Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Simon Bates: "Hello and welcome to the party. It's studio eight at Television Centre with a live Top of the Pops. A great 35 minutes. And to kick us off, The Belle Stars and the Clapping Song."
 The Belle Stars: The Clapping Song. Simon Bates? Presenting a live Top of the Pops? I might doubt his ability but BBC Genome proves me wrong. It turns out he's quietly become Top of the Pops' backup live TV guy. The first eighties edition broadcast live (or at least the first one flagged in the Radio Times) was the 900th edition of Top of the Pops shown on 09/07/1981. Peter Powell had a go next in September, before David "Kid" Jensen arrived back from CNN and handled the Christmas Eve edition and the first of the next cycle of live editions on 04/03/1982. Simon Bates follows with one on 11/03/1982. The pair then alternate as presenters and live shows settle into a pattern of one each month. Away from the dizzy whirl of Top of the Pops Simon Bates also shares presenting duties with Gloria Hunniford on a late night BBC1 show called Saturday Live (that's original) which ran for six weeks across the summer of 1982. Thanks for that BBC Genome. That's really helpful. I only have one last question; why did you also flag episode one of Fanny By Gaslight (24/09/1981 Fanny fans) in my list of Simon Bates search results? Meanwhile, on stage The Belle Stars do a really good job of getting this edition of Top of the Pops started.
|BBC dressing rooms were not large.|
 Bananarama: Shy Boy. We get one of those classic Top of the Pops 10 second interviews (with Neville Staple from Fun Boy Three) before Bananarama do their stuff. It's a slightly slower song than The Clapping Song so Vision Mixer Carol Abbott can ease off on the frantic cutting. Designer Cecilia Brereton has decorated the set with inflatable bananas; the diabolical fiend.
 The Brat: Chalk Dust (The Umpire Strikes Back). Ha-ha it's a novelty Wimbledon song! And ha-ha-ha it's based on John McEnroe! And it's got a title that sounds a bit like The Empire Strikes Back ha-ha-ha-ha! It's rubbish. But the presentation is surprisingly ambitious for a live show. The song is performed on the same stage where The Belle Stars started the show, which means Cecilia Brereton and her army of scenery shifters had to set up a tennis net, umpire chair, etc. Presumably this was done while the promo for Driving In My Car was playing. And regardless of the quality of the song Roger Kitter (Captain Bertorelli in 'Allo 'Allo! fact fans) does a credible job batting away tennis balls, he also performs a dangerous looking forward somersault onto the hard studio floor.
 Trio: Da Da Da. And we're back on film. The promo for Da Da Da is notable for two things. One, the newspaper advert for Sexanorma (if Google is to be believed it's a German proto-Viagra) being studied by the one out of Trio who wears a hat and two, the middle finger gesture performed by the bardame when the lead singer of Trio slaps her bum. All told this promo film is a little racier than we're used to at 7.50pm on a Thursday evening.
 Junior: Too Late. Cecilia Brereton is just showing off now. While Da Da Da was playing she's had the tennis stuff cleared away and Junior is able to perform in the same space previously used by The Brat.
 The Stranglers: Strange Little Girl. Crowd control must be a challenge during live shows. You can see the crowd arrive from across the studio as The Stranglers start their song (you can also clearly see one of the cheerleaders geeing the audience into some "spontaneous" hand waving- remember all TV is a lie). However, the size of the crowd in front of The Stranglers seems smaller than the one for The Belle Stars, Junior and Dollar (coming soon, folks). Did Floor Managers keep most of the audience penned in like sheep? Also, what does Jean-Jacques Burnel mouth to someone in the front row of the audience as the song starts? It's something like "wave back" and it seems to be directed at a person with spiky peroxide blonde hair; part of a gang of four noticeably not waving during the wide shots.
 Dollar: Videotheque. Weirdly the start of Dollar's performance is a repeat from the 01/0717 show. This then fades into the live performance. I don't think I've ever seen a portion of a repeat used in this way before. Maybe Michael Hurll just liked the way the original performance looked with blue lighting and big video screens.
 Irene Cara: Fame. Top of the Pops is just messing with my mind now. Mucking around with the introduction to Dollar is followed by an unusual extended top 20 to 1 countdown. When the Fame promo starts it's footage from the official promo shown on the 08/07/1982 edition of Top of the Pops but edited to match the single, rather than the film soundtrack. Next we cut to Gordon Elsbury's specially shot footage shown on 15/07/1982. The unfortunate side effect of this is that poor Irene Cara unexpectedly ages. She walks out of the door of the High School of Performing Arts in the summer of 1979, and starts singing in footage shot three years later in July 1982. Finally Top of the Pops cuts back to movie footage but it's Leroy's audition which didn't featured in the official Fame promo. If you're confused by all this then just think how I feel.
. Kid Creole & The Coconuts: Stool Pigeon. Top of the Pops closes with the traditional crowd dancing and some nice wide shots of the studio which give you a chance to see where the different stages are in relation to each other; if you're into that sort of thing.