Top of the Pops was a weekly music show broadcast on BBC TV, BBC One and BBC Two between 01 January 1964 and 30 July 2006.[1]

The show featured performances by artists who had performed well in that week's pop singles charts, including the number one song. Shows were firstly broadcast live, with a studio audience, with artists miming to their songs. They were later pre-recorded, still with artists miming. Live transmissions were re-introduced in the 1980s and live rather than mimed vocal performances were also brought into the show in the 1990s. BBC radio (later Radio 1) DJs had the task of hosting the show and introducing the acts in the studio and also 'counting down' the charts. The task was eventually applied universally to all Radio 1 DJs, regardless of their particular tastes which emerged from their regular radio shows. The radio DJ host was eventually scrapped with new presenters specific to the show being brought in the late 1990s. Celebrity or guest presenters occasionally appeared from the early 80s and later became a regular feature.

The show had unwritten 'rules' concerning appearances, such as a song not being featured for two consecutive weeks, unless it was at no.1. Songs featured were for the most part already in the charts, save for 'upcoming' hits or 'breakers', or were just outside the highlighted charts of that particular week. Recordings of performances were often repeated where artists were not able to appear a second or third time. Promo videos were shown as the medium became popular in the 1980s although promo films and early video recordings had been used in the 60s and 70s. These became less important from the nineties onwards when the focus was on live performances and live 'exclusives'. Satellite links were also used from the mid-nineties.

Transmission days

1969-01-25 RT 1 cover Top of the Pops

Significant dates





  • 13 June 1991: the chart rundown is scrapped and is run along the screen during a video instead. 
  • 03 October 1991 - drastic changes in the shows format such as new presenters replacing the traditional Radio 1 DJs, and a new purpose-built studio.[2]
  • 04 January 1994 - Smashie and Nicey's Top of the Pops Party 30th anniversary special
  • 17 September 1994 - TOTP2 begins. "a mix of current music and pop nostalgia" [3]
  • 06 June 1996 - last show on the Thursday 7.00 pm slot.
  • 14 June 1996 - show moved to Fridays at 7.00 pm.
  • 22 June 1997 - Top of the Pops radio show begins, broadcast on Radio 1 on Sunday afternoons at 3.00 pm, a one-hour 'backstage' show preceding the Top 40.[4] Initially presented by Jayne Middlemiss then by Scott Mills until final show 17 December 2000.


Dance troupes

  • The absence of a particular act whose single had done well that week was covred by the inclusion of a female dance troupe carrying out a dance routine over the song. The first of these was The Go-Jos, who were succeeded in 1968 by the most famous dancers, Pan’s People, choreographed by Flick Colby. In 1976 they were replaced briefly by Ruby Flipper, then within the same year by Legs & Co. The latter survived until they were phased out in autumn 1981, then in December that year the last in-house dance act, Zoo, the first to feature both men and women, started a run of just under two years. From October 1983 it was felt that pop videos made a dance troupe unnecessary, and the style of the whole show had moved on as well.


  1. NB no show on 07-09-1973

External links



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