Thursday, 12 November 2015

Top of the Pops, Thursday 9th October 1980

Top of the Pops this evening was a repeated episode from 9th October 1980(1), introduced by Peter Powell by then with short barnet, stripey top and red cardigan placed strategically over his shoulders so the cuffs could tuck into his waistband. This was the era of . . . smart casual. The first group to mime in the studio are Status Quo with What You’re Proposing (No.27). A few whisps of dry ice billow across the studio and a couple of kids start pogoing, as if on cue from the director. Despite the presence of John Coghlan and Alan Lancaster, the group were in decline and the pair look embarrassed at playing such dross. Quo are only one of two rock bands on the show.

Powell unexpectedly advertises red Top of the Pops T-shirts, which will be available in two weeks time, before a video of Diana Ross with the Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards produced My Old Piano (No.5), in which she writhes around a piano in a palm-strewn room with classical pillars. Thanks to the Chic team it was her best record, in my opinion. Afterwards Powell interviews Dennis Waterman on the subject of his national ‘rock n roll’ tour and new single release, Good For You. Waterman hands Powell a copy from under his jacket in hilarious mock-Minder style. Powell was affable, but always embarrassing and it is a squirm fest.

Second in the studio are synthpop group, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, performing Enola Gay (No.35) with a severely jerky lead singer in waistcoat, formal shirt and tie. The drummer has a v-neck jumper tucked into his trousers. Unintentionally funny is when the director cuts to a camera close-up, during a solo, on the wrong keyboard. In a ‘news flash’, Powell announces Queen are No 1 in the US album and singles chart. A singles chart rundown from no. 30, reveals that Paranoid by Black Sabbath, Trouble by Gillan and Thin Lizzy‘s Killer on the Loose are listed but we hear nothing from them.

Legs and Co dance to Casanova by Coffee (No.19), a disco song with a George Benson-like guitar solo. Befitting the subject, the dancers wear 18th century outfits with tutus in place of conventional dresses. There are lots of yelps from somebody. None of it is sexy. Next in the studio is laid back reggae group Black Slate performing Amigo. The lead singer is dressed as a Mexican and delivers lines like, ‘Amigo-migo-migo-migo-ooh’, ‘Shoop-shoop-wah-ooh-ah’, and, ‘Jah lover, ooh’. In another hysterical interlude Powell asks Waterman what The Nolans conjure up in his mind. He replies with a Benny Hill-style, ‘Oooh!’ The girls appear in a video singing and dancing to Gotta Pull Myself Together (No.25) while wearing yellow sleeveless tops and trousers. Cut to a couple wandering about the river side, resplendent in satin bomber jacket and jumpsuit.

Paul Jones is interviewed to promote the Find Yourself Another Fool single, performed by The Blues Band and written by Tom McGuinness. Jones introduces British smooth soul-funk group Linx and You’re Lying (No.23). Their greatest hit, Intuition, was three or four months away. Lead singer David Grant wears a black dinner jacket with the sleeves pulled up. In the third week at number one in this week’s chart is The Police and Don’t Stand so Close to Me, shown in a video. Understandable to young male teachers, it is hard to imagine the video being made today. The band are sensibly dressed in academic gowns, with Sting also clad in a ‘The Beat‘ vest and inexplicably wielding a carpet beater, Stewart Copeland is smoking and throwing a paper ball at Sting, while Andy Summers is his usual long suffering self. Don’t Stand so Close to Me is a great record, making having to suffer everything else just about worthwhile.

D.I.S.C.O. by French band Ottawan plays over shots of the audience in smart casual, of course, and the closing credits. Paul Jones is happy to dance, while Dennis Waterman is not, and one person is still determined to pogo. The producer was Stanley Appel and the executive producer, Michael Hurll.



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