Top of the Pops 12 and 19 Jan 1984

Watched by Chris Arnsby. Steve Wright: "Hello, good evening, welcome to another Top of the Pops!! With me!! And him!! Mike Read: "I'm pleased to say straight in at number twenty-eight Icicle Works and Love is a Wonderful Colour."

[28] The Icicle Works: Love Is A Wonderful Colour. Steve Wright is terribly excited to be back in the Top of the Pops studio. It's a bit like watching Peter Powell. However, Peter Powell tends to have a kind! of! puppyish! enthusiasm! while Steve Wright brings his own krazy!! brand!! of!! wackiness!!

1984 is Steve Wright's breakthrough year. He'll be hosting six editions of Top of the Pops. It's not many, but it's more than the two he did in 1983 or his one outing with Richard Skinner in 1982. It's also the year when he starts to build his reputation as Radio 1's craziest DJ while Adrian Juste glowers in the corner and grinds his teeth. It's notable when Steve Wright is allowed onto other BBC1 programmes that his character Mr Angry, from Purley, is mentioned in the listings for both; On The Road 01/09/1984 (BBC1 follows the Radio 1 Roadshow around the UK) and Saturday Superstore 17/11/1984. This makes me wonder if it was Steve Wright or Mr Angry who was seen as the real draw? A few clips of Mr Angry have made it to Youtube. The material is pretty thin. Sample gag: Mr Angry gets angry when he finds out he doesn't need to go on a ferry to vote in the European elections. It's easy to sneer, and I just did, but I'm sure I'd have found the character hilarious in 1984. However, listen to the 1985 Mr Angry single on Youtube if you dare.
Meanwhile on Top of the Pops; The Icicle Works are also here. They don't appear to have any connection to the 1985 computer game Icicle Works. (John- It’s also a great single with urgency, melody and a chorus that soars like a bird. )


The Story of Britannia High

Launched over a decade ago Britannia High was a curious colourful amalgam of 80s leg warming perennial Fame and the then film de jour High School Musical. It’s set in a UK performing arts school but check out that American logo. Wedged between that film’s popularity and the later television success of Glee, it has been largely forgotten even though it involved several heavyweight industry people. Cancelled after just nine episodes when it had only just got started, the show never picked up the sort of ratings the broadcaster wanted though an early evening Sunday slot may not have been the best location for it. So what was Britannia High, what was it really like and what went wrong? Why, in short, was it not – as the title song suggests- the Start of Something?


Top of the Pops 5 Jan 1984

Watched by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Well hello fans. Now you might think what we've got here is some kind of tribute to Mike Read but actually what we're celebrating is the 20th anniversary of Top of the Pops. " David Jensen: "And I think we really look fab gear." John Peel: "Yeah, there is that. This is very 1984 though this. Frankie Goes To Hollywood." David Jensen: "Take it away boys."
[35] Frankie Goes To Hollywood: Relax. We're 38 seconds into the first Top of the Pops of 1984 and there's a lot of stuff to unpack. Let's deal with the important stuff first. Who's been fiddling with my picture settings?
John Peel and David Jensen are suffused with a nuclear glow. Threads won't be shown until September so this can't be pre-publicity. A quick trip into VLC Media Player settings reveals a ticked box labelled Image Adjust; unticking it makes John Peel and David Jensen 300% less lurid.
The magic of CSO is used to add a shower of glitter behind the exploding TV screen in the opening titles. This is followed by a caption; SPECIAL EDITION.
The presence of certain DJs normally makes it impossible for BBC4 to repeat special editions of Top of the Pops. The last acceptable Christmas Day show was presented by Peter Powell in 1979, along with some bloke called Kid Jensen. BBC4 also missed out the 1000th edition, 05/05/1983, and the Radio 1 15th anniversary special, 30/09/1982.
Michael Hurll seems more keen on celebratory back-slapping than his predecessor Robin Nash which might explain why special editions dry up pre-1980. Coming up later (30/08/1984) is a live edition following an Intercity train on a speed run from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads. On arrival in Bristol leading power car 43002 was named Top of the Pops. Don't bother looking for this on BBC4 as J*mmy S*v*l* was the DJ on the train. It all sounds a bit high concept but this sort of thing was needed to keep up national morale in the long gap between royal weddings.
Relax is a single more notable for its absence from Top of the Pops, and the performance here only makes the subsequent ban seem even more ridiculous. Still there's something pleasingly circular about the first song of 1984 also being the most controversial.


They Call It Nutbush!

One of the most striking hits of 1973 was Tina Turner’s `Nutbush City Limits` with its fuzzy guitars, strutting beat, high pitched synth solo and vividly sketched portrayal of a “one horse town in Tennessee”. It was significant for the singer on three counts as it was the first self written song she recorded, being inspired by her upbringing and also the last single released credited to Ike and Tina Turner before the couple’s divorce. It has been described as her declaration of musical independence. The song has been covered by a number of artists and Tina Turner herself has re-recorded it. There is even a dance named after it that originated in Australia. The real Nutbush doesn’t actually have city limits as it’s not a city but `They call if Nutbush unincorporated rural community” just doesn’t sound anywhere near as catchy!


Doctor Who Resolution review

As series 11 unfurled, I got the impression that Chris Chibnall was holding back, pootling around the block rather than going in for the shot. If he was a footballer – and he’s penned some soccer related stuff for sure- he’d be the player with dazzling midfield skills which don’t quite end up amounting to a goal for the team. I recently re-watched `The End of Time` and whatever you think of the story it is jam packed with incident, excitement and drama. It involves you every step of the way and it’s exciting. 2018’s Doctor Who has been fine, good but never properly exciting. It has been polite but on a leash,  just a bit too careful, a bit too concerned with making factual sense when all that really matters for a programme like this is fictional sense. `Resolution` from a more melodramatic opening to thrilling climax seems to make amends. Is it simply a finishing flourish or a taster for next series? Hopefully it’s the latter.

Spoilers beyond this point..