Top of the Pops 10 April 1986

 Introduced by Chris Arnsby. [25] Bronski Beat: C’mon C’mon. Mike Smith. “Good evening and welcome to Top of the Pops. We start this week with Bronski Beat, C'mon C'mon.” 
Bronski Beat have invoked the spirit of Fiesta. The stage is filled with balloons; tinsel has been nailed to every surface which doesn't already glow, spin, or rotate; and every pot plant from the production office has been dragged on stage to stuff the background with greenery. And, what is lurking at the front of the stage? We never really get a proper look but it appears to be a weird cairn of potted fern, balloons, and a stuffed snake posed in mid-strike. It's all very odd. Is it is an anthropomorphic representation of the Top of the Pops Animus of Fun? Fortunately we're a couple of months away from Midsummer so I think we can rule out human sacrifice.


Steve Wright. “Hello!! Good evening!! And welcome to another Top of the Pops!! With myself and my good pal Mike Smith here!!” Mike Smith. “We've got all sorts of people lined up tonight. We've got Bryan Ferry in the studio this evening, on video we've got people like Janet Jackson, the new video from Simple Minds, and the charts coming up now with The Art of Noise.

[8] The Art Of Noise & Duane Eddy: Peter Gunn. There are four odd things about this repeat performance from the 27/03/1986 edition. The first being... it's a repeat. Top of the Pops used to repeat performances as a matter of routine now, after the rise of the music video, they're achieving hen's teeth status.

This is only the second performance repeat of 1986. The other was Billy Ocean during the four week Number 1 run for When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going; even that probably wouldn't have happened on the 20/02/1986 edition if the video hadn't got into difficulty with the Musicians Union (see write up for 27/02/1986). Before that, Jennifer Rush required two repeats during her five week stint at Number 1 with The Power Of Love. The last non-Number 1 repeat was a year ago, 10/01/1985, Thompson Twins, Lay Your Hands On Me. Why did Peter Gunn suddenly require a repeat performance? A video exists (it's on Youtube) and it doesn't seem to have any taste or decency issues.

Point two. A week after introducing a revamped Top 40 Countdown, Michael Hurll decides to bring back the daft talking over a song variant for one last go. He's obviously had a think about why the chart/voice over/video format didn't work but he's got the wrong end of the stick. Previously the chart would scroll over the full screen video. Now the video is shrunk into a box and the chart runs underneath on single captions, like the closing credits. Separating the charts and the video solves a problem which doesn't exist. The problem with the chart/voice over/video format is not because it's too visually busy. It's because no one likes hearing a song being talked over.  I assumed the closing credits and music video were kept separate so BBC staffing information did not intrude on the “commercial” video information. Maybe that assumption is wrong. Perhaps Michael Hurll really is worried about visually overloading his audience.

Oddity three. When Peter Gunn is shrunk to a smaller picture-in-picture, the background is a crude pencil drawing of a still from the new title sequence. Why not run Peter Gunn over the looped title sequence (as is done for the Top 10)? Or, if the concern really is about making the image too busy for the viewer, run Peter Gunn over a still from the title sequence. Why go to the additional bother of commissioning a piece of art? Unless, and this seems very unlikely, someone grabbed the image because it was floating round the production office as part of the storyboard for the new title sequence.

Point four. The caption introducing the song sits tucked in the corner of a huge box obscuring almost all of the lower quarter of the screen. It's not a new style, the massive box is needed to blank out the burned-in caption from Peter Gunn's first performance on 27/03/1986. Surely it hasn't been so long since a repeat was used that everyone concerned forgot how this used to be done? Start the repeat five seconds into the performance when the original caption has faded out.

[29] Bryan Ferry: Is Your Love Strong Enough. Steve Wright is considerably more excited than me by Bryan Ferry's presence in the studio. “This is such a treat and a thrill!!” Bryan last graced the Top of the Pops stage four years ago with Roxy Music, More Than This, 01/04/1982. If you're counting solo performances you need to go back further to What Goes On, 20/04/1978, sandwiched between Wing's With A Little Luck and Sheila B. Devotion's ghastly disco version of Singin' In The Rain. The jacket shop saw Bryan coming. They've flogged him a hideous top with fringed sleeves. It's really bad. (John- When I saw the single cover I thought it just said Legend! as an appreciation of Lord Bryan of Ferry but it's actually from the film Legend lol. Plus this single features David `Dave` Gilmour.)

Top 40 Breakers: [37] Janet Jackson, What Have You Done For Me Lately?; [18] Big Country, Look Away.

[15] Simple Minds: All The Things She Said. On video.

[36] Five Star: Can’t Wait Another Minute. Here's Five Star doing their dance for Can't Wait Another Minute. Did you miss it? Don't worry, they'll be doing exactly the same routine on Top of the Pops in two weeks time, on the music video, on Number 73, and indeed all the way up their performance at the 1987 BRIT awards

Top 10 Countdown: Anticipation! How will Graphic Designer Everol McKenzie spell Atlantic Starr? For the third week in a row he gets it wrong, Atlantic Star indeed! And who is this Brian Ferry at 29 in the Top 40?

[1] Cliff Richard & The Young Ones: Living Doll. Still on video, sadly. If only they could have managed one studio performance.

[7] Queen: A Kind of Magic. Video and closing credits.

1 comment:

  1. No performance of the week? I can't tell whether you were more taken with Bronski Beat or Five Star. Clearly not 'Brian' Ferry, though.