Presented by Chris Arnsby. December in January. This really is
the new year's hangover. If it wasn't for my pedantic need to finish of 1987 I
could be into the early weeks of January by now.
Gary Davies: “Hi. Good evening. Welcome to the last Top of the Pops before Christmas. In the studio tonight we have The Pogues with Kirsty McColl, Simply Red, and the Pet Shop Boys.”
Mike Read: “And up eleven places to this week's twenty one, Wet Wet Wet with Angel Eyes.”
Gary Davies: “Yay! Woo!”
Angel Eyes is
“serious” Wet Wet Wet so Marty Pellow reduces the jauntiness by fifty. He's
wearing a black suit (sombre), not dancing, gazing straight ahead, and trying
not to smile. You can still see the gor-blimey-Mary-Poppins loveable scamp
persona moving under his skin, trying to break free.
 MEL AND
KIM: rockin' around the christmas tree. On video and cut out of the BBC4 repeat. Probably because
there's a reference to Two Little Boys and the video cuts to a photo of R*lf H*rr*s.
RED: ev'ry time we say goodbye. Discussed
on 10/12/1987 write up at great length. This previously performance
demonstrates the versatility of the new sets. The studio lights are turned off
as they were for Alison Moyet, also 10/12/1987, and the shiny metallic grey
walls of the stage look dark and industrial, and yet still reflect enough light
for the cameras to get a good picture.
POGUES FEATURING KIRSTY MacCOLL: fairytale of new york. Luckily someone has worked out how to
make the caption generator do small fonts, so this lengthy name is rendered in
the BBC equivalent of 6 point text.
behind Simply Red makes it look like both songs were recorded back-to-back.
Once again the stage lights are turned off, the set walls are stark, and a
smokey fug has been introduced through which shine a couple of white
spotlights. This lighting setup persists through the lengthy introduction in
which Shane MacGowan fails to mime while Kirsty MacColl faces him, leaning on
the other side of the piano and sensibly keeping her eyes closed. The moment
when the song picks up tempo and the studio lights flood the space with colour
looks great, as you'd expect. Who's doing the Lighting this week? Eric Wallis.
Well done Eric.
One of the
studio audience at the back of the stage really goes for it. She's doing her
interpretation of an Irish jig, as well as flinging her arms wide in a
gotta-dance-gotta-sing pose, and she frequently intrudes into the personal
space of the audience members dancing around her.
BREAKERS:  LEVEL 42,
children say;  NAT KING COLE, when i fall in love.
CARLISLE, heaven is a place on earth. I
don't think this is a breaker, although the voice over link into the
slightly cut down Top of the Pops USA clip initially made me think it
Mike Read is
back presenting for the first time since July 1986, and he only made three
appearances that year. He handed over the Radio 1 Breakfast Show to Mike
Smith in May 1986 and Saturday Superstore came to an end in spring 1987.
Clearly he feels it's time for him to step back into presenting Top of the
Pops to keep up his television profile. Gary Davies seems bemused by some
of Mike's “funny” quips. I might be misreading the situation but I think Mike
Read has come back expecting to be the alpha host. He doesn't realise in his
time away that Gary Davies has assumed this role.
 PET SHOP
BOYS: always on my mind. A
repeat from last week's edition.
the look of love. On
video, over the closing credits.
The Roxy Playlist (15/12/1987): An all-videos special, which I think was caused by a strike. Wet Wet Wet, Angel Eyes; New Order, Touched By the Hand of God; Simply Red, Every Time We Say Goodbye; Belinda Carlisle, Heaven Is A Place on Earth; The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl, Fairtale of New York; Level 42, Children Say; Rick Astley, When I Fall In Love.
Gary Davies: “Hello! Just five hours and five minutes before 1988 and what a way to start your New Year's Eve party.”
Powell: “On the show
tonight we've got some records that are going to be making a big impression on
the first chart in eighty eight, from Wet Wet Wet, Climie Fisher, and Cher.”
Gary Davies: “And to start us off, making their debut on Top of the Pops, here's Krush. House Arrest.”
How does Top
of the Pops fit into the New Year's Eve schedule? In 1964, before New
Year's Day was a bank holiday (this is true, all facts are correct for a
change), Top of the Pops was sandwiched between Cliff Michelmore and the
boys and girls from Tonight and Doctor Kildare (Plot summary:
“Christmas works its usual spell - even with the most unlikely persons”).
In 1981, Top
of the Pops slotted in at 6pm between a Bugs Bunny cartoon (Jack Wabbit
and the Beanstalk) and The Dick Emery Christmas Show. The BBC1
schedule had ossified by 1987, thanks Michael Grade (boo and, indeed, hiss), so
without checking I'm going to guess Top of the Pops was the filling in a
Tomorrow's World and Eastenders bap. [Goes off to check] Oh. It
was actually put between A Question of Sport (“looks back to last
February when the programme celebrated its 200th edition with HRH The Princess
Royal joining Emlyn Hughes and Bill Beaumont.” -looks back to, what a posh way
of saying Repeat) and Eastenders ("Fill it up Den, I feel like
living dangerously,” is the Radio Times description).
hell the rest of that 1987 New Year's Eve schedule is worth quoting because
BBC1 waves the white flag. 8pm Ernie Wise Introduces The Morecambe and Wise
Classics (ie, great sketches, that you've already seen), 8.45pm Agatha
Christie's Murder on the Orient Express (the 1974 film, second showing on
BBC1), 11pm Comedy Classic: To the Manor Born (repeat), 11.30pm Eastenders
(the second episode tonight), and at 12.05am, what I can only assume is the
sarcastically named, Happy New Year.
But enough of
sneering at old schedules who are Krush and how are they doing? Krush is a
trio, a bloke with a keytar, another bloke with a synthesiser, and a woman
dressed in an oversized baseball jacket, baseball cap, medallion, short skirt,
and long socks. It looks cliched now, like something Harry Enfield would dress
up in for a big audience laugh as Kevin, but it must have been absolutely
cutting edge fashion at the time.
Director Michael Hurll must once again face the challenge of making a dance act
seem interesting. It's certainly one of the programmes better attempts, in
between the staging of Eric B. & Rakim*, 05/11/1987, which was great, and
House Master Boyz, 17/09/1987, which was dull.
The 4x4 bank of
monitors is back, last seen accompanying Paul Hardcastle 16/10/1986, and they
are playing something which looks like but isn't the video uploaded to Youtube.
The same video can be glimpsed when Krush turn up on The Roxy,
19/01/1988, it's not obvious but it is playing on the studio monitors. The
Roxy normally wins when comparing performances to Top of the Pops, but
this is a win for ToTP**.
*I know Eric B. & Rakim are not a dance act. I
know I'm waving my hand at several genres and consigning them to a made-up huge
composite which I've arbitrarily labelled dance. But you know what I mean. It's
quicker to write and easier to read than “non-traditional (by British pop
standards) music acts which don't fit well into the usual Top of the Pops
staging of a performance by pointing the cameras at a lead singer and
alternating with shots of the rest of the group.”
** What am I
supposed to do, call it “the Pops!” like Peter Powell?
 NAT KING
COLE: when i fall in love. On
FISHER: rise to the occasion. Two
studio performances back to back both start with the sampled “I know you gonna
dig this,” sample. Lead singer Simon Climie has gone on stage and immediately
regretted his choice of denim jacket, so he takes it off before the song
starts. The problem is he insists on carrying it around rather than tossing it
to one side of the stage, and he keeps fiddling with it. It's in his left hand,
it's in his right hand, it's over one shoulder, it's being wrung like a towel.
Stop fiddling with the thing.
Just after the
first chorus, when Simon Climie flicks the jacket over his shoulder, the
picture cuts to a left profile of the singer. As the camera pans back, look
under the studio bridge in the background. I'm pretty sure you can see the
keytar player from Krush sitting there (white baseball cap, jacket with yellow
shoulders) watching Climie Fisher.
CARLISLE: heaven is a place on earth. On
TOP 40. After Mike Read, It's Gary Davies' turn to openly lust after Belinda Carlisle.
MINOR & THE MAJORS: stutter rap.
I thought this was great at the time. I recorded this off the radio. I'm so
sorry. I didn't like or understand rap. I thought the Beastie Boys were
rubbish. This was obviously a hilarious take down of the genre and a good
consequence free laugh at a physical condition -I didn't know anyone who
stammered so it didn't affect me. Isn't it all jolly fun? No. With 35 years
hindsight this finally gets a thumbs down.
 CHER: i
found someone. On
 WET WET
WET: angle eyes.
Essentially the same performance as last time, but the pianist is wearing a
 PET SHOP
BOYS: always on my mind. On
video. I never liked the bit where Joss Ackland starts singing. Back off Joss.
It's not your song.
 MEL & KIM: rockin' around the
christmas tree. “Simon Bates and Mike Read” next week. What a way to
start 1988. Mel & Kim are on video. The BBC4 version has some cunning
editing to remove R*lf H*rr*s. Unfortunately I don't know what that
editing was because I didn't watch this on BBC4.