Top of the Pops 31July 1986

Your guide: Chris Arnsby. [15] Spandau Ballet: Fight For Ourselves. Mike Read. “Hello. Welcome to Top of the Pops we kick off tonight with Spandau Ballet and Fight For Ourselves.” This week's big question, is Gary Kemp wearing a beret or a Tam o' shanter? The decision could go either way. The item of millinery in question is being worn sloped, like a beret, but it also has a pom-pom on it, like a Tam o' shanter. (John- Hat's enough)

For the first time in ages the two hosts do the post-first-song link in front of the neon logo, to the right of the main stage. This means Janice Long and Mike Read suddenly appear deep in the background of wide shots around the one minute forty five mark, having snuck on stage during a close-up of Spandau Ballet (disappointingly, the close-ups are not close enough to settle the vexed beret/tam question). This is useful information for anyone who often wants to know the location of Mike Read. (John- eg The FBI, KGB, MI5 etc) And we have an early winner in the most-boring-job-in-the-Top-of-the-Pops-studio competition. It's the camera operator in the white shirt who has to crouch behind one of Spandau Ballet's amps in order to catch a left profile shot of drummer John Keeble. Vision Mixer Priscilla Hoadley makes use of his services twice.


Mike Read. “Great stuff. Spandau Ballet there. Tony Hadley is Janice's mum’s all-time favourite singer. Now tonight you've come as wing-half and I've come as a Picasso painting.”

Janice Long. “Thanks. On tonight's show we've got Five Star, we've got Stan Ridgeway, we've got a new number one, but it is my pleasure to introduce The Jesus and Mary Chain.

 [13] The Jesus & Mary Chain: Some Candy Talking. On video.

[10] Five Star: Find The Time. Five Star are on the new Fan stage which Lighting Director Fred Wright illuminates in an unusual and very flat white colour. It highlights Five Star's costumes and gives the picture a stark, over-bright, electronic processed quality. It's the sort of effect which could be done with the push of a button a couple of years later, but here a more analogue approach is needed.

Top 40 Charts: Mike Read is in a genial mood. It's his first time hosting Top of the Pops since 20/02/1986, and since he gave up hosting the Radio One Breakfast Show in April. Take it as read that none of his comments are actually that funny, but he's trying. For anyone baffled by his earlier wing-half/Picasso comment, Mr Read was referring to Janice's purple and black striped top and his own shirt which is patterned with a vaguely abstract design; he hasn't suddenly started wearing both his eyes on the same side of his nose.

Mike Read will now disappear from Top of the Pops until 17/12/1987, at which point he will suddenly become a regular host again. Did he fall out with Michael Hurll, or his current representative on earth Producer and Director Brian Whitehouse? It's notable his reappearance coincides with the arrival of new Producer/Director Paul Ciani.

Top 40 Breakers: [31] Paul McCartney, Press; [18] The Smiths, Panic.

[6] Stan Ridgway: Camouflage. The Beezlebub stage is heavily decorated with fake vines and every pot plant Designer Leslie Stephenson can swipe from the BBC Canteen and surrounding offices. Also back is the uniformed shop dummy (still wearing the potentially incorrect trousers) but not back is Stan's band. Are they having a week off or are they lurking in the greenery? Fred Wright positions a white spotlight behind the mannequin and as the camera crane pans round the stage it catches the light and smoke at just the right angle to produce a lovely ethereal effect. In fact the camera operators are on form, watch out for the moment when one of them pokes a handheld camera through the greenery for an authentic crawling through the jungle POV shot.

[1] Chris De Burgh: The Lady In Red. No.

[36] It Bites: Calling All The Heroes. Once again the background to the closing titles is the same tired old close-up of blue and purple neon. Could we point the camera at something different next week, Mr Whitehouse?

But that's not all. Over in the super-secret-mystery-trove of Top of the Pops (https://mega.nz/folder/h0snQACa#uiNNqosfbdrfzODHsE1clw/folder/phc3iYCY) is a file called Top Of The Pops - 1986-07-31 [missing part]. Excitement! What can it be? Oh, it's 30 seconds snipped from the BBC4 repeat in which Mike Read tells us Mike Smith will be hosting next week. It's nice to have it available.

Performance of the Week: I've already done Stan Ridgeway... Bleh, heads it's Five Star and tails it's Spandau Ballet. It's … Five Star, Find The Time.

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