Top of the Pops 2 & 9 February 1989


Housekeeping: The Mega folder I've been using to download these episodes has gone very AWOL. If anyone can use the comments to link me to another source of episodes then that would be really helpful. If not, these write ups have come to a very unceremonious end...
(John- Which would be a pity because nobody wants to end in February. Plus these are the most viewed posts on the blog and without them the whole future of the blog is at risk. And possibly also the world. OK maybe not the world. So if anyone knows of an alternative source - as the iPlayer only keeps a random handful un-chronologically - that would be wonderful. Otherwise Chris is going to start reviewing every episode of Weather starting in 1950)

Words by Chris Arnsby

Steve Wright. “Hi!! Hello!! Good evening!! Hello and welcome to another exciting Top of the Pops!! I'm Steve Wright!! This is Simon Mayo!! Tonight we're going to be in full effect!!”
Simon Mayo: “We certainly are and we're going to check out the hat parade first of all. At number five, on the Love Train, this is Holly Johnson in the crowd in the middle there.”
Simon Mayo: “Yeeah!!”

Steve Wright died on 12th February this year. After I'd written up this episode. A quick re-read has shown I didn't say anything rude about him -this time- and given me cause to reflect. Steve Wright was part of the Radio 1 furniture by the time I tuned in so I don't really remember having an opinion about him. If you tuned in between 3-5.30pm he was just there. What I do remember is his move to host the Breakfast Show in 1994 which drove me away from Radio 1. The antics of Wright and his Posse were too much for my fragile 7am state as I was preparing for a day at work. And that was it, until I started watching the Top of the Pops repeats. Steve Wright's first show was 07/02/1980 and going back I find I was surprisingly positive about him:

 “It's Steve Wright's first show. He only started as a Radio One DJ in January 1980 so he's really been rushed on to Top of the Pops. Simon Bates had to wait ages for his turn. The classic line-up I remember is almost completely in place. Only Gary "sloppy bit" Davies is missing. So how does Steve Wright do? Not bad. It's a more polished performance than Simon Bates gave at the end of 1979 but Steve Wright needs to learn to stop waggling his head around so much.”

That positive opinion soon soured. Steve Wright became my least liked presenter. And here we are 10 years later. Over at the Cookd and Bombd forum someone dropped a link to an Easter Monday show (23/04/1984) and out of curiosity I clicked on the link. It's like listening to a different person. What seems laboured and unfunny on television sounds natural on the radio. I've belated realised is that Steve Wright the DJ was infinitely better than Steve Wright the TV presenter. I get the impression he was someone who either struggled to build a TV persona or constantly strained to be visually wacky in the belief that this would translate his radio personality over to television. Steve Wright, much better on the radio than the television. It's not much of a summary of a life lived but its the best I can offer. If you'd like to dive back into the heady days of Easter Monday 1984 (Alton Towers and Thorpe Park are full and all the roads are clogged with traffic jams) then you can listen here:


[5] HOLLY JOHNSON: love train. This week, Holly Johnson is wearing a lavender and grey cloth crown. The crown suffers badly from poor internal structural support and has slumped over to one side on his head. It needs something to keep it properly in shape. At the the moment it looks like a badly disciplined tea cosy.

[3] ROY ORBISON: you got it. On video. The clip runs for 150 seconds. A new 1989 record.


[10] ROBERT HOWARD & KYM MAZELLE: wait. I didn't recognise Dr. Robert, ex-of The Blow Monkeys. He's gone square. He's cut off his magnificent fringe and stopped dressing like the last of the new romantics. Boo! Doctor Robert! Boo! I liked you, you were cool and now you've gone all boring and mainstream.

[23] SHEENA EASTON: the lover in me. Simon Mayo's link into Sheena Easton: “Well if you've ever wondered what happens to the costumes for BBC drama series, here's the answer. Wearing one of the big hits from The Forsyte Saga, at twenty three this is Sheena Easton.” Cut to Sheena Easton in a pre-recorded performance, wearing an unremarkable and modern looking dress. What happened? Did someone show Simon Mayo a photo of Nyree Dawn Porter and say, “you won't believe what Sheena Easton is wearing”


24 MICHAEL BALL: love changes everything

27 YAZZ: fine time

31 HUE AND CRY: looking for linda

29 SAMANTHA FOX: i only wanna be with you

[22] SIMPLY RED: it's only love. Historians debate the precise point at which Mick Hucknall lead singer of Simply Red turned into the modern parody figure called Mick Hucknall. I'd suggest that point is here. If only because of the horrible, horrible, shirt he's wearing. Presumably he thinks he can pull it off on the grounds that he's Mick Hucknall.


[4] ROACHFORD: cuddly toy. Roachford and the band pull off a well staged performance with a decent amount of business; watch out for the moments when Roachford points his microphone at the guitar of the guy next to him, to highlight the electric guitar riffs. It's all very polished and professional, and I don't feel like I've got anything meaningful to add. The best character on stage is clearly the drummer who grins at the camera like a maniac.

TOP 10:

[1] MARC ALMOND & GENE PITNEY: something's gotten hold of my heart. This week, a chance to see the video.

[18] BOBBY BROWN: my prerogative. Next week, Mike Read and Sybil Ruscoe -no Rod McKenzie? (John- Who the jiggins is Rod McKenzie?)

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Then Jerico, Big Area. I suppose.

Sybil Ruscoe: “Good evening. Welcome to Top of the Pops. Live on BBC1 and Radio 1FM. And what a show we've got lined up tonight.” (John- Who the jiggins is Sybil Roscoe)
Mike Read: “I Only Wanna Be With You was number four for Dusty Springfield, it was number four for the Bay City Rollers, and number four for the Tourists. Samantha Fox is sixteen places away from doing it again.”

 [20] SAMANTHA FOX: i only wanna be with you. There's another enigmatic message on the pre-titles countdown clock. “STEREO DUBBED LU +CLOCK -3DB EACH CHANNEL”. And the red kipper flies at midnight!

For the past few weeks I've been diligently listing the songs cut short each week to allow Paul Ciani to cram a quart into the Top of the Pops pint. Why is this the first song for three weeks allowed to reach a natural conclusion? Richard Skinner was made to interrupt Roachford, and Gary Davies very half-heartedly interrupted Then Jericho, last week Simon Mayo dun the deed. Did Mike Read refuse to interrupt Samantha Fox for artistic reasons? Is this a naked demonstration of the power of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, and Pete Waterman; did they threaten to break Paul Ciani's toes?

[26] RICK ASTLEY: hold me in your arms. Rick Astley gets a very lukewarm round of applause from the audience. Is this because the audience are done with Rickmania, or is it down to Mike Read's bizarre introduction? Something about “the internationally famous Les Nemes playboys with their featured vocalist.” What?

Watch out for the clunking edit at the end of the song. Samantha Fox gets extra song time at Rick's expense.


[11] YAZZ: fine time. Sybil Ruscoe gets a little lost in her introduction and manages to repeat the words “this week,” three times in the space of about ten seconds.

[23] HUE AND CRY: looking for linda. Sorry. I've got nothing.


[31] DEF LEPPARD: rocket

[33] POISON: every rose has its thorn

[32] TEXAS: i don't want a lover. “Sybil's theme song,” according to Mike Read. Nice one Mike, that's both uncalled for and creepy.

[12] MICHAEL BALL: love changes everything. Cripes this episode is heavy going. Samantha Fox and Rick Astley stalled the vehicle and none of the subsequent songs have got it going again. What's next?

[9] BOBBY BROWN: my prerogative. On video.


[6] MORRISSEY: the last of the international playboys. Sybil gets the song title right, adding in the word famous between “the” and “international”. Did the person typing in the caption get tired?

TOP 10: With Morrissey's song correctly named.

[1] MARC ALMOND & GENE PUTNEY: something's gotten hold of my heart. A second repeat for the performance from 19/01/1989.

[2] MIKE & THE MECHANICS: the living years. Yazz gets a snog from Mike Read. A revolting development. “What a terrific show tonight”, lies Sybil. It was a slog. What shall we play out with? Oh, something dreary. Andy Crane and Mark Goodier next week.

PERFORMANCE OF THE WEEK: Marc Almond and Gene Pitney, something's gotten hold of my heart. I know its a repeat.



  1. Is there a This Way Up email address? I have downloads of the complete run and would be happy to transfer copies to you.

  2. ^ What Billy Smart said. I don't hold everything, but do have some choice TOTP episodes squirreled away on a few hard drives that I can send over (generally the original VT files that contain extras which were never broadcast - e.g. pre-recorded performances, live editions)

  3. Hello, this is Chris. Google will not allow me to sign in under my own name for reasons I don't understand. Thanks for the offers of help. Could you email thiswayuptotp@gmail.com and we'll go from there.