World of Chig   


"Everybody's on Top Of The Pops" - The Rezillos, on Top Of The Pops.

As I suspected he would, Diamond Geezer has also written about the demise of TOTP today. He has lots of interesting links too.

What's your favourite TOTP memory? Despite all the cliched clips that we see over and over again on other shows (like Noddy Holder screaming 'IT'S CHRIIIIIIIIISTMAS!', John Peel playing the mandolin for Rod Stewart, Pan's People wagging their fingers at dogs for Gilbert O'Sullivan's 'Get Down' and Dexy's Midnight Runners performing with a picture of Jocky (not Jackie) Wilson behind them), there is one memory of TOTP which stands out above any other for me, because it was such a shock.

Cast your minds back to 1984, the year that my life changed in so many ways. I turned 18, passed my driving test, took my 'A' Levels and left school. My parents split up, we moved house in July, and in September I went to university.

It was also a classic year for pop music, with more million sellers than any other year, and the year that Band Aid broke all sales records that Christmas. The first chart of January had seen 'Relax' by new group Frankie Goes To Hollywood clamber inconspicuously into the Top 40 at number 35, having wandered around the bottom of the Top 75 since the previous November. It then appeared on Top Of The Pops, as the highest new entry that week. (I meant to put this fact in the first draft of this piece, so Diamond Geezer has rightly pointed it out in the comments.)

Then, on his Radio 1 breakfast show chart recap, Mike Read caused all sorts of controversy as I heard him declare the record 'disgusting' and refuse to play it. There is no such thing as bad publicity, and 'Relax' then vaulted from 35 to 6 the next week, and was number one a fortnight after that. It stayed at the top for five weeks. That was five weeks of unprecedented embarrassment for the BBC as, for five weeks, Top Of The Pops didn't end with the number one single, because they refused to show it. The embarrassment lingered on, as 'Relax' stayed in the Top 40 continuously until September, dipping as low as 31 in May, then rising again as its follow-up 'Two Tribes' entered at number one. For two weeks in July 1984, Frankie were at number 1 with 'Two Tribes' and at number 2 with 'Relax'. Despite being the event of the year, you couldn't see 'Relax' on the telly at all.

So, Christmas Day 1984. The appearance of our Christmas dinner had unfortunately coincided with the start of TOTP on the TV, much to my disgust. The compromise situation was that the TV was on in the lounge as we ate our dinner in the kitchen and I strained to hear what was on. (We didn't have a video; there was no way I'd ever be able to see this again.) Then, out of the blue, I heard the unmistakable sound of Holly Johnson's voice, wailing 'Give it to me one time, nooooooooow...' and I nearly choked on my dinner. I dropped my cutlery, shouted, "They're on" and ran into the lounge. The BBC had relented! The song that was too 'disgusting' to be on the Beeb all year was on, on Christmas Day! Oh, the irony. It was a classic TV moment and I lapped up every second of it.

Which TOTP appearances stick in your mind the most?

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The day the music dies

It was 40 years ago today that England won the World Cup, beating West Germany 4-2 at Wembley, after extra time. Apparently, I watched this historic event, on my Mum’s lap, at the grand old age of two months and 24 days. I don’t remember much about it, but that ball was definitely over the line.

Whether or not we’ll ever win the World Cup again remains to be seen, but it seems along way off with the state of the current team, so let’s make the most of it and celebrate the anniversary today! Let’s mark it by doing something dramatic, pointless and unforgivable? Come on, step forward! You, yes you, young man, you’ll do. Good, hello, thanks for volunteering. What’s your name?

‘Roly Keating’

Weren’t you in boyzone?

‘No, that was Ronan Keating’

Oh, sorry. What do you do then?

‘I’m the controller of BBC Two.’

That must be a great job. You have some classic programmes to look after. Mastermind, Newsnight, Top Of The Pops, Top Gear... it must be very exciting?

‘Yes, it is, but we’re ending Top Of The Pops today.’

Yeah, right. [Rolls on floor laughing.] As if you would axe that cornerstone of UK culture after 42 years! You’ll be telling me the BBC’s killing off Grandstand next! What? Oh shit! Is nothing sacred?

‘Well, it’s ending. Tonight. Jimmy Savile’s back though, to give it some closure.’

Oh, come on. As if the BBC would dare to end a family tradition, an international brand with franchised shows all over the world, a show with a magazine, a website and the TOTP2 sister show all attached to it (and a hit single about it in 1978 from The Rezillos). And the only show on TV that reveals the official chart!

‘I know...[looks ashamedly at the floor]...but we are.’

Er, why?

‘Well, no one watches it any more.’

But isn’t it your job to rectify that situation? It hardly helped moving it from Thursdays to Fridays in the 1990s, did it? The excitement of talking about TOTP on a Friday at school or work was taken away from us. The demise set in there. Top Of The Pops was put up against Coronation Street too – another really stupid idea. It was never going to win that battle, was it? Then, in 2004, moving TOTP from Friday to Sunday was really the beginning of the end, wasn’t it?

‘Well anyway, the show’s just not needed any more. The kids are getting their music from so many different sources these days.’

And that affects a TV music show from our national broadcaster how exactly?

‘Well, you can now watch videos on loads of channels, any time of the day or night.’

And these channels are getting millions of viewers, are they?

‘Well, no, not exactly.’

In fact, the viewing figures for music channels are actually too small to measure, aren’t they?

‘Er, yes.’

And most people still can’t get MTV anyway, can they?

‘Well, er, no.’

And besides, TOTP is still the only TV show that carries the official chart, isn’t it? What’s going to replace that?

‘Well, CD:UK is coming back soon on five...’

But that’s not the official chart, is it?


So the UK singles chart won’t be on telly any more after today?

‘That’s right. But it’s still on Radio 1 every Sunday.’

Are you seriously suggesting that music fans, indeed anyone with a brain cell, should subject themselves to the moronic rubbish that JK and Joel are now churning out in the name of a Top 40 countdown?

‘Well, no, they’re absolutely crap, aren’t they?’

Glad we can agree on something. They don’t even play all the new entries. What kind of a chart show is that?

‘I know – they’re complete tossers. The music gets in the way of their inane jabbering, apparently. Weren’t we talking about Top Of The Pops on TV?’

Yeah. So, wouldn’t you agree that there’s still a huge potential audience for Top Of The Pops, as a unique chart show, if you put it on at a time when people would watch it, such as a return to Thursday nights? It would slot in nicely at 7pm, before Eastenders.

‘Well…. (indistinct mumbling)… To be honest, I can’t be bothered. I just wanted to do something to make my mark and get my name in the papers while I’m in this job, so I can use it as a stepping stone to something more lucratively paid in the near future.’

Oh, right. Sod off then.

And on that note, Roly Keating wandered off into the twilight of the TV Centre doughnut, mumbling incoherently about downloads, changed demographics and not really having a clue what he was doing anyway. Expect him to be Director General in ten years’ time, when the axing of TOTP will be widely reported all over again on all news channels except the BBC’s.

It seems appropriate to celebrate 40 years of crapness in our national sport by doing something really crap with another national institution. When all’s said and done, does it matter that TOTP is finishing? Probably not. I’m one of the missing millions who doesn’t watch it any more, because I forget it’s on, because it’s on at a stupid time. But isn’t it a shame that another aspect of our popular culture is being sacrificed for no good reason, in the name of change for the sake of change? It certainly is. I even find myself agreeing with Noel Edmonds. At about 8pm tonight, I expect to be feeling quite angry and very sad. I will probably shed a few tears.

Right then, what’s next? Blue Peter? Eurovision? Eastenders?

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One year on...

It's a year and a day since the suspected terrorists were arrested here in Birmingham, in the aftermath of the London bombings. (What's happened to them? It's all gone very quiet on that front.) That means that it's one year today since the Birmingham tornado struck, just down the road (and only managed to dislodge one of my roof tiles). This house in Moseley fared a little worse:

My visit to the media frenzy around the arrests is here (with photos).

My experience of the tornado is here.

My photos of the tornado's aftermath are here and here.

What's happened, a year down the line?

Wikipedia on the Birmingham Tornado.

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It's S&M night

That's Spiral and Michael's night, to be evicted, if the polls are to be believed, and I'm baffled. Obviously no one expected Pete and Richard to go tonight, although they could have fallen victim to the 'reality TV complacency effect' (cf. Gareth Gates and Andy Scott-Lee in Pop Idol, Javine in Popstars: The Rivals) where no one bothers to vote, because they think the victory is so certain. But they haven't. Fair enough, but who the hell is spending good money to keep Imogen and Susie in the Big Brother house? I just don't get it.

Spiral may have a bit of a temper and Michael may be a bit self-righteous, but I'd rather keep those two in. At least they have personalities. What do Susie and Imogen do exactly? One thing's for sure: it's a good job it's a double eviction, because neither Susie's nor Imogen's 'best bits' are going to last very long.

Cup of tea, anyone?

PS. I'm absolutely loving the prison concept and the whole deception thing. I told you things would improve once they got rid of all the horrible people. It's so much more fun to watch without the housemates having to cope with Nikki.

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Bewdley Regatta

It's that time of year again! Here's one of my favourite photos from yesterday. Going back again today with a couple of friends...

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The Big Gay Debate

Which big gay are you siding with, Richard or Michael?

Yes, more Big Brother tittle-tattle, I'm afraid...

I must admit, my opinion of Richard is rapidly sliding down the plughole (although obviously I want him saved tomorrow, with odious, revolting Jayne evicted). He's been quite entertaining and fatherly so far, but I'm totally with Michael regarding this argument they're having. Richard seems to want to bully Michael into being the kind of gay man that he (Richard) is, and I don't relate to Richard at all. When Michael first came into the house, from his intro film I thought "at last, someone I can relate to" for the first time in this year's Big Brother. Unfortunately, he's gone and spoilt all that with his religious mumbo-jumbo, but I'm still with him in this argument with Richard (and it may see Richard evicted tomorrow if he doesn't shut up).

Whose side are you on?

PS. Have you noticed that amongst the various unknown journalists they have on Big Brother's Big Mouth, they never have an unknown journalist from the gay press with strong opinions on BB, despite the fact that there have been three gay contestants in this year and the gay thing is now becoming an issue? I'm waiting by the phone, Russell...

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Wedding Belles

Only two weeks ago today, I went to my first gay wedding (and a great day it was too). Today, I'm off to my second! Yes, the Schlagerboys are getting hitched today (to each other). Tonight, I'll be at their reception, in a Brum hotel, which will, of course, take the form of a Swedish-themed Eurovision disco. No, that's not a joke. I can't wait.

But first, I'll be in Oxford this afternoon, snapping Oxford Pride. Nicki French will of course be there again, as gay law requires. It's one year on from the same event, where she called me her stalker, live on stage in front of, ooh, dozens of people. It's going to be hot and sunny today. Shirts off lads! That's the law too...

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At last! Thank you general public! The revolting spoilt brat Nikki is out! My four votes haven't been wasted. I hate her. I hate her. I hate her. The housemates are all so stupid, they think it's a trick and that she's going somewhere else, like another secret house. Idiots. She's going where she deserves - home, where she might learn to grow up. Why can so many of the others not see what a dreadful person Nikki is? I just don't understand it. I'm not a violent person, but there have been many times when I have felt a need to punch her in the face. Yes, really. It's probably a good job my friend who usually works on Big Brother isn't there this year, so I won't be getting tickets to an eviction night. (She's in Fiji on ITV's Celebrity Love Island instead, but that's another story...)

After eight weeks, with nasty Grace, pottymouth Lisa, needy Lea and attention-seeking Nikki all gone, perhaps we can start enjoying Big Brother now? That would be nice.

LATER: Nikki received 37.2% of the votes. With eleven people up for eviction, that's rather a lot (considering that an equal share would be 9% each). Ha, ha. In her eviction interview with Davina, Nikki revealed herself to be even more stupid than I'd realised, as she hadn't thought that perhaps she should be just a teensy-weensy bit annoyed with Jayne. It hadn't dawned on gormless Nikki that she was only there because of Jayne's thoughtless rule-breaking. Nikki also hasn't realised that Jayne is by far the most unpopular housemate left, here in the real world, according to various polls, and her attempts to gee up support for Jayne were met with a stony silence from the studio audience, which left the poor brainless fool looking even more bemused. Nikki, we'll miss you, like a hole in the head.

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So, that was that then. Another World Cup over and jolly good it was too. Congratulations through gritted teeth to Italy, who cheated to get past Australia and shouldn't even have been in the quarter-finals, let alone the final. Not that my only Italian friend Luca cared much either way - he couldn't be lured away from the Vauxhall Tavern yesterday to watch his own country in the World Cup final, so I had to text and call him instead. I was delighted to be the one to inform him that they'd won, and made him shout out 'Italy have won' outside the pub, to a general lack of interest all around, apparently.

I think there were only three games I didn't see at all in the last month, two of which were 0-0, so that means I must have watched 61 matches, mainly live, but some only highlights. Not bad going. The whole BBC coverage has been superb. ITV's wasn't, but we've come to expect that.

To find out what else Chig has been up to in the last month...ring this number:
09011 32 33 10

(It'll only cost you 50p and it'll be immensely rewarding.)

So, what would you like to talk about now?

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