Top of the Pops 22 Nov 1984

Reviewed by Chris Arnsby. John Peel: "Hello admirers and welcome live to another Top of the Pops, and it's great to be back on the programme, huh Tommy?" Tommy Vance: "It's going to be a real blisterer this one. We are live this week. We have loads of good music for you, starting with this man, Nick Heyward. Here is his Warning Sign." 
[34] Nick Heyward: Warning Sign. This is Tommy Vance's last go at hosting Top of the Pops. He will be appearing in sound only from now on, on wunnerful Radio 1. Rumour (ie some bloke on the internet) suggests the new Controller of BBC 1 wanted changes made   to the line-up of hosts. That Controller's name? Michael Grade. He joined the BBC in the summer of 1984, becoming Controller on 1st September. Fortunately that's pretty much the only change he makes while running BBC1. Whether some bloke on the internet is correct about Michael Grade wanting Top of the Pops to be less of a wrinkly's roadshow, it's notable that 1984 sees the departure of a lot of long term presenters. J**** S***** goes after the 30/08/1984 edition (the one on the train). D*v* L** Tr*v*s' last show was 25/10/1984. And, Andy Peebles shorter run came to an end on 20/09/1984.

[8] Chicago: A Hard Habit To Break. Ugh. On blurry video.

[38] The Kane Game: Respect Yourself. The lighting on The Kane Gang's stage looks really good. Bright and colourful, with lots of flashing lights and motion. Bill Millar is still on Lighting so I'm giving him credit for a set up I haven't noticed before; two pairs of spotlights coloured yellow that swing beams through the smoky studio. One of the studio cameras struggles with the flashing strobe backdrop. The bright strobes cause a lot of smearing on the picture, the comet tail effect, and result in a picture speckled with dark spots, like when you stare at the sun. For some reason it's only one camera that's affected.

[26] The Human League: Louise. On video. (John- A beautifully understated masterpiece of a song. Here's the video, there's an ad before it plays)

[6] Billy Ocean: Caribbean Queen. If this summary reads as unenthusiastic it's because this episode of Top of the Pops is not really doing it for me. None of the songs so far have really hit the spot. I mention this to praise Billy Ocean not to bury him. He's the one bright light in this show so far. Now, who's next?

[27] Murray Head: One Night In Bangkok. Murray Head has come into the studio. And, what's a kind way of phrasing this? Maybe he shouldn't have. Murray mistimes the start of the song and then flubs some of the lyrics "don't you know that when you play at this level it's no ordinary [mumbles]. It's Iceland... [blank look]... it's err... Hastings....or this place." Just for a second it looks perilously like Murray might actually completely forget the lyrics and dry, live on BBC1. Fortunately the chorus arrives and Murray Head is able to mentally regroup while looking at the floor with a very thin-lipped smile on his face. The rest of the song passes without incident. Let's turn our attention to the clot in the background. He's perched at the opposite end of the stage from the backing singers. Who, what, why, and how. Who is he? What is he doing there? Why is he there? How did he get there? (photo below)
The clot looks around and occasionally wrings a plastic Top of the Pops hat in his hands. His emotional state seems to mirror that of Murray Head. He starts off looking lost and uncomfortable and becomes more confident in the second verse (and someone gives him a Top of the Pops flag to wave). The clot, unlike Murray, does not make it to the end of the song. He can be spotted jumping off the stage just after the line "I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine."

POP FACT: Murray Head is Anthony Head's brother! Who'd a thunk it?This would explain why I sat through Murray Head's performance thinking he looked a lot like the bloke who played Giles in Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (John- POP FACT #2 The song was written by Benny and Bjorn from Abba with lyrics by Tim Rice from their musical Chess)

[24] Shakin' Stevens: Teardrops. Unfortunately Shaky undoes all Billy Ocean's good work and rams this edition back into the ground. Shaky's feeling all soulful, so it's time for the black trousers, black shirt and (sparkly) black jacket. But don't you step on his blue suede shoes because he's possibly not wearing any. The stage is ankle deep in dry ice. A couple of long lingering shots of the crowd allow extra time to admire the Asian conical hats issued to the crowd for One Night In Bangkok.

[1] Chaka Khan: I Feel For You. On video. (John- This edition is so totally Eighties isn’t it?)

[4] Limahl: Never Ending Story. Top of the Pops ends unusually with Tommy Vance promoting J-n-th-n K-ng's Entertainment USA. "Good show tonight at 9 o'clock on BBC2. Entertainment USA don't miss it." BBC4's duty editor is normally careful to snip out any reference to K-ng. Presumably this one slipped through because K-ng's not name-checked, and because the BBC4's duty editor is under 25 and thinks television was invented by Bodger and Badger. After John Peel and Tommy Vance have said their goodbyes the camera starts to pan round the studio, keep an eye on the pair dancing on the podium. The bloke takes an ill-advised step backwards and slips off the podium. He jumps back on and smiles and wags his finger at the other dancer. Which is very unsporting because it's clearly not her fault.

Performance of the week: Billy Ocean, Caribbean Queen. Again.

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