From the 1st of January 1964 through to the 30th of July 2006 music show Top of the Pops became the longest running pop chart show in the world.
Airing weekly the show gave audiences the chance to see their favourite top 40 music stars perform to a live audience. Now to mark five decades since the first episode aired a book will be released to celebrate the legacy of the BBC One show.
“It’s Number One – it’s Top Of The Pops” for every generation from 1964, until the show ended in 2006, that was the sentence every young television viewer sat down to hear.
At its peak, a quarter of the UK’s entire population was watching. Top Of The Pops was the pivotal pop television programme over its 2,000 weekly episodes, the programme gave peak airtime to every act, from The Beatles to Beyonce – from Cream to Coldplay – from Pink Floyd to Pink! From its humble beginnings in 1964 from a disused church in Manchester through to the programme’s pan-global appeal in the 1990s, Top Of The Pops has become synonymous with the best in pop television.
With a span of nearly half a century, there are so many highlights: The Beatles only live appearance, in 1966, promoting ‘Paperback Writer’ – the Who getting banned – the first colour edition in 1969 – David Bowie’s breakthrough performance of ‘Starman’ in 1972 – Nirvana’s chaotic 1991 appearance promoting ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ – the Blur versus Oasis battle – Justin Timberlake playing bass with the Flaming Lips in 2003.
Top Of The Pops II was launched in 1994, bringing the programme to a whole new audience. Around the same time, the BBC licensed the Top Of The Pops brand to over 90 countries, with estimated audience of 100 million.
Jana Bennett, BBC Director of Television, announced the show would only air yearly specials in 2006:
The decision to bring the show to an end after 42 years has not been taken lightly and over the past few years every effort has been made to maintain the quality and distinctiveness of the show.
However the BBC’s Creative Future Music Strategy has concluded that in a rapidly changing musical landscape Top of the Pops no longer occupies the central role it once did.
Though the show no longer airs weekly, thanks to the internet, compilation CDs; repeated viewing on BBC4 and the annual Christmas and New Year specials Top Of The Pops lives on.
The book entitled Top of the Pops: 50 Years On is the first in-depth book to chart the rise and demise of the series. The book is due for release in September this year.