25/03/2018

Top of the Pops 23 March 1983


Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Well hello there fans and welcome to another Top of the Pops... sorry can we do that again Tony?" Tony [off camera]: "No". David Jensen: "No wait a minute, this is live. It's a live Top of the Pops tonight." John Peel: "Live?"David Jensen: "Oh dear... you know. Like we rehearsed it."John Peel: [mumbles]
David Jensen: "Across the nation tonight. Let's get on with it. Making their Top of the Pops debut tonight, never mind John, it's JoBoxers!"

[21] JoBoxers: Boxerbeat.  Yes Top of the Pops is live but on a Wednesday. The programme has been wrenched from its familiar Thursday night home and wedged unnaturally between A Question Of Sport and Dallas. Suddenly up is down. Ceilings are floors. Hats are shoes. I don't know what to think any more. Actually, Top of the Pops started on Wednesday 1st January 1964 and moved to Thursday in September of the same year. It was moved to Friday in April 1973, for apparently no better reason than BBC1 wanted to show The Virginian on Thursday night. Top of the Pops shuffled back to Thursday when that series of The Virginian ended in September 1973 and then moved to Friday again in September 1974 because BBC1 was desperate to show Chico and the Man to the nation. Evidently the nation didn't take to Chico and the Man because it was quietly moved to BBC2 in October and Top of the Pops returns triumphant to its ancestral seat where it stayed forever and ever and we all lived happily ever after (except for occasional moves to make space for the Olympics, or in tonight's case A Song for Europe). In summary; Top of the Pops has always been on Thursday except for the times it wasn't. Meanwhile, listen to the crowd chanting "beat, beat, beat," as the song starts. Surely The Look's lawyer was tempted to reach for his pen? And keep an eye on lead singer Dig Wayne. He is really chucking that microphone around. He drags it backwards. He pushes it forwards. He drags it backwards and pushes it forwards again. Each time it gets closer and closer to the front of the stage. Until finally, right at the end of the song, he lets it go and it tips forwards and tumbles off the stage.



[5] David Bowie: Let's Dance. This was always the start of David Bowies' career as far as I was concerned. Heroes, Ashes To Ashes, Fashion, all passed me by. If Under Pressure registered it was as a Queen song, and I don't think I knew what to make of Peace On Earth - Little Drummer Boy. The effect of working backwards and discovering he had a body of work which existed before I'd heard of him was rather like find out other people played Doctor Who before Tom Baker.

[9] Orange Juice. Rip It Up. Shades of Legs & Co. The boys and girls from Zoo have been given their own special stage to dance on, and pieces of paper which they do indeed "rip up," before starting again on the dance routine.

[27] Leo Sayer: Orchard Road. "And now, from his recent BBC1 television series, Leo Sayer". David Jensen is 50% right. The series actually went out on BBC2. It's notable less for the quality of the programme (standard LE fare to judge by this clip) than the bizarre weekly special guest; Steve Davis, Suzanne Dando, Garth Crooks, John Watson (a Formula 1 driver, apparently), Eric Bristow, and Geoff Capes. Arlene Phillips is credited with Choreography and I'm sure we all wish we could see the routines she created for Steve Davis and Eric Bristow.

[31] Big Country: Fields Of Fire (400 Miles). By 1988 The Proclaimers had got to (500 miles). That's inflation for you. Zoo break out the standard country dancing moves for the bits of this song that sound a little like the Highland Fling

[26] Nick Heyward: Whistle Down The Wind. Nick Heyward has a miming malfunction and misses the first line of his song. It's not clear what goes wrong. He seems apprehensive and glances nervously at the camera during the introduction. Of course he does have a giant camera crane parked in his face for a big close-up; it's a difficult thing to ignore. He also keeps looking round at the guitar player, and it's not clear if he's seeking reassurance or if he just can't hear the studio playback. Maybe he's just looking backwards to be all coy and winsome. Anyway, whatever the reason, he completely misses the first line of his song and picks up miming duties at the start of line two. In terms of great live disasters it's no Feargal Sharkey on a jumbo jet for Noel Edmonds' Live Live Christmas Breakfast Show 1985 (it's on Youtube about 29 minutes in) or All About Eve with Martha's Harbour on Top of the Pops in 1988.

[12] Altered Images: Don't Talk To Me About Love. Altered Images are performing on a stage liberally covered with streamers. Towards the end of the song Clare Grogan dances around and gets several wrapped round her arms and head. One is stubborn and resists all attempts to come off until it's finally broken with an arm swing.

[1] Duran Duran: Is There Something I Should Know? There's some editing shenanigans going on here which is unexpected for a live programme. John Peel and David Jensen introduce Duran Duran standing in front of the Eidophor screen by the main Top of the Pops stage. Yet they're gone in the next wide shot of the studio. Normally even the hosts don't move that quickly. The pair perform a similar miraculous appearing trick in front of the neon Top of the Pops logo to the left of the main stage at the end of the song. This is obviously a pre-recorded performance (unless John Peel and David Jensen can pop into existence like the cast of Rentaghost) but when was it recorded? Brace yourself because this is going to get painfully boring. On a couple of wide shots of the studio, taken from roughly in front of the neon logo, you can see the rear of a set made up of curved white tubes. The last time this set was in the studio, as far as I can tell, was on the 03/03/1983 edition for Genetic Engineering by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark. That was a show which featured very few bands in the studio; just Icehouse, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, and Bananarama. Given that the next song from Duran Duran was always going to be huge it doesn't seem unreasonable that Michael Hurll grabbed the band very early when they were available and booked them in for an extra recording session on an evening when there wasn't as much as going on in the studio.

[13] David Joseph: You Can’t Hide (Your Love From Me). If you were paying attention, which I wasn't on first viewing, it should be obvious there's something fishy going on with the editing because the alternative is that on a live show Duran Duran leave the stage in approximately five seconds flat, and David Joseph and band move all their equipment into the same area. Not even BBC stage hands are that good. The credits roll over this performance. "Tony," from John Peel and David Jensen's introduction must be Floor Manager Tony Guyan.


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