Top of the Pops 29 Mar 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. Mike Read: "Hello flower people." Andy Peebles: "Hi. Good evening and welcome to another action packed edition of Top of the Pops. Mike Read: "That's right. Number 29 this week, great track from The Special AKA Free Nelson Mandela." 
[29] The Special AKA: Free Nelson Mandela. The limitations of the emergency strike studio cause a problem when The Special AKA turn up with too many people. They have to spread over two stages. Four singers are on one side of the studio and the band are crammed onto a tiny stage opposite. It ends up working really well and gives the camera operators lots of opportunities for good shots; including one looking across the studio with the band in the foreground, the audience in the middle, and the singers in the background nicely framed against the black cyclorama. Some of the audience are confused about where to look. Do you watch the band or the singers? The consensus seems to favour the four singers. They are on a higher stage so they must be more important. The Quantel box gets pressed into action a couple of times with a comet trails effect. It keeps the vision mixers busy. Yes, mixers, two of them are credited; Angela Wilson and Bill Morton. Let's hope the studio gallery isn't as cramped as the stage or everyone will be jammed in like The Special AKA. No wonder Michael Hurll has chosen this week to go on holiday. John Bishop grabs the producer's credit. 

[33] John Lennon: Borrowed Time. A second single from the posthumous Milk and Honey album. This one was recorded on 6th August 1980 during the Double Fantasy sessions with a sadly ironic title. The promo is another trip through the film archive, because how else are you going to do it?

[36] Captain Sensible: Glad It's All Over. An odd song. The vocal is very low energy, but there's a catchy Morse code-like drum beat. It's also one of those songs that sounds irritatingly like another, but I can't quite place the song it reminds me of. It might be that the "glad it's all over" bit reminds me of "we'll always be together," from Together in Electric Dreams; also from 1984.

[30] Simple Minds: Up On The Catwalk. Banter alert. Mike Read has worked out a hilarious bit of business with Captain Sensible which consists of Captain Sensible joining Mike Read to sing "glad it's all over" to the tune of Glad All Over by the Dave Clark Five. It's exactly as funny as it looks written down. I can't help feeling we're missing the best bit. Instead of watching Mike Read play for time, we should be watching Captain Sensible dash across a crowded studio packed with half-hidden trip hazards. Why do we have to wait for Captain Sensible to complete the Top of the Pops Krypton Factor assault course anyway? This isn't a live edition. This bit of business leads into an edit so abrupt I assumed the BBC4 Phantom Editor had to remove something unacceptable; a reference to J-n-th-n K-ng perhaps or D*v* L** Tr*v*s Tarzaning through the back of shot on a vine. Actually the to Simple Minds seems to be part of the original programme. What could have happened? Maybe the Read/Sensible segment just died in front of the audience and had to be got off screen as quickly as possible. (John- Meanwhile Simple Minds have released a great single.....)

[28] Siouxsie & The Banshees: Swimming Horses. According to Andy Peebles Siouxsie & The Banshees were in Marseilles last night, and tomorrow they'll be in Italy. Sadly this useful information passes almost unnoticed thanks to a gurning idiot who stands in the back of shot mouthing "hello" and pointing at himself.

[27] Madonna: Lucky Star. A very boring video.

[13] Thompson Twins: You Take Me Up. A song that has lodged in my memory. The video must have been shown a lot on Saturday Superstore and elsewhere because I remember it involving lots of stuff in quarries with heavy machinery. I'm not going to check this on Youtube because I want to wait until the video crops up on Top of the Pops then I'll have reassurance that my memory is a flawless continuous record of everything that has ever happened.

We don't get to see the video tonight because the Thompson Twins had a gap in their diary and could come into the studio. The colour projector has been turned off and one of the audience cheerleaders is silhouetted against it's screen. He's meant to be tugging on an endless cable (symbolism=work) but the BBC won't spring for more than about 6 feet of rope so what he's actually doing is engaging in a repetitive tug of war with an unseen accomplice. It's oddly hypnotic, but it gave me a stiff neck and sore back just watching. Top tip: lift with your lower back and don't forget to tense those stomach muscles.

[1] Lionel Richie: Hello. The video is tragically cut short this week meaning we miss the great mystery at the end. Lionel "Hello" Richie is summoned to the sculpture room ("Mr Reynonds... excuse me, but there's something going on in the sculpture class. I think you ought to check it out," where he finds the object of his affections sitting alone with a clay sculpture. "I've wanted you to see it so many times," she says but, here's the thing. She's blind, and Lionel Richie hasn't said "hello" yet. So how does she know who has just come in? Has she been sitting there for the last 10 minutes saying "I've wanted you to see it so many times," to everyone who has just wandered in?

[20] Michael Jackson: PYT (Pretty Young Thing). Audience dancing and credits.

Performance of the week: The Special AKA: Free Nelson Mandela

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