BBC tunes up Top of the Pops for return

AXED TV institution Top of the Pops is to return — with the BBC showing weekly reruns in its original time slot.

The much-loved show was a viewing staple for 42 years until it was dropped in 2006 after falling audiences.

But now the BBC is to draw on its huge cache to retransmit old editions of the programme on BBC4, episode by episode, each Thursday night at 7.30pm from April 7.

The series will start with the episodes from 1976, the point at which the BBC’s full archive of shows begins.

Although the series began in 1964 and was originally recorded in a Manchester church, many editions were infamously lost or taped over in the days when TV stations were less rigorous about cataloguing their shows.

Individual performances from the show have been used for editions of TOTP2, but they have rarely been shown in full. It is hoped the reruns will continue to run for subsequent years.

BBC4 controller Richard Klein said: “Let’s see how it goes.”

Acts who featured on TOTP during 1976 included Abba with Dancing Queen and The Wurzels performing Combine Harvester, as well as artists as diverse as Jethro Tull, Tina Charles, Acker Bilk and Bryan Ferry.

It was also the year that long-time dance troupe Pan’s People were replaced by Legs And Co.

The reruns will be a mixed blessing for many of the presenters, who may be horrified to see the dated outfits they wore to host the show.

The series will launch with a documentary, to be shown this Friday, which looks at the show in 1976 as a “barometer” of music and light entertainment in general.

BBC commissioning editor for music and events Jan Younghusband said: “You realise that it was most successful as variety. People take it is a chart show but really it is a variety show.”

Although TOTP was dropped five years ago, it is revived annually for a Christmas Day edition.

The number one act for the first TOTP edition to be screened by BBC4 is Eurovision-winning act Brotherhood Of Man. Their track Save Your Kisses For Me was the biggest selling single of the year, staying at the top of the charts for six weeks, and the first of three number ones for the band.

Although 1976 was the year punk began to take hold as a movement, it was not reflected in the charts programme that year.

The Clash famously refused to appear on TOTP and The Sex Pistols first appeared in 1977 and then, only when the video for single Pretty Vacant was broadcast.

The following year, Legs and Co danced to the Sex Pistols cover of Something Else, recorded after the departure of frontman John Lydon, who eventually appeared on the show with his next band, Public Image Ltd.

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