil Lynott: Yellow Pearl . This is the third Top of the Pops of 1982, but that Jon & Vangelis song was the first repeat performance from an earlier edition. The reason is the increasing popularity of videos. Here's another one because Phil Lynott (although David "Kid" Jensen -like Peter Powell- refers to him more formally as Phillip) can't come to the studio.
The Mobiles: Drowning In Berlin . BBC4 have skipped the 14/01/1982 edition because it was presented by D*v* L** Tr*v*s. This is frustrating for modern viewers because we get two back to back editions with a lot of the same songs. Still when two of them are Yellow Pearl and Drowning In Berlin that's not so bad. Passing over the 4/01/1982 edition which was closed by a re-release of Being Boiled allows this BBC4 repeat run to continue it's tradition of missing every song by The Human League except Don't You Want Me. The Mobiles, unlike Phil Lynott, make the effort and come in to the studio. The lead singer is doing her best but she's overshadowed by the guitarist on her left who looks like the younger more attractive brother of Lurch from The Addams Family.
Electric Light Orchestra: Ticket To The Moon .This Zoo routine starts off with a couple CSO'd onto an moving background of black and white shapes. Could we be about to get a Zoo dance routine which makes use of modern electronic effects to create an abstract dance space? No. We quickly fade to the studio and watch some dancers go through a dated ballet-lite routine. It's Legs & Co deja vu all over again. A man sits at the back of the stage in a spacesuit costume. Ticket to the moon? More like ticket to instant death. (John- He probably left his ticket in them as well so he's not going to the Moon anyway)
Meat Load: Dead Ringer For Love . Another song that featured on the 07/01/1982 edition. We get to see the video again, although this time it's cut short.
XTC: Senses Working Overtime . The pilot episode of The Young Ones was filmed in January 1982. It's hard not to shake the idea that Rik Mayall based some of Rik's facial expressions on Andy Partridge.
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark: Maid Of Orleans (The Waltz Of Joan Of Arc) . Andy McCluskey has done up the belt on his leather jacket but not the zip. The resulting effect looks like a lumpy bin liner tied round the middle with string.
Christopher Cross: Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do) . The top 30 countdown boldly sails past number 20 to halt at this slice of wimp rock sitting at number 18. Christopher Cross looks like an older version of Chris Pratt's character from Parks and Recreation.
Foreigner: Waiting For A Girl Like You . This time the top 20 countdown continues to 8 so that we can marvel at Foreigner filmed in blur-o-rama.
Number One: Bucks Fizz, The Land Of Make Believe. A repeat from last week's skipped D*v* L** Tr*v*s edition. What are Bucks Fizz wearing? Bobby G's done up in a shirtless Captain Hook outfit, Cheryl is dressed as Peter Pan, and Mike might conceivably be dressed as a lost boy. You might think there's an attempt being made at a pantomime theme. Why then has Jay pulled on a wedding dress?
Closing Titles: Shakatak, Easier Said Than Done . Zoo this week featured Alison, Colin, Foxy, Helen, Mary, Nola, Voyd, and Wanda.
Performance of the week: XTC: Senses Working Overtime
28 Jan 1982
Simon Bates:" Welcome to Top of the Pops with a new number one later on and Tight Fit to kick us off with."
Tight Fit: The Lion Sleeps Tonight . There's a very nice match cut from the Top of the Pops logo in the titles to the ritzy neon version in the studio. The next thing to catch your eye is a glassy-eyed lion standing next to Simon Bates. The lion ambles off as Simon Bates introduces Tight Fit. The expectation is that it will join Tight Fit -presumably for some sort of sleeping demonstration- but what actually happens is that the lion keeps wandering around the stage and standing where the camera can't see it; apparently the lion missed camera rehearsals. Get it together lion, the pantomime gorilla is getting more screen time and this song isn't called The Gorilla Sleeps Tonight. All told this is a very poor performance by the lion. We're on the second round of a-weema-weh's before it manages to get a decent profile shot, and then it goes and lurks in the studio shrubbery while the gorilla starts dancing with Denise Gyngell. By the time the lion comes out of the shrubbery and does a few desultory twists with Julie Harris it's too late. The song's over. It's all over.
Oliva Newton-John: Landslide . Not to be confused with the Fleetwood Mac song. This video has all the hallmarks of being created by a team who have taken lots of inspiration up their nose. Hands emerge from a sea of dry ice; there's a hawk; a man aggressively plays violin at the camera; small children drumming and dressed as ninjas; legs going up stairs with more hands; a rottweiler; dutch camera angles; Oliva Newton-John looks bored and confused; more hawk; more aggressive violining; Oliva Newton-John smirks at a glowing pyramid with all smoke coming out of it; Oliva Newton-John walks through a door dressed as a sexy businesswoman; and then the song starts! It's terrible.
Haircut 100: Love Plus One . Who's that standing left of Simon Bates as he introduces Haircut 100? It's the lion, now mask-less and revealed as one of the dancers from Zoo. Given the performance he just turned in he looks far more pleased than he should. A promising start by Haircut 100 is let down badly when the fifth and sixth lines of the song turn out to be "Ay ay ay ay ay ah/Ay ay ay ay ay ah." BUZZ. I'm sorry, I'm going to have to stop you there. It's far too early in the song for that kind of place holder nonsense. (John- But the next line is the more impressive "Is it down to the lake I fear?")At the end of the song as the camera pulls back for the final shot it gives a nasty lurch. It's probably just gone over someone's foot.
The Stranglers: Golden Brown . It's been a year since The Stranglers last graced the Top of the Pops studio with Thrown Away; an odd performance even by their standards. Time has not mellowed the band. All the usual Stranglers hallmarks are present; the surly refusal to make eye-contact with the audience, check; someone chewing gum, check (yes, I mean you Burnel); a general sense of disdain for the audience, double-check. However, the air of sullen malice is punctured when we cut to four members of Zoo who have been dressed as medieval clots and made to dance the cotillion.
Stiff Little Fingers: Listen . When the song starts camera 6 can be seen at the back of the stage getting into position behind the drummer; the cameraman is having a few problems with his cable. It's a reminder that Top of the Pops is recorded as live with as few breaks as possible unless it's something that Joe Public is really going to notice. The Stiff Little Fingers have a power-fist salute which they employ during the chorus. The audience don't really seem to catch on. Surely this is the reason there are cheerleaders?
Elkie Brooks: Fool If You Think It's Over . In fact recently the audience has been pushed aside in favour of the cheerleaders. In any given shot you are more likely to be looking at a carefully selected cheerleaders than genuine audience members. For some reason this all changes for Elkie Brooks and she's up on a podium surrounded by the real Top of the Pops audience; the yawners; the laughers; the distracted-by-something-more-interesting-going-on-over-there-ers. Watching them reminds you why the real audience was pushed aside in favour of the cheerleaders. Most distracting of all is a bloke who looks like one of Meatloaf's gang from the Dead Ringer For Love video. He's gawping like a yokel who's having a real good time. "Gee Ma! Lookie me! I'm on the tel-e-visi-ion."
Alton Edwards: I Just Wanna (Spend Some Time With You) . Last year the BBC brought one of those futuristic laser thingies; you can see it in the Blake's 7 episode Sand which aired towards the end of 1981. It's worked its way through the BBC to the Top of the Pops studio where someone has the bright idea of firing it at a mirrorball. The results look good, but does the potential reward outweigh the risk of someone getting it right in the retinas? Actually, closer inspection of the effect reveals it's a composite image knocked up by Vision Mixer Sue Collins. The mirrorball is overlaid at the top of the picture. It's not clear if the laser is actually being fired at the ball (although I'd like to imagine that's the sort of thing the BBC Visual Effects department did all the time) or if that's another picture coming from a third camera. What looks like a mini Death Star bringing death to the studio is actually quite a complicated shot.
Number One: Shakin' Stevens, Oh Julie. It's a surprise to see Shakin' Stevens at number one. He's recently fallen victim to the curse of BBC4 repeats. Since August 1981 every one of his seven scheduled appearances has been on a show presented by J**** S***** or D*v* L** Tr*v*s. The Human League also lost an entire years worth of songs in 1981 and apparently burst out of nowhere with their breakout hit Don't You Want Me (at least that's what happened if you only watch the BBC4 repeats). Shakin' Stevens top ten hit It's Raining disappeared into the void, and the skipping of a D*v* L** Tr*v*s edition from 14/01/1982 gives the impression that Oh Julie went straight in at number one. Compare this to Tight Fit who are favoured by the scheduling gods. Every one of their Top of the Pops performances is fit for broadcast.
Closing Titles: The Four Tops, Don’t Walk Away . More lasers are superimposed over shots of the dancing audience. This gives the impression that Director Gordon Elsbury is trying to vaporise anyone not showing the required levels of enthusiasm.
Performance of the week: The Stranglers: Golden Brown