Reviewed by Chris Arnsby.
Mike Read: “Good evening. Not a window cleaner in sight. That means it must be Top of the Pops.”
Simon Bates: “Absolutely no milkmen either. We've got the new Terrence Trent D'Arby video, the number one, and also Sinitta on Top of the Pops. Here she is. Right live. And it's GTO.
 SINITTA: g.t.o. Thirty seconds into the programme and the to-do list is spiralling out of control. One, what does Mike Read's “window cleaner” comment mean? Initially I thought it might be a reference to Brush Stokes, back for a new series on 9January. Except, Jacko from Brush Strokes was a house painter, hence the name of the show, and, more importantly, series 3 episode 5 aired on 9th January 1989, not 1988 as I misread. I doubt the BBC plans its schedules that far in advance, and shares them with Mike Read. Nothing else springs to mind. Was there a window cleaner/milkman scandal unfolding at the time that I've forgotten? It must have meant something to the audience at home.
Two, is Top of the Pops really starting 1988 with this song? I'm almost certainly putting more thought into this than the production team but it feels like the first song of the year requires a little effort. It's an occasion to set out your stall and show what the programme can achieve. Isn't it? Apparently not. I've just looked back to the start of 1987 where the first band of the year was Status Quo. Ironically Sinitta represents the 1988 status quo, bland, safe, poppy, nothing political. It's a rotten song.
Does Sinitta's boyfriend love her or his car more? It's clearly the car, Sinitta. You need to break off this relationship now. Although, there's an odd ambiguity in one of the lyrics. “But I wonder if he'll ever know/if he loves me or just his G.T.O.” Surely the lyric should be “I wonder if I'll ever know”? Why is Sinitta not sure if her boyfriend isn't sure? Unless, whisper it softly... is G.T.O. how Sinitta's boyfriend refers to his penis? It's big. According to Sinitta. It's red. It goes everywhere he goes. It's his pride and joy. He stays up all night giving his time to it. Let's hope he never runs it through a car wash. Three, it's the end of the year and time to use up the remaining stock of expired Visual Effects thunderflashes. They pop off at random and send tiny mushroom clouds rolling up to the studio ceiling. Four, that camera cable trailing across the front of the stage is a trip hazard.
[NUMBER 17 – JELLYBEAN – JINGO] On video with a new caption format! This one scrolls across the bottom of the screen like something from DEF II.
 DEPECHE MODE: behind the wheel. Depeche Mode, back again, “first appeared on Top of the Pops nearly seven years ago,” says Mike Read. Yes indeed, 25/06/1981. I'm often surprised by the bands who have a long shelf life. Look back at the playlist from that June 1981 show; Gillan, Elaine Paige, Kirsty MacColl, The Evasions, Randy Crawford, Depeche Mode, Michael Jackson, and Quincy Jones. I'm not sure Depeche Mode stand out as the bunch with staying power.
Does Dave Gahan drop his microphone during the introduction? It's hard to tell, because the camera is looking elsewhere, getting some exciting low angled shots of the keyboard, but Gahan suddenly bends down and starts fumbling in the dry ice for something. He's grinning when he stands up, there's a ripple of amusement from the audience, and he makes eye contact with the rest of the band and smiles.
Watch out for the shot from behind the stage, which lets you see the ducting for the dry ice. It rears up sinisterly into the scenery, like a striking cobra.
 THE STRANGLERS: all day and all of the night. Speaking of bands with a long shelf life, here's a group first seen on Top of the Pops performing Go Buddy Go on 26/05/1977. A programme they shared with Blue, Olivia Newton-John, Frankie Miller's Full House, Kenny Rogers, Piero Umiliana (Mah na mah na, doo doo de doo do, etc), Liverpool Express, Bryan Ferry, Marie Miriam, Electric Light Orchestra, Brendon, Rod Stewart, and Liverpool FC.
All Day and All of the Night is, obviously, a cover of The Kinks song. It's great and I haven't seen The Stranglers this happy and engaged in, well, ever. Hugh Cornwell is nearly almost smiling. Jean-Jacques Burnel has a go at dancing. What's happening? Have The Stranglers been TAKEN OVER BY THE POD PEOPLE?
TOP 40 BREAKERS:  GEORGE MICHAEL, father figure;  G·O·S·H·, the wishing well;  TERRENCE TRENT D'ARBY, sign your name.
 PET SHOP BOYS: always on my mind. A third repeat for the 10/12/1987 performance.
 JOYCE SIMS: come into my life. “The great thing was we got through the whole programme with the help of any window cleaners.” Mike Read's back on that again. Gary Davies and Simon Mayo next week.
Meanwhile, there's a new name on the credits. The Produced and Directed credit goes not to Stanley Appel or Brian Whitehouse but Paul Ciani. Who he? Students of Top of the Pops all know that Paul Ciani will take over from Michael Hurll as Producer and Director but occcasionally I like to keep the illusion that these reviews are unfolding in real time -so no peeking behind the curtain because that hasn't happened yet. This week Michael Hurll is still listed as Executive Producer so presumably he's hanging around the office, answering the phone, telling Paul Ciani how to record the programme, and adjusting Paul's chair to the wrong height whenever he leaves the room.
I suspect Mike Read's 'window cleaner' comments were barbed jibes about Paul Nolan, then-new co-host of The Roxy as noted above and indeed a window cleaner before he was briefly catapulted into the limelight. He effectively became the original short-lived reality television star through his appearance on Blind Date:ReplyDelete
Also worth mentioning that Paul Ciani's association with Top of the Pops does in fact stretch a little further back than this, as he did fill in for Hurll and direct a couple of shows in the summer of 1981. Stanley Appel of course makes a similar progression after him, though in his case he'd done a lot more since the series began in the 60s.