Top of the Pops 9 October 1986


With Chris Arnsby. Gary Davies: “Hey! How ya doin'. Welcome to Top of the Pops. Also welcome to Top of the Pops for the very first time to Simon Mayo.” Simon Mayo: “Thank you Gary. Great show coming up including Howard Jones and Julian Cope in the studio, that Paul Simon video, and a new number one.” Gary Davies: “Yeah. Loads of good stuff, but first we have to learn how to walk like an Egyptian. At number twenty, here are The Bangles.”

[20] Bangles: Walk Like An Egyptian. It's seven months since Simon Mayo was first introduced to the BBC1 audience on the 20/03/1986 Top of the Pops. At the time he described himself as doing “Gary's bit in the middle,” which is how Gary Davies used to refer to his lunchtime show for anyone concerned about Radio 1 initiation rituals. Simon is currently wandering from show to show as a holiday stand in, although his base is the 7.30pm Saturday evening slot (Saturday sounds and surprises, according to The Radio Times) which he inherited from Annemarie Grey. Apologies to Annemarie but I don't recognise the name, a quick Google search suggests she later worked on the BBC's Caribbean Service which relaunched in 1988. Mr Mayo has worked on his TV persona, a bit. He's mostly stopped looking at the floor, he doesn't really know what to do with his arms, and he needs to work on the self-conscious smirk which makes it look like he's about to laugh in Gary Davies' face. 6/10.


I could believe Top of the Pops is not only breaking in a new host, but also a new camera crew. There's nothing glaringly wrong with the shots on offer but they seem a little rough. Vision Mixer Priscilla Hoadley (not a new name to the show) keeps cutting to pictures that have yet to settle; they're slightly out of focus or still moving to frame one of the Bangles, or just a bit wobblier than usual as if the camera operator is having difficulty following the person. It's not a technical disaster but the performance doesn't have the usual Top of the Pops polish. Fortunately it's Walk Like An Egyptian so the song carries everything else. Floor Manager Carmella Milne really should have a word with the audience cheerleaders behind the Bangles. Not one of them attempts to walk like an Egyptian.

[4] Nick Berry: Every Loser Wins. “After Top of the Pops, at seven thirty, it's Eastenders.” Yes, Gary we know. “Wicksy...” uh-oh, “is doing very well in the charts...” I don't like where you're going with this Gary, “at the moment. The highest chart entry at number four...” Really? Do we have to? “...here's Nick Berry.”

Nick's on video. The song is as reedy and banal as I remember. I'm not certain but I've got a horrible half-memory this gets to Number One. Ugh.

[28] Julian Cope: World Shut Your Mouth. “Another EastEnders tune,” says Simon Mayo reminding me of the existence of Anyone Can Fall In Love. Thanks Simon. That knocks your score down to 3/10. Julian Cope washes away the bitter dregs of Nick Berry. Simon says, “watch out for the amazing microphone stand,” and it is a wonder indeed. It's canted at forty five degrees out over the audience so Julian can lie on it and loom over the crowd.

Whatever jitters the camera crew suffered from, have passed. Their work here is polished and exactly what I'd normally expect from Top of the Pops. There's a brilliant moment when the camera passes under Julian as he sprawls on his stand like a cool Simeon Stylites. The operator spins his handheld camera through 360 degrees and Julian appears to loop the loop. Maybe the wobbly shots during the Bangles were caused by the audience trying to walk like an Egyptian and jostling the operators?

Top 40 Charts. A sudden attack of nerves means Simon has no witty banter to follow Gary Davies' claim that Julian Cope will sing his next single on a trapeze. There's a nanosecond awkward pause before Simon Mayo tells us we'll be looking at the charts, “from forty to one.” No we won't. 2/10.
[24] Paul Young: Wonderland. Simon Mayo gets through his next link without looking at the floor, making a mistake, or reminding me about Anyone Can Fall In Love. 5/10.

[35] Howard Jones: All I Want. Gary Davies remark that Howard Jones “makes his own face masks,” causes a moment of real confusion. Face masks are a today thing, not a yesterday thing, aren't they nurse? All is revealed when the performance starts with Howard standing back-to-back with someone wearing a vaguely Easter Island-ish mask; which would raise eyebrows if you wore it on the bus.

Easter Island man strikes ballet-like poses. Who is that masked man? Sarge? No. Rosemary the telephone operator? No. Howard Jones' occasional prancer for hire, mild-mannered Dancing Jed? Could be... it's hard to tell on account of the mask.

Julian Cope was allowed to bring his special microphone stand. Howard Jones has been allowed to decorate the stage with big cardboard pictures of the Easter Island mask. The art's not great so the stage appears to be dominated by the quizzical face of Jar Jar Binks (yes, I did a quick check to see if I should hyphenate Jar Jar).

Also decorating the stage is that great cliché of mid-eighties synth-pop, a white computer monitor. This one has been propped up at a jaunty angle but -unlike the Pet Shop Boys last week- no one has turned it on and programmed a complicated looking screen or witty message, not even an R Tape loading error message. Amateurs.

Top 10 Charts. Jeb's appearance is confirmed by Gary Davies who is also holding a baffling and slightly frightening mask which looks like the number one result of a Google image search for “insulting papier mache caricature of Phil Oakey.” Simon's still a bit hesitant but he has the presence of mind to hold his microphone to the mask's mouth in a funny way. 6/10.

[1] Madonna: True Blue. On video.

[5] Paul Simon: You Can Call Me Al. “Very big in Bournemouth,” says Simon Mayo in a surprisingly clever ad-lib referencing both Madonna and the 1986 Conservative Party Conference. 8/10. Unfortunately a slip of the tongue follows and he renames the programme “Top of the Paps.” 5/10. He warms up again when discussing his forthcoming wedding “on Saturday,” and ends the programme with a score of 7/10 and an overall average of 6/10. 

Next Week it's Simon Bates (4/10) and Steve Wright (3/10).

The play out video is You Can Call Me Al, tells me I wasn't the only person watching this who assumed Chevy Chase was Paul Simon. (John- Whaaat? I thought it was Paul Simon in a prosthetic Chevy Chase suit, they were all the rage in the 80s)

This week Top of the Pops finally makes the logical choice, and the background to the closing credits is a still from the title sequence. It took 18 weeks to reach this point.


Performance of the Week: Julian Cope, World Shut Your Mouth.


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