Top of the Pops

British music chart television series / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Top of the Pops (TOTP) is a British music chart television programme, made by the BBC and broadcast weekly between 1 January 1964 and 30 July 2006. The programme was the world's longest-running weekly music show. For most of its history, it was broadcast on Thursday evenings on BBC One. Each show consisted of performances of some of the week's best-selling popular music records, usually excluding any tracks moving down the chart, including a rundown of that week's singles chart. This was originally the Top 20, though this varied throughout the show's history. The Top 30 was used from 1969, and the Top 40 from 1984.

Quick facts: Top of the Pops, Created by, Directed by, Pre...
Top of the Pops
Logo used 1973–1986 and 2019–present
Created byJohnnie Stewart, Stanley Dorfman[1]
Directed by
Presented by
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes2,272 (508 missing)[2]
Executive producers
  • Stanley Dorfman (1964–1970)[1]
  • Johnnie Stewart (1964–1969)
  • Mel Cornish (1969–1973)[1]
  • Robin Nash (1973–1980)
  • Neville Wortman
  • Colin Charman
  • Brian Whitehouse
  • Phil Bishop
  • Mark Wells
  • Jeff Simpson
  • Michael Kelpie (Series Producer 2000-2002)
  • Barrie Kelly
  • Dominic Smith
  • Sally Wood
  • Stephanie McWhinnie
  • Caroline Cullen
Running time25–60 minutes
Production companyBBC Studios Music Productions
Original network
Original releaseWeekly run:
1 January 1964 (1964-01-01) – 30 July 2006 (2006-07-30)
Christmas specials:
24 December 1964 (1964-12-24)[3] 

Dusty Springfield's "I Only Want to Be with You" was the first song featured on TOTP, while the Rolling Stones were the first band to perform, with "I Wanna Be Your Man".[4] Snow Patrol were the last act to play live on the weekly show when they performed their single "Chasing Cars".[5] Status Quo made more appearances than any other artist, with a total of 87 (the first was with "Pictures of Matchstick Men" in 1968 and last with "The Party Ain't Over Yet" in 2005).[6][7]

Special editions were broadcast on Christmas Day (and usually, until 1984, a second edition a few days after Christmas), featuring some of the best-selling singles of the year and the Christmas number one. Although the weekly show was cancelled in 2006,[8] the Christmas special continued annually. End-of-year round-up editions have also been broadcast on BBC1 on or around New Year's Eve, albeit largely featuring the same acts and tracks as the Christmas Day shows.[9][10][11] In a change of format, the festive specials did not return in 2022 and were replaced by an end-of-year review show on BBC Two. It also survives as Top of the Pops 2, which began in 1994 and features vintage performances from the Top of the Pops archives. Though TOTP2 ceased producing new episodes since 2017, repeats of older episodes are still shown.

The Official Charts Company states that "performing on the show was considered an honour, and it pulled in just about every major player".[12] The show has seen seminal performances over its history. The March 1971 appearance of T. Rex frontman Marc Bolan wearing glitter and satins as he performed "Hot Love" is often seen as the inception of glam rock, and David Bowie's performance of "Starman" inspired future musicians.[13][14] In the 1990s, the show's format was sold to several foreign broadcasters in the form of a franchise package, and at one point various versions of the show were shown in more than 120 countries.[4] Editions of the programme from 1976 onwards started being repeated on BBC Four in 2011 and are aired on most Friday evenings – as of 2023 the repeat run has reached 1995. Episodes featuring disgraced presenters and artists such as Jimmy Savile, Dave Lee Travis, Jonathan King, Ian Watkins, R. Kelly, Rolf Harris, and Gary Glitter are no longer repeated.[15]