Rundown

Uniquely to this week’s Telly Addict, I turn the oblong in which my head and shoulders have appeared on a weekly basis since April 2011 into a soap box, and launch a campaign to save Top Of The Pops on BBC4. Hmm? But Top Of The Pops was axed in 2006. I know, but BBC4 have – as connoisseurs of popular cultural history will know – been running unedited editions of the chart show from 1976 and 1977, on a weekly basis, since last April. And now the channel is considering ending what ought to have been a 30-year experiment in real-time Top 30 rebirthing.

You can see why. Savile. DLT. These regular hosts have already been rubbed out of history – the latter, like his Magic FM show, until the matter is “resolved”. But surely this is not reason enough to nix the whole thing? Edmunds, Powell, Stewart, Jensen, Blackburn … these men are not accused of being part of Savile’s ugly shadow world. And nor is the show itself, whatever one hideous, predatory individual might have done within its corridors and dressing rooms. You might just as well erase all footage of shows made at Television Centre while Savile was alive.

Anyway, for this reason, Top Of The Pops is one of the programmes under review this week, along with the return of Peep Show for its eighth series on C4, the brilliant one-off Bradley Wiggins: A Year In Yellow on Sky Atlantic, and the indulgent Stephen Fry: Gadget Man on C4.

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13 thoughts on “Rundown

  1. I’m with you all the way on this and posted a couple of comments to the BBC’s POV thread about it. Not sure how to include a link to that here or if you even want me to but my last post was on the day of the Hairy Cornflake’s arrest and is copied below. For those of us around at the time the punk influenced transition was a very long and slow process from a TOTPs perspective but you can feel it taking hold in the most recent repeats, so it would be a crying shame if they stopped now.

    “Please note I’m not directly referring to anything that is or isn’t in the news today but should the BBC ever encounter any issues with any of the past presenters of this show, surely it isn’t beyond them to just edit out that person’s presence?

    After all, no one now watches these repeats for the banal rubbish we used to have to put up with between the records. Plus it’ll mean the later, longer, version would now more neatly fit into a genuine 30 min slot.

    Sort it out please”

    • I enjoy the “banal” links from the DJs of the day, as they, too, are part of the history the show presents. Anything that’s intrinsically dated, but from a period we remember, is always going to be uncomfortable. But to deny the past is to be ill-equipped to deal with the future.

      What right-wing people dismiss as “political correctness” only came about in the 80s through acknowledgment and rejection of the incorrectness of 70s culture. I’m loving Man About The House on ITV3, too, but its attitudes to gay people are prehistoric. We do not make ourselves better people by pretending these attitudes did not exist.

  2. I think they should carry on with the repeats. They were happy to show the Bay City Rollers despite what the drummer did (or didn’t do). They are happy to show David Soul promos despite his behaviour. I guess that there are loads more examples of people who have criminal and/or immoral histories but the hypocrisy and stupidity around this revision of history is breathtaking.

    However, if they do decide to Stalinise history (thank you Simon Price) then I hope they will be chiselling off the statues of Prospero and Ariel on the front of Broadcasting House carved by the incestuous child rapist Eric Gill.

    • And so they should. (Although I’ve never been sure whether or not he gets royalties? Mike Leander wrote most of his hits.)

  3. I don’t believe in editing the past either Andrew and would prefer to have the shows left completely in tact, banal comments included. The presenting styles, along with the terrible dancing, are as much to do with what TOTPs was about as the music and I’m keen to see that ‘progress’ along with the music. But the BBC clearly doesn’t agree. And if it was a choice between showing them sans Savile etc or not at all I’d prefer to have edited versions.

  4. I entirely agree, Andrew.

    There’s always an interesting sliding scale of morality at work with these issues. Gary Glitter (convicted sex offender), Jimmy Savile (accused of sexual offences post mortem, and therefore never to be convicted of anything) and, possibly, in due course DLT (no more than accused at this stage) must be airbrushed from history. I haven’t yet been aware of any similar campaign in respect of the works of Phil Spector, who is of course a convicted murderer.

  5. Totally with you on this one, as with nearly all the other ones for that matter. The erasing of cultural history particularly by a public broadcasting service is a very serious matter indeed and should not be allowed to happen simply because two individuals now deemed persona non gratis were part of it.

  6. Your wording makes it sound like DLT does stand “accused of being part of Savile’s ugly shadow world.” Whatever he stands accused of, I think they’ve made it clear it isn’t connected to Savile.

    The BBC has of course literally erased several years’ worth of TOTP. Earlier this year they showed one of David Hamilton’s own home recordings of one of his shows because the BBC wiped the original. Now that really is a crying shame.

    As I think I mentioned last time this came up, they edited out Jonathan King and subsequently apologised. There are good reasons for not showing the DLT shows at the moment. What to do about Savile is a tougher call, but in the short term I can live without seeing them.

    But I really do hope they will continue with the run. We moved house right at the end of ’77 and I was seven at the time. The memories I have of listening to Luxembourg and the records that were being played at that time are all firmly locked in with all the memories I have of that house. I can’t tell you how much the shows we’re seeing at the moment mean to me.

    And frankly it doesn’t really matter if they skip some episodes (as long as that doesn’t actually involve a skip). The monthly Sky At Night showings mean they’re not in any kind of step with the current date anyway. And 35 years is hardly meaningful anyway. Skip away. But please keep showing them.

    • DLT stands accused of groping two women, neither under age. I didn’t wish to link him with Savile’s alleged paedophilia. I made it clear that in terms of presenters we are talking about “one hideous, predatory individual.”

      • Fair enough – I wasn’t having a go or anything. It’s just that I’ve read a fair amount of “opinion” on this whole thing and a lot of people seem to be writing about DLT as if he’s guilty and they can say what they like about him – and that always just bugs me. I mean I’m not here to defend him as a person (how would I know?) or as a presenter (he was better on earlier shows) but the BBC hasn’t rubbed him out of history; it just isn’t showing his shows while there’s a case going on – which is standard practice in cases like this. Maybe they’ll be back; maybe they won’t. Obviously I know that you get all that, it’s just that the wording seemed to lump him in with Savile, whose guilt is… well, there isn’t usually *that* much smoke without fire.

        Incidentally I genuinely didn’t know what he’s been accused of. I probably shouldn’t be proud of that but I confess I am a bit.

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