08/04/2021

Top of the Pops 20 March 1986

 

Presented by Chris Arnsby. (5] Jim Diamond: Hi Ho Silver. Simon Bates, “on Top of the Pops it's Jim Diamond.” Last time Jim and his eight-piece band were crammed onto the thinnest stage in the Top of the Pops studio. This week he's been upgraded to the main stage, and ironically he's brought along one person fewer.
Who's been given the push? There's still two backing singers, a keyboard player, guitarist, drummer, trumpeter and saxophonist. Ironically the person missing from the last performance is the guitarist who kept leaping up and down to be visible on camera.
Jim Diamond is wearing a huge leather coat. The length is fine but the material is all bunched up around his shoulders and arms, and the lapels look way too big. I remember the eighties as being the decade of shoulder pads, but I don't remember this trend for oversized clothing and yet it's something we've seen worn by a whole parade of people.


Janice Long: “Jim Diamond and the mob, what a nice mob they are. They're at five, Hi Ho Sliver. Hello. Welcome to Top of the Pops. Also on the show tonight we have got The Pet Shop Boys and we've got The Real Thing too, haven't we?”
Simon Bates: “Also we've got videos, great new videos by Diana Ross, the full play of The Young Ones and Cliff Richard's new video, which is hysterical, plus right here now with animation by Ralph Bakshi the video by the gentlemen who will be on Janice's programme on Monday night on Radio One. It's the Stones with Jagger and Harlem Shuffle.”

[13] The Rolling Stones: Harlem Shuffle. On video. Study Janice Long's expressions as Simon Bates launches into his 15 second introductory speech. Janice looks at Simon, Janice nods, Janice smiles, Janice nods, Janice smirks, Janice points and nods at someone off screen, Janice looks at Simon, Janice looks at camera, Janice nods, Janice smiles with just a hint of suppressed hysteria before we cut mercifully to The Rolling Stones and whatever they are doing.
It's the point and nod off camera that intrigue me. It matches Simon Bates' name drop of Ralph Bakshi and suggests he's been primed with this essential information, possibly by Carmella Milne the Floor Manager. There's also a tone to Bates' voice which makes me think this priming has been repeated forcefully, several times. Sadly as well see later, when you drive something firmly into Simon Bates' memory it knocks something else out.
The video is interrupted by the Top 40. Simon Bates lets the credit for Atlantic Starr (new entry at 37) roll off screen in silence before he mentions it. I notice now after two weeks, that the chart is colour coded; yellow for Chart Entry; red for songs falling or at the same position; blue for New Entry into the Top 40; and red lines around bands going up.
Presumably these colour codes help the hosts identify the songs they are supposed to mention as they read the chart off a monitor. Could Simon Bates long pause be the result of him trying to remember what the different colours mean?



[21] Pet Shop Boys: Love Comes Quickly. “I am me, but who he he?” asks Janice Long. The correct response is not “I am the walrus, goo goo g'joob.” It's Simon Mayo the new face of radio. He's doing “Gary's bit in the middle,” a reference to Gary Davies' Radio One show rather than some hideous body waxing initiation.
Simon's new show starts “Saturday night May the third,” and after that he'll be up up up the zigurat lickety split. He first hosts Top of the Pops in October 1986, then he takes over the Radio One breakfast show in July 1987, and by 1988 he's starting to achieve Mike Smith levels of television exposure.
It's interesting to watch him here; looking more at the floor than the camera; and with his TV presenting voice not quite yet perfected.
Simon Bates also gives the impression of someone struggling to crack the art of presenting television. “I forgot to mention you can also see Mr Mister a little later on, on Top of the Pops,” is his non-sequitur comment after The Pet Shop Boys.
This is the fact which dropped out of his head while he was memorising the Ralph Bakshi titbit. Janice Long gazes at Bates with the same glazed expression I've also seen on the faces of Peter Powell and Richard Skinner.


Top 40 Breakers: [36] Stevie Wonder, Overjoyed; [34] Siouxsie & The Banshees, Candyman.
[4] Cliff Richard & The Young Ones: Living Doll. On video. Ahh, the nostalgia. “Stop snogging, and pay attention to me!” Snogging is a very underused word these days.
“We reckon Ade Edmonson was one year old when Living Doll came out the first time,” says Simon Bates who is a veritable Icelandic volcano of pop trivia tonight, occasionally erupting in a splatter of facts. They're not accurate facts (Ade Edmonson would have been two) but they are the best facts Simon Bates has to hand.
[19] The Real Thing: You To Me Are Everything. The lead singer of The Real Thing has also fallen for the trend of wearing oversized jackets. From certain angles he appears to be wearing a fake torso.
[1] Diana Ross: Chain Reaction. On video, for the last week at number 1.
[15] Mr Mister: Kyrie. On video. The closing credits are not allowed to intrude on the video, so captions with more than two names like the Production Team have to be split over two slides. Mike Smith and Bruno Bookes host next week.

Performance of the week: Pet Shop Boys, Love Comes Quickly

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